John Polidori’s 1819 short story The Vampyre is a chilling tale containing the mysteries of murder and an ominous figure known as Lord Ruthven. Lord Ruthven is a part of the High Society of London. Aubrey, the main protagonist, meets Lord Ruthven and accompanies him on a trip to Rome. There, Ruthven begins to show his true colors where he preys on the virgin daughter of a friend of Aubrey. This scene exemplifies Lord Ruthven’s character and motives, showing that he prefers the difficult route of seducing a virgin over simply engaging the other women who are interested in him. As a result of this rather strange situation, Aubrey leaves Ruthven’s company and travels to Greece. There, he meets the daughter of an innkeeper named Ianthe. Ianthe tells Aubrey the stories of the vampire, and shortly after Ianthe is mysteriously murdered. Later, Aubrey meets back up with Lord Ruthven only to be attacked by bandits. The attack leaves Ruthven with a fatal wound, and in his last words he makes Aubrey promise not to tell anyone of his death for a year and one day. Aubrey takes this oath very seriously and returns to London shortly thereafter. Upon his arrival, he is surprised to see no one other than Lord Ruthven, who again reminds Aubrey of his oath. Ruthven uses his sly tactics to seduce Aubrey sister an ultimately ends up getting engaged to her. Helpless against Ruthven’s advances, Aubrey falls into a spiral of anxiety and depression. He decides to write a letter exposing the truth of Ruthven, but the letter does not reach his sister in time and Ruthven ends up killing her, draining her blood, and vanishing.
The Birth of a New Vampire Edit
Polidori’s character, Lord Ruthven, embodies novel characteristics that are unique to vampires up until this point. The Vampyre is known to be the first of its kind with regards to the portrayal of vampires in this distinct light. Until this point in time, vampires were almost exclusively portrayed as undead and ghastly figures that terrified the individuals in which they encountered. Polidori’s cultivation of the new vampire took form with the character Lord Ruthven. Lord Ruthven is a cunning and ominous individual with malignant motives that lead him to seduce and kill. His almost charming appeal allows him to engage his victims on a personal level and draw them in, only to kill and drain them of their blood. Regardless of the novel tactics that Lord Ruthven utilizes, he still shares the fundamental characteristics of a ‘monster’, as outlined by Jeffrey Cohen in his paper “Monster Culture: Seven Theses”. He writes “the monster itself turns immaterial and vanishes, to reappear someplace else” (Cohen). Ruthven does just this when he appears in London to meet Aubrey who is returning from his trip. Another important aspect to note is the reasoning behind why such a new type of vampire was created by Polidori. Henry Jenkins describes convergence culture as the reasoning behind new twists or approaches, like what is seen with Polidori’s Lord Ruthven. He explains in his article that convergence culture “is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want” (Jenkins). He continues to explain that the desires of the audience combine with the desire of the writer to please the audience, resulting in an entirely new approach to telling older stories that may seem repetitive.
Works Cited Edit
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)(extract)." Speaking of Monsters (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
"Welcome to Convergence Culture." Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.