Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The vampire story has been around for ages, and still remains as popular today as ever. As times change, so do the vampire stories. In this master thesis, the author gives a timeline of the vampire story and how it reflects the culture of the time it was written in, showing how the vampire moves in a cyclic nature from protagonist to antagonist and back again. The author starts with Lord Byron’s Augustus Darvell, a charismatic, yet sympathetic character who suffers from his vampirism. While Darvell commits murder, he holds a lot of self-hate and despair. By the 1840’s the vampire transformed into a true monster, preying on young women, and being totally remorseless. This vampire is often described with animalistic attributes, and is a thing of evil, undeserving of sympathy. In the 1870’s this type of vampire often took the form of a woman, more subtle and clever than her male counterparts but no less evil. Bram Stoker’s Dracula altered vampire fiction for decades to come. Dracula was a thing of pure evil, much like his predecessors, however he is stripped away of all humanity becoming not just a monster, but a demon in flesh. It wouldn’t be until the 1930’s pulp magazines before the vampire would have another major change. At this time, H.P. Lovecraft wrote about cosmic horror, replacing the supernatural with the scientifically unknown. Lovecraft’s vampire was immune to holy symbols, and wasn’t an undead but rather an unknown ancient entity living in the earth. It would be destroyed by technology rather than religion or magic. This is where the cycle begins to repeats itself. According to the author, contemporary vampires now look more like Byron’s. They have a sympathetic look and are the protagonists just as often as they are the antagonists.
Wenskus, Edward R., "An Evolution of Evil: the Cycle of the Vampire" (1994). English Master’s Theses. 124.