In older stories involving vampires, the vampire characters have been portrayed in various ways ranging from being somewhat grotesque, inducing the feeling of making one’s skin crawl, slimy, and wicked to a handsome charmer with conniving ulterior motives and sometimes even the ‘underdog’ . Most notably, the portrayals have been of a vicious dictator (ruling prince) in the Russian tale ‘the Story of Dracula’, a controlling monster in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, “a fine young man” in the folktale ‘The Vampire’, and a manipulative charming killer in Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ .
Simultaneously, the vampire is always maintaining the theme of ‘the outsider’ and gothic in nature. In Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’, the vampire could change between being a loner and reclusive to being social and delightful, the life of the party (Polidori 1819). However, in other accounts of vampires, it seems mostly, that the vampire has always been an outcast, distant from social norms, and almost an underdog with superhuman abilities that outcast them for their gifts and differences that make them better than the average human.
Another element that has newly emerged is the incorporation of females into the vampire character. Since Buffy and the 1990’s, women are now being empowered with vampire abilities to charm. Prior to this new generation of interest in the supernatural, it was only men that fit into the vampire categorization and, in ‘Buffy’, a female is the slayer! A woman has the power to defeat the evil unlike in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and previous stories of Dracula, it was only men who were there to rescue the damsel in distress, or the ignorant, unknowing, and powerless female .
Females were targeted by the Vampires in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Polidori's 'The Vampyre', the silent film 'Nesferatu', as well as many Eastern European folktales such as 'Death at the Wedding' and 'The Vampire'. In Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', Lucy was targeted to be used by Dracula for being confident and assertive with men, speaking to multiple men instead of just one, and open with her sexuality (Stoker 1993). Mina was targeted by Dracula as the object of his affection for her good nature, trueness to one man, and modest behavior (Stoker).
The vampire interest is now catering to a younger audience than previously, focused in high school and young adult settings, where sexuality and desire are a central foundation of one’s prime time in life. This can be seen in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘The Originals’, ‘Twilight’, and ‘True Blood’. Vampires are now being portrayed as a fantasy, the difficult to attain object of affection, attractive, mysterious, strong, and intriguing. They’re able to more easily assimilate into society and become friends with humans while revealing their vampirism. The vampire character goes from appalling to desirable, disturbing to compelling, and the bad guy to the good guy. They start to portray traits that human wish they had in a dangerously appealing way, something to fantasize about rather than abhor. They dance on the boundary of what society deems acceptable or appropriate.
1819 The Vampyre.
1993 Dracula. Penguin Classics.