The Vampire in Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" Series

Master's Thesis, 2020

72 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction: There is no Metamorphosis

2. State of the Art

3. The Gothic
3.1. Roots of the Gothic
3.2. The British Gothic Movement
3.3. American Gothic Fiction

4. The Vampire
4.1. Real Cases
4.2. The Literary Vampire

5. Discussion: Nothing changed at all
5.1. Religion and Christian Virtues
5.2. Monstrous Female Sexuality and the Gender Discourse
5.3. Humanity and the Other
5.4. Genre and the Byronic Hero
5.5. Science and Anxieties

6. Conclusion: The Vampire – Vehicle to handle Human Fears and Conflicts

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction: There is no Metamorphosis

Throughout the last years, a large number of new vampire fictions, television shows and movies emerged, and the vampire slowly gains a representation in academic works. Most of these works deal with the vampire’s symbolic nature, his function and what he represents, but it is evident that older works get treated significantly different than newer ones and they almost never include the vampire’s folkloric or ‘real’ background. People of the academic works around the figure of the vampire will agree that a significant change in the vampire’s nature between the nineteenth and the twenty-first century took place, because while our ancestor’s vampires, such as human blood-sucking Nosferatu or Dracula, bring terror and evil to its people and are academically recognized far more often, the vampires nowadays seem to be tamed, sympathetic beings that utterly reject human blood. If one considers Louis in Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (1976), Stephen Salvatore throughout the television show “Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017) or Edward Cullen throughout The Twilight Series (2005-2008), what one finds is not the threatening evil vampire, who destroys its surroundings and does not care about humans but their blood. Instead they seem more humane than vampiric – they love, they feel, they suffer and feed off animals. When the novel series of Twilight was brought to screen, thousands over thousands of young teenage girls got so emotionally invested they started rooting for their favorite vampire – the Twilight phenomenon was born. The vampire did not frighten its readers anymore, but they rather started to identify with him, what went so far that die-heart Twilight fans started to form ‘teams’; team Edward and team Jacob, in order to defend their preferred lover of the series. The allegation of the vampire’s metamorphosis and the less frequent academic recognition of newer vampire fiction are what motivates this Thesis to examine the vampire yet once again. With the help of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Meyer’s Twilight Series (2005-2008), this paper will investigate the research question if the vampire of older literary works and the vampire of newer literary works are in fact so different from each other as previous academic works suggest. In order to do so, this paper will closely compare the two works and analyze the functions and behaviors of its vampires. Overall, this paper disagrees with the thesis that a significant change of the vampire-being took place over the centuries, because both works address the same anxieties, discourses and the same vampiric associations. Sometimes, this is done slightly different due to the nineteenth and twenty-first century differences in dealing with current anxieties, but overlooking the argumentation, the core problems that are addressed with the vampire remain the very same as this paper will show. Characters of Dracula find equivalent characters in Twilight; hence, this paper will argue that first, the novels of Dracula and The Twilight Series are not as different from each other than one would expect, and secondly that especially the main vampire figures, specifically Count Dracula and Edward Cullen, comply with one another.

To be more precise, this paper will examine five core discourses, that are repeatedly situated around the vampire, in order to underline the parallels of the vampires in Dracula and Twilight, namely the religious discourse of Christianity, the discourse of female sexuality and gender roles, the discourse of being human versus representing ‘the Other’, the genre discourse of Romances and Gothic novels and lastly the scientific discourse which touches on people’s anxieties. Throughout examining these discourses, the reader will first see how both works emphasize religion and Christian virtues and further establish the battle between Good and Evil. In both literary works the threat to the norm is destroyed via means of religion. That it is the vampire in Twilight, who fights for the side of the Good does not represent a change of function of the vampire to this paper, although most research will argue that it was the evil vampire in Dracula that now became a morally good vampire with a conscious. In Dracula it is the humans who represent the Good, in Twilight it is the Cullen vampires who embody the Good, but in a way, it is still the humans who represent the Good in Twilight, since the Cullens appear more humane than vampiric. But it is not only the humans in Dracula who resemble the humane vampires in Twilight, because also Count Dracula lets a very sympathetic melancholic side shine though from time to time. On the other hand, it is the Cullens who also show the rebellious evil side from time to time, very much like Count Dracula. The Evilness makes the vampire in both works embody ‘the Other’ and the foreigner, while simultaneously inhabiting human traits. Therefore, this paper first argues that the vampire in both works is used as a vehicle to address the importance of religion and morality in times when religion gradually loses its power – within the nineteenth century as well as the twenty-first century. In addition, the vampire’s humanity critiques society by holding the mirror to it. It is the masquerade of the vampire that addresses people’s everyday role play as well as their absurd strive for perfection, when he becomes a normal member of society. The vampire’s perfection further emphasizes the pressures and expectations of society, when vampirism is displayed as desirable and exclusive. Moreover, both works portray female sexuality as monstrous. In displaying Lucy, the vampiric wives as well as Bella as overtly sexual and demanding, this paper argues that the process of becoming a vampire can be interpreted as the way of a woman towards emancipation as well as sexual liberty. What one finds is, again, a threat to the norm and because Bella and Lucy threaten the norm of the traditional pure virgin with their sexuality and emancipation, they have to be destroyed in order to reestablish the balance. Here, the vampire in both works contemplates men’s fear of women’s power. While including overtly sexual women on one hand, both works on the other hand include pure and chaste women, who emphasize motherhood, such as Mina and Rosalie. The female vampire is at this point used to contemplate the traditional gender roles. Additionally, this paper argues that both works can be considered Gothic novels, although academic works suggest that Twilight represents pure (teenage-)Romance. But as will be shown, these two genres do not exclude each other, instead this paper argues that both novels merge the vampire narrative and the romantic tradition. Edward Cullen portrays the prototype of the Byronic Hero, which implicates that the vampire in Twilight is indeed not a new development and, in a way ‘de-fanged’, but merely addresses his literary roots. Lastly, Dracula and Twilight both include a scientific discourse. The vampire is included as a tool to address current anxieties about scientific developments. While it is the rapid incline of scientific theories and medical procedures in the Victorian times of Dracula, Twilight addresses increasing doubts about the medical profession as well as current anxieties about the power of science.

