The nineteenth century was the Century of the Vampire. No longer were vampires ghoulish, creepy, dirty creatures to be feared and loathed. Vampires took on a new persona, one of sexuality, charm, and power. Here’s a brief look at three works of vampire fiction that fueled today’s vampire mania.
You will likely write a series of essays [Narrative, Example, Definition, Argumentative, Classification, Process, Description, Informative and Literary Analysis] required in high school and then again in college. My comments will help you not to make errors common to student writing. —-Miss McCulla
“The Vampyre” by John Polidori
Written in 1819, this short story is considered the foundation of the modern romantic vampire. A young Englishman named Aubrey meets Lord Ruthven, a newcomer to London society and a man of mysterious origin. Aubrey and Ruthven begin traveling southern Europe. Numerous vampire attacks occur along their travels. Aubrey doesn’t put it together at first. Bandits attack the pair during their journey and Ruthven is mortally wounded. 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 returns to London where he comes across Ruthven who is alive and unharmed. Ruthven reminds Aubrey of the oath he made.
Ruthven turns his attention to Aubrey’s sister. Unable to tell his sister of Ruthven’s true nature, Aubrey has a nervous breakdown and dies. The couple is wed and Ruthven kills Aubrey’s sister on their wedding night. Ruthven then escapes into the night.
The essay would be more effective if you added a touch of personality (your opinion).
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Carmilla is a novella published in 1872. A female vampire named Carmilla takes an interest in a young woman named Laura. Laura and her father live in a castle in the forests of Styria. Slowly, Laura is entranced by Carmilla’s spell, but she is simultaneously repulsed by Carmilla, too. In the end, she is unable to resist Carmilla.
Meanwhile, the peasants in the countryside are mysteriously falling ill. Because of suspicions this sicknesses arouse, Laura is saved. Carmilla is finally fought off by General Spielsdorf, a man who has had previous encounters with vampires.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula tells the story of Count Dracula, a vampire who falls in love with Mina Murray. Mina is engaged to Jonathan Harker, who is distressed by Mina’s infatuation with the mysterious Count. Jonathan enlists the help of Dr. Van Helsing. Together the duo frees Mina from Dracula’s hold.
Modern scholars agree that Dracula was based on Carmilla. Written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, the Irish author created the most well-known vampire of all time. There are many similarities between Dracula and Carmilla. Mina (Dracula’s love interest) is similar to Laura (Carmilla’s love interest). Both families are of noble lineage. Van Helsing (the protagonist of Dracula) is similar in many ways to General Spielsdorf (Carmilla’s protagonist). Without a doubt, Stoker drew heavily upon the earlier work of Joseph Le Fanu.
More than any other vampire character, Dracula most shaped today’s description of a vampire. Dracula was charming, sexual, powerful, blessed and cursed with eternal life.
Vampire literature of the nineteenth century heavily influenced how we view vampires today. The sexuality in The Vampyre, Carmilla, and Dracula is overt. Never before were vampires portrayed as sensual and sexual beings. These stories also present vampires in a more human-like manner. Previously vampires had been portrayed as ghouls, spirits, or apparitions. Through the work of these authors, vampires have forever been redefined and have become the focus of modern-day horror.
Miss McCulla is a retired English teacher of 32 years. She has Mastery of the grammar and mechanics of English, and has taught expository writing, fictional writing, and rhetorical skills to hundreds of students and aspiring writers throughout her career. She has written/edited/self-published five books and currently writes for and edits a writing blog called The Underground Tutor where she gathers essays, articles, entries, papers, manuals, profiles, criticisms, and analyses of literature, just like those asked of students and writers in the university and publishing houses.
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