Lord Byron’s The Giaour the vampire is used as a symbol of punishment. The term “giaour” is Turkish for infidel, or a nonbeliever, typically someone who follows a different religion. From just the except given (pages 29 -31) , it seems that the giaour has done some terrible wrong, for which he will be punished by the Islamic angel Monkir. He will be doomed to walk the earth as a vampire and murder all those he loves before finally suffering eternal damnation surrounded and consumed internally by fire. Byron writes that even the “Gouls and Afrits [demons]” will “in horror shrink away from spectre more accursed than they”. The idea of vampirism being used as a punishment is a common theme in horror stories, one that Bram Stoker  would eventually contradict later in the century (Dracula  seeks out and gains his powers by scorning god). The story’s roots in differences of faith and the punishment of the outsider, are reminiscent of the vampires’ historical fear of god. To read another instance of Byron’s literary connection to vampires, see The Vampyre .


By the use of the term infidel and the typically religious connotation of the word speak to the piece’s undertones. During the time period which Byron transcribed this tale, he was travelling through a steadily declining Ottoman empire  where the practice of punishing women guilty of infidelity (ironically). The true story of The Giaour is not complete in just this small section. The entire tale recounts the love triangle between a sultan, his lover, and her Christian admirer (the giaour, pages 18-21 ). When the sultan, Hassan, learns of his mistress’ affair and drowns her in the sea. In retaliation, her admirer—the infidel—murders the sultan and then suffering at the hands of his guilt, sentences himself to a monastery. He believes the only way for him to make peace with his god is to devote himself to pious servitude.  The crest of Hassan is brought to his mother afterhis death. This is significant because at the time Byron was making his way through eastern Europe, the harems  of the young princes were actually holding the power. The fractured poem is a narrative of the contrasts between the Muslim ideals of marriage, life and death, and punishment versus the Christian ideals with which Byron was more familiar.


A.,Marek. “The Giaour.”Giaour. A FRAGMENT OF A TURKISH TALE by George Gordon Byron (1813): n. pag. Web. 5 Apr. 2017.

"Bram Stoker." Ed. A&E Networks Television, 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

Yapp, Malcolm Edward. "Ottoman Empire." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

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