This paper will show the similarities between Stoker’s Dracula and Meyer’s Twilight by first addressing the tradition of the Gothic novel, British as well as American, in order to introduce the novels and chronically establish their background, context and history. Further, this paper will proceed to establish the discourse of the vampire, first by introducing ‘real’ cases of vampirism as well as its folkloric roots, to later display the history of the literary vampire that follows that. Moreover, this paper’s discussion chapter will follow, which will display how similar Dracula and The Twilight Series are by contrasting the works, to lastly conclude.

2. State of the Art

In contrast to this papers’ thesis, namely that Stoker’s Dracula and Meyer’s Twilight are comparable, pick up on the same motifs and that the vampire did in fact not undergo a transformation, most of the academic works before either focused on one of the literary works alone and analyzed them under a certain aspect or focused on contrasting both works in order to show that they are different. In addition, many works focus on the movie adaptions instead of the literary novels. Therefore, this paper will encourage that the findings of this papers’ discussion have not been presented in the way that this paper does, yet. Nevertheless, will this paper present the prior academic research in this chapter by first listing the analysis focus and outcome of the academic works that focus on one of the novels, to then present the findings of the works similar to this papers’ focal point. Starting with Dracula, its early works often focus on Stoker’s biography. Farson’s “The man who wrote Dracula” from 1975 links the novel to Stoker’s biography by presenting their parallels. According to him, Stoker parallels the Count because they both work their way from the bottom to the top; the Count from tomb to metropolis, Stoker from childhood illness to author. Furthermore, the Count’s migration to London parallels Stoker’s migration from Dublin to London, as both must have felt isolated. Haining and Tremayne’s “The Legend of Bram Stoker and Dracula” from 1997 show these notions as well, when they examine what inspired Stoker to write his novel. This was left out by this paper intentionally, since it does not want to favor a biographical reading of the novel. Already in 1997 does Jung’s discussion in “Dracula. Filmanalytische Studien zur Funktionalisierung eines Motivs der viktorianischen Populär-Literatur” deal with Dracula’s focus on female sexuality and the concept of the ‘New Woman’. This paper appreciated his analysis of the overtly sexual Lucy, who, as he argues, represents the ‘New Woman’ and shows desire for sexual and social independence, in contrast to Mina, who is aware of the new woman but is rather unconcerned with the women’s revolution. Further, it is him who argues how Lucy falls for the Count and has to die because of her sexuality, while Mina survives because she presents what men want of women. Lastly, Jung touches on the discourse of homosexuality, something this paper only touched on briefly. For him, the Count’s gender is ambiguous, but it is still the men who represent the active part in sexuality, while the women take on the passive role, which suggests notions of sado-masochism. Hurst’s “Blutige Küsse: Bram Stoker’s Dracula” picks up on the sexual reading of the novel in 2002 and shows how female vampires have an influence on later vampire fictions. He argues that the sexual reading stems from the restrictive Victorian society and therefore, the vampire represents the repressed sexual desires. Points that encourage this, according to Hurst, are that kisses in Dracula become bloody kisses with erotic qualities, that sadism and masochism reflect the complementary relationship of vampire and victim and that blood signals defloration and menstruation. He also bases this on the character of Lucy, as Jung did before and many others do. In 2010, Senf argues for the sexual reading and the implementation of the ‘New Woman’ in her “Bram Stoker”, but adds the notions of gender roles, which has been helpful for this paper. Lucy, as a sexual being and the ‘New Woman’, questions traditional gender roles, while Mina encourages them. Liebrand’s “Vampir/inn/e/n” from 1998, again, focuses on the sexual reading and Lucy’s sexually overt character. Apart from that does Gelder in 2005 argue for a capitalist reading of the novel and draws on Karl Marx notion of matching vampirism to capitalism. He argues that the Count embodies ‘the Other’ in a reverse colonization, when he comes from Transylvania as a foreigner to London and favors an anti-4 Semitic reading in regard to the figure of the Jew. In 2010, Butler makes the same point of colonization but further links it to globalization, arguing that the capitalist theme still contains relevance today. Moretti’s work of 2005 further argues for the capitalist reading that suggest a colonization through Count Dracula and therefore touches on Britain’s decline in power in Victorian times. What he adds is the medial reading of the novel by linking vampirism to consumer culture, since Dracula includes many new technological developments of its time, such as the gramophone, stenography or Kodak photography. For him, the vampire is a consumer (since he consumes blood and sex) but in order to do so he must turn others into consumers as well. Smith’s guide to Gothic literature from 2013 makes the same notions. He further argues that the novel can be read as the clash of social classes, especially the middle class with lower classes. Smith in this regard presents the Count as unable to adapt to the modern world that the vampire hunters surround themselves with. Moreover, he argues for a doubling of Count Dracula and Van Helsing since they both embody the figure of the foreigner, which suggest an embodiment of Freud’s Uncanny. Dorostkar and Preisinger’s “Diagnose: Vampirismus. Medizinische Fiktionalität als Horror-konstituierendes Element in filmischen und literarischen Vampirdarstellungen.“ argues for a medical reading of Dracula in 2008. They argue that the novel merges medical science and fiction, which has been helpful for this paper’s focus on the scientific discourse, and results in some form of medical fictionality, which encourages the opposition of the rational and the occult. Finally, they conclude that this shows the cultural uneasiness with artificial art opposed to natural (grown) art. Mulvey-Roberts also picks up one the medical interpretation of the novel and touches on Stoker’s childhood illness as well as his family, which has been in the medical profession. She mainly argues that the novel represents the upcoming of sexual surgery in Victorian times, which was often used to mutilate women in order to encourage marriage’s moral function, as it prevents women’s sexual pleasures. In 2015, Varnado’s “Haunted Presence: The Numinous in Gothic Fiction” deals with the Daemonic in Dracula. He focuses on a religious reading of the novel and argues that it represents ‘the numinous’, which is expressed in the Count’s occult powers in order to, again, contrast the figures of Dracula and Van Helsing. So far, one sees that the main discourses the former research papers focus on are sexuality, religion, capitalism and science – discourses this paper will touch on as well.

