The Development of the Vampire in English Literature from the 19th Century to the Present


Bachelorarbeit, 2015
46 Seiten, Note: 1,3

Leseprobe

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Origins: The Vampire in Folklore and Literature

3. The Shape of Vampires – From the Evil Monster to the Beautiful Hero

4. Vampires, Sexuality, and Gender

5. Vampires and Religion

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

I stared because their faces, so different, so similar were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see, except perhaps on the airbrushed paiges of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy. (Meyer, Twilight 16–17)

This extract from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight shows the modern image of the vampire as a fascinatingly beautiful being. Such images are typical for vampire fiction of these days and differ considerably from former depictions of vampires. Legends, folk tales and superstitions about vampires, “supernatural beings that visit humans and animals during the night to feed on their blood or other life-giving forces”, have been existing since the beginning of human history and appeared all over the world (Brown 96; Noll 37). Literary vampires have evolved out of folklore. But while in folklore vampires were evil undead monsters who preyed on human blood, modern literary vampires have become domesticated and humanized. They appear as one of us and are no longer evil but rather appealing (Guiley xiii–xiv). The exact roots of vampire superstitions are relatively different to trace, but researchers agree that the origins of Western vampire images are based upon the folklore of Eastern Europe. In my paper I will examine the evolution of the vampire in English literature. To form a basis for this examination it is important to take a look at the origins of the figure and how it passed into literature. I will focus on the development of the vampire in Western fiction and therefore restrict my investigations of the vampires’ roots to Eastern European folklore.

Until today the vampire is constantly present in literature and never lost its popularity. The figure made its first remarkable entry into literature in the 19th century, with John Polidori’s The Vampyre (Auerbach 1) Polidori developed a vampire clearly drawing from its folkloric predecessors, but also added new features to the creature. With this he created the first literary vampire which has inspired many successors. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was published in 1897, presented such a vampire which had much in common with Polidori’s Lord Ruthven. But Stoker also added new features to his bloodsucker and therefore created a new stereotypical vampire which replaced Ruthven as such. Both are the incarnate evil and serious threats to their human counterparts. The evolution of the vampire away from this evil status and towards a sympathetic being has begun in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Rice’s vampires are still predatory and dangerous but break with the tradition of the evil monsters by struggling with their own malignancy. In fact only one vampire, Louis, shows this development, while the others remain similar to Ruthven and Dracula. Louis suffers from his vampire nature and the need to kill human beings. He is able to feel affection, remorse and empathy. But he isn’t able to overcome his vampire nature completely and his need for blood makes it impossible for him to resist killing humans. Rice’s vampires all have become modernized and thus adapted their age of creation. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight-Series represents a further development of Rice’s semi-sympathetic vampire. With the Cullen family she creates vampires that are fully humanized and no longer evil and dangerous. They are good, perfectly beautiful and ideal in all means and therefore appealing figures for their 21st century audience. The focus of the novels lies on the relationship between the vampire Edward and the human girl Bella, thus the genre changes from horror- to romantic novel, which hugely contributes to the series popularity. Edward is a representative for the vampires’ development from a villain to a romantic hero, whose purpose in life lies in loving and protecting Bella. Such a development can be noticed in much modern vampire fiction, as in Lisa J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries, or Charlaine Harris’s The Sookie Stackhouse Series. I have chosen The Vampyre, Dracula, Interview with the Vampire and The Twilight Series for my examination of the development of the vampire. I have selected these novels because of their huge successes and key importance’s in the development of the vampire.

But what are the reasons for this development and for the constant popularity of the vampire? According to Nina Auerbach each vampire “feeds on his age distinctively because he embodies that age” (1). The vampires’ modernization and adaptation described above confirms this statement. Their appearances, behavior and surroundings are changed in each work and adapted to the ages in which they were created. But literary vampires not only adapt to their ages, they also serve as metaphors for the society in which they were created. They display historical and social circumstances and embody society’s desires, fears, and anxieties. In this way vampires give readers the possibility to identify with them. The evolution of the vampires therefore can be ascribed to their metaphorical meanings for their ages. To secure such a meaning and to give the reader the possibility to identify with the vampire, requires that the figure is a citizen of the current age.

