30.11.10

Vampire Myths and Legends

Article

According to legend, the Vampire is an undead being that feeds on the blood of the living. They are able to walk among the living unrecognised, stalking their victims until they finally bare their fangs. Their most common traits are great physical strength, and immunity to any lasting effect from most injuries.

Ancient and often wise, these soulless bloodsuckers are able to transform themselves by shape shifting from one being to another. They have the ability to adopt human features as well as transform into other creatures, including bats and wolves. They turn their victims into one of their own with a single bite.

The Vampires of Eastern European folklore, were portrayed as repulsive, corpse-like creatures; in some cases with wings. Unintelligent and driven by a relentless thirst for blood, the image of these Vampires underwent a major change due to the art and literature of the 19th century.

Dracula

It was Bram Stoker’s novel, ‘Dracula’ (1897) which depicts the most well known example of the Vampire, exuding an aristocratic charm, and masking an unfathomable evil; inspired in part by tales of a savagely cruel prince known as Vlad III the Impalar, who lived in the 15th century in Romania.

The most famous Vampire story ever told begins when young solicitor Jonathan Harker is invited to negotiate a real estate deal, in a remote and derelict castle, belonging to a Transylvanian nobleman named Count Dracula. Dracula is a centuries-old vampire and sorcerer, who claims to be a descendent of Attila the Hun, and has abilities consisting of the black arts, alchemy and magic.

Unknown to Harker, the invitation is part of Dracula’s long contemplated plan for world domination, after recently rising from the dead with his three beautiful female Vampires, previously entombed in the chapel of the castle. Harker is subjected to the charm of Dracula and rescued from the clutches of the female Vampires (the Brides of Dracula). In truth, Dracula wishes only to keep Harker alive just long enough to complete his legal transaction and learn as much as possible about England.

Harker ‘escapes’ and Dracula leaves his castle to board a ship to England, taking boxes of Transylvanian soil to assist him to regain his strength.  He feasts on the ships crew and leaves the captain tied up to the ships helm, while departing in the form of a wolf. Soon Dracula is found menacing Harker’s devoted fiancĂ©e, Wilhelmina (Mina) Murry, and her friend, Lucy Westenra. Dracula visits Lucy's bed chamber on a nightly basis, draining her of her blood, while simultaneously infecting her with the curse of vampirism.


Not knowing the cause for Lucy's deterioration, her companions call upon the Dutch doctor, Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing soon deduces her condition’s supernatural origins, but does not tell anyone, although he attempts to keep the Vampire away with garlic. Finally Dracula entices Lucy out of her chamber late one night and drains her blood, killing her and transforming her into one of the undead.

Van Helsing, Harker, and Lucy's former suitors Arthur Holmwood and Quincy Morris enter her crypt and kill her newly acquired undead corpse. They later destroy Dracula's boxes of earth, depriving him of his ability to rest. Dracula bites Mina prior to leaving England to return to his homeland, and the heroes follow where in a final climatic battle, they finally destroy him.

Overcoming and Repelling Vampires

Although in the novel ‘Dracula’, the death of this Vampire was achieved through his throat being sliced through by a Kukri blade, and his heart being pierced by a Bowie knife, the traditional method was by ramming a wooden stake through the heart. Other methods of killing a Vampire included decapitation, burning or exposure to sunlight. Methods of repelling a Vampire included using; garlic, holy water, bibles, crosses and objects made of silver.
© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.