What is the one blood-drinking creature that many have believed to have existed since ancient times, in numerous civilizations from the ancient Hebrews to the Greeks and Romans (Lecoteux 25), and continues to enthrall people today? The answer to this is the vampire, which has taken on many different forms, both in mythology and in relation to its appearance. Vampires differ in appearance. This ranges from their short, feral-like depictions in medieval times to the overtly sexualized of vampires in modern media. However, they have continued to enthrall people for millennia. Vampires are known for drinking human blood, being weak to sunlight, and overall dedicating themselves to evil. Vampires are therefore a dark entity that in many ways is a reflection of darker aspects of humanity. This essay explores what vampires are, how they have been regarded, and how they assume this dark reflection of humanity.
As a dark reflection, vampires are identified by their occasional human appearance, but their true form represents their more monstrous attributes. The main characterization of the vampire is that it needs human blood to survive. It can also change form, sometimes into other creatures such as a bat. Vampires differ in vulnerabilities, but as popularized in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one of the few ways a vampire can be killed is with a stake to the heart. Otherwise they are immortal. They have fangs, which can retract. However, what makes the vampire most dangerous is that it can blend with humans. The vampire also tends to seduce its victims, rather than attack them directly. This makes vampires regarded as one of the most dangerous creatures.
Because they have been regarded as seductive monsters, vampires have fascinated humanity for millennia. They are unique in that they are unlike most other mythological monsters, which simply attack their victims. Vampires are highly intelligent, and in more recent works, there has been a tragic element associated with their existence. The popularization of Bram Stoker’s Dracula also introduced a sexual element, related to how vampires seduce their victims. This has given rise to modern depictions of vampires, as seen in popular films such as Twilight. Newer vampires tend to be attractive and tragic figures, but still needing to feed on human blood. For this reason, vampires have been come to be associated with a dark reflection of humanity.
The reason vampires reflect the darker side of human needs and desires is because they were once human themselves. Unlike other monsters, vampires are humans that have been converted into vampires. The need to feed on human blood can be seen as a metaphor for how humans can sometimes drain others. This can be seen on a societal level, such as economic exploitation. Or, it can be on an individual level, such as draining someone’s emotions in a relationship. The seductive element can also be seen as a form of human manipulation. Overall, vampires are a reflection of the negative side of humanity.
Vampires have captured audiences throughout history. What makes their mythology so enduring is that they represent relatable themes. Their monstrous forms and need to drink blood highlight the dangers of predators. As society evolved, they began to represent more social forms of threat, such as the idea of hidden monsters blending into society. In this way, vampires have become a reflection of humanity’s darker self. They represent our hidden desires while also cautioning us against them. For this reason, vampires have continued to fascinate humanity for thousands of years, and they have continued to evolve in form in the same way that societies have evolved for thousands of years.
- Lecouteux, Claude. The Secret History of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms and Hidden Purposes. Simon and Schuster, 2010.
- Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Archibald Constable and Company, 1897.