The Vampire Culture in Literature from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight
Name: Kavya T. R.
Affiliation: Sri Sarada College for Women (Autonomous), Salem – 16.
M. Phil. English Literature
E-mail Id: [email protected]
Contact Number: 9942047350
Vampires have become a part of existence in human life, these days. A Vampire’s behaviour is portrayed as ‘the moon is my sun, the night is my day, Blood is my life, and you are my prey’. Vampires in the first place were depicted as blood seekers who killed people and were dreaded of, yet later they have turned out to be more charming than terrifying. In this paper, the researcher interprets the culture of vampire from then till date in “The Vampire Culture in Literature from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.” The paper analyses the rise of the vampire from the dark or demise in the light or life and enhancing the vampire species through cross-breeding. This brings the attributes of vampires closer to extremely alluring human qualities and losing those properties that make it a beast, which permits an interiorization of the vampire character.
The vampires are one of the most established and most predominant works of the fanciful world. The definition for the word vampire according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is, the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep. Even though, they have been defined, the origin of vampires are still unknown. To analyse the vampire culture one should figure out the commonality between the vampire characteristics from the beginning till date. “Notwithstanding the common foundation of their respective claims, mythologies serve to stimulate intellectual debate” (Visano 336). The Pandora’s Box myth helps in understanding some of the contemporary issues. A vampire is a mythical character who has become a literary hero in the present day.
A vampire stands in between the two worlds, one the living and the other of the dead, which helps us to understand the evil in and out around us. The vampire as an image symbolizes the suffering of the human soul loaded with mistakes and sins of the past and the present. These mythical creations have come to life again in the modern fantastic literature. The vampires have gone into literary reincarnation according to its age and the readers. When the vampire goes under transformation their culture also transforms.
The commonality between Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight are studied here. The commonality in the above mentioned novels are that the stories revolve around vampires. There are two different types of vampires who possess different kinds of culture and characteristics. The two types are – Physical Vampires and Phantom Vampires. The Physical Vampires do not wear any stylish clothing or cape around their neck; instead, they just appear with the shroud that they were buried with. Whereas, the Phantom Vampires looks like common people and are familiar to the victim recognized as one of their neighbours. They feed on living people’s blood. The vampires in Dracula, Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Diaries share similar characteristics. Vampires in Twilight share certain similarities, and they also have many more unique characteristics and supernatural abilities that are specific to the world of Twilight.
The vampires of legend possess the following characteristics. They are pale skinned, sensitive to sunlight physically (i.e., sunburn), visual sensitivity to any light source, better night vision than day vision, eye colour changing with their mood, heightened senses, often feels hungry or thirsty despite an adequate food diet, extreme craving for certain food, frequent headache for no apparent reason, does not require much sleep and are can heal quickly than others. In Twilight, the vampire characteristics are quite unique. In direct sunlight, the disparity between human and vampire becomes more obvious. The cellular membrane of the vampire is not as soft or permeable as in a human cell; it has crystalline properties that cause the surface of vampire skin to glitter in sunlight. “EDWARD IN THE SUNLIGHT WAS SHOCKING.… His skin, white… literally sparkles, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface” (Meyer 228).
Pale vampire skin in Twilight is a product of vampire venom’s transformative process. The vampires have a certain variety of eye colours. Vampires who have not fed for a few weeks will have solidly black irises. Recently fed vampires will have deep red eyes if they drank human blood, and medium gold-coloured irises if they drank animal blood. Vampires who have been newly transformed will have very bright red irises, regardless of diet.
Vampire teeth appear the same as human teeth; the canines are not longer or more pointed than human canines. The vampires in Twilight do not sleep. Their fingernails and hair do not grow. Their hair does not change colour. The vampires are frozen in the state during their transformation from human. Vampires also tend to possess supernatural abilities.
By analogy with Darwin’s theory of evolution, Benjamin H. Leblanc brings the evolution of vampires into three basic types, “the supernatural vampire, romantic vampire, and the vampire interiorized” (Leblanc 353). The first type of vampires included all mythological vampires till the eighteenth century. The second type of vampires are the first vampires to get into literature. They were called romantic vampires since they belonged to the romantic period. The third type are the vampires that went through transition in the twentieth century. It is interiorized vampire, in this the internalisation of the vampire occurs which makes the vampire open up the inner world of them to the reader. Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, was the first in internalising a vampire. Rice’s vampire Louis gives an interview about him voluntarily about his life, sufferings and immortality. He also mentions the problems faces by him due to immortality.
L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries is also an interiorized vampire kind. Through the characters Stefan Salvatore and Damon Salvatore the two different characteristics of a vampire could be seen. While Stefan feeds on animal blood to survive, Damon feeds on human blood which makes him stronger. In The Vampire Diaries, a vampire could drink another vampire’s blood and it is shown through Damon’s character.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight presents interiorized vampires with certain transition from the other vampires. In Twilight, Edward Cullen is mentioned as a vegetarian who feeds on animal blood so that he could not seem like a monster. “I can’t be sure, of course, but I’d compare it to living on tofu and soy milk; we call ourselves vegetarians, our little inside joke. It doesn’t completely satiate the hunger – or rather thirst. But it keeps us strong enough to resist. Most of the time” (Meyer 164). The vampires in Twilight would not burn into ashes like the others when exposed to sunlight, but their skin would glitter like a diamond. “Well, you asked if the sun hurt me, and it doesn’t. But I can’t go out in the sunlight – at least, not where anyone can see” (Meyer 165).
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, the vampires have only limited abilities like turning into a bat and hypnotising but in L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries the vampires have the above mentioned abilities added to it they have the power to read minds and to influence the weather. In Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight the vampires have some supernatural abilities like reading minds, predicting the future and influence over people’s mood. “Why can you read minds – why only you? And Alice, seeing the future … why does that happen?” (Meyer 268). In L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, the vampires were once humans who were bitten by a vampire and converted into their kind.
Through the analysis of the vampire novels Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, transition takes place in portraying the vampire in literature. With this the culture of the literary vampires are also renewed. The image of a vampire has changed from horror to an adorable kind, something just like a human with supernatural abilities.
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