Regarding The Twilight Series, Wickham and Harman’s Screening Twilight from 2020 has been the most recent work and includes articles about several aspects of the novel (and movie) series. So far, this work has been helpful to this paper’s research, while this paper left out aspects that specifically target the movies, such as dialogue that differs from the novels, the color schemes of certain scenes as well as camera angles. Throughout this work, Kohlenberger focuses on how Twilight matches the tradition of sentimental fiction, because Edward as a vampire is built around melancholy and emotional sensitivity, hence contrasts earlier vampire renderings of the villain – an argument one will find in most of Twilight ’s academic work. Further contrasting this paper’s thesis, Spooner argues that vampires have changed from folklore to the twenty-first century, because the vampire is now a being people aspire to be. She further argues that vampirism is nowadays based on certain rules, what she calls ‘Gothic Charm School’, including order and self-control and concludes with notions about the Goth subculture, that can be integrated into mainstream society through the vampire. Scott also argues for the vampire’s change in stating that the Twilight movies have adopted Coppola’s movie adaption of Dracula’s romantic subplot and made it its main narrative. Therefore, she parallels both movies and argues that Twilight is based on Coppola’s adaption. Kumkar’s “Übermenschen auf Diät. Twilights Vampire saugen die Moral des neuen Bürgertums“ from 2012 also argues for the change of the vampire. He presents Twilight as matching Coming-of-Age literature and argues that vampires are now super-humans in an exclusive vampire circle. The notion of the exclusivity of the vampire circle can also be found in Brande’s “Der Vampir-Mythos in Literatur, Film und Alltagskultur” from 2015. Here, she argues that vampirism is successful in Twilight, because the readers make the association to the figure of the vampire anyways, although the traditional ones are not portrayed, and further that vampirism is portrayed as a mental disorder or a form of disease. Faza’s “Flesh and Blood. Reading monstrosity and desire” from 2015 is another work that argues for the change in the vampire. She reflects on the vampire gaining empathy and readers suddenly identifying with the vampire figure, while further noticing the shift of focus to the relationship between humans and vampires. It is also her, who contemplates the vampire’s inner conflict of monstrous and humane, an important point to this thesis. In “Love Bites: Contemporary Women’s Vampire Fiction” from 2012, Wisker also argues that contemporary vampires have changed, because they mimic humans. She, like Bacon’s “The Cullens: Family, Mimicry and the Post-Colonial Vampire”, who also argues that the Cullens mimic humans and further the perfect American family, argues that contemporary vampire fiction rather fits into Romanticism, but that the newest adaptations of the vampire return to embodying the dark villainous stranger. Bacon comes to the conclusion that the vampire is used to show the absurdity of what the twenty-first century society considers human, since while mimicking humans they are aware of how un-human they actually are. In addition, Day’s “The Vampire Liberation Front” from 2002 also makes the argument of the contemporary vampire’s humanity but comes to the conclusion that this way the vampire allows us to accept our own inner vampire. Many works adapt the argument that The Twilight Series is pure romantic fiction. So does Kokkola’s “Virtuous Vampires and Voluptuous Vamps” from 2011, in which she argues that Twilight follows the Romance convention by implementing its structure. She further touches on current anxieties the novels touch on, such as unplanned pregnancies and the fear to grow up, and therefore further argues how the novels fit into the Teenage Romance genre. Botting already argued the same in 2008, stating that postmodern vampire fictions firstly merged the romantic tale and the vampire narrative and secondly, portray ‘flâneur’-like vampires, who touch on people’s current anxiety about feeling lost and like they do not belong anywhere in today’s society. He concludes with the notion that a re-romantization took place. In contrast to the Romance tradition, does Flynn’s “Why it is okay to like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight – Fairy Tales and Feminism” from 2012 situate Twilight within the genre of fairytales, due to Bella portraying the hero and Edward portraying the ‘bluebird’-figure. Like many academic’s work of Dracula do many works around Twilight focus on the sexual discourse. Flesher’s dissertation from 2017 argues that Bella threatens Edward’s manhood with her overt sexuality and therefore inverts the masculine role of the male. Jameson and Dane’s “Bite me! The Twilight Saga, a Fantasy Space of Self-Transformation as Self-Realization” from 2014 also touches on Bella’s sexuality. They argue that Bella enforces the desire for self-transformation and therefore joins the Cullen vampires in hope to escape the pressures on women. This suggests a post-feministic reading of the novels, as Bella’s process of transformation represents her journey to self-government. Rana’s “Of Masochistic Lions and Stupid Lambs: The Ambiguous Nature of Sexuality and Sexual Awakening in Twilight” argues for Bella’s overt sexuality and emancipation as well, by concluding with the notion that she questions traditional gender roles and addresses the female power over men. In regard to this, also Jones’ ”Normal Female Interest in Vampires and Werewolves Bonking: Slash and the Reconstruction of Meaning” from 2020 touches on Bella’s dangerous sexuality and adds a notion of female lesbianism by centering Bella’s and Alice’s relationship. Hallab’s Vampire God has been immensely helpful for this paper, as she mostly touches on the religious and sexual discourses of vampire fiction. Despite what this paper will suggest, namely the vampire as ‘the Other’, she situates the current vampire as the embodiment of ‘Self’, because of their desire for life itself, while the vampire is often used to deal with notions of death and immortality. She was also a great source for the harsh dualism of good and evil in vampire fictions, which has the effect of questioning religious values, as she argues, since faith does not seem to contain power in contemporary vampire fictions. Further, she also argues for the vampire’s change, because the new vampires seem confused by having no purpose or meaning, and instead do good. Kaid’s “Moving away from Tradition: Portrayal of Modern Werewolves and Vampires in ‘The Twilight Saga’” from 2017 focuses on the body of the vampire and its beauty. Therefore, she again touches on the change of the vampire due to his physical attractiveness, and further contrasts Edward and Jacob by stating how Bella focuses on their looks. Along with the sexual discourse goes O’Donnell’s “My Distaste for Forks’: Twilight, Oral Gratification and Self-Denial” from 2020. In it, she focuses on the notion of orality and argues for Bella suffering from dependency needs, which stem from the rejection by her mother. Therefore, Bella, as the neglected child, is so overtly sexual, because she inhabits the desire of being looked after and develops attachment issues towards Edward. She concludes with the notion of Bella suffering from anorexia. Quite an interesting discussion can be found in Oakley’s dissertation “’I Could Kill You Quite Easily, Bella. Simply By Accident.’: Violence and Romance in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga”, in which she argues that the Twilight Series depicts an abusive relationship, when Edward pursues to control Bella and threatens her with physical violence. For this, she uses the notion of rape culture and contradicts violence and desire. Finally, Schneider uses a different approach in her “Welterfolge von ‚All-Age-Titeln‘. Evolutionspsychologische Perspektiven auf die Bis(s)-Bestseller (Twilight) von Stephanie Meyer“ from 2012, when she examines evolutionary notions throughout Twilight. She argues that Edward depicts the perfect male and embodies ideal traits that women look for in order to make him a partner and to reproduce. So far, one sees that the main discussion around The Twilight Series are about asserting a genre to it, religion or sexuality, just like it was done prior around Dracula. Lastly, only two research papers directly tried to compare Stoker’s Dracula and Meyer’s Twilight Series. The first one is by Williams called “A vampire heaven: the economics of salvation in Dracula and the Twilight Saga” from 2015 in which she examines religion in both works. Contrasting to this paper but accompanying the other research papers, she argues that the vampire figure changed, since Count Dracula presents a disruptive presence that must be removed from society while the Cullens make their way to heaven, which results in God being reflected through the character of Edward. The second one is “The Evolution of the Vampire from Stoker’s Dracula to Meyer’s Twilight Saga” by Vuĉković and Dujović from 2016. They, too, argue for the metamorphosis of the vampire, which in turn shows a metamorphosis of individuals in general and society. The conclude by stating that the vampire now addresses the inner struggles of the contemporary reader by becoming mainstream, tamed and vulnerable. While Count Dracula embodies the dark, she argues for the Cullens being in the light. Compared to these two works, one can see how this paper’s thesis clearly differs from previous academic works, what underlines the importance of if and further examinations of more recent vampire fiction in the future. This list is by no means a complete depiction of all research works but includes the most significant ones for this paper.

