The Vampire in Literature

The Vampire in Literature

A Comparison of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire

eBook - 2014
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The figure of the vampire has been around for centuries, and has lost none of its fascination. Although, the portrayal of the vampire in literature today has not much in common with its historical origins, the vampire belief is based on true events. Bram Stoker's novel 'Dracula' laid the foundation for the success story of the vampire. He created something sinister, a monster in the shape of a gentleman. The evil of the Victorian society was personified in the form of the revenant. Boundaries between good and evil, human and non-human, death and life are blurred and unrecognizable in his book. In contrast, Anne Rice creates a world where humans and vampires live next to each other. Her vampires resemble human beings not only in terms of their bodies, but also in terms of their minds. There is no horror detectable, but amazement and identification with the revenants by the reader. In this context, the differentiation of the constructed images of the vampires in the two novels, 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker and 'Interview with the Vampire' by Anne Rice, is analyzed. Thereby, the study investigates those elements that have been adopted, those ones that have developed over the time, and the consequences that go along with the manner of construction.   Auszug aus dem Text Text Sample: Chapter 4.5, Power Relationships: The sexual otherness which vampires embody is the key to forbidden human desires. The Count does not get involved in genital sexual activities but oral one. Through this otherness it is possible for Dracula to engage in 'forbidden sexual practices' (Schopp 233). It 'both reflects and fosters a desire to break free from sexual constraints, while its immortality reflects and fosters a desire to break free from physical constraints' (Schopp 233). Therein lies the vampire's power and he can consequently move in a room away from moral society. He
can moreover control his victims (Schopp 233). When the men chase Dracula and finally meet him in one of his houses, the Count speaks to them: 'My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side. Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine - my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed.' (Stoker 365) Lucy has already been under his control in Whitby. When she awakes after been bitten by Dracula the first time, Mina describes her as looking 'better this morning than she has done for weeks' (Stoker 115). Moreover, she returns to Dracula every time he calls her. Mina finds her several times at the open window, once even with 'something that looked like a good-sized bird' (Stoker 117), Count Dracula, as the reader learns to know in the course of the novel. To 'bend others to [his] will' and 'taking whatever [he] wanted', therein lies Dracula's power (Schopp 233). The figure of the vampire transgresses the borders humans have to cope with every day (Schopp 233). Dracula lives in the world also humans live in, yet he does not have to live compliant to its rules but makes his own ones. Humans are attracted by the possibility to live completely according to their own will without obeying social borders and moral obstacles. Nevertheless, it seems that the Count has only power over human beings and not over the three female vampires he lives with. He has forbidden them to bite Harker, yet they try to feed on him. Dracula in anger shouts: 'How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it?' (Stoker 53). Humans are longing for liberty from social norms. The female vampires in Dracula have already achieved this status and thus do not have to obey Dracula's orders but live according to their own rules and desires.
Moreover, Dracula has another power. He does not want to attract attention during his stay in England, thus he learns the language and becomes younger. As long as he can be recognized as a stranger, Harker and his companions are able to pursue him. But that becomes more and more difficult. It is hard to differentiate him from the crowd around him when seen on the streets of London. He has the power to melt with the culture around him and gets consequently indistinguishable. Thus, much of the terror he evokes comes from his 'ability to stroll, unrecognized and unhindered, through the streets of London' (Arata 134). Moreover, as long as he is not recognized as foreigner he 'is able to work his will unhampered' (Arata 134). The knowledge Dracula gains bit by bit leads to 'anarchy: it undermines social structures, disrupts the order of nature, and ends alarmingly in the appropriation and exploitation of bodies' (Arata 134). Dracula creates a relation of dependence. His power is increasing with his growing knowledge and he already controls the girls of his pursuers. It becomes obvious that the vampire hunters around van Helsing have to destroy Dracula before he is able to blend completely with society, becomes consequently undestroyable and also turns Mina into a vampire, a creature they are hunting (Blumentrath 403f). This functions only by defeating the Count with his own weapons. The behavior is similar to traditional dances in which persons mask to imitate what they fear, are thus able to approach the unknown other and identify with it (Schäuble 47). The situation reverses as soon as the masked people embody the dreadful and powerful (Schäuble 47). The hunters in Dracula try to eradicate the difference between themselves and the terrifying figure of the Count, thus integrating the Other or even becoming the Other and consequently being able to
surmount it (Schäuble 48). To ward off the evil, the protagonists have to collect as many information about the Count as possible. 4.6, Knowledge: Consequently, the characters in Stoker's classical novel are very faithful concerning the use of new technologies. Everything is written down, recorded, collected and put together. According to Lubrich, this obsession with writing is a writing against terror and insanity (Lubrich 119). Mostly however, the otherness of Dracula and the strange situations get solved if written down (Blumentrath 399). Blumenberg states that persons fear most the unknown. As long as it is unknown and has no name there is no way to confirm it by oath, to fight against it magically or even destroy it. Thus something nameless constitutes the greatest terror. (Blumenberg 40) Hence, Dracula has to be recorded so that the terror he creates can be banned. There are several occasions where the importance of writing everything down is emphasized. A typical example therefore states Harker: 'As I must do something or go mad; I write this diary' (Stoker 344). Since the Count embodies something foreign, something Other and above all, something unknown it is only possible to fight and destroy him in the end, if the enemy is known (Schäuble 49). Yet, it is not only important to know Dracula, but also to observe the other vampire hunters. In particular Mina has to be watched carefully after her attack by the Count, so that every little change is recognized and can be reacted upon (Blumentrath 400f). Therefore, every piece of information is written down immediately 'by day and by hour and by minute' (Stoker 221). Wünsch even compared vampirism with a disease. Knowing the disease enables the physician to fight it and thus everything is observed and written down (Wünsch 223). Thus, also Mina's 'vampire disease' has to be closely observed. The
vampire hunter's strength is their 'power of combination - a power denied to the vampire kind' and the 'resources of science' (Stoker 285). The documents collected and put together by Mina constitute a picture of the Count and his activities, so that the hunters can track Dracula. With means of modern transportation and communication they are able pursue him. Conversely, van Helsing relativizes the use of modern technologies continuously in the novel. Nevertheless, Stoker not only describes but constantly uses all means of transportation and also at that time new techniques like the typewriter, phonograph, telegraph, telephone and finally also medical treatments like blood transfusions (Kroner 79). Nevertheless, it is not possible to kill Dracula with modern technologies and science. The Count represents the traditional, the superstitious and conservative world. So, it is only possible to destroy him with conventional, particularly Christian, methods like the use of garlic, rosary, holy water or a host (Strübe 74). Like mentioned in the previous chapter, Pütz compares the figure of the vampire with a reversed figure of Jesus. Thus it makes sense that destroying Dracula is not possible with modern technologies and science but only with the use of Christian symbols (Strübe 74). Furthermore, Dracula tries to integrate himself in England. He learns the language and his library is full of works about various topics concerning the British Empire, so that he is not considered as stranger. Yet, the short hand Harker uses to write to his wife is a mystery to him. The Count embodies the tradition, the vampire chasers constitute the English modernity (Wünsch 224f). The hunters around van Helsing exclude Dracula from their community. Stoker stereotypes the Count as an outsider, a traditionalist who is not able to cope with modernity and is thus finally
Publisher: Hamburg : Diplomica Verlag, 2014
Edition: 1st ed
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9783954896370
Branch Call Number: Electronic book
Characteristics: 1 online resource (43 pages)
Additional Contributors: ProQuest (Firm)


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