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Death at the Wedding and the Self-Confidence of Vampires

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Death at the Wedding is a short story found in the book Origins of the European Vampire. It tells the tale of a brave soldier returning to his village and being warned of a sorcerer who has recently died but has since risen from the grave and seen fit to terrorize the town. The soldier meets this sorcerer beside his grave and accompanies him to crash a wedding in the village. During the wedding, the sorcerer throws a tantrum, scares away all of the guests and puts the newly wedded couple into a coma that only he knows how to cure. He proceeds then to tell the soldier how one might cure the couple and if one was of the mind, how to kill him and prevent his rising ever again. Then declares that he will kill the soldier, except that the sun rises too soon and the soldier lives, saves the couple, and together with the town kills the undead sorcerer for good. And everyone lives “happily ever after” [1].

What stands out most prominently in this story is the deviant creature’s colossal confidence, and in the case of this tale, his overconfidence. He even boasts to the soldier, “I can do whatever I want!”[1]. The act of explaining precisely how one would kill him shows that he fears no possible permanent death from a fellow. This overconfidence is found in almost all vampire media, and maybe the fictional creature is right to be so confident, as Jeffery Cohen states, “The Monster Always Escapes” [2]. Meaning that maybe the creature is defeated in a story, but the legend and the fear or unease the creature rouses in the audience makes it survive to live again in another story.

So maybe, inherently, vampires are confident because they know they will rise again. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer S5E1, Buffy hangs around when Dracula begins to regenerate his form and stakes him in the heart saying “You think I don’t watch your movies? You always come back.” https://youtu.be/7rvx0PrEHsU?t=3m24s . And Eli in the film Let the Right One In, she advises Oskar to fight back against his bullies, and if he really can’t handle them, “Then I’ll help” https://youtu.be/_ffN9yiSjow?t=1m15s , knowing that no schoolyard-bully could ever truly threaten her. Even in the silent film Nosferatu (1922), the vampire has no problem being loaded on a ship and killing everyone on board https://youtu.be/FC6jFoYm3xs?t=50m55s . No matter the odds, vampires in media, from the beginning and to the present, always seem to be of the mind that they have the upper hand and that they are invulnerable.

[1] Afanas’ev, Aleksandr. Russian Folktales: Death at the Wedding. Origins of the European Vampire, 21.

[2] Cohen, Jeffery Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). 

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