3. The Gothic

In order to work with the novels Dracula and Twilight, this paper will start with examining the genre they both are accounted as, namely the Gothic novel. Besides targeting the vampire in particular, this examination will be crucial to understand the context of both works as well as later arguments of the discussion chapter.

3.1. Roots of the Gothic

In “The Handbook of the Gothic”, Fanthorpe briefly explains how the term “Gothic” originally was a “racial term, referring to a Germanic tribe […] [, which] in the third to fifth centuries […] invaded the Eastern (Ostrogoths) and the Western (Visigoths) Empire, and founded kingdoms in Italy, southern France and Spain” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009 : 126). They spoke the Gothic language, which “derives from the translation of the Bible by Bishop Ulfilas […] for the Goths on the lower Danube” (ibid.), which in turn disappeared after the fifth century (cf. ibid: 127). The term later got popularized for “non-Roman and Greek buildings of the twelfth to sixteenth century, characterised by the pointed arch” (ibid.). Contrary to its past, the term “Gothic novel” is a rather new development and “mostly a twentieth-century coinage […] by analogy with the Gothic Revival in architecture […]” (Clery 2002: 21). The novel, like we know it today, “evolved in the first half of the eighteenth century in reaction to the romance tradition […] [and] literally means ‘the new’, […] marked […] as a new, more credible and progressive genre of fiction for an enlightened age […]” (Clery 2002: 22). At first glance, it might seem contradictory that Gothic novels emerged in, what Varnado calls “that most rationalistic of historical periods” (Varnado 2015: 20), referring to the Enlightenment, because when one thinks of the matters that are considered “Gothic” in today’s times everyday language, rationality is probably the last thing that comes to mind. More likely, one likes to think of ghosts, supernatural or paranormal phenomena, monsters, unexplainable sightings or disappearances, old castles or haunted houses – the opposite of rational in midst of the development of the “nonreligious man […] as the sole agent in history, refusing to admit the influence of transcendent forces” (ibid.). It only seems to come together when the romantic tradition preceding the Gothic is taken into consideration, since readers of romantic fiction were often considered “fantasists and time-wasters” (Clery 2002: 22) and there was demand for a “balance […] of instruction and entertainment [since m]oral messages would be useless if not joined to compelling narratives that stirred the emotions of the reader” (ibid: 23). “Natural Horror” seemed to satisfy this demand for a short period of time and this “was as far as novelists were prepared to go at this stage: there could be no appeal to the imagination that went beyond rational causes” (ibid.). The emergence of the Gothic novel out of the Romance tradition will be of later interest to this paper, since The Twilight Series seems to take Gothic fiction back to its romantic roots instead of taking on an utterly different genre.

