II. Vampire myth
III. Supernatural abilities
V. Relationships of characters
VII. Works Cited
The vampires in media nowadays own seductive attributes and superpowers. These are attributes the first vampire in literature, Count Dracula, did not have. Nevertheless, Bram Stoker´s Gothic novel Dracula, written in 1897, laid the foundations for all vampire genres afterwards. Count Dracula was the first vampire in history who became so famous that everybody still knows him today. He has some superpowers but no romantic or sexual interests and no human soul, whereas, Anne Rice’s vampires from the novel Interview with the Vampire, written in 1973, have these attributes. Rice’s vampires were the first ones who had a soul and feelings. Hence they were the example for the modern vampires of the 20th and 21th century.
As Butler detected rightly, not “all vampires inhabit Gothic castles, and they do not uniformly display the powers of sexual seduction that many enthusiasts consider their distinguishing feature” (1). It is obvious that today every vampire has its own personality and is characterized through different features. When Anne Rice published her novel in 1973, she “turned the vampire paradigm on its head. This breakthrough novel focused [...] on the vampires themselves- and what a different breed they were” (Benefiel, 261). From the novel Interview with the Vampire till today vampires have feelings and souls and sometimes they fall in love with humans like in Stephanie Meyer’s famous Twilight- Saga. As one can see the myth Dracula lives on even two centuries later in the new TV series Dracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the main role. In this series, Dracula is a ladies’ man and very sexual. Furthermore, there is a new film Dracula Untold, directed by Gary Shore, which focuses on the life and the family of Vlad III. Draculea and why he had to become Dracula. Another case in point is the series The Vampire Diaries which is by now composed of six seasons. It is obvious that vampires play an immense role in today’s society because of books, films and TV series which deal with this topic. An often treated topic is a ménage à trois like in Twilight between Edward, Bella and Jacob or in The Vampire Diaries between Stephan, Elena and Damon.
To understand what makes vampires attractive to people nowadays, at first one has to look at the vampire myth and where it comes from. Next this paper will look into the supernatural abilities the vampires in Dracula and Interview with the Vampire have. After that it will be focused on the characters and their relationships to each other. In the end, the results will be summarized and brought into relation with today’s society.
II. Vampire myth
As Oinas defines it, “the term vampire is used [...] to denote a type of the dead, or actually undead. It is a living corpse or soulless body that emerges from its grave and drinks the blood of the living” (108). The earliest mentioning of a vampire goes back to Peter Plogovitz, who died in 1725, and Arnold Paole, who died in 1732, in Serbia (cf. Dracula - Die wahre Geschichte. www.zdf.de). Several people died after their deaths because of an unknown disease and people explained this with vampirism. Hence, Paole’s and Plogivitz’ graves were broken open and their bodies were exhumed. Their corpses were not decomposed what was seen as a certain evidence for their vampire existence because vampires were “believed to lie in their graves as undecayed corpses, leaving at midnight to go to houses and have sexual relations with or suck the blood of those sleeping, or to devour their flesh, sometimes causing the death of the victims” (Oinas, 109). Furthermore, their bodies were impaled and burnt to ashes (cf. Barber, 2) because “the surest method of disposing of vampires is to completely annihilate the body by burning it and scattering the ashes” (Oinas, 109).
Today, it is known better how a body decays, therefore, the curious vampire indications can be explained. There are several methods to stop the decomposition of a body like the old Egyptians used to do 5, 000 years ago. If a body is laid into a saline solution and all inner organs are extracted, a corpse can survive many thousand years as a mummified body. In this time the components honey and earth from the Nile played a vital part in preserving a body. The people in the 18th century did not have this specific knowledge and for them an undecayed body was equivalent to a vampire. For the people of that time it was clear that vampires were “responsible for bringing on a drought, causing storms, crop failures, livestock plagues and diseases” (ibid.). Most men were worried about their women because vampires were either said to drink the victims’ blood or to have romantic relations with the vampire’s former wives, girlfriends or young widows (cf. Oinas, 111). Some men made the most of the situation by dressing up themselves as vampires to be able to have sexual relations with women (ibid.).
For his novel Dracula, Stoker went a step further by taking a real person as foundation for his vampire count. Vlad III. Dracuela, prince of Wallachia, became known as Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler because of his cruelty to impale people on stakes (cf. Oinas, 114- 115). Stoker equipped Dracula with a long ancestral line which can also be found in Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. “Anne Rice even traces a bloodline back to ancient Egypt in order to provide her vampires with an aristocratic origin” (Butler, 3).
III. Supernatural abilities
Jonathan Harker describes his coachman as “a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat” (Stoker, 11) when he sees him for the first time. Furthermore, he has “very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight” (ibid.) and “a hard- looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp- looking teeth, as white as ivory” (Stoker, 12). In the beginning Harker does not know that the coachman is Count Dracula himself. He only gets suspicious when the Count shakes his hand with the same “prodigious strength” (Stoker, 17) as the coachmen did before. Besides, Harker gets anxious when he hears the wolves howl on his journey in the calèche to the castle. Later he cannot decide whether he has dreamed it or if it was the truth that he heard the coachman speaking to the wolves “in a tone of imperious command” (Stoker, 15) and that he stood in the roadway with the wolves. The coachman “swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, [and] the wolves fell back and back further still” (Stoker, 16). When Harker meets the Count in his castle he describes him as “a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot” (Stoker, 18) and that his hand is “as cold as ice” (Stoker, 19). By talking to the Count Harker notices more of the Count’s appearance:
His face was a strong- a very strong- aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, 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. For the rest, his ears were pale and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor (Stoker, 21).
At the beginning of the novel Count Dracula seems to be a normal person to Harker but after time he figures out that something is wrong with the Count. That becomes very clear when Harker cannot see the mirror reflection of the Count, although, he stands right beside him (Stoker, 30- 31). When Harker cuts himself during his shave, blood runs over his skin. Hence, Harker notices that the Count’s “eyes [were] blazed with a sort of demonic fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat” (Stoker, 30).
b) Secondary literature
Aust, Stefan. anonym. “Zahl der Schönheits- OPs stark gestiegen”. Die Welt. 2007. Web. Accessed 06/ 11/ 2014.
Barber, Paul. “Forensic Pathology and the European Vampire”. Indiana University Press 24.1 (1987): 1- 32. Print.
Benefiel, Candace R. “Blood Relations: The Gothic Perversion of the Nuclear Family in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire”. Journal of Popular Culture 38.2 (2004): 261- 273. Print.
Butler, Erik. Metamorphoses of the vampire in literature and film: cultural transformations in Europe, 1732- 1933. New York: Camden House, 2010. Print.
Oinas, Felix. “East European Vampires & Dracula”. Journal of Popular Culture 16.1 (1982): 108- 116. Print.
Rout, Kathleen. “ Who Do You Love? Anne Rice’s Vampires and Their Moral Transition”. Journal of Popular Culture 36.3 (2003): 473- 479. Print.
Senf, Carol A. “Dracula: The unseen Face in the Mirror”. The Journal of Narrative Technique 9.3 (1979): 160- 170. Print.
Tomc, Sandra. “Dieting and Damnation: Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire”. In Blood read: the vampire as metaphor in contemporary culture. Eds. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger. Pennsylvania: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. 95- 113. Print.
"Dracula - die wahre Geschichte". Terra X. ZDF. Mainz. 24.04.2014. Television.