In the story “The Vampyre”, it is easy to see the source of inspiration for the main character. Aubrey, the poor witness to the horrors of Lord Ruthven, is a representation of Polidori himself during his travels with Lord Byron in 1816. In comparing the two men, Polidori and Aubrey, we see the helplessness of Polidori’s position in his relationship to Lord Byron.
Part of Aubrey’s helplessness as a character comes from naivety. “He believed all to sympathize with virtue, and thought that vice was thrown in by Providence merely for the picturesque effect of the scene” (Polidori) That is the thought of someone strangely unused to any hardship for a person who has lost both his parents. The idea that vice is just a thing thrown around by God when he feels like adding interest to a story is frankly laughable, and Aubrey soon discovers through his travels with Lord Ruthven it is also not true.
Another example of the helplessness displayed by Aubrey is his inability to protect the women in his life. Both Ianthe and his sister fell prey to Lord Ruthvan. Considering the mentality of the time this is a particularly emasculating aspect of the story. A man during this time period is wholly responsible for the women in his life. His failure to fulfill the role as protector is particularly brutal in reference to his sister. Since she went through with marrying Lord Ruthvan it’s not out of the question to assume the marriage was consummated before she was murdered, something Aubrey would have been horrified to know had he been alive.
Aubrey’s helplessness and eventual death eerily mirrors the eventual fate of the author. While Polidori’s association with Lord Byron unfortunately led to the man’s suicide, we can be grateful of the many novels, shows, and movies inspired by this first version of the vampire we know today (Stott)
Polidori, John. The Vampyre. 1819. Print.
Stott, Andrew M. "The Poet, the Physician and the Birth of the Modern Vampire." The Public Domain Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.