3.2. The British Gothic Movement

The first Gothic work in terms of literature that comes to mind is Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto published in 1764 (cf. Varnado 2015: 20) and some even go so far to say that Walpole can be considered “the progenitor” (cf. Clery 2002: 21-22) of the genre. “Walpole accused modern fiction of being too probable” (ibid: 23), thus his Gothic novel leaves the tradition of “Natural Horror” and its “strict adherence to common life” (ibid.) behind. Varnado points out Walpole’s strategy of “bringing together two distinct kinds of romance, the ancient and the modern. The ancient tradition […] was ‘all imagination and improbability’, whereas the latter was realistic and credible but lacked imagination […]” (Varnado 2015: 21). This strategy makes up Walpole’s originality in this period; “he carefully presented the ‘rules’ for a ‘new species of romance’ […]” (Clery 2002: 24) and his “business is not instruction, but the pleasures of the imagination” (ibid: 23). This was important, since it seemed like the modern era of the Enlightenment “had gained in civility [but] had lost in poetic inspiration” (ibid: 27), which Walpole addressed by combining the probable and improbable. At this point, one can conclude that Gothic literature emerged out of Romantic literature, forming a new kind of Romantic Novel with the aim “to appeal to ‘that secret and reserved feeling of love for the marvelous and supernatural […]’” (Varnado 2015: 22).

The concept of “The Sublime”, (wrongly) attributed to Longinus’ work of 1674 (cf. Clery 2002: 27), had great influence on the emergence of the Gothic novel, in which “the sublime style […] moves or transports its hearers.” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 235). For the Gothic novel, this meant “includ[ing] supernatural beings and witchcraft […,] enchantments and the wild creation […]” (ibid: 236) to evoke literary effects and emotions, such as “passions of enthusiasm, terror, horror, joy and melancholy” (ibid.). The emotion of fear is greatly stressed in terms of Gothic fiction, mostly evoked by the threat of death, as perceived in most Gothic novels (cf. ibid.). Thus, the Sublime supported a strengthening of imagination and resolved “the problem of boredom and satiety […,] both products of a commercial society […] [and] rapid growth of the reading habit in the middle class […]” (Clery 2002: 29). Later, the Sublime is mainly attributed to terror as its “ruling principle” (ibid.). The work mostly associated with the Sublime and terror, besides Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, is Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho published in 1794. In Radcliffe’s eyes, terror “expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life […]” (Radcliffe in Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 237), which she distinguishes from horror, which “contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates […]” (ibid.). Moreover, Varnado mentions how the Sublime has a great effect on the setting of Gothic novels, linking “sublimity […] [to] astonishment, obscurity, power, privation, vastness and infinity” (Varnado 2015: 30), which can be found in Walpole’s and Radcliffe’s novels when looking at the mountain and castle scenery. Specifically due to these two novels, The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho, one can see “why the ‘haunted castle’ was to become the unifying ideogram of Gothic literature […]” (ibid: 32), which is also found in Stoker’s Dracula.

One can further recognize a “return of romance […] as a symptom of the vicissitudes of the publishing industry and a response to the search for novelty” (Clery 2002: 32) in the eighteenth century. After the successes of Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding or Laurence Stern, a decline in novels takes place by the 1770-80s (cf. ibid.) due to “war in the American colonies, […] changes in copyright law […] and generic exhaustion” (ibid: 33): “Between 1776 and 1779 an average of seventeen new novels per year were published, […] from a high of sixty in 1771” (ibid: 32). Clery states how Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron from 1777 turned this around by producing a story similar to Walpole’s; “an extension of the aim of moral improvement to embrace a degree of the marvelous […]” (ibid: 33). This tradition of romance fiction continued throughout the 1780’s with British authors such as Sophia Lee (The Recess, 1785), Charlotte Turner Smith (Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle, 1788) or Ann Radcliffe (The Castles of Athlyn and Dunbayne, 1789) publishing their works while inhabiting the main idea that “romance could progress […]. Romances are of universal growth, and not confined to any particular period or countries.” (ibid: 35). By arguing that The Twilight Saga comes back to this romance tradition, one has evidence of this idea becoming reality.

