The 19th century was the century of the
vampire. No longer were vampires ghoulish, dirty, creepy animals to be
feared and loathed. Vampires assumed a fresh persona, one of sexuality,
power, and charm. Here's a brief overview of three pieces of vampire
fiction that fueled today's vampire mania.
The Vampyre by John Polidori
in 1819, this novella is regarded as the underpinning of the modern
exotic vampire. A young Englishman named Aubrey crosses paths Lord
Ruthven, a foreigner to London society and a man of concealed origin.
Aubrey and Ruthven begin traveling lower Europe. In the course of their
travels, there are numerous vampire attacks. Aubrey doesn't connect the
dots at first. Marauders attack the pair during their trip and Ruthven
is mortally wounded. Immediately before Ruthven dies, he makes Aubrey
promise that he will not reveal anything about the pair's travels for a
week and a day. Aubrey goes back to London where he comes across
Ruthven once more. He is brimming with life and unharmed. Ruthven
reminds Aubrey of the promise he made.
Ruthven turns his
attention on Aubrey's sister. Unable to tell his sister of Ruthven's
true nature, Aubrey has a nervous breakdown and passes away. The couple
is wed and Ruthven murders Aubrey's sister during the wedding night.
Ruthven escapes into the night and gets away.
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
is a work that was drafted in 1872. An attractive female vampire with
the name of Carmilla takes interest in a beautiful young woman named
Laura. Laura and her father reside in a magnificent home in the deepest
parts of Styria. Slowly, Laura is mesmerized by Carmilla's spell. Laura
is simultaneously attracted and repulsed by Carmilla, but she can't
In the meantime, the countrymen in the
outskirts are strangely falling ill. In the end Laura is saved.
Carmilla is kept at bay by General Spielsdorf, a man who has had
numerous encounters with vampires.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
details the adventure of Count Dracula, a vampire who falls in love
with his immortal beloved, Mina Murray. Mina is promised to be married
to Jonathan Harker, who is disturbed by Mina's new found allure with
the mysterious Count. Jonathan enlists the assistance of Dr. Van
Helsing. Together the duo liberates Mina from Dracula's hold.
scholars concur that Dracula was based on Carmilla. Composed in 1897 by
Stoker, the author created the most notable vampire of all time. There
are numerous likenesses between Dracula and Carmilla. Mina, the love
interest of Dracula, is akin to Laura, the love interest of Carmilla.
Both families are of respected lineage. Van Helsing, Dracula's
protagonist, is comparable in many ways to General Spielsdorf, the
protagonist of Carmilla. Without a doubt, Stoker based Dracula heavily
upon the former work of Joseph Le Fanu.
More than any
other vampire character, Dracula built today's image of what a vampire
is. Dracula was powerful, charming, sexual, and blessed (and cursed)
with eternal life.
Vampire literature of the 19th century to a large degree impacted how we perceive vampires today. The passion in Dracula, Carmilla, and The Vampyre
is aboveboard. For the first time vampires were portrayed as sensual
and sexual creatures. These stories also characterize vampires in a
more human-like manner. In the past vampires had been characterized as
ghouls, apparitions, or spirits. Through the work of these authors,
vampires have forever been remade and have assumed the focus of
About the Author:
Gen Wright is a contributor to the online community Vampire Rave, a social network with a vampire theme. He also contributes to the Dark Network, a network of paranormal, supernatural, and darker websites.