Romance and the Vampire: Romeo vs. Dracula
Vampire stories abound, from the modern “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, to the classic “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. I’ve never read or watched any of the “Twilight” series. I am tempted to, if for no other reason than I’ve written a vampire book myself (entitled Drasmyr–see my about page for the link), and I want to check out the competition. But I just have too many misgivings about the fundamentals of the plot to even bother. In my view, “Romeo and Juliet” does not offer a reasonable archetype for a vampire novel. A fellow blogger (That Fantasy Blog) wrote this review, which gives an excellent thrashing to the notion of using a vampire as a romantic partner. But I have a few further points to tack on.
I get the vampire as seducer or seductress. That makes perfect sense. They have quasi-demonic origins. And, at least in Western traditions, demons and evil are supposed to have a quasi-erotic attraction for humans. It goes with the mystique and temptations that come with evil. Somewhere along the way, though–I think it may have started with Anne Rice’s “Interview with a Vampire” series–we stopped looking at the vampire as a creature of the night, and started to humanize him/her/it. Then came the romanticizing. They were the ultimate bad boys. The beasts that every teenage girl wanted to tame. Oh, please.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was not intended to be a teenage heartthrob. He was based on the draconian tyrant Vlad Tepes for God’s sake. Why, oh why, would you want to romanticize that? Also known as “Vlad the Impaler,” Vlad Tepes approached torture and killing with a near-religious fervor: he set enemy soldiers on giant wooden stakes, hanging them up to let gravity pull them slowly down the length of the stake so that each one would die an agonizing death, and not quickly, mind you.
Vlad Tepes was evil. The Dracula character was evil. Evil is fundamental to the nature of the vampire. Not romance. But dark and insidious evil.
Trying to morph it into something else, something actually desirable is, as “That Fantasy Blog” aptly puts it, creepy. A vampire is an animated corpse. And yet the modern teenager seems to want to have a baby with one? What does that say about us?