The origin of vampires developed in Eastern Europe. Initially, vampires were viewed as previously bad people that became undead, and occupied with unclean spirits. Originally, vampires symbolized fear, desire, and transgression. These manifestations also helped explain unknown topics regarding life and death, right and wrong, or good and bad. They were used as scapegoats to rationalize societal problems, hardship, and illness.  While vampires were portrayeas negative or evil in the past, their image morphed into more positive characteristics with time. The change in vampire features was mainly due to the influence of Lord Byron . Lord Byron used vampires to discuss societal problem, but rather than reflecting them in a negative light, he portrayed them as heroes. The Byronic hero is a vampire described as intelligent, sophisticated, cunning, seductive, socially dominant, yet still an outcast.

The Giaour ” by Lord Byron is about a foreigner. The plot describes a western European man that travels to the Ottoman Empire, and has an affair with a Muslim woman, the wife of Hassan. Upon discovery of the affair, Hassan kills his wife. The giaour gets revenge through an act of love, and violent passion by killing Hassan, detaching his head, and sending it to Hassan’s mother. In response, Hassan’s mother curses the giaour to wander the earth as a vampire or undead.

Themes of outcast, love, guilt, and violence are seen repeatedly in many portrayals of vampire stories. The common features of vampires are continuous with the giaour. However, he also encompasses characteristics that describe him as a hero, and a romantic. Overall “The Giaour” distorts the distinction between hero and villain. Instead, Lord Byron creates a character that is not only a romantic hero, but also a vampire. As a result, Byron reconstructs and transitions a previous symbol of negativity into a Byronic hero.


Caffee, N. (2017). Unit 1: From Folklore to Fandom [Panopto]. Retrieved from

Caffee, N. (2017). Unit 2: Society and the Individual [Panopto]. Retrieved from

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