This paper aims to explain the development of the vampire in English literature from the 19th century to the present, from a merciless evil monster to a beautiful hero. I will examine this evolution according to the already explained reasons: the use of vampires as metaphors for their age and as figures who give readers the possibility to reflect themselves in them.

To form a basis I will start with an investigation of the vampires’ origins in Eastern European folklore and the figures’ entry into literature. This chapter will also include an examination of reasons for the vampires’ constant popularity and development, with view to the observations of different researchers. Based on this I will examine the selected works in three categories. At first I will take a look at the shape of vampires, mainly focusing on their appearances and behavior and their connection to the corresponding ages. The next two chapters will concentrate on depictions of sexuality and gender, and of religion in the novels and how different treatments of these topics led to changing images of vampires. Reasons for the selection of these topics will be given in chapter two. Finally I will summarize my observations and check if the reasons for the development of the vampire, elaborated in the second chapter, are correct.

2. Origins: The Vampire in Folklore and Literature

The vampire as we know it today is a reproduction of the folkloric vampire (Robinson 1). The myth of the supernatural being which returns from the grave to feed on the humans’ blood is as old as the world and appears in many different cultures (Guiley 353). Chinese legends, for example, told of “blood-sucking creatures that were green, covered with mould, and which had a propensity to glow in the dark”, Africans feared creatures as the asambosam, which were believed to suck blood through the thumbs of the sleeping (Leatherdale 17). Creatures as the Greek and Roman succubi, female demons which seduced young men in their sleep, and sucked their blood until the victims died, were phenomena of the Middle Ages and can be seen as precursors to the European vampire which inspired literary versions of the bloodsuckers. The developments of corporeal structures and of sexual predilections were elementary for the transformation into the European vampire (Leatherdale 18). The previous mentioned creatures are only a small selection of folkloric vampires and according to Christopher Frayling it is nearly impossible to trace the origins of vampire superstitions exactly, because of their huge occurrence and variety. But the roots of the vampire of modern Western fiction can more easily be accessed (5).

