One of the oldest and well known mythological monsters throughout history are blood sucking immortals known as vampires. They transgress the boundaries that humans are always trying to establish. Vampire lore has reflected the values and social structures of the culture it has existed in, but over the past century the values have transformed. From the classic story of Stoker’s Dracula where he is presented as sinister and non-human, the vampire aspect of literature has evolved drastically to a more heroic immortal.
Physically, vampires have changed their appearance over the last century from the dark and non-human approach to a more modern and humanistic look. Earlier authors focused on gothic themed vampire narratives giving them malevolent features making them appear foul and evil. Nosferatu, being one of the most famous vampire narratives from the early twentieth century was abject and debase. His rat-like features eluded a sense of fear and horror to everyone around him, and his physical appearance was unappealing and nightmarish.
Vampires from early history were connected to the appearance of bloated leeches since they were blood sucking immortal monsters, but over the past hundred years they have turned into beautiful immortals. The qualities of vampire narratives from Eastern Europe descent which consist of dark and frightening apparel, long bloodcurdling fangs, and chilling accents have transformed entirely to look nothing like its predecessor. Modern vampires are dangerously gorgeous with lean bodies, sparkling skin, and beautiful facial features.
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The notable change in physical appearance of vampires over time is the disappearance of terror and evil and the welcoming of beauty. Vampires have always had a certain sex appeal, but the level of it has changed over the last century from luring and mysterious to a more romantic approach where love is the focus and instead of just the sexual charge of the relationship. Throughout the past century, vampires transformed from the demonic, to aristocratic and sensual, to sexualized and misunderstood.
In the modern media, sex appeal is what characterizes the roles of vampires, but love overpowers lust which was not the case in the twentieth century. Dracula’s character focused more on just the sexual aspect of his prey, and he was seen as a threatening predator. Modern vampires develop a deeper connection with other immortals as well as humans, but the thirst for blood still remains in vampires no matter what the time period. Since a key aspect to the being of a vampire itself is the fact that they live off of drinking blood, the hunting quality is crucial.
Vampires, such as Dracula, would hunt solo not surrounded by other vampires. The focus was more on the individual rather than a family of vampires. But over decades, the culture of societies influenced the way vampire societies were formed. Instead of focusing on solitary actions like Dracula did, society played a role in the way vampires reacted to other species. Because of the growing population, vampires tend to group together and hunt as a gang for protection. Fear is crucial in considering the actions of vampires, and if they want to focus on themselves or their fellow vampires as well.
In Stephanie Meyers’, Twilight, family is a key part of the relationship of vampires, and they all stick together to support and protect each other. Not only has the physical facet of vampire narratives evolved over the past century, but the power and force of them has changed also. The limitations of vampires differ from each piece of literature, but the level of these precincts change more with each decade. Throughout history there is the battle between living versus nonliving, and what is real and what classifies as a monster. Although vampires are immortal and differ from humans, the way in which they act varies on their surroundings.
In the early twentieth century, the popular vampire myth known as Dracula was known as having the strength of twenty men and being fast and forceful. Over time, the powers of vampires have advanced along with the influence of the western culture. Powers such as mind reading and seeing into the future help with the immortals ability to defeat their enemies. Limitations have also evolved to more human friendly affiliations, and vampires are now blended in with modern society. Although vampires have always been known for drinking blood and immortal, the nature of their kind has developed over time into a more compassionate kind.
Dracula and Lestat centered more on European and aristocratic culture and the immortal aspect of the monster where they were sinister and preyed on the weak. The culture of vampires were seen as malicious and predators, whereas the Cullens are the “good vampires” that do not feed on human blood. Throughout the twentieth century, vampires main focus in on the Western culture. Since the barrier between human society and the immortals has been broken down over the past century, the vampires in modern media are now viewed as more of a misunderstood, heroic character. Protection over the nes the vampires care about is a vital part of their identity. An important detail of the role of vampires is how they can be destroyed. The death of vampires has evolved over the last century from a stake to the heart to breaking the neck and being burned. While it has always been known for vampires to stay away from the light, the severity of it changes with each vampire narrative. Sunlight is key to giving away the discreet features of the immortal being, whereas Dracula loses his powers during daylight hours, and Edward Cullen sparkles and gives away his identity which can lead to his death.
The transformation of vampire narratives over the last century has a lot to do with society and the focus on culture. Instead of vampires being seen as evil predators, they are now seen as misunderstood protectors. The history of vampires in the 20th century is one of domestication. In response to society, they are defined by external rulings and that is why they are categorized as inhumane along with the fact of them being immortal. Works Cited Brandy Ball Blake and L. Andrew Cooper, ed. Monsters. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead, 2012.
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