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Vampirism and Literature

Human mind has always been intrigued by the mysteries that lie beyond all shades of black. This infatuation has led him to believe in existence of beings that surpass reality and fence into pure imagination giving rise to folklore’s that we know of today. And such is our obsession with doom that somehow we believe in the dark fairies that our subconscious has created.

While the age old phenomenon has been to feed on the fear of the reader/listener, the current scenario is completely different. Owing it to the coming of age ideology – ‘broken is beautiful’, we now witness shows like The Teen Wolf or movies like The Dark Rider; the villain now dawns the hat of a hero!

One such creature of dark, which has caught the attention of the creators off late is ‘The Vampire’; a relatively modern literary phenomenon. However, one can trace back the roots of this ‘blood sucking vile creature’ in ancient folklore and mythology (not necessarily referred by the same name).

While the current genre is the result of the early 18th century oral traditions and folklore, the narrative involved has changed drastically over this period of time.

Our “hero” began his journey as ‘a man with no name’ who was associated closely to The Devil; known to bring bad luck to people who became a witness to his existence. With the passage of time, he traveled across the globe, gaining the reputation of a creature of darkness that awakens at night to drink the life substance of his victims in order to replenish his own. The accounts of hero’s existence range from mainland Europe to far off lands, like China and Philippines.

The most famous portrait of our hero is found in the novel ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker who gave our hero a musical sounding name. He was painted as an ugly aristocratic with pale features that had pointy ears, long fingernails; always dressed in black. The character of Count Dracula is said to be based on Vlad Dracul, The Impaler who was famous as a ruthless, cleaver and bloodthirsty prince who lived in rural regions of Romania called Transylvania.

Later, Vampire made his debut as the first anti hero in John Pollidori’s novel “Vampyre” where he was humanized from a frightening folklore creature, thus making him socially more appealing. The idea of vampires being mindless corpses was shattered by giving him a conscience that enables him to make a sound judgment. They started getting associated with adjectives like seducer, brute and femme fatale. Thus, major work in this genre saw the central character as aristocrats who fed on human blood and sexual fetishes. The idea behind such characterization was to caution the common people about dissolute aristocracy, their debauchery and sexual decadence.

Owing it to the emergence of mainstream Romance Genre, writers started to see Vampire literature in a different light. The vampires that were written about now were rejected by the society as the world saw them as outsider thus making readers believe that the hero is misunderstood. The relationship between the misunderstood vampire and human is pivotal because the relationship draws in the readers thus making them emotionally attached to the central characters. This allows the reader to sympathize and at times empathize rather than being repulsed or haunted by the thought of a vampire.

Although vampire-human love relationships existed in Victorian vampire age, the relationship there can be seen as a vehicle to dissuade men and woman from falling into sexual debauchery. However, in modern age sub genre of Vampire Romance, the relationship is no longer lusty, thus far from being coined as “falling from grace”. The recent best seller series “Twilight Saga” is a shining example of how Vampires in literature have created a sub genre for themselves, one where the doomed is not damned.

Our hero, over the period of time, has gone through a metamorphic transformation – from a blood thirsty creature to a love thirsty being. For better or for worse? That is for you to decide, readers.

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Kanika Sharma

A crazy mind, a childish heart and an old soul encased in a fancy container displayed above. :)

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