According to popular legend, the modern vampire was created two hundred years ago by a group of friends who gathered at a lake and had a competition to see who could create the most terrifying story. John Polidori was among this group and created the classic literary “Vampyre.” As a result, there are two main branches of the vampire: the romantic hero and the undead monster. The vampire seems to cross every person around the world in different ways (Del Toro and Hogan 67-68). Vampires are immortal in the sense that even though they can be killed physically, what they represent can’t die. They will always be with us in different ways. “…the vampire does not seek to obliterate us…the vampire emphasizes the eternal in us” (Del Toro and Hogan 68). Vampires are exactly what makes us inherently human: in the ways that they adapt and in the ways that they menace women. People become vampires to be able to say things and commit actions that are ingrained in the human persona, but are considered to be taboo. People who identify with or are “actual” vampires are not afraid to push the status quo.
The true essence of a vampire lies in their adaptability (Del Toro and Hogan 69). If you can adapt as an individual to any situation that you are thrown into, you then become immortal. Nothing can destroy you.
We are still ultimately vulnerable to our fates and our nightmares…Science becomes modern man’s superstition. It allows him to experience fear and awe again and to believe in the things he cannot see (Del Toro and Hogan 69).
Del Toro and Hogan are correct. Science can take away from life. Constantly, we must adapt to new technology and the more we do the further removed we become. In this way, science becomes a vampire. Science instills fear because it is the unknown in a vast majority of people. It is new to us as a people and doesn’t entirely make sense, but it will not go away. We must adapt to these changes and in this way science becomes an essential part of our lives that was once dominated by religion and superstition.
Throughout our times, science has evolved to the point where it is another trait that is ingrained into every human being. With the use of the internet, smart phones, and applications such as Facebook, we can become anyone or anything that we want to be.
In the case of the virtual vampire, one can assume the removal of the reality of the blood and the penetration of the bite bring the excess of the vampire in to the range of the acceptable – one, which the social system of the online world can expand and reform to include. Without the excess of violence and Eros the virtual vampire becomes the monster that is us (Stevens 22).
In this persona, we can escape social construct and what is considered “normal” by our current society. This persona can be used for evil or for good. We see the vampiric qualities mostly in its evil use: menacing, bullying, date rape, pedophilia to name a few. The use of the internet can take away from the traditional literary or film aspect of a vampire and make them somewhat socially acceptable. (People become big and bad behind a screen!)
We can adapt to a new character, just like the vampire. The vampire stands for who and what is socially unacceptable in society – those who do not want to conform to what society deems is appropriate. It takes a spin and not only represents what we fear, but what we most desire (Stevens 19). No one person truly wishes to conform to what society deems acceptable. It is almost as if we stray from the norm because it is taboo; we desire what we shouldn’t want. I would even go as far as to say we do this to seek attention from others. Many things scare us as people, but if we face our fears we have a desire to change and that is how we adapt.
Vampires also have turned to women throughout history as an instrument to perform their bidding. Vampires are almost always male (even though they haven’t been recently), and their bite is an essential part of how they “menace women” (Auerbach 104). They use women to help them to adapt to their current situation.
The vampire, and more specifically the vampire bite, has long been associated with the penetration and oral fixation of the bite, as well as its associated reproductive and infective potential highlights its explicit sexual connotations. The bite promotes the possibility of the transference of venereal disease through a sexless penetration and with this the sacrilege of the virginal ‘rebirth’ (Stevens 20).
With his bite, the vampire holds all the power. He allow us to be reborn and become new again. He replenishes us with energy. We can become anyone or anything we wish to be and our character cannot die. The old part of us does die and with the new our fears are gone.
This erotic act explains Auerbach’s menace towards women in a physical sense as well as in a real-world aspect. “…they promised protection against a destiny of girdles, spike heels, and approval” (Auerbach 103). This also points out the rebirth Steven’s explained. Women who defy the status quo no longer need a male presence to complete themselves. Women can become their own saviors.
Vampires and what they represent, in this case going against the social norm, provide an escape for women from becoming what society says they should be. This is important because it stresses the vampiric aspect of high energy movement and their motivation to go against what is generally accepted in society. These examples can be seen through different events over the course of history, especially in America in the twentieth century.
