November 16th 2018
Truth about Vampires
There are thousands of monsters out there with different versions, which display our fears, culture, religion and desires of each era. But, for some reason majority of us fantasize vampires. A typical 1931 Dracula is pale skin, bloodthirst, razor-sharp fangs, widow’s peak and a suit and tie with a high collar cape, showing royalty. Even until today the sesame street cartoon count von count and the movie Hotel Transylvania Jonathan, we use the same appearance of a vampire, because every region of the world recognizes this typical portrayal, as it was the first appearance of a vampire on media and the most likable one too. Yet, vampires have evolved so much from 1931 to 2018 in every aspect, whether appearance or desire wise, way of living, monstrosity, purpose etc.
Monsters evolve according to the time we are living in, because every era has different social problems leading to different fears. According to Cohen’s 7 monster theses, monster is a cultural body. He states, “The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment—of a time, a feeling, and a place. The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), giving them life and an uncanny independence. The monstrous body is pure culture.” He is explaining that how monsters are born due to cultural stereotypes and the social construct we live in. Every time frame brings new norms and restrictions that create new fears and desires within people. For example in the movie Dracula 1931 they focused on the sexual desires, how Dracula bit young innocent women on their necks, because at that time it was very hard to interact with females. So, the biting is mainly showing the desire to kiss women on their necks and men can be powerful enough to be physically involved with anyone they like. Similarly, 2012’s vampires in the movie The Twilight Saga, they are depicting our time. The movie is showing the dating culture of high school students. How easy and convenient it is, that even a 100 year old vampire Edward is dating a human being Bella. And, now it’s focused more on being powerful, eternal and accepting how cool, attractive and human looking and living like vampires can be. It’s not about bloodthirst and fear of death anymore. Everyone wants to be a vampire or wants to be bitten by one now. It’s breaking the stereotypes about monsters that they don’t have to be a certain way, since nowadays we have socially accepted different kinds of mindsets, genders, ethnicities etc. We are being more acceptable and normal towards differences, whether it’s a gay vampire or gender equality in our society. “Anne Rice has given the myth a modern rewriting in which homosexuality and vampirism have been conjoined, apotheosized; that she has created a pop culture phenomenon in the process is not insignificant, especially at a time when gender as a construct has been scrutinized at almost every social register”(Cohen). This quotation from the second thesis; monster never escapes is interlinked to the monster is a cultural body thesis. Monster comes back with new fears, desires, and anxieties to highlight current social issues. Every time a new problem arises a new monster is born by us. They never go away as they problems of our lives and societies are never ending due to diversity. But, the monster brings something from the past in it. Sometimes it becomes more terrifying as the problem becomes intense or sometimes people start to accept and resolve it so only a certain aspect is seen within the next new monster. “We see the damage that the monster wreaks, the material remains (the footprints of the yeti across Tibetan snow, the bones of the giant stranded on a rocky cliff), but the monster itself turns immaterial and vanishes, to reappear someplace else” (Cohen). “No monster tastes of death but once. The anxiety that condenses like green vapor into the form of the vampire can be dispersed temporarily, but the revenant by definition returns. And so the monster’s body is both corporal and incorporeal; its threat is its propensity to shift” (Cohen). Both these quotations from thesis 2 testify that monsters always come back in a newer form and it’s hard to escape monstrosity.
