The Concept Of Vampirism in “Dracula”
When Dracula was published in 1896, at the close of the century, the concept of vampirism horrified and fascinated readers. The fin de siècle was a time when the century was coming to a close, Victorian society’s fears and anticipation of what to expect of the new century. Stoker used these fears of what haunted the Victorians about the fin de siècle such as degeneration, the new role of science and the change in religious beliefs, and also his childhood experience of his illness to create a terrifying enemy the vampire. In the Cambridge dictionary, the meaning of vampire is defined as: “a dead person who resurrect from the dead and sucks blood from humans at night”. In this essay I will explore the archetypal vampire in the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. The idea of Dracula came to Stoker in a nightmare, in which he dreamt about a vampire rising from a tomb. Similarly Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire which was published in 1976 a century later, is also based on her life experience of losing her daughter, who became an inspiration for the child vampire character Claudia in the novel. Stories about vampires were mostly written by British writers making the vampires foreigners just like in Dracula by Bram Stoker. This could be seen as though the writers are borrowing old folk tale from that country to create this villain. At this time stories about vampires had not yet reached America yet but stayed round the European settings.
Count Dracula fits in with the old folklore stereotypical view of vampires as a decayed man sleeping in a coffin during the day, sucking human bloods letting them feel emotions that they may not want to explore with his mind control and hypnotism powers, he also has the ability to transform into different animals during the night like bats and wolves even mist giving him the opportunity to preys upon humans and the animals he rules over to feed himself without been seen by members of the society. However there is a limitation to these abilities which are the, Count can’t stand being round a cross, garlic and daylight. The Count demonstrated his power to control wolves early in the novel when he sent the wolves after a venerable woman, whose child has been fed to the Count’s three female vampires, “somewhere high overhead probably on the town, I heard the voice of the count calling in his harsh metallic whisper. His call seemed to be answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves.” The juxtaposition of the adjective “harsh metallic” and the verb “whisper” sets the tone of mystery because whisper is known to be a soft tone of voice whereas harsh metallic oppose that soft tone to a more unharmoniously sound, that will creep people out. A century later Anne Rice published her novel interview with the vampire in 1976.
This novel turned the one sided image of vampires because her vampires lived amongst humans and her protagonist are not the monstrous creature in comparison to the vampire characters in Dracula. Rice created a world where her vampire characters are living undetected amongst humans and resembles them both in body and mind. The reader can sense no horror, while Stoker in contrary sets his story where no one can find the place on the map and creates a setting filled with horror building elements of dramatic tension through the course of the novel. “It seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again; and so I took note of some salient point, and found that this was so”. Before Jonathan made an encounter with the Count he started feeling tension of what’s ahead of him because of the way the atmosphere was forming around him. This elements of vampire being free and having the power to hide their location, creates a mysterious atmosphere which is shown on Jonathan’s scared feeling relaying on how us the reader would have felt if we were in the same scenario. This method of using the characters in the novel to play on the readers feeling helps to keeps the reader engaged to read on and find out what’s happening next. We get this feeling that vampires just care only about themselves (just like how the count hides from Van Helsing when he starts to suspect that Van Helsing and the other male characters in Dracula wants him dead), which has a peculiar fascination on the reader leaving them hooked on to the novel, reading on to know more on the vampires which the authors uses these elements to keep their readers constantly endured since they have a fix focus on the vampire habitat.In both novel we see elements that both traditional and modern vampire have a similar trade in the actions they make in order to survive.
We see this in, Interview with the Vampire when Lastat is telling Louis that the only way for him to survive in his new life is to feed upon anything that being human and animal, rats ideally if Louis intends to travel on a ship to explore other countries. “Rats can be quite nice, but it goes cold so fast” this implies that it’s ideal to drink the rats blood when it’s still freshly hot from the moment it was killed. Feeding on animals gives the modern vampire elements of them keeping some morals to not always feed on humans, knowing that they have to kill an innocent person. The vampire needs blood to survive and heal extract fast like the burns from the sunlight which can kill a vampire if untreated. Rice’s vampire are like humans making it easy for the readers to sympathize with their views especially Louis, who doesn’t want to kill humans and enjoy it; shows that his still holding on to his humanity. Both novels show that the most popular blood intake in vampire literature is feeding of animals.
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When Dracula was published in 1896, at the close of the century, the concept of vampirism horrified and fascinated readers. The fin de siècle was a time when the century […]