“What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough talk… Have at you!” (“Symphony of the Night”). Dracula shouted at the man who dared to try and defeat him. In recent years vampires in the media have been seen as sparkly, handsome, and have even been love interests. In “Castlevania”, vampires are not the good guys unless you are Dracula’s beautiful son Alucard, you will only see humans in pain due to vampires. In the new adaptation of “Castlevania” by Netflix in 2017 , fans of the video game “Castlevania” alike know why Dracula Tepes has such a hatred for humans but the origins of Dracula from the beginning of time and why Dracula was created is quite different. A common theme in the Netflix adaptation Dracula and the “Castlevania” video game adaptation Dracula is the fear that he provokes towards humans, how he is represented as a scapegoat for humans, and how Dracula represents human’s inner demons as he is brought back to life or created by humans.
“Castlevania’s” Dracula is monstrous because of the fear he provokes in humans through his actions. He also is represented as a scapegoat for humans who committed bad acts. In early times vampires were created as an answer to the questions of the unknown. The earliest vampire has been linked to the a heretical sect known as the Bogomils who’s dualistic beliefs challenged the Orthodox Christianity from the tenth through fourteenth centuries. In a novel by Bruce McClelland he demonstrates that, “Vampires probably originally belonged to some group (of pagans) that was thought to engage in any number of offensive acts: sacrifice, idol worship, “magic,” feasting, and generally abandoned, even orgiastic, behavior” (Cultural History of…). Vampires were a scapegoat for people to have a reason to not commit acts that were terrible. People who maybe are brought up to believe acts of sacrifice can make one a vampire can lead them to not want to commit those offensive acts. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Culture specifically “Thesis V: The Monster Police The Borders of the Possible” explains that, “the monster of prohibition exists to demarcate the bonds that hold together that system of relations we call culture, to call horrid attention to the borders that cannotーmust notーbe crossed”. What Cohen is trying to prove is that the monster sets boundaries that cannot be broken, they are what stop humans from breaking boundaries.
In the “Castlevania” animation, it dives into how Dracula kept the humans in control. In 1455, before Dracula began his reign of terror on humanity, he met his wife Lisa, a traveler who stumbled upon his castle in search of learning new medicine techniques to become a doctor. By her wishes she told Dracula to travel the world to learn about it’s people and humanity. Twenty years later, on the return from one of his travels Dracula learns that Lisa has been falsely accused of witchcraft and his been burnt at the stake. Angered Dracula told the city of Targoviste, Wallachia that they have one year to make their peace with God before he summons an army from Hell. Unfortunately, a year later the people of Targoviste do not listen and Dracula finds the townspeople and the Bishop celebrating Lisa’s death. As promised Dracula releases his army and no one is safe, he asked for all humans to be killed, no one was to spared. In the end even if the people did not believe Dracula at first they did as soon as he showed his power. In his fifth thesis Cohen also mentions that, “The monster prevents mobility… To step outside this official geography is risk to attack by some monstrous border patrol…” The people in “Castlevania” learn very quickly after many casualties occur they cannot stay outside of their shelters for long before one of Dracula’s hellish creatures come to their demise since he believes all the humans took part in his wife’s death. The most monstrous part of this is that Dracula does not spare children or women who probably do not know any better, he tells his army of creatures from hell to spare no one. The audience is in shock when the show depicts graphic imagery of children and women’s mangled corpses on the ground. After this of course the humans are terrified to leave their homes. Dracula is getting his revenge on the humans because he explains that the humans of Wallachia just stood and watched his wife get burned at the stake and did nothing. The death of humankind is brought upon themselves. Dracula wants to show the audience that if someone feels that something is not right then they should say something about it or else destruction will come. Dracula does not just represent a scapegoat for humans, but human fears as well.
