How does an author transform beings of lore known for their violence, salaciousness, and most of all their bloodlust, into creatures to be envied and lusted after? One can read in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, how the lustful nature of man may survive after death. In Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire the nature of Louis and Claudia’s relationship is obviously born of the author’s romantic notions. Currently, in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, beings of a most malicious and evil breed have been transposed with anxious teenage drama and hunky lust.
In 1897, Bram Stoker presented readers with an exhaustingly verbose tale of a young solicitor, Jonathan Harker, and his adventure into the mountains of Transylvania to gain the business of a count named Dracula. The count was made, by Stoker, a vile creature. While his she-devil minions sedated and held Jonathan to sate their bloodlust, Dracula busied himself with procuring the woman tied to Harker’s heart, Miss Mina Murray. Dracula was made younger and leaner to better attract Miss Murray, and used his powers of suggestion to ensure her seduction. This is as far as Stoker romanticized the vampire.The author established the selfish and evil intentions of the undead, agog with thirst and lust.
Anne Rice took the romance of vampires further and in another direction. Her antagonist, Lestat, was much a carbon copy of Dracula in his motivation and intent. But his followers, Louis and eventually Claudia, did not at all resemble what Stoker constituted as an undead minion. Like Dracula’s demon-women, they were vampires, but far more independent. Though Louis and Claudia were tethered to Lestat for most of the tale, their dissatisfaction with his modes, and his aloofness of both they and their victims, set them apart. Rice’s romantic notions shine in Louis’ and Claudia’s relationship, which eventually resembled something like father-daughter or sibling (depending on your interpretation). The idea of the ignoble, but not quite evil, undead developing a passionate, loving and platonic relationship presents the author’s desire to give some humanness to creatures previously thought thoroughly inhuman.
In Stephenie Meyer’s late emending of the vampire, her gift of humanlike quality to the reanimated is both encompassing and relentless. In the story of Bella and Edward, the vampires are not subhuman or supernatural, they are superhuman. Edward and his supporting cast have not only shed the only significant vulnerability known to the vampire race, that of melting or incinerating or simply disintegrating in the pleasant noonday sun (which seems to have been relegated to a Roger Rabbit-like bobbing, smiling goofball of an orb that is so pleased to see them that it blesses them with the glittering skin of a ball-bound princess), they have surpassed all humanity in grace, beauty and charisma. As if no man or woman is appealing enough until they have had time to die and return cold and bloodthirsty. Though it is far from an original idea, Meyer also imbued her undying troop with the status of the ‘humane’ vampire, as they have consigned their diet to any that does not involve murder, therein adding a sympathetic quality. It may be supposed that such attributes were bestowed to make Bella’s and Edward’s relationship more feasible, even enviable. It worked. One could say that Meyer skewed the traditional vampire; that she may have broken it entirely, but she did not break the idea of the vampire. All beings of lore are open for interpretation, advancement and amendment. Who is to say how far their reinventing should go?