Moving on in history, Gothic fiction receives a moral function with Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), which shifts in the Victorian period when “the natural sublime disappears and horror, in the form of “The Uncanny”, takes its place.” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 239). Freud’s The Uncanny (1919) touches on the return of the repressed, doubles and repetition (cf. ibid: 239-240). He distinguishes between ‘heimlich’ and ‘unheimlich’ (familiar and unfamiliar), stressing “the fear which derives from the helplessness experienced by one who continually finds himself confronted that from which he desires to escape, or the anxiety generated through the repetition of harmless events.” (ibid: 250), which both can be examined in Stoker’s Dracula when one looks at Jonathan Harker’s experiences with the Count within his castle. As Smith states, especially with the Gothic genre it is “difficult to isolate psychological factors from social issues” (Smith 2013: 108), but with the new focus on psychology, the reader is now confronted with monstrosity, danger and the evil (cf. ibid.); “externally manifested sources of danger” (ibid.) which in Britain develop into “racial and national ‘otherness’” (ibid: 109), which are prominent in Dracula as well, when the ‘wild East’ is portrayed as a threat to the ‘civilized West’. With psychology and ‘the monstrous’, the themes emerge that are of great importance to this paper when comparing The Twilight Saga and Dracula today, namely the vampire, self vs. other, the good vs. evil discourse and abuse of power (cf. Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 3-4) – “mirror[ing] real human suffering brought about by the systematic violation of rights to freedom and humanity” (ibid: 5). “Monstrosity deriving from the Latin verb ‘monstrare’ (‘to show’) […]” (ibid: 9) stresses notions of “see[ing] our own inner monster […] [and] pleasure from the suffering body” (ibid: 9-10).

3.3 American Gothic Fiction

Since Meyer’s The Twilight Saga is not British but American, this paper wants to briefly touch on American Gothic history as well, which emerged quite differently than British Gothic fiction.

To be more precise, “American fiction began […] Gothic […], because the first substantial American efforts in fiction coincided with the great period of British […] gothic.” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 267). Authors like Edgar Allan Poe or Nathaniel Hawthorne paved the way for a “resonance between the Gothic tradition and the American past” (ibid: 268) and that is why most American fiction is concerned with slavery or racial discrimination (cf. ibid.). Hence, “there were no suitable materials for writers to be found in the new country” (Smith 2012: 163), so American Gothic often drew on “broad simple daylight […] common­place prosperity” (ibid.), very different from the gloomy mysterious European castles and ruins. On the psychological level, Henry James is worth mentioning (Turn of the Screw, 1898), particularly with the discourses of ghosts and ‘the (unvoiced) Other’ (cf. Mulvey-12 Roberts 2009: 268.), as well as new notions of ‘cyber-gothic’ and ‘the supernatural’ in John Hawkes or William Gibson (cf. ibid.). Especially Poe is important when looking at the same notions of Gothic fiction as in the British ones, since he used “a rather […] quasi-European setting” (Smith 2012: 168): “urban situations, the nightmare intensities […], confusions of consciousness, […] protagonist’s madness destabilis[ing] narrative and setting. […] Poe was […] much influenced by Romanticism […] as in episodes of near-death states […]” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 269). John Neal, James Kirke Paulding, William Gilmore Simms or Robert Montgomery Bird incorporate Gothic features in their novels (cf. ibid: 270), as “new critical discourses [unfold], whether of Jacques Lacan or of the post-structuralists.” (ibid: 270), seeing Gothic fiction through the lens of mental disorder, supernaturalism and destabilized personal situations (cf. ibid: 271). But instead of rationalizing the supernatural elements, as Victorian British Gothic fiction used to do, the supernatural elements in American Gothic are “usually explained by the narrator’s insanity” (Smith 2012: 168). Works like The Scarlett Letter (Hawthorne, 1850) or Melmoth the Wanderer (Maturin, 1820) “produce a mood of Gothic strangeness” (Mulvey-Roberts 2009: 272) and witchcraft is finally incorporated into Gothic novels (Rachel Dyer, 1828) (cf. ibid.). Mulvey-Roberts mentions “negative Romanticism” and links the most prominent American Gothic writers Poe, Hawthorne and Melville to one another, stating “the blackness of vision […] [an] overwhelming but bleaker subjectivity” (ibid: 272). Post-Civil War America deals with “the loss of illusion” (ibid.) not displaying any Romantic sensibility in, for example, Ambrose Bierce or Emma Dawson (1890’s) (cf. ibid: 272-273). But as early as the United States’ colonies were established, the “real fears of Indian warfare […], the […] seventeenth-century witchcraft in Salem […] [as well as] [t]he Puritan consciousness […] established a […] ‘Gothic’ imagination of good and evil” (Smith 2012: 164) and with the conflicts between the black and white societies (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852) as well as between settlers and Native Americans (Edgar Huntly, 1799), American Gothic for the main part focusses on “alienation and disorder” (ibid: 165): “a gothic fiction, non-realistic and negative, sadist and melodramatic – a literature of darkness and the grotesque in a land of light and affirmation.” (Chase in Smith 2012: 165).

These listings support that American Gothic, just like British Gothic, is concerned with social and political issues, even though the settings and particular issues might be of different nature and this also stretches out to the 21st century Twilight Saga, as this paper will examine in the discussion chapter.

4. The Vampire

In order to compare and analyze the functions and changes of the vampire in Stoker’s Dracula and Meyer’s Twilight Series, this paper will introduce the historical background of real cases of vampirism briefly, as well as the beginnings of the literary vampire.

4.1. Real Life Vampires

Quite helpful for this papers’ research of the vampire and its real-life roots was historian and journalist Markus Heitz’ Vampire! Vampire! Alles über Blutsauger, which this paper will mostly use and translate in this subchapter.

