Vampires Essay, Research Paper
Vampires Although vampires are referred to most around Halloween, these creatures of the night are talked about all year long. Vampires have become on of the most popular monsters of our time. From books to movies there is always a new vampire story to hear or watch. Although all of the books’ or movies’ storylines and plots are different they all still are focused on the one creature that we have all grown to like or fear. Although a vampire is charming, seductive, and witty, he is also a deadly hunter that stalks his prey to either make it his own kind or just make it his meal. So why have we grown so fond of a creature that only comes out at night and has a lust for human blood? In the following paragraphs I would like to explain the attributes of vampires in hope to show what makes us so fond to these creatures of death. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines a vampire as “a bloodsucking ghost or reanimated body of a dead person believed to come out from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep” (qtd. in Baumann 5). This statement is also supported by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English and Encyclopedia International (950; 6). There are many different definitions of what a vampire is but basically the word vampire is applied to a dead and buried person who rises out of the grave every night and goes about stealthily sucking the blood of whoever is available. Vampires, like other supernatural creatures, have physical characteristics that distinguish them from humans. Generally, vampires are pale and skinny and the most widely known universal characteristic would be the fangs (Baumann 7). Right before the bloody encounter, the vampire uses its piercing eyes to hypnotize its prey. The vampire plunges these two, long, sharp teeth into the jugular vein and sucks the blood from its victims (Baumann 7). It is also well known that vampires cast no shadow nor a reflection in the mirror (Stoker 245). A vampire can transform himself into a wolf or bat to gain entry into a victim’s house in which it would resume its normal form once inside. Vampires, on certain occasions, can also be seen as phantoms (Crow 252). Vampires are not always spotted right away but because of the differences between humans and vampires, it can be done. People mostly like the physical characteristics of vampires because they are not human. People like different things, things that are inhuman, things that change and have powers. Vampires have supernatural powers, but they can not always do as they wish because their power is limited. A vampire will remain undead as long as it feasts blood of the living and is not killed (Stoker 245). A vampire can not die like a human but the mere passing of time and the growing of age because he can grow younger. People who have died by the hands of a vampire are at his command (Stoker 243). A vampire ” can direct the elements: the storm, the fog, the thunder; he can command all the meaner thing: the rat, and the owl, and the bat, and the fox, and the wolf ” (Stoker 243). A vampire possesses strength so overwhelming that it is estimated to be the equivalent of twenty people (Stoker 243). A vampire can transform himself into a wolf, can come in mist, can slip through hair breadth space, can see in the dark, and he can come on moonlight rays as elemental dust (Stoker 245). A vampire can only enter a house at first if invited, after that he can then come as he pleases (Stoker 246). Along with strengths comes weaknesses. A vampire is powerless is the daytime. If the undead creature is not in its coffin, it can only transform itself at sunrise, noon, or sunset (Stoker 246). A vampire with all its power still has to abide by some of nature’s laws. One reason people would like the powers of a vampire is because we as humans do not possess these powers and most of the time we are always wanting something that we can’t have. Another reason why people would like the powers that a vampires have is because of what they would do with them if they had them. There is nothing a person wants more than to posses the power to change into different forms or beings or the ability to live forever. No one is born a vampire; yet, one can become a vampire if certain conditions are met. According to legend, when a werewolf dies, it immediately becomes a vampire (Baumann 7). Priests proclaim that people who commit serious sins leave their graves at night because their souls can find no peace (Baumann 7). People excommunicated by the church are also liable to become vampires; so are people cursed by their parents, wizards, and people who commit suicide (Baumann 5). Some people can become vampires solely by having their blood sucked, during life, by another vampire (Crow 252). Even after death a person can become a vampire, that is if an animal jumps over the corpse or if a bird flies over it (Crow 252). These undead or living corpses are doomed to live as vampires until they can be destroyed. Although people do indeed like vampires, they still would be afraid of them and would want to know the ways to stop or kill them if they were being attacked. Certain procedures have to be employed if one desires to keep vampires away and endure safety from them. The most common method is placing garlic in front of all doors and windows (Baumann 8). A person wearing a crucifix or rosary is also supposed to be safe, so is someone standing in a circle of holy water or salt (Baumann 8, 76). If a vessel of holy water is thrown onto a vampire, it would be burned and scarred (Baumann 8). The same result would be achieved using a Holy Wafer (Stoker 302). It is said that placing a wild rose over a vampire’s coffin would prevent him from leaving it (Stoker 246). For people that lived in fear of vampires, these would be the ways that they could protect themselves from them. Although vampires are immortal, they can be killed, but they do not die as easily as a normal human. As a human dies and turns into a vampire, it is as if it has just been born again, but as a vampire this time who has been baptized with blood. Morning is when vampires are usually found in their coffins; they must be killed immediately before they can call for other vampires to assist them. There are many ways to kill a vampire such as driving a large nail across the head, through the temples, driving a stake through the heart, cutting the head off, or burning the whole body (Crow 252). Some people believe that it takes a series of methods kill a vampire. “The commonest methods of extirpation of vampires are beheading the suspected corpse, taking out the heart, impaling the corpse with a white-thorn stake (in Russia and aspen), and burning it” (Encyclopedia of Occultism, “Vampires” 1362). Methods used to kill vampires also depend on where you leave and how you believe. “A Bulgarian belief was that a wizard or sorcerer may entrap a vampire by placing some food for which the vampire has a partiality in a bottle. When the vampire enters in the shape of fluff, the sorcerer can seal up the flask and throw it into the fire.” (Encyclopedia of Occultism, “Vampires” 1362). If a vampire’s coffin is found empty, usually at nighttime, a crucifix is placed in the grave so the vampire will not be able to get back into it; then when the sun rises its rays will transform the vampire into a shapeless pile of dust (Baumann 3). A vampire can also die if a sacred bullet is fired into the coffin (Stoker 246). People believe that vampires live on and on, feasting on the blood of the living, unless one of the mentioned anti-vampire remedies is used. So why would people be attracted to such graphic ways of killing a vampire? I think that it is human nature to be attracted to such things. Everybody likes a little violence even if it is as horrible as watching someone drive a stake into a vampire’s heart and then proceed to cut off his head.
