Please welcome my very special guest, Ms. Emily Wenstorm, from her blog Creative Juicer! 😀 Emily is here to teach us more about the transformation of vampires from the Lord of the Night himself, Dracula, to the perfectly boyfriend, Edward Cullen! Read her amazing guest post below!
Vampires from Dracula to the Cullens
You may have heard: vampires are in. But we’ve come a long way since Dracula.
Dracula was, of course, the most famous classic vampire. Known for his isolated castle and predatory behaviors toward women who he preys on, kills, and then turns into vampires, too.
But Dracula was hardly the first of his kind. Various myths about vampires as far back as ancient history, including the Egyptians, Chinese, and much more. The vampire myth rose in Europe in the Middle Ages, in large part due to a combination of superstition and lack of understanding about the decomposition process.
Vampires were a common scapegoat for unexplained bad occurrences. When graves were dug up to investigate, natural symptoms of decomposition sometimes looked like signs of vampirism—for example, a body in a sealed coffin buried in winter will not decompose as quickly, and decomposition of the intestines can force blood into the mouth. Gross? Yes, fine, it’s gross. Gross and awesome.
Altogether, vampires’ reputation, at least through Europe, was traditionally of a charismatic, sneaky and predatory creature that spread bad fortune, and in many cases, death.
From this came the tradition of staking a vampire to its grave. Originally, the idea was not necessarily that a wooden stake could kill a vampire, but that it would pin the vampire to down so that it could not rise and execute its evil deeds. Other such efforts to stop vampires included decapitating the corpse and burying it face-down, and stuffing the mouth with garlic or bricks.
However, Anne Rice introduced a new kind of vampire in her 1976 novel Interview with a Vampire—a sympathetic one. Rice’s antihero, a sensual and charismatic aristocrat, was a vampire for whom his immortality had become a curse. The vampire was not inhuman but rather had superhuman abilities.
From this new mold stemmed a myriad of more modern-day vampire models. Joss Whedon turned the myth on its head—in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a teen girl is bestowed with the power to hunt and kill vampires instead of the other way around (except for a “good” few who have souls—likely the first time a vampire was considered boyfriend material).
Then of course there’s True Blood, where vampires are extremely strong, predatory sexual beasts—not a far cry from the classic myth, except that they don’t have to be predators anymore now that a synthetic blood is available for them to eat instead of humans. Now, like any human, they can choose to be good or bad, but with more power and stronger lusts.
And at the extreme end of the spectrum, we have the vampires of the Twilight series. These vampires don’t burn in sunlight, they sparkle. And they may have super abilities and some of the natural feral tendencies of their predecessors, but it seems they can be tempered with practice and refraining from consuming human blood. And, of course, they make the most courteous, most romantic boyfriends.
Of course, even Edward Cullen had a dark streak: sneaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep and making it so her car won’t start to “protect” her have landed him in the creeper category for many who are not so hot on Stephanie Meyer’s twist to the vampire myth.
These are only a few of the most popular examples of vampires through the history of pop culture. The new fall 2013 TV show Dracula, the classic character is remade in a steampunk that explores the tension between the mystic and the rise of science. In the comic book The New Deadwardians, a post-Victorian upper class voluntarily turns vamp to avoid pursuit from a lower class whose all become zombies.
All in all, vampires have come a long way over the ages. Today they seem more an enticing adventure for those brave enough to seek it. For Bella in Twilight, turning into a vampire is a way for her to embrace her full power.
But true to their origins, vampires also still give us a way to look at some of humanity’s ugly side—predatory, animalistic behaviors, and our own inescapable dark side … and the thirst to explore it.
Fun bonus fact—The classic symptom of vampirism can also be found in a handful of real human diseases. Rabies, for example, triggers an impulse to bite other people, as well as damages the nervous system in a way that can lead to oversensitivity to sunlight and other stimuli such as mirrors.
About the Author:
Lit addict, movie geek, writer. Emily Wenstrom is a public relations professional who blog about creativity in art and work at Creative Juicer and runs the short story zine wordhaus. In her alleged free time, she writes fantasy fiction.