Further, if we examine quotes from thesis 3; the monster is the harbinger of category crisis, “This refusal to participate in the classincatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.” ,“Monstrous offers an escape from its hermetic path, an invitation to explore new spirals, new and interconnected methods of perceiving the world”, “the geography of the monster is an imperiling expanse, and therefore always a contested cultural space” (Cohen). This thesis is about how monsters form due to lack of space or killing of freedom. Our society oppresses new ideas and is afraid to adopt change or even give it a chance to come on spotlight due to the fear of being wrong or becoming. This takes away the freedom from people and they seek for power to be creative, which often leads them to wrong paths. They reach to a point where they do not care and all they want is to do everything out of boundaries. Most people are fantasized by The Twilight saga because Edward has to power to live forever, runs at the speed of light, he can do whatever he wants. And, people desire to be like him while in 1931 people used to fear Dracula from biting them. That time their fear was modesty, death etc. But, in today’s time we are envious of monsters, as they are capable of doing anything being all careless, while we humans have to go through a lot of stress and pressure from every aspect of our lives to achieve a single thing. We desire to be bitten and live forever so we can fulfill all our goals easy. Thesis 5, fear of the monster is really a kind of desire states about our desire to be a monster, “The monster is continually linked to forbidden practices, in order to normalize and to enforce. The monster also attracts. The same creatures who terrify and interdict can evoke potent escapist fantasies; the linking of monstrosity with the forbidden makes the monster all the more appealing as a temporary egress from constraint. This simultaneous repulsion and attraction at the core of the monster’s composition accounts greatly for its continued cultural popularity.”(Cohen)
Thesis 4; the monster dwells at the gate of difference also adds to the category of crisis thesis by stating, “The monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us.”, “the monster is an incorporation of the Outside, the Beyond—of all those loci that are rhetorically placed as distant and distinct but originate Within. Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, and sexual”. “By revealing that difference is arbitrary and potentially free-floating, mutable rather than essential, the monster threatens to destroy not just individual members of a society, but the very cultural apparatus through which individuality is constituted and allowed.”(Cohen). The crisis of category thesis was mentioning how stopping people from bringing change often transforms them into monsters by making them more stubborn and determined to do what they want to. Thesis 7, the monster stands at the threshold of becoming quotes, “Monsters are our children. They can be pushed to the farthest margins of geography and discourse, hidden away at the edges of the world and in the forbidden recesses of our mind, but they always return. And when they come back, they bring not just a fuller knowledge of our place in history and the history of knowing our place, but they bear self-knowledge, human knowledge—and a discourse all the .We usually stop people because our society doesn’t like change. We fear invaders and what if the new norms and way will not favor us as an individual. Often men are against feminism just because of the fear of losing their social value and power. These quotes from thesis 4 depict how people dehumanize other people just because they are different and then these stereotypes make them do atrocious things. In The Twilight Saga the writer made vampires look like humans, feel like humans as well as live like them, in order to break the stereotypes that how a monster should look like. Unlike 1900’s the monster will not be looking like a Dracula with fangs and a royal cape. In fact, the person sitting next to you can be a terrible human performing terrifying things like school shooters these days. In the movie Dracula 1931 they made it look like an actual monster, standing out from humans, because in history there was not much education, motivation, critical thinking and no one spoke for their rights. People didn’t have a problem with differences as everyone changed to fit into the society and even if someone stood against something they wouldn’t get successful enough or passionate enough to do something terrifying. Nowadays everyone has awareness and freedom of speech and actions that they go and perform terrorizing actions. In history era a monster actually looked like one but in this space age people are smart enough to hide behind their masks. Due to bullying because of differences and oppressing one another, so many monsters are born every day which was not a problem in history. That’s why the Dracula and vampire Edward are very different looking appearance wise.
Thesis 5, fear of the monster is really a kind of desire states about our desire to be a monster, “The monster is continually linked to forbidden practices, in order to normalize and to enforce. The monster also attracts. The same creatures who terrify and interdict can evoke potent escapist fantasies; the linking of monstrosity with the forbidden makes the monster all the more appealing as a temporary egress from constraint. This simultaneous repulsion and attraction at the core of the monster’s composition accounts greatly for its continued cultural popularity.”(Cohen).
In conclusion, the question “what a monster really is?” is not easy to depict. Yet, how and why do monsters form can be interpreted by these seven theses. It’s not easy to entitle someone or something a monster, since everything is intertwined within our lives, whether it’s us, the society or our personal experiences, which is stated in the 7th thesis, “More sacred as it arises from the Outside. These monsters ask us how we perceive the world, and how we have misrepresented what we have attempted to place. They ask us to reevaluate our cultural assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, our perception of difference, our tolerance toward its expression”. (Cohen). We should deeply analyze the character, actions, context to help us understand and find a solution to that particular monstrosity.
Cohen, Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Project MUSE,
This is a scholarly article, which automatically gives it credibility. In this article they are describing the seven monster theories, that how monsters are formed. I will use this as one of my primary source, by linking the seven thesis to my topic, that how monsters evolved in every era, as well as all the other theories which link to my topic.
Stoker, Bram, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The Horror Omnibus Containing Two Complete Novels: Dracula. Grosset & Dunlap, 1897.
This is the original book of Dracula which gives it credibility yet it is a fictional book so I am using it as my secondary resource. I am comparing the older vampires with the newer ones, and how monster changes overtime. How culture, desires, and we ourselves create monsters.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2.” Eagle Pictures, 2013.
This is the last sequel of this movie, which holds most of the climax and the ultimate purpose of the movie. That how the girl also turns into the vampire after marrying one. I will use this movie to back up most of my monster thesis, and also compare the newer version of monsters through it. Mainly the thesis that how we desire monsters, and how envious we are towards their powers. This is a credible secondary source as this is the original movie.