Presidents can also become metaphorically vampiric. President Roosevelt said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Many years later, President Nixon took that mantra and used to help the current citizens of America relate to their present situation. “Freedom from fear is a basic right of every American. We must restore it.” This campaign helped Americans to come to terms with the concept of “them” against “us.” Future presidents spun it another way. They adapted the terminology and used it create fear among citizens in the eighties and nineties. The presidents absorbed their power from their constituents. This fear mongering can be seen in such political actions such as the war on drugs, terrorism, and the AIDS epidemic. (Which is particularly poignant due to the relationship between vampires and blood.) (Auerbach 102).
A male vampire doesn’t even necessarily have to turn his victim in order to influence her. As seen in the video game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the relationship between the half vampire character Alucard and the vampire hunter Maria, alludes to this fact. Alucard returns to his father’s castle after a five year hiatus in order to stop his incessant need to kill humans. Maria is in the castle to find what has become of her brother, Richter Belmont, the greatest of all vampire hunters. It was assumed that he traveled to the castle to defeat Dracula but was never seen again.
Upon meeting Alucard, Maria is a little apprehensive to speak. When she does, she questions Alucard as to why he is currently in the cursed castle. Alucard explains that he is looking for his father, Count Dracula, who is the ruler of the castle. From then on, the relationship between the two changes. Alucard, even though he is only half vampire, has an aura about him. Throughout the course of several conversations, she asks many questions. She begins to realize that Alucard may be able to help her find her brother.
Alucard has another agenda. He ultimately doesn’t care as to why she is in the castle. He explains that on his travels throughout the castle he has seen a man who looks and sounds like her brother, but doesn’t exactly fit her description of how he should be. He tells Maria that there is a coldness to her brother and that something appears to be wrong. Alucard believes that Richter is possessed and needs to be destroyed and tries to convince Maria of that fact.
The problem with this is that Alucard, in his vampire form, convinced a woman to agree to his conception of what was going on with her brother. There was no evidence other than the allure of his character and his spoken word. He adapted to her way of thinking: her concern for her brother. His appeal and his charm did wonders for her womanly brain.
Depending on how you play your game, there are four different alternate endings. To make matters worse, one of them is an ending in which Maria rides off into the sunset with Alucard, leaving her brother in a broken and defeated state. This was a bad decision for a woman who had met someone a short time ago that ultimately had intentions of destroying the whole castle and everyone in it. Alucard ultimately had no care or concern for her or her brother. (But I guess that’s the way a vampire works, isn’t it?) Maria’s attitude is ultimately taboo because she decided to follow a vampire to complete her dream of rescuing her brother. She has no independent thought and fulfilled all of Alucard’s wishes in order to fulfill her own.
Vampires can be killed in a physical sense but throughout history and through different world events and views they are shown to be immortal in the things that they represent. They can always adapt to whatever situation is at hand, particularly when it suits their best interest. “But since vampires are immortal, they are free to change incessantly. Eternally alive, they embody not fear of death, but fear of life: their power and their curse is their undying vitality” (Auerbach 103). Vampires are us in every sense of their being. We can adapt to change who we are and how others perceive us. Time becomes relative to the vampire because no matter what is going on they will find a way to be present in society.
Vampires are us in every sense of our being. They instill fear because they take on many shapes and forms. They cannot die, are invincible, and they are energetic and adaptable. They challenge us to escape reality; all social constructs are erased, what is taboo is now acceptable. They are important because as soon as we understand their significance in society, they tell us that we are the same as them and it will be this way all throughout history and, more than likely, forever (Auerbach 105). They just simply won’t go away; they are immortal. We are vampires: we menace, adapt, change, transform…all with a high amount of energy and motivation to boot.
Auerbach, Nina. “Living with the Undead.” Something Wicked This Way Comes. Myth Ink Books: New York 2014. Pages 101-105. Print.
Del Toro, Guillermo. Hogan, Chuck. “Why Vampires Never Die.” Something Wicked This Way Comes. Myth Ink Books: New York 2014. Pages 67-70. Print.
Konami. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. KCET: Tokyo, Japan. 1997.
Stevens, Kirsten. “Conformity through Transgression: The Monstrous Other and Virtual Vampires.” Proteus 26 No. 2. Shippensburg University, PA, 2009. Pages 19-24. Print.