Vampires Manifest Fear, Which Shapes How Society Responds To Vampires

1593 words - 6 pages

Through an examination of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula and Jonathan Demme’s film Silence of the Lambs, there is an analysis into how the qualities of the vampire manifest fear and how this shapes the manner in which society responds to it. This is achieved through a feminist reading of the overt sexuality that accompanies the vampire coupled with a psychoanalytical reading of psychological acuity. Dracula and Silence of the lambs both evidently belong to the gothic horror genre because of their association with the disruption and transgression of both social and psychic limits within their societies. Dracula can be read as a novel of reverse colonisation, describing the civilised world-facing invasion by the vampire’s primitive force; late Victorian society sees it’s own imperial practise emulated back in monstrous form. Contemporary society overindulging in its use of the vampire has established it as extraneous, creating a reduced effect of revulsion and fear towards the vampire and thus a devalued consequence in the response of society. Silence of the lambs can be seen as an updated narrative of reverse consumerism as Hannibal’s “compulsion to feed on humans” is a reflection of the monstrously exaggerated civilization of the 20th century. Therefore these examples show how the qualities of the vampire manifest fear and how this shapes the manner in which society responds to it.

Through a feminist reading of Bram stoker’s novel Dracula, there is examination into the alluring power of the vampire that accompanies their overt sexuality. This is a facet of the vampire, which creates a "greatly desired and equally strongly feared fantasy" (Glennis Byron, 1996) within the society of the Victorian era. Harker’s approaching by three vampiric women who arouse a notion of sexual desire conveyed as “honey-sweet” is juxtaposed with the “bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.” The temptress's objectification is represented by her blood odour, which symbolises her animalistic nature of hunting. Harker is perceived as being the passive figure, which was a technique consciously used by Stoker to portray Harker’s fear of his attraction to the overt sexuality of the vampire, as it is not a part of his values as a “religious man.” Consequently he responds to this through his animal imagery of the temptress by referring to her creature-like qualities, such as “licked her lips like an animal,” and “lapped the white sharp teeth.” He categorises her as the “whore” within the angel/whore dichotomy, as his fear forces him to depict the overt sexuality of a female as an iniquitous quality, which was shaped by the society that he lives in. Stoker’s recurring motif of “two sharp teeth” invokes phallic imagery, as it is a metaphor for the vampire’s replacement of sexual intercourse. Dracula’s violent blood sucking can easily be read as an obsessive sadistic substitute for sexual gratification. This is prolonged within Elaine Showalter’s feminist description of...

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