It is the folklore of Eastern Europe which holds the key to vampire fiction in Western Europe and America (Robinson 1–2). In such tales vampires are “dead people who cannot rest quietly in their graves, but leave them in order to attack and kill the living members of their community, through either suffocation or sucking their blood” (Robinson 1). In the 18th century a huge number of vampire epidemics occurred in Eastern Europe (Frayling 4). Reports of such epidemics appeared in the Western press and described cases in which families or communities suffered from numerous inexplicable deaths attributed to people who had returned as living dead (Hallab 18). The case which attracted the most interest was that of Arnold Paole in 1731-32 (Frayling 20). It occurred at Medvegia, in Serbia and was investigated and reported by a team under the supervision of Field Surgeon Johannes Fluckinger (Frayling 20). It was reported that several people had recently died in the area and the public ascribed these deaths to a man named Arnold Paole, who had died from a broken neck more than five years ago. Twenty or thirty days after his death a number of people had been tormented by him and four others had perished. The people reported that Paole had told that he had been bitten by a Turkish vampire, during his military service in the east (Brown 97). Paole had tried to cure himself by eating earth from the vampire’s grave and rubbing himself with the vampire’s blood (Polidori xx). When his grave was opened his corpse was found to be perfectly preserved, his flesh had not decomposed, and fresh blood was flowing from his ears, nose, and eyes. Because such phenomena were supposed to be usual in cases of vampirism, it was concluded that Paole was an arch-vampire. With this proof they used the accustomed method and drove a stake through his heart. As this happened Paole gave a great shriek and a great quantity of blood spurted out of his body. Afterwards the body was burned and the ashes returned to his tomb and the same method was applied to his victims. The report of the case caused a huge sensation in Europe, and aroused a lot of efforts to understand the nature of such incidents (Hallab 19). For a long time such vampire epidemics did not arose great attention and were often regarded as ignorant superstitions of uneducated peasants in rural villages. But as the accounts increased, scientists, as well as the Catholic Church became interested and sent investigators to the affected regions, to examine if there was truth in the stories about vampires (Hallab 18–19). Christopher Frayling believes the accounts of investigators, as Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, or Dom Augustine Calmet, as very important and “crucial stimuli to the success of the vampire genre in the nineteenth century” (Frayling 19). It is clear that the European vampire epidemics had an impact on the vampire in English literature, because England had no native tradition of vampires (Senf, The Vampire 20). Polidori, in his introduction of The Vampyre, directly refers to the folklore of Eastern Europe and the accounts of Tournefort and Calmet, which confirms the truth of this assumption (Polidori xix–xxiv). But the impact was no direct one and it took more than a century until the vampire entered English literature (Senf, The Vampire 20). Senf and Frayling both state that the main influence on English vampire fiction came from Germany. The large number of philosophical and scientific treatises about vampire epidemics inspired many literary treatments of the figures, especially in Germany (Senf, The Vampire 21). The bloodsuckers particularly attracted the German Romantics, and the “inarticulate peasant vampires” described by Calmet and Tournefort were transformed into the “aristocratic hero-villains” of romantic poetry (Frayling 5–6). Literary vampires firstly appeared in Romantic poems as Burger’s Lenore (1773), and Goethe’s The Bride of Korinth (1797) and were represented as seducers and rebels against Christian faith (Brugger 234–235). The Romantics did not use vampires to frighten, but to entertain and enlighten. As a result the images of vampires changed and no longer had much in common with their folkloric predecessors (Leatherdale 46–47). This was the first transformation of the vampire, and the results of these changes lasted through works as The Vampyre and Dracula. As a conclusion the sources of 19th century English literary vampires can be summarized to “folklore, eighteenth century German literature, and scientific discussions of primitive beliefs” (Senf, The Vampire 23).

Vampires also appeared in British romantic poetry but their real breakthrough happened in prose in John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1816) (Brugger 235). The vampire Lord Ruthven combines features of folkloric and romantic vampires, as well as new features and became a model for the following series of gentlemanly vampires, such as Dracula (Brown 105). By creating more civilized vampires than that of folklore the figure has become adapted to literature and to the new century. Such transformations went on to the present day and the vampire never lost its popularity. While in the 19th century the vampire “occupies a kind of mid-range between the beast and the hero”, over the course of time the figure started to develop up to a more sympathetic being and misunderstood outsider. The vampire “has evolved from a merely bestial creature in folklore to an appealing figure in twentieth-century popular culture” (Senf, The Vampire 142–45). And when we go on to watch the progress of the evolution of the vampire in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight-Series, we cannot fail to detect a development in the very same direction. The Twilight -vampires are perfectly humanized and differ completely from their predecessors.

