October 27, 2010

The "I Am Legend" Vampire

So we have already read a lot of vampire novels so it's more interesting to compare the differences. I have seen the movie "I Am Legend" and I honestly never thought of them as vampires so this book and the similarities to vampires that the monsters have came as a big surprise. What I especially find interesting is the classic vampire myths that Matheson incorporates into the book. For example:
"...the cracked mirror he'd fastened to the door a month ago. In a few days, jagged pieces of the silver-backed glass would start to fall off. Let 'em fall, he thought. It was the last damned mirror he'd put there; it wasn't worth it. He'd put garlic there instead. Garlic always worked." "I Am Legend" (pg. 13-14)
This paragraph completely surprised me. I couldn't believe the common vampire lore Matheson was using. Then there's also the fact that they can't come out in the sun, they still talk and seem intelligent, among other things. It seems very different from the movie.

One thing I did notice is the similarities "I Am Legend" has to Twilight. When I first read Twilight it was very hard to get used to the differences from the vampire stories I was used to. The main part that was hard was that if the vampires in Twilight bit a human that was all they needed to do to change them into a vampire; a point that was very prevelant to the story. Now that I'm reading Legend I am wondering if this is where Stephenie Meyer got the idea from.

This book also reminds me a lot of the Sookie Stackhouse novels for one reason.  In I Am Legend the vampires are described more as people suffering from a disease and that is exactly how the vampires describe themselves when they make themselves known to the public.  All these random similarities that the newer vampire novels share with the classics makes it seem like that is where the new writers got their ideas from.
Overall I'm really excited to read this book now and maybe even make some comparisons to the movie since they already seem pretty different.

October 20, 2010


One subject that I have not really broached yet, but that I also think is very important, is the vampire's prey.  It shows a lot of character in the vampire that there is even a preference and it is yet another characteristic that makes them seem more human.  It also gives a reader an idea of the vampire's personality.

In all the books we have read so far that have a vampire character (and also many books that we have not been required to read) the vampire seems to have a preference in their prey.  The vampires are going after what they desire but this is not to say that they will not take anyone; it is, after all, their food.  But given the choice vampires seem to have a preference, just as humans have preference or favorite food.  A human might prefer to eat pasta while a vampire might prefer a healthy young woman.

We witness this in the current novel we are reading when Dracula seems to prefer beautiful young women.  He preys on and finally "kills" Lucy and later Harker witnesses him stalking his next victim, a beautiful young woman.  In her journal Mina describes her observation of who she will later know as Dracula:
"I was looking at a very beautiful girl... a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and bointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl."  Dracula (pg. 155)
Once Dracula is being hunted by the men his pursuits are then turned towards Mina.  This idea of the male vampire stalking and feeding on the beautiful, innocent woman seems very typical; a man lusting after a woman.  The lust that is brought into the story through the pursuit of feminine beauty seems to be a trend in many vampire novels.  Vampires, blood, and sex all seem to intertwine with each other.  What the reader must keep in mind is that the sexual tension between man and woman that Stoker presents here is still socially acceptable.  This is not always the case.

In Carmilla we also see examples of this idea of the connection of blood and lust.  La Fanu takes a much more unorthodox approach to the idea by making Carmilla appear to lust after another female.  Even though this idea would not be socially acceptable in the time Carmilla was written, it doesn't mean that it was not intriguing at the time.

The vampire that really grabs my attention is Lucy with her children prey.  I do not think Stoker is going for an idea as perverse as Lucy lusting after children; rather he is showing that Lucy desires children and is expressing her maternal instincts that she had in her human life.  Just as Dracula must consume his desires because that seems to be the only way for him to express himself, so must Lucy.

October 13, 2010

Harker's Perspective

The beginning of the story starts off with the character,  Jonathan, Harker making an entry into his journal about his journey to Count Dracula’s Castle.  The reader soon realizes that they will not know anything about the character unless he makes an entry, which is a very interesting idea.  I think that by writing the book in this style Bram Stoker is not only creating suspense but also making the characters more realistic.  The reader really feels like these characters were real and going through this ordeal.  I like the fact that the characters that come later are also introduced through only letters or journals.  Again it is very interesting and makes them feel authentic.

Harker’s Perspective
Jonathan Harker starts off as a very level-headed business man on a work assignment.  While he is traveling to Dracula’s castle he is warned many times not to continue on his expedition.  “Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.”  He seems a little worried but turning around does not even cross his mind.
Later we see quite a change in his character once Harker discovers the monster that is Dracula.  I think this excerpt from the book is a good example of how the practical Harker has changed:
                “No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.  When the sun grew so high this morning that it struck the top of the great gateway opposite my window, the high spot which it touched seemed to me as if the dove from the ark had light there.  My fear fell from me as if it had been a vaporous garment which dissolved in the warmth”

Jonathan’s medium for the book is either his journal or letters.  This means that the reader will only know what happens in the story after it happens, which actually offers some reassurance because if Jonathan is writing about a suspenseful event he experienced the reader knows he survived because he’s writing about it.

The main reason that I chose to examine Harker’s point of view is because I found his journal entries and letters the most vivid, believable, and interesting.  While reading his part of the story the book was a page turner for me.  He seems to be a very observant person who can describe his surroundings with great detail.   I also think he is a more interesting character because he is the most like a writer.  With the other characters it was more obvious that they were writing letters or making journal entries.  Harker’s journal entries read so clearly and concise that you almost forget that you were reading a journal until you get to his next entry.

October 6, 2010

The Visit

Throughout this course we have discussed in detail the importance of who the narrator is in a story.  How would the narrator change how the story is perceived by the reader?  Is the narrator leaving something out that they do not wish the reader to know, or are they simply unaware of certain circumstances that may be prevalent to the story?  Something I always find interesting is when the same story is told from the point of view of different characters.  Stephenie Meyer does this in the Twilight series and in my opinion she is able to capture the characters different personalities very well.

Carmilla is told in the perspective of Laura, the victim of the story.  Many questions are not answered because Laura doesn’t know them.  The character who may have been able to enlighten the reader, Carmilla, is vanquished before she has the chance.  Obviously this lack of purpose to the story is somewhat frustrating, but it is also necessary.  The purpose of the story is to be unknown; if Le Fanu had wanted the reader to know all the answers he would have found a way to tell it.

One passage that especially grabs me is when Laura is first introduced to Carmilla.  It is obviously significant that Carmilla visited Laura as a child, but it