11 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Dracula

Sex, Vampires and the Fascination with Bloodsucking

Introduction

Vampires have long fascinated the world, from their ability to change forms often times transforming into a bat, fog, or other creatures, and their charismatic and sexual nature which has not only seduced literature in Bram Stocker’s Dracula but has also been the outlet of the movie going audience in such films as the adaptation of Dracula in movies such as Blade, Monster Squad, Interview with a Vampire, and the series of Dracula films.  The following paper will explore this fascination with Dracula, and vampires in general, paying attention to not only the novel Dracula but the mainstream movie going audience as well as the subculture that exists of vampires.  Two main themes of the vampire will be explored in this paper:  that of immortality, and of seduction.  In the idea of forgetting one’s identity the concept of a vampire is a great iconic figure by which to catalyst the role of the double identity.  It is with these two things that the vampire, as a literary character, a movie icon, and a subculture holds the interest of the general population.

Body

In Bram Stocker’s rendition of vampires in the character of Count Dracula there are certain elements which have become part of the increasing myth and fascination of vampires.  Stocker’s character was very enigmatic, however, this did not mean that John was not attracted to this mystery.  The idea of stealing someone’s life force, and of the willingness at times that Dracula achieved this feat is part of the lure of the vampire, “The lust that they portray on the movie screen, the woman gladly greeting the vampires lips with her own, then bending her head to the side so he can bite the tender flesh of her neck. What a marvelous image that seems, enticing us, and repelling us at the same time. Who among us can say for a moment that we did not find that fascination in the mystery of the vampires arms?” (Gottberg 2006).  It is with Count Dracula’s charm that the readers become intrigued by the vampire, and his ability to beckon his victim while at the same time having to hold up to a code of ethics.  These ethics are also part of the fascination and they are usually including the following characteristics and elements of a vampire:  only permitted to come into a house or dwelling after being requested to do so by the owner, only sucking blood that is still warm from the blood pumping through the heart, having an allergic reaction to garlic, sunlight and anything holy, ability to shape shift, extreme sexuality.  It is with this last part that the true fascination with vampires hinges.

The sexuality of the vampire is accustomed to a smooth tongue, charming people into getting what they, a type of bending of the will of the victim, and their immortality.  Especially with this element of immortality, there seems to be a certain gift and curse involved with it because the vampire trades so much in order to gain immortality which is never being able to see sunlight again, and having to feed on human or animal blood to survive.  However, despite these gifts and/or curses, the in the original legend of Count Dracula as perceived by Bram Stocker, the Count is able to at once almost haunt the conscious mind of his victim John while at the same time enticing him to become part of the vampiric world.

The ability of a vampire to bend a victim’s will, so much so that the victim becomes a willing participant in the bloodlust is how the mainstream media or movies, are focusing their plot outlines.  Vampires are becoming a subculture which allows a person to be completely sexual, willing, and to crave blood while at the same time embracing their ‘curse’, as the fascination with vampires persist the question becomes not why does a vampire need blood to stay alive, but there is a more interesting equation involving sucking someone’s life force which in turn gives one the ability to live forever (excluding certain circumstances involving exposure to UV rays, black lights, garlic, holy relics, and a stake through the heart).  Thus, the fascination of mainstream movie going audience and the more intellectual reading of a book becomes not an intrigue into an occult but rather that more alluring of attributes of the vampire:  immortality.

It seems that John in Dracula was not so much duped into becoming an occupant of the Count’s castle, his slave, his blood supply, as he was wanting to learn the Count’s trick of living past the status quo dying age.  Thus, John realized that the Count needed blood in order to maintain his life, his charm, his intrigue, his health, and his strength, “The blood is the life, or so it is said in the vampire culture. Many cultures have included sacrifice, blood letting, and drinking of blood in their worship, so it is really no surprise that our fascination would continue. Even in biblical times blood was important for sealing covenants and sacrifice. So impotent was the blood that God forbade it to be drunk.”  (Gottberg 2006).

Not only in the aspect of immortality, of man’s desire to cheat death at any cost, especially as the legend goes, to give his soul as a vampire is said to do (hence the aversion to anything holy) but there is a definite sexual drive in vampires that is further seen in Stocker’s Dracula.  The view of the Count as he seduces Mary is one in which a man/vampire becomes a part of his victim, sucking her blood, allowing one of the most intimate parts of her to become a part of him, to in fact sustain his life.  Thus, it is not sex alone that entices her to allow the Count to ‘enter’ her through the neck, but it is the need, the primal need for life, that makes their relationship one of complete engrossment for her as well as the audience/reader, It is so many things.  For many it is the ability to be so fully known by another, to be enraptured inside and out by one who could know every ounce of our being, know all we have ever done, and all we have ever thought, and still desire us more then anything. That was the mystery of Bram Stokers Dracula, a man who could listen to her deepest thoughts and travel the length of not only the world, but time itself to win her back. A woman who would stand by him, even against God himself. This is the true romance of the legend, the image that entices us beyond understanding.” (Gottberg 2006).

Conclusion

It seems then that this paper has explored two main points of the fascination with vampires, or Count Dracula, that is:  immortality, and seduction.  In these two elements the main stream culture of the movie going audience is enthralled as well as readers of Stocker’s work.  These two main themes or characteristics of the vampire are what continually entice a person to read up on vampires, to watch movies, to delve into the darker realms of the subculture and to explore the idea of immortality, of sucking the life blood from a willing or even unwilling victim and to become so intrinsically a part of someone to know their thoughts, to know their heart beat, to depend on them for true sustenance, that it is no wonder that there remains, after hundreds of years, this verdant image of a charming man or woman in a cloak, knocking on one’s door asking permission to come in and to suck their blood.

The idea of possession is a turn on for the subculture of vampires just as it was for Count Dracula; the kind of dependence on someone for a life force as well as the control the vampire has over their  victim is what makes this subculture so fascinating and how it can attract the type of crowd that it attracts.  Thus, the subculture of the vampire is not merely about bloodsucking but involves something quite animal and quite human about it; it involves allowing someone to take control of one as well as force control on another person, the turn on then becomes power through possession.  Although critics might argue that the vampire is a lonesome creature, cursed to walk the earth for eternity, living without a soul, but with the rise of this as a subculture and the popularity it has attracted over the years, it seems that vampirism is becoming more mainstream as more movies are made glamorizing the sex appeal of vampires and the fact that eternity is the natural attraction of this subculture and the young are always attracted to maintaining their youth.  The vampire victim is almost always willing.

Work Cited

Gottberg, C.  Why a Fascination with Vampires.  2006.  Online.  Retrieved 5

November 2007.  <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/110969/why_a_fascination_of_vampires.html?page=3>

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