11 November 2018
In all cultures there are certain things that are considered monstrous. It doesn’t matter whether it is a person, place, or thing. Everyone has set a criteria that they use when calling someone or something a monster and only the person them self can say whether they believe it is a monster or not. When we are young, we are taught that monsters are scary looking creatures that lurk in the shadows and only come out at night. As we grow older, we begin to learn how real people we see every day can be monsters. A monster that has existed from a very long time ago (add the century) and is in almost every culture is the Vampire. It has existed in many forms and it is always changing. Vampires were imagined scaring people from not doing wrong; which is also what most monsters are there for. The first actual writing of a vampire is Dracula. It contained all the scary and eerie things that monsters had to be but now we have the Vampire Diaries which are less of monsters but rather mysterious beings that we all want to be. The Vampire Diaries was made to please the people of the time just as Dracula was made for the time that it was made. Between the year when Dracula was made and when the Vampire Diaries was made, the world changed so much that the monster we created is now a misunderstood friend but still with some qualities of a Vampire as displayed in Cohens Monster Theory.
The first vampire that is known is traced back to Greek mythology. This was not the typical vampire that we get but, it still had some features that are found in vampires of all time. The vampire monster finally given a name when the book Draculacame out in 1891. This book made the Vampires that who we know today. It gave them a certain description that every vampire story after has tried to uphold. Dracula is described as an ugly creator.
“His face was a strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty doomed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely everywhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy mustache, was fixed but rather cruel looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over his lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his eyes were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm through thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.” (Dracula 1891)
This description has been used for all vampires throughout time, but little changes in details are made to be more pleasing to the people of that time. This makes him sound like a very dark and scary man. He has very cruel features with the massive eyebrows and very pale features. People were afraid of the dark man who would suck on people’s blood at night. People were very afraid of the unknown mysterious man who only showed himself at night. Women were always covered and never let a man in the home at night, but Dracula would only be there that night and he would go into their homes and rip off their cloths and suck on their blood. Vampires are only scary if they hold something that is different from what the people of that time are used to.
In 2009, another form of vampires was released to the people but this one was different. This series, The Vampire Diaries, caught the attention of many people. Most of the ages that constantly watched this show were the teenagers because it appealed to them. The older generation found it unrealistic to how vampires are and that it simply promoted sexual activity. The teenagers had a deeper connection with the show because it was the story of high school students therefore, they were able to relate to it more than the older generation. Just like any other vampires from different places, these vampires had the same set of unique skills. They were still the pale, blood sucking vampires just like Dracula. They were able to jump very high and their sense of smells was that of a dog and probably stronger. They were very built and strong creatures which is how all vampires are like. Damon and Stephen, the vampires in the vampire diaries, are a representation of Dracula but they were modified to please the kids of the next generation because of the older generation are not going to put time into watching or reading these kinds of stories. These are more romantic vampires rather than the original frightening ones. Rather than breaking into your house and sucking your blood, these vampires trained to only drink animal blood, so they would not endanger their human friends. They were noble and brave creators that helped rather than harmed. They were more adapted to what we wanted to see and be friends with instead of being afraid of it.
In Cohens Monster Theory, he analyzes how a monster comes to be and why. In his first thesis, “A Monsters Body is Cultural body,” Cohen talks about how the monster represents something inside a specific culture or society. According to thesis one, the monster is “an embodiment of a certain cultural moment-of a time, a feeling, and a place” (4). This means that depending on the time, place, or feeling the monster changes to fit into it but not too much where the monster becomes unrecognizable. When Dracula came out people needed something to be afraid of, so they made something that violated their societies comforts. For the Vampire Diaries they had to change that fear into passion because the people’s mindset had changed dramatically and know want something with vampire skills to be with or be like. Even though they change, we still admire every form of these monsters.
In thesis six of Cohen’s monster theory, he talks about how people want to feel the fear. “the linking of monstrosity with the forbidden makes the monster all the more appealing as a temporary egress from constraint.” (Cohen 17). Sometimes people want something that does all the things they are too afraid to do. The vampire, Dracula, didn’t not care about what societies had to say. He did his own thing, which is what people were afraid of, but at the same time, were attracted to it because they wanted to do the same thing. He was a tall mysterious man that had powers to do so much and of course the ladies were very attracted to him. The vampires, Damon and Stephen were also tall mysterious men with powers and that made a lot of people want to be them. People created these monsters because they wish to be them and have all that power to do whatever they wanted. Sometimes the thing we want to do is have people be afraid of us therefore we make monsters instead of just ordinary powerful people. The only reason they are frightening monsters is because that is how everybody wants them to be like, otherwise they would be normal. The more recent vampires have been shown as people that simply have abilities and they are not to be feared. They have become our friends.
Most of the time parents teach their kids about monsters and put that fear in them. Sometimes we learn that if we do not listen to what our parents tell us some form of monster will hurt us. It makes it unfair to label the creature as a monster because it was only created to scare. The monster has no other knowledge then to make people fear it. The current stories of monsters like vampires are beginning to show the humaneness of these creatures and the reasoning behind what they do. Based on these ideas, can we really label anything a monster based on what they were created to.
- Stoker, Bram. Dracula. 1897. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
- Smith, L. J. Vampire Diaries. Hodder Children’s, 2009.
- Day, Peter, editor. Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil. Rodopi, 2006.
- Cohen, Jeffery Jerome.“Monster Culture (Seven Theses).”. 2011, http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf.
- Schubart, Rikke. “Bottom of the Iceberg: The Archontic Text.” NORA: Nordic Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 22, no. 1, Mar. 2014, pp. 70–74. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08038740.2014.873595.