I have a new post at Global Comment
Despite the advances of modern science, we live in a world that remains captivated by the occult. We have put a man on the moon, cured many diseases that were once deadly, and live in a time of such abundance that it would seem decadent to our ancestors. Even with all of this progress, vampires continues to entangle themselves in our cultural discourse. Not content to be the mere subject of urban legend, the vampire has slowly carved a secure niche in popular culture.
Tales of vampires continue to circle the globe, taking on different meanings which are specific to generation and culture. When vampires made their first appearance, they were far from the seductive creatures that we visualize today. As vampires have evolved, so too has their ability to tempt us. From the (literally) dazzling vampires of Twilight to the brooding Nordic nightwalker Eric of “True Blood,” it is the marriage of dark and light, represented in the vampires’ physical bodies and black souls, that leaves us breathless.
Bram Stoker breathed new life into vampire mythology with publication of his 1897 novel, Dracula. Through a series of letters and newspaper clippings, he tells of a vampire that wants to live in the modern world. We learn of the count’s heartbreaking beauty and his ability to bond with humans through the sharing of blood, thus establishing a hold and a form of control. Wilhelmina Murray, the female protagonist, finds that she is unable to defend herself against the advances of the dark count.
Many themes of Stoker’s novel are easily recognizable in the vampire lore of today. Throughout the Twilight saga, Meyer repeatedly reminds the reader of how alluringly beautiful the Cullen family is. When Edward first reveals his body to Bella, she is overwhelmed, because it “glitters like diamonds” in the sun. Clearly, this not a human characteristic and yet the image is enough to solidify her erotic captivation with him. Unlike Wilhelmina, Bella is well aware of what she is looking at. Even though Edward is fang-less, and thus playing upon vampire myths of old, it is the venom that makes his skin sparkle, reminding the reader that even in his beauty there is cause to recognize the danger he poses to humans.