It is remarkable how far back the history of the vampire goes and that almost every region and time period posseses a creature that can be associated with the vampire. The best known first case of vampirism goes back to 1731/32, but there were clues about vampirism in the centuries before that. People’s fear of “Wiedergänger”, the living dead wanting to suck the blood of humans and animals, was already present in ancient times. The Greek and Romans feared the “lamiai , ghostly women alluring young children to suck their blood and eat their flesh (cf. Heitz 2008: 21), as well as “Empousa” changing their appearance to allure their victims, again children, to drink their blood or “Strigae”, demonic bird-like creatures with gazing eyes, grey feathers and long claws flying around at night to steal children in order to drink their blood (cf. ibid: 22).

Further, some hints about vampire-like creatures can be found during the Middle Ages along with notions about witches and werewolves, when people report about blood­sucking decedents that haunt the living, bring death to humans and cattle and destroy belongings. Already at this point, people talk about impaling, decapitating or burning the living dead in order to stop them from harming others (cf. ibid:23). Heitz states that there is a remission from Charlemagne (Karl des Großen) saying that people, who burnt others under the accusation of being “Strigae” or witches, will face the sentence of death (cf. ibid.). As early as 1337, the case of shepherd Myßlata in the Bohemian village of Cadan occurred, who was impaled but teared out his own stake and was then burnt (cf. ibid: 23-24). Moreover in 1345, people report the case of the wife of the potter Dúchaz in Levin/Czech Republic, who was accused of being a witch and teared out her stake before disappearing from her own pyre (cf. ibid: 24) as well.

Another ‘relative’ of the vampire is the “Nachzehrer”, a northern-German creature, whose oldest report goes back to the 1517 plague case in Mochbar, further heard of in 1552 in Freiberg/Saxony, 1553 in Silesia, 1562 in Sangerhausen/Saxony, 1584 in Jüterbog/Brandenburg and there were trials in 1612 and 1614 against them in today’s Jawor and Podgórzyn in lower-Silesia (cf. ibid. 25). Its most prominent feature is the audible smacking from their graves while extracting the life of their surroundings without having to leave their graves. More distinct cases of vampirism emerge in the 17th century, when people report of ‘upierzyca’ (female vampires) in Poland, Austria and Russia (cf. ibid: 26) and in the beginning of the 18th century people start to dig out ‘suspicious’ corpses, out of which allegedly fresh blood oozes out (cf. ibid: 27), when they search for a cause of the plague. One can find reports of a case in 1701 in Mykonos/Greece, where a peasant, who was found murdered on a field, returned to the living after two days. The ‘Vrykolakas’ (Greek: vampire) was reported to hit people, break down doors and roofs, destroy windows, hide clothes and empty bottles, before he was burnt to death (cf. ibid: 30-31). In addition, in 1718 at the Hungarian-Polish border a merchant returned from the dead to “be with his wife” again (which translates to: to have sex with her) (cf. ibid: 31), hence it is not without reason why the vampire is often described as sexual. Between 1725 and 1732, vampire reports in the regions of Serbia and Romania became more frequent (cf. ibid: 28), but so far in all these cases of vampirism the village or the local mayor handled the situation.

This changed in 1725, when Peter Plogojowitz dies in Kisilova/Southern-Hungary, whose case was the first to be supported by governmental investigations (cf. ibid: 32). After his death, nine people die after suffering from a mysterious twenty-four-hour illness and all of them emphasize that Plogojowitz visited them in their sleep to choke them (cf. ibid.). His widow reports he came to her in her sleep as well, demanding to have sex with her (cf. ibid: 33). Sent by authority, investigator Frombald “stands dumbfounded and amazed by the strangeness […]” (Butler 2010: 31) of this case, in worry that if he “did not accord them the viewing and the legal recognition to deal with the body according to [the village people’s] custom, they would have to leave house and home, because … the entire village […] could be destroyed by such an evil spirit” (ibid: 32). From Frombald himself is the first official governmental report of how a vampire looks, when he describes that he did not detect the slightest odor that is otherwise characteristic of the dead, and the body, except for the nose, which was somewhat fallen away, was completely fresh. The hair and beard – even the nails – had grown on him … The face, hands, feet, and the whole body were so constituted, that they could not have been more complete in his lifetime. […] I saw some fresh blood in his mouth, which […] he had sucked from the people killed by him. […] Finally […] they burned the […] body to ashes. (ibid: 32).

One can see from this report, how the living dead literally seem alive without “the usual signs of putrefaction” (ibid: 33). Frombald sends his report to the imperial administration in Belgrade and that is how the Vienna press picked up on the case (cf. Heitz 2008: 34). In that same Winter near the Turkish border in Medvegja, a high number of people dies in quite a short amount of time in their sleep (cf. ibid: 39). The responsible commander, Schnezzer, commands doctor Glaser to investigate the scene, who, after arriving at the scenery, examines the people of the village for contagious diseases, but instead the villagers tell him that a vampire is the cause of death (cf. ibid: 40). Hence, ten suspicious graves are opened, and Glaser reports the same findings as Frombald did before back to Belgrade. In response to this, the government sends out field surgeon Johannes Flückinger to Medvegja and it is his investigation report that is so important for all further cases of vampirism. He reports that the villagers recount that about five years ago a local hajduk by the name of Arnont Paule broke his neck in a fall from a hay wagon. This man had […] often revealed that […] he had been troubled by a vampire […] In twenty or thirty days after his death some people complained that they were being bothered by this same Arnold Paule, and in fact four people were killed by him. These same people say further that all those who were tormented and killed by the vampires must themselves become vampires. […] After the opening of the body there was found […] a quantity of fresh extravascular blood […] and the pulmo, hepar, stomachus, lien et intestina were quite fresh as they would be in a healthy person. […] on the other hand completely new nails were evident, along with a fresh and vivid skin. (Butler 2010: 33-34).