Dracula also represents human fears and that humans on the inside are just as monstrous as Dracula himself. In a Youtube review on the “Castlevania” Netflix Series called “Castlevania-or- How to Make Good Villains” by Weekend Warrior he speaks that the show gave us an understandable Dracula and that his pain is very human. Weekend Warrior explains that Dracula is a great villain because the audience can relate to him and that is scarier than the priest that ordered the execution of his wife. What is terrifying is that Dracula almosts makes the audience side with him, the villain. In this show, Dracula makes the audience reveal their inner demons, when we see him commit mass genocide on Wallachia. “Castlevania” wants the audience to see that humans too are monsters because at one point we can side with Dracula because we feel bad that he lost his wife so horrifically but at the same time we want to be against him because so many people are dying and innocent people who do not know what happened are living in fear. Weekend Warrior explains, “A great villain can make us [think], yeah I’d probably do something like that”. This proves that Dracula is monstrous because he commits the secret desires that humans want to do. He does our dirty work by putting our thoughts into actions even if some would not go as far as mass genocide. In the Victorian era, Leila S. May demonstrates, “Dracula embodies a seemingly boundless array of Victorian anxieties, nearly all of which revolve around the bourgeois subject’s obsession with the maintaining of clear and distinct boundaries… [that] [are] in danger of collapsing entirely, and worse, in danger of being corroded from some internal disease” (“Foul Things Of…”). This proves that Dracula is an embodiment of humans, created by their own fears. In the Netflix series, Dracula becomes a monster because it was the humans who murdered his wife because they were afraid of her knowledge in medicine. Before his wife’s death he was a merely traveling the world and trying to understand humans. Cohen reveals this in Monster Culture, in “Thesis I: The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body” when he conveys that “The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural momentー of a time, feeling and a place. The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy…” Again anxieties have created Dracula in modern times with this series. Except instead of the fear of being corroded by a disease like in the Victorian Era, the people of the “Castlevania” animation are afraid of the unknown or advancements, especially in medicine. This reveals to the audience that are small fears on something so simple can lead into mass destruction or death. Another reason that makes Dracula monstrous is that he has the ability to come back to life.
Dracula is monstrous because he has the ability to come back to life and it is another reason why Dracula represents humans inner demons because humans bring him back to life. The early “Castlevania” video games “Castlevania: Rondo of Blood”(1993), and “Castlevania: Symphony Of Night” (1997) are just two examples of Dracula coming back to life. In the world of “Castlevania” these games come years after the plot of the “Castlevania” animation. In “Rondo of Blood”, the protagonist Richter Belmont goes to save his lover Annette who was abducted by Dracula after he was resurrected by a dark priest by the name of Shaft. Eventually, Richter slayed Dracula and Shaft but to no avail when Dracula is resurrected again by the ghost of Shaft five years later in The Symphony of the Night. Humanity is again under control of a monster. This is another example of Cohen’s Monster theory, “Thesis III: The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis” where he mentions that, “The monster always escapes to return to its habitations…” Similarly, at least in these games Dracula always returns to his castle. There may also be a reason for Dracula’s return in games and in the recent Netflix series. Ironically in Symphony of the Night, Dracula speaks of humans bringing him back to life, “It was not by my hand that I am once again given flesh. I was called here by humans to pay me tribute”. It is different than what happened in the “Castlevania” animation as a human brought him back to life even if they know they destruction he may bring. Dracula wants humans to realize he may be causing destruction but it is not him who brought the destruction on them, they brought it upon themselves. He also wants the audience to know that he is not the only monster humans are monsters as well. According to Teresa A. Goddu, “Vampires seem to be on the rise, at least in [her] part of the world [the United States]. Recently, a teenage vampire clan was discovered in Murray, Kentucky, home of the National Boy Scout Museum” (Vampire Gothic). This article was written in 1999 and many resources in it are taken from the early 90’s, which coincides with that a lot of Castlevania games were released every other year since 1986. The article reveals that the release of so many Castlevania games could be that vampires were more popular. There was something that drove people to Dracula whether they feel bad for the loss of his wife or that they enjoy his purging on humankind.
