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Vampire Folklore: Death at the Wedding

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Summary Edit

Cemetary

Upon the death of a wicked sorcerer, a small village has since been plagued at night by the sorcerer's seemingly resurrected corpse. When a young soldier comes to the village during his leave, he is warned of the dangerous sorcerer that still haunts the town in his afterlife. The soldier takes little heed, however, for "A soldier belongs to the State and what belongs to the State neither sinks in water nor burns in fire." Hence, he sets out on his journey again but comes across a cemetery as he leaves the town. Seeing a light near one of the graves, he goes to investigate and comes across the nefarious sorcerer himself, who promptly invites the young soldier to join him at a wedding. The soldier agrees and together the two attend the festivity, though the sorcerer ends up chasing out all the guests and steals the blood of the bride and groom (storing it in capped vials); this places them in an eternal sleep. The solider asks the sorcerer how the sleep can be reversed, and, in a proud and boasting manner, the sorcerer tells him that the only way to awaken them is to cut their heals and poor the blood back in. He goes on to say that he is all but unstoppable...unless, of course, someone where to cremate him in a fire fueled by aspen wood. The soldier pounces on his opportunity and battles the sorcerer to take back the blood vials. After battling for hours, the soldier is about to lose when the sun comes up and the sorcerer is rendered incapacitated. Quickly, the soldier takes the blood vials and uses them to revive the sleeping bride and groom, upon which he is rewarded by the townspeople. Shortly afterwards he returns to the fallen sorcerer with the townsmen and, just as the sorcerer had said, make a bonfire out of aspen wood and cremate him. After that, the sorcerer is gone for good and the town lives on in peace. [1]

Themes Edit

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One of the origin stories about European vampires, "Death at the Wedding" depicts some of the earliest fears and superstitions of its time. The natural dying process is one that is feared by many, as it can only be speculated about what comes next. This fear manifests as the tale depicts the sorcerer rising from the grave each night to plague the local village. Blood is used symbolically throughout the story, as blood is often linked to life, and when the sorcerer steals the blood of the bride and groom he is, in essence, stealing their life force. This reinforces his non-living state as blood would be the primary "elixir," of a sense, that would allow him to regain his sense of vitality. The un-dead sorcerer comes to represent what is seen to be the embodiment of evil: he was an already wicked man before death, he continues to carry on his wicked ways even after death, and upon being cremated he releases a variety of "vipers, maggots and other vermin"--creatures that only spawn the birth of more evil, but can also be seen as a universal fear, for many works have been created based on the popular phobia for snakes and other things that slither.

Relevance Edit

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Stemming from centuries ago, the story has several common characteristics that are often associated with vampires in today's society. The concept that a being must first die before becoming a vampire is widespread: "The Sorceress" (a Russian folktale), a young sorceress princess attempts to reach a state of death in order to achieve greater power[2]; in The Vampire Diaries a being must first die (with vampire blood in their system) before inducing the transition state.[3] The legend that vampires eat blood is also prominent in almost any vampiric story: from "Buckets of Blood" (another old folk tale) to Bram Stoker's Dracula to other modern works such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer--in season 5, episode 1 "Buffy vs. Dracula" it portrays a scene in which Dracula feeds from Buffy and seems to gain power or other sense of satisfaction from it. In "Death at the Wedding," the sorcerer/vampire is weakened by sunlight and killed by aspen wood[4]. In Slavic culture, aspen wood was often used for stakes as it was thought to be the same kind of wood that the cross of Jesus Christ was formed out of[5].

Other Resources Edit

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire
  2. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/vampire.html#soldier
  3. http://vampireunderworld.com/greek-and-roman-vampires/

References Edit

  1. W. R. S. Ralston. "Death at the Wedding." Russian Folk-Tales. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1873. 314-318.
  2. "The Sorceress". Russian Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon House, Inc., 1945. 567-568.
  3. Warner Bros. The Vampire Diaries. The Complete First Season. [Burbank, Calif.] :Warner Home Video, 2010. Print.
  4. Whedon, Joss. "Buffy vs. Dracula." Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The WB. 2000.
  5. "Vampire." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Mar. 2017. Web.

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