But what are the reasons for these changes? Many literary researchers who dealt with vampire fiction see the reasons in the vampires’ metaphorical capacity and their responsiveness to the ages of their creation. Mary Hallab claims that almost all humans share the same needs, fears and hopes, fitting in their particular culture and age (9). All these people have a folklore which satisfies some of their needs, or answers some of their questions. This also applies to vampire folklore and its literary successors (Hallab 9–13). Calmet and Rosseau were the first to recognize that the appearance of such an entity as the vampire must have significant reasons. Calmet noticed that the vampire was a modern fancy, occurring in a specific setting, and believed it necessary to examine the phenomenon in its historical context (Butler 4). Rousseau had a similar way of looking at the matter. He concentrated on why the vampire had become such an important subject of popular belief. He stated that miracles, as that of the vampires, revealed much about the nature of authority in society, as well as fears and hopes of the people (Frayling 32–33). He saw the demons as an instrument of Christianity, as “manifestations of the sombre and nefarious tyranny of opinion exercised by priests over the minds of men […] which require [that] believers should submit to principles they cannot grasp by reason and sense” (Frayling 33). In addition to this, Rosseau saw vampires as metaphors for the master-slave dialectic. This topic was very important in an age, when the birth of property and the growth of agriculture had transformed people into masters and slaves, everyone longing for the goods of their neighbors (Frayling 34). Sara L. Robinson’s explanation of reasons for becoming a vampire in the 18th century, confirms the idea that vampirism was used as an instrument of authorities. Next to becoming a vampire by being bitten or killed by one, she names causes as being an illegitimate child of illegitimate parents; leading an immoral, promiscuous, and impious life; excommunication, anti-social behavior, and death causes such as murder and suicide. Methods for killing vampires, as staking, the vampires’ connection with the devil, and their status as Antichrists and being condemned to eternal damnation, underline the assumption that vampirism was used as an instrument of Christianity (Robinson 4-5, 7). In addition to this, Robinson examines that vampires often represented marginalized beings, as babies with birth defects, illegitimate children, and anti-social adults. All of them lived on the margins of society and were regarded as potential vampires. Thus the vampire clearly was an “embodiment of the social ‘other’, whose very presence may threaten its community with disorder” (Robinson 5). In this way the figure served as a moral warning to live according to the rules, or to become an evil and damned monster. In addition cases of vampirism often appeared in connection with plagues. Vampires served as scapegoats for unexplained illnesses and their fast spread. People were unaware of germs and contagion and needed to blame someone for the huge number of deaths in their community. Because of the supposition that vampires caused death, blaming the epidemics on them and hunt and kill them, seemed a very easy solution (Robinson 8–9). All these observations present that already in folklore vampires had a meaning and embodied societal circumstances and people’s fears. Literary vampires share this metaphoric potential.

Erik Butler, Joan Gordon, and Veronica Hollinger have examined the literary vampire’s evolution and persistence as a result of its metaphorical capacity. They have observed a mutation of the figure, because of its adaptation to the historical, cultural, political, and societal circumstances of the ages in which they were created. And they have discovered reflections of ourselves, and of our anxieties, desires, and fears, in them. Butler mainly refers to the vampires’ representations of trouble and earthly affairs in disarray. He views them as embodiments of the changing world and the depersonalizing forces of modernity. Each vampire contrasts with another depiction, but nevertheless all of them share a sameness arising from cultural contradictions. This sameness appears in the form of certain characteristics which are typical for vampires, and recur in each new variation. These include movements between different stations of class and culture, the upsetting of religious codes, and the inversion of norms of sex and gender (Butler 11-13, 17-18). Gordon and Hollinger also see vampires as reflections of ourselves and as figures that provide guidelines against which we can define ourselves. Their images shift, as our desires and anxieties do, and as a metaphor they can tell about sexuality, power, alienation, and definitions of evil. These issues and the important topic of religion will be taken into consideration in my paper (Gordon and Hollinger 1–5). According to Carol Senf, topics of sexuality and rebellious behavior against authorities and constraints gain importance in vampire literature, while religious aspects fade in the background. This is due to changing attitudes towards authority, a diminishing influence of religious authority, and more openness towards sexuality. A further reason is a growing acceptance of variations and individual behavior. As a result of these changes the image of the vampire alters. The figure becomes a sympathetic being and its diabolic image disappears (Senf, The Vampire 150–63).