All in all, the similarities between the “Castlevania” animation and video games is the fear that Dracula provokes towards humans, how he is represented as a scapegoat for humans, and how he represents human’s inner demons as he is brought back to life or created by humans. Also, Dracula is a monster that has been around for a long time. Whether you like vampires that are more like love interests or ones that want to see humanity fall, there are connections to why vampires are made going way back to the Victorian Era. Dracula is a monster because “Castlevania” wants to make it’s audience feel that humanity is at fault for their own demise. He is monster, because he had the choice to rid the world of the one man who ordered to kill his wife. Instead he decided all humans were bad because they chose to watch as his wife burned and did nothing. Dracula chose to bring order to humans in the “Castlevania” series and that is to say that the Dracula in the Victorian era did that as well. Dracula makes his audience want to think twice before they do not stand up against something that seems wrong especially if it’s the murder of a harmless woman. He wants the audience to know that he is not the only monster.
“Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.” Castlevania Wiki, castlevania.wikia.com/wiki/Castlevania:_Rondo_of_Blood.
This source is about one of the Castlevania video games with the main protagonist, Richter. This source was helpful in that it gave a quick summary of the game in a away I can adjust it enough to make the readers of my paper understand the plot. This is not a scholarly source but it is a page made by fans that would surely want other fans to know the true parts about the game.
“Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.” Castlevania Wiki, castlevania.wikia.com/wiki/Castlevania:_Symphony_of_the_Night.
This source is about another one of the Castlevania video games and acts as a sequel to the game Rondo of Blood which is why one of the protagonist is also Richter. Again, this source was helpful in that it gave a quick summary of the game in a away I can adjust it enough to make the readers of my paper understand the plot. This is not a scholarly source but it is a page made by fans that would surely want other fans to know the true parts about the game.
Cohen, Jeffery Jerome. Monster Culture (Seven Theses). University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
This source is about debunking monsters and explaining their actions in seven theories. It is required for my essay but it was helpful to have a backbone that drove my paper to where it needed to be. It lead me into researching certain things for my essay. This is a reliable source since it was a piece provided by the professor.
Goddu, Teresa A. “Vampire Gothic.” American Literary History, vol. 11, no. 1, 1999, pp. 125–141. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/490080.
This source gives insight on how the gothic horror genre is still alive and well, which is why vampires are seen often because Halloween has become the second largest commercial holiday next to Christmas. It also explains that depending on where you are vampires are portrayed differently. This article is helpful for my research in how I’m going to explain that Castlevania’s Dracula is not the friendly sparkly vampires from Twilight. Since he is from Transylvania this Dracula has a more gothic appearance. I believe this is a credible source because I received it from J-STOR a place where scholarly articles are reviewed.
McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and Their Vampires : A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. University of Michigan Press, 2006. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=310150&site=ehost-live.
This source was extremely helpful in that it gave background information on the history of vampires and how maybe why they were created. It helped me realize what Dracula represents in society. This is a credible source because I got it from the Academic Search Complete, which is a recommended source to use through the Chaffey library.
Netflix. “Castlevania.” Season 1, 7 July 2017.
This source is about the show, specifically the Castlevania animated series. It gives some summary of the story the animation dives into specifically that Dracula plans to bring death to the world that has murdered his wife. It also give out information on where Dracula was born and his full name, etc. I plan on using this information in my introduction to introduce the character and story of Castlevania. This source is credible since its made by a big company.
Warrior, Weekend, director. CASTLEVANIA – or – HOW TO MAKE GOOD VILLAINS. YouTube, YouTube, 23 July 2017, youtu.be/Bbvf1VDKhSA.
This source was very helpful in how it analyzed Dracula as a villain and how it made me realize what Dracula represents. The video was very enjoyable to watch with jokes here and there to make the analysis more interesting. The source is kinda credible of course it is just a opinion on Castlevania’s Dracula.