Butler adds how his use of medical Latin terms on the one hand provides “exactness and precision” (ibid: 35), but on the other hand is “the language of the Catholic Church” (ibid.) and Christian faith, hence, one already finds evidence of why the vampire is seen as demonic, alienated and evil; a point that will be of relevance later on. At this point, these reports from doctors and officials seem to be evidence enough that the vampire is real, so in Febuary 1732 Anton d’Adorno sends a writing with the most important proceedings to the war council, which also reaches the Prussian emperor, Friedrich Wilhelm I., who longs for an explanation just as the general public does (cf. Heitz 2008: 49).

Later, there were a few attempts to explain the vampire phenomenon. Butler mentions how it “represents an early and partially successful attempt to account for biological processes that nineteenth- and twentieth-century medicine […] came to explain more completely” (Butler 2010: 37). Serbian victims and villagers seem more like “amateur scientists who theorize about death and decay” (ibid.) and furthermore, fearing something like the vampire forges “solidarity between potential victims, who joined forces to face their destiny together” (ibid: 38). In addition, Butler mentions how Frombald’s and Flückinger’s reports resemble pure conjecture, just because “the essential congruity of accounts by two observers operating independently of one another amounts to something near fact” (ibid: 39). Many symbolic and metaphorical functions of the vampire stem from this historical background, i.e. the vampire as a crosser of borders in times of religious instability, due to the East-West conflict and “rivalries between Byzantium and Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism […] following the medieval split of Christendom” (ibid.). Hence, why the vampire is considered to represent the ‘wild unruly East’ in comparison to the ‘religious civilized West’ as the first cases of vampirism were reported in Serbia and Hungary, which is especially prominent in Stoker’s Dracula, in which the Count is from Transylvania invading London. Furthermore, people in these times not only dealt with religious uncertainty but political uncertainty as well in “a strategically sensitive region where the regime was prone to sudden violent change […]. [T]here existed a kingdom of Serbia for the first time in centuries, yet political control still lay in foreign [Austrian] hands.” (ibid: 40). Here, the vampire “can be read as a symptom of doubts about cultural identity produced by the conflict of different political and religious interests and systems […] profound fears concerning the reality of appearances, the order of the temporal world, and the arrangement of the heavens.” (ibid.). Blaming the vampire and executing him “promised a return to normal” (ibid: 42) under “the illusion that there was a cause of problems” (ibid.). But even as late as the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries tried to explain the vampire phenomenon.

Heitz states how Nodier in 1820 tried to explain the happenings with the morbid demand of the living to drink the blood of others (cf. Heitz 2008: 184) [note of the author: an attempt to define today’s Renfield-Syndrom, which’s name amusingly goes back to the psychiatric patient Renfield in Stoker’s Dracula ?]. 1840, von Görres tries to explain vampirism with the soul leaving the dead body, but he notes that some kind of elementary ghosts remain within that still possess the basic physical energies that are visible in vampires. They drink from the living because it is the soul component they are missing (cf. ibid: 184). Diseases were made out to be the cause of vampirism, like by Hock in 1900, who blames the cattle plague transmitting from cattle to human (cf. ibid: 185). In 1914, Havekost tries to explain the vampire phenomenon with the theory of suspended animation (apparent death, ‘Scheintod’) and because the graves were not dug deep enough, the (not really) dead could easily work their way through the earth back to daylight. The ones who were not able to do that likely showed the signs that were found on many of the vampire cases, e.g. eating theirselves alive, changing their position in the coffin or ripping apart their shrouds (cf. ibid: 186). Further explanations are prominent, such as Porphyria, a metabolic disease causing light sensitivity or destruction to the skin, or putrefaction gases causing the smacking sounds as well as the look of the ‘healthy’ body of the (un)dead, basically being bloated causing body parts to burst. The smacking sounds can also be explained by different qualities of the ground, in which the graves were in, or the influence of animals, as Brandes notes (cf. Brandes 2015: 18). Very wet or firm earth causes the coffins to be airtight and without air the putrefaction processes do not start causing the ‘adipocere corpse’ (‘wax corpse’) phenomenon, which could be another explanation of why the corpses looked healthy (cf. ibid.). In addition, teeth and nails may have looked longer to the investigators, because the skin around them shrinks (cf. ibid: 19). Hallab mentions another interesting social notion by stating how these funerals and rituals around the vampire phenomenon “preserve continuity between the living and the dead and thus preserv[ing] traditional values” (Hallab 2009: 35). This might indicate that “the fear of vampires originates ‘in the need for the young to look after the old’ […] [stressing the] practical ‘use’ for vampires. […]” (ibid: 35). Since funerals include rituals and obligations for the living to fulfill (such as providing food for the dead), a failure would mean the dead come back as hungry vampires haunting the living (cf. ibid.). Brandes explains the same notion, since people regarded others not respecting Christian values as undead. People dying an unnatural death by execution, murder or suicide do not die, since their souls are restless and that is why they come back to ‘life’ (cf. Brandes 2015: 19).


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The Vampire in Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" Series
University of Cologne  (Englisches Seminar I)
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Twilight, Dracula, Stephenie Meyer, Bram Stoker, Stoker, Vampire, vampires, literature, english literature, gothic, gothic fiction, fiction, Twilight Series, novels, novel
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Katharina Wagner (Author), 2020, The Vampire in Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" Series, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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