We can summarize that the vampire made its entry into literature from a folkloric background. From that point up to the present, the image of the vampire has undergone an evolution as a result of its metaphorical connection to each new age. Already in folklore there were reasons for the appearance and spread of vampire epidemics. The supernatural beings were mainly used to spread fears, that someone who would not live according to the rules of authorities as the Church would become such a monster himself. In addition to this vampires provided welcome explanations for the fears and anxieties of the people, they couldn’t clarify themselves. When the vampire entered literature, the image made a first change, as a result of its adaptation this new medium and to a new age. As a literary motive the vampire constantly serves as a metaphor for the historical and societal circumstances prevailing at the time of its creation, as a personification of the ‘social other’, and as a metaphor for the humans’ fears and desires. In addition to this literary vampires always appear in connection with sexuality, gender, and religion. The vampire’s ongoing adaptation to changes in all these issues leads to its evolution and constant popularity. This evolution includes a change of appearance, behavior, supernatural powers, the role of victims, the vampires’ dealing with its vampire nature, and its ability to feel and empathize. In 3. The Shape of Vampires – From the Evil Monster to the Beautiful Hero, I will examine these changes and the resulting development from a terrible monster to a sympathetic humanized being. Because of the important role of sexuality and religion in nearly every depiction of vampires, and the impact these topics have on the images of vampires, I have decided to examine them, in my two final points: 4. Vampires, Sexuality and Gender, and 5. Vampires and Religion . Here I will examine how the attitudes towards these topics have changed, to what extend such changes mirror in the works, and how this contributes to the development of the vampires.

3. The Shape of Vampires – From the Evil Monster to the Beautiful Hero

In 1819 John Polidori’s The Vampyre was published. It was the first work including vampires in English prose, and with the creation of his vampire Lord Ruthven Polidori led the foundation for many of his successors (Leatherdale 48–49). Ruthven shares some features with his folkloric predecessors, mainly his undeadness and the need to drink human blood to sustain his existence. Especially the brutal attack on Ianthe which “apparently is a crime of simple hunger” draws from folklore (Senf, The Vampire 34). Ruthven’s connection with his folkloric precursors gets a special emphasis when Aubrey recognizes that Ianthe’s explanation of the traditional appearance of vampires is a “pretty accurate description of Lord Ruthven” (Polidori 42). Nevertheless Ruthven is a much more unique and interesting character than his coarsely described predecessors (Senf, The Vampire 34). This is a result of the new characteristics given to him by Polidori. One new and important feature is that he is an aristocrat. This status enables him to live within society, pass undetected among his victims, and to travel wherever he wants to go. Additionally he is the first vampire who can be rejuvenated after he has apparently been killed, and who exerts psychic vampirism on his victims. So does Aubrey hear his voice and feel his presence, although he cannot see Ruthven (Polidori 55-56, 61, 68). Such elements were borrowed by many other authors of vampire fiction, as Bram Stoker (Guiley 375). It is remarkable that the bloodsucking and supernatural aspects play a minor role in the tale. Instead Polidori puts the focus on the vampire’s seductive abilities and the resulting corruption of people. Before being identified as a vampire, Ruthven is revealed as a destroyer of the reputation and will of others (Senf, The Vampire 36). Even his money brings corruption, as Aubrey observes: “all those upon whom it was bestowed found that there was a curse upon it, for they were all either led to the scaffold, or sunk to the lowest […] misery” (Polidori 34). His title, seductive ways, and his destructive effect on others make him a representation of the corrupt and decadent aristocrats of his age under whose huge influences people suffered (Butler 88–89).

There are some hints at his true identity as a vampire, for example his “dead grey eye” and the “deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint”, but it takes a long time until he is really exposed as such (Polidori 27–28). His humanlike appearance enables him to blend perfectly into society and therefore he moves freely around, while remaining unnoticed (Gelder 34). Ruthven’s evil mainly results out of an imperfect society. He exploits gaps in a destabilized social order and his hunting ground emerges out of the dissipations of society (Butler 86–89). The people are fascinated by the mysterious man, and this causes him […] to be invited to every house; all wished to see him, and those who had been accustomed to violent excitement, and now felt the weight of ennui, were pleased at having something in their presence capable of engaging their attention. (Polidori 28)

Ruthven is responsible for only two deaths, “has no visible fangs, ability to fly by night, or any of the other overtly supernatural attributes that are now commonly associated with vampires”. Instead he provides a screen to mirror other’s wishes and perverts them (Butler 89–90). Those who are ruined by him, such as “the idle, the vagabond, and the beggar”, already were corrupt before meeting Ruthven (Polidori 29, 33). He takes advantage of still existing vulnerabilities of the society and uses these to force his way into their lives and corrupt them. Thus the vampire becomes a social metaphor because “he gives the reader brief glimpses of a corrupt society where the wealthy, plagued by ennui, seek to alleviate their boredom by flirting with vice” (Senf, The Vampire 39).