Dracula, often assumed to be a vampire, actually did exist; sixty years after the publishing of Dracula, his identity was firmly established (Baumann 10-11). Dracula means “son of the dragon” or “son of the devil” (Baumann 13). If it had not been for Bram Stoker, the real Dracula would very likely have been lost to history (Baumann 13). Dracula’s childhood may explain why he ” was one of the cruelest and most barbaric rulers in recorded history” (Baumann 13). At eight, Dracula was imprisoned by the Turks for four years and, as a result he became eager for revenge (Baumann 16). Dracula was released from prison and he ruled Walachia (Baumann 16). On one occasion, three hundred soldiers entered Walachia; Dracula had several of them fried in oil, made their companions eat them, and told them that they would continue eating each other if they did not agree to fight the Turks with him (Baumann 18). He got into more trouble with the Turks than he could handle and fled to Hungary, but there he spent seventeen years in prison (Baumann 18). Even though Dracula was imprisoned, he still had to see blood flow. Guards brought him creatures and the Russian ambassador to the Court of King Matthias (the king of Hungary) reported that: “Dracula particularly enjoyed plucking all the feathers off chicken. He would watch in fascination as they ran around his cell in wild circles. When the novelty of that finally wore off, he would slit their throats.” (Baumann 19). Dracula’s long years in prison were not entirely unpleasant; the sister of the King liked him and as a result, he was given special treatment by the guards (Baumann 19). He ate and drank well, and he spent much of his time in the palace because the King enjoyed showing him off to his visitors (Baumann 19). Dracula married the Princess when he was released from prison, but was then killed on the field of battle by anonymous assassins, who cut off his head and sent to the Turkish Sultan in Constantinople where it was openly displayed on a stake (Baumann 19). “He spilled the blood of thousands of people, but he never drank any of it. Contrary to common, popular belief the real Dracula was not a vampire.” (Baumann 13). Even though Dracula was definitely a disturbed individual and very violent, his story attracts your attention. While reading this I never once wanted to stop reading even though some parts were quite graphic and to say the least disgusting. People are attracted to violent things and even though they might want to put the story down and stop reading, they can’t because it attracts their attention. Although Dracula was not a vampire, they have always been thought to exist. Men centuries ago signed statements saying that a man by the name of Arnold Paole became a vampire because he was bitten by one during his lifetime in 1727. Within months after Arnold’s death, a number of villagers claimed that they had been haunted by him and his nightly visits left them weak; some of them died soon afterward. A party was sent to destroy the vampire; when the grave was found and opened, Arnold’s eyes were wide open and blood stained his lips. He looked as if he had died recently (Baumann 49). As a stake was driven through Arnold’s heart, the corpse shrieked (Baumann 52). The same was done to the people who died because of him, and no more attacks were reported (Baumann 52-53). Many similar stories are told, including ones about the Vampire of Croglin Grange and the Vampire Shoemaker but no one really knows if they are truth or fiction. Some people take their beliefs in vampires very seriously. At Highgate Cemetery in London, England is said to be an unkept and rather frightening place. It is said that an epidemic of ghost sightings began in 1967 and still continues; there is evidence that at least one of the ghost is a vampire (Baumann 70). Dead foxes and rabbits were found in the cemetery; they had wounds around their throats and their bodies had been completely drained of blood (Baumann 70). Manchester, President of the British Occult Society, personally investigated the matter and found that the most accurate description of the phantom came from a man who said that he had been attacked one night while walking in the cemetery (Baumann 73). Elizabeth Wojdyla had the symptoms of a vampire victim and contacted Manchester; she bore the “mark of the vampire” on the side of her neck (Baumann 74-75). On several occasions, it was said that Elizabeth went into a trance and sleepwalk to the northgate of the cemetery and then came back (Baumann 76). She was attacked several times by the vampire and desperate measures were taken to prevent further attacks (Baumann 76). The attacks stopped, which indicated that “the ancient anti-vampire remedies still worked in the twentieth century” (Baumann 77). The vampire, unfortunately, found another victim “Lucy”, who developed the same symptoms as the ones Elizabeth had (Baumann 77). Manchester believed that if Lucy were followed while sleepwalking, the vampire’s grave would be found, which is said to be what happened; but he could not be kill the vampire because disturbing a corpse was against the law (Baumann 77-81). The entrance to the tomb was sealed (Baumann 82). Four days later, the body of a dead man was found in the cemetery; it was believed that he had died from a vampire attack (Baumann 82). Strange things were still said to have happened in Highgate Cemetery but none of the stories were ever proven to be true. Although no one knows if the stories are real, it does cause one to wonder if the happenings were true and that there might be a vampire out there somewhere waiting for his next victim. What makes people like this the most is the unknown. No one knows if it’s true or not and that’s what makes it attractive to people. From telling someone how one becomes a vampire to knowing how to kill one, every person in some way is attracted to these creatures of the night. So what makes us so fond to these creatures? Is it the romantic side of the vampire that attracts us or is it the brutality when he overcomes one of his victims? Perhaps the questions will never be answered but the facts remain the same, we all are attracted to these creatures of the night and probably will be for a very long time.