Vampires and Such

I’ve been thinking about vampires lately. Partly this is because I’m diving into the second season of True Blood.  I got into the series late—midway through the second season—so after we finished the first season on DVD, we had to wait for the second season to come out on DVD. Now, of course, we’re missing the third season in real time as we watch the second season on DVD. It’s a vicious cycle.

 For the record, I’m hooked on True Blood more than any other series right now, followed closely by Mad Men.  I was actually relieved to find myself so desperate for the next episode of Bill and Sookie and Eric, etc.—it’s been a while since I’ve been really emotionally wrapped up in a television show. Like lying awake at night wondering what’s going to happen, imagining possible scenarios, replaying my favorite scenes in my head. On the one hand, this level of attachment to fictional characters feels potentially unhealthy. On the other hand, it’s really, really fun. (I felt this way about X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it’s back to vampires there, directly and indirectly.)

Speaking of attachment to fictional characters, I’ve always felt there were serious traces of 19th century gothic heroes in the whole modern romantic fascination with vampires. (I’ve noticed Mr. Darcy, Vampyre on the shelves and someone gave me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when it was hot off the presses…but, note, I am specifically not talking about Jane Austen and vampires. Clearly that niche has been filled.) But that whole idea of a dark and dangerous, passionate man–not quite stable and not quite sane–it’s scattered all through literature, of course.  Women love men who are not good for them. Or, perhaps more popularly, men who are normally not good but can be transformed by the love of a woman. The monster becomes the prince, and he’s all the more appealing because of his hint of monstrousness. Vampires take it to a whole new level of introspective bad boys, but it feels like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre–or Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights– beat Bill Compton to the punch long ago.  

We’ve got Rochester, who I adore, described as having an “unusual breadth of chest, disproportionate” and being “preciously grim;” he goes around “cushioning his massive head” and “receiving the light of the fire on his granite-hewn features.”  He has “strange energy in his voice” and “strange fire in his look.” And he has a wife in the attic.

Early on in Wuthering Heights, someone asks, “Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad?” He’s called a “hellish villain” and a “fiend,” and it’s a reasonable description. We’re told  “his forehead…so diabolical…was shaded with a heavy cloud; his basilisk eyes were nearly quenched with sleeplessness…his lips devoid of their ferocious sneer, and sealed in an expression of unspeakable sadness.” If this man could suck people’s blood, he would.

Prototypical vampiric heroes, I’m saying.

Please, please no one read this and then go write the vampire version of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

Leave a Comment