The story of Lord Ruthven takes place in London, Italy and Greece. The London setting contrasts the modern life of industrialized Europe with the traditional and rural life of the Mediterranean countries. In the Mediterranean’s, where among others, vampire superstitions were found, he is quickly recognized and feared. But in London, masked under the protecting surface of social change, he is able to move freely around, without being recognized for what he truly is. He possesses no shape shifting powers, but those are not necessary because the whirl and confusion brought by industrialization and social change disguises him very well. By travelling from the metropolitan capital to the rural regions, destroying the well-born, as well as the poor, Ruthven perfectly embodies the violent forces of movement and change which frightened the people in the 19th century (Butler 87, 90).

Polidori’s vampire represents “menace of barbarism […] [and] cruelty without civilization” (Butler 87). He ruins his victims financially and socially, kills brutally, and enjoys to torment Aubrey psychologically (Senf, The Vampire 35). He is not able to show emotions and walks around “always with the same unchanging face” (Polidori 34). The way he gazes upon the cheerfulness around him shows that he is not able to participate in such emotions and he can “by a look quell it, and throw fear” (Polidori 27). The only emotions he is able to experience and to show are emotions of malignancy and malicious joy, when he plans to corrupt someone, or when he notices how his victims suffer. So do his eyes sparkle with fire when he encounters potential victims, and he is filled with “exultation and pleasure” when he hears about Aubrey’s bad state of health, caused by him (Polidori 68). Aubrey describes Ruthven as a character with no “single bright point on which to rest the eye” and becomes aware of the “evil power resident in his companion” (Polidori 36–37). He is a dangerous being and knows well how to wrap up his victims. His maliciousness reaches its peak when he torments Aubrey by seducing his sister, while this one is bound to the oath he has sworn to Ruthven, to tell no one about his crimes and death. This act of cruelty ends in the death of Aubrey and his sister. Polidori’s vampire is merciless and evil and unable to empathize with anyone. He enjoys his own cruelty and the effects of his crimes. He is an embodiment of many things that threatened 19th century society and takes advantage of the people’s fears and vulnerabilities. The combination of all these features makes him a dangerous and frightening creature.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897 and became a huge success. Stoker’s vampire Count Dracula has been one of the most popular anti-heroes in Western culture, and his name has become a kind of synonym for vampire in modern culture (Senf, The Vampire 31; Rogers VI). Dracula is a “telling cultural document, a text that both exposes the particular anxieties of its immediate period and marks a vital moment in the paradigm shift that defines the modern age” (Rogers VIII). The vampire serves as a metaphor for the social threats that frightened the Victorian society.

Ruthven and Dracula share some traits, the latter being also an aristocrat and gentlemanly vampire, and a seducer. But in addition to Polidori’s work, Stoker combined many other sources as a basis for the creation of his vampire and in this way formed a new, unique version of the bloodsucker, which became a stereotype and replaced Ruthven as such.

His face was a strong […] aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; […]The mouth […] was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. […] The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor. […] The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. […] As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. (Stoker 17)

Jonathan Harker describes this appearance as a “marked physiognomy” and notices something curious and uncanny in Dracula’s appearance (Stoker 16–17). Also the behavior of his host appears strange to him. He observes that Dracula doesn’t eat or drink, that he loves shade and shadow, that he can be very courteous, and in the next moment fall into a state of fury. He also notes that the Count has a remarkable physical strength, has no mirror projection, and is able to control the wolves (Stoker 22–25). These impressions give Harker feelings of unease and fright, but in his rationalism he is not able to conclude that Dracula is a vampire. Stoker gives a very detailed description of his vampire and pays great attention to a dramatic presentation of Dracula (Leatherdale 105). The Counts appearance and his behavior mark him clearly as an extraordinary being and emphasize how alien he appears to others (Hughes 32). Stoker’s vampire is strong, cunning, able to direct elements and command animals, he has no mirror projection and no shadow, he can transform himself into animals or mist, and he can grow younger. He is able to walk by day but then his power ceases and he is captivated in his human appearance. Garlic and holy items as crucifixes or sacred wafer make him powerless. He can be destroyed by firing a sacred bullet into his coffin, or by driving a stake through his body and cutting of his head (Stoker 197–200). These characteristics, and weaknesses clearly are a combination of folkloric and new elements and many of them reappear in following vampire fiction. Therefore Dracula is a transitional figure between his predecessors and his successors. Furthermore all these traits mark him obviously as a supernatural evil force with huge power (Senf, The Vampire 31–32).

But Dracula’s status as a “terrible monster” and “terrible and mysterious enemy” not only results from the fact that he is a supernatural creature, than more out of his representation of all the things that threatened the established order of Victorian England (Stoker 196). As Polidori, Stoker turned the Eastern European superstition about vampires into a metaphor, to describe the troubling aspects of the current society, and to show the readers that there are horrors in everyday life (Senf, The Vampire 74). 19th century England was rigidly middle class, monogamous, male dominated, and under surveillance of an all-seeing god (Leatherdale 225). It was the time of the rise of science and technology, of growing imperialism, and of social changes and people struggled with the fact that traditions and received ideas were upset by the new developments. In Stoker’s work, the reality that the populace of England itself had created the problems is denied and they are ascribed to a foreign agent – Dracula (Butler 117). The vampire with his transgressive behavior embodies the increasing individuality which threatened the authorities of Providence and traditional social deference. These were ideals in the 19th century (Rogers XV). Thus the vampire appears as an “antihero [who] draws his substance and strength as monster from the anxieties and uncertainties produced by transformations in the conditions of everyday life” (Butler 117). He is an outsider and associated with dirt, lack of humanity, darkness, the absence of morality, and predation (Senf, Dracula 37). The Count’s life is antithetical to that of his opponents, for he is a representative of the past, an aristocrat, and the leader of a primitive cult who plans to bring this cult to England (Senf, The Vampire 59). His opponents fear the superiority of these forces but with the combination of ancient knowledge, the power of religion, and modern technology, they are able to defeat, and finally destroy the monster (Senf, Dracula 93, 99). This symbolizes the suppression of individuality and rebellious behavior represented by Dracula, which was regarded outrageous at this time. In addition the work has a connection to the class system and represents the decreasing power of the aristocracy. As Ruthven, the Count is an embodiment of the corrupt and exploitative aristocracy. He identifies himself in terms of mastery, is accustomed to have power over others, and sees himself as the owner of people (Senf, Dracula 101–02). Dracula is a materializing threat to the bourgeois ideology and prosperity and in this way represents the historical struggle between bourgeoisie and aristocracy (Leatherdale 235). The middle class is presented as solid, hard working and progressive and Dracula who is a representative of the aristocracy is locked in the past. This depiction, the triumph of the middle class by rationality and progress, and the resulting efface of aristocratic values make the Count a metaphor for the moribund aristocracy (Senf, Dracula 100–12).

[...]

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Details

Titel
The Development of the Vampire in English Literature from the 19th Century to the Present
Hochschule
Universität Bayreuth
Note
1,3
Autor
Jahr
2015
Seiten
46
Katalognummer
V307974
ISBN (eBook)
9783668064270
ISBN (Buch)
9783668064287
Dateigröße
654 KB
Sprache
Deutsch
Schlagworte
Vampire, The Vampyre, Dracula, Twilight, interview with the Vampire, Development Vampire
Arbeit zitieren
Cindy Härcher (Autor), 2015, The Development of the Vampire in English Literature from the 19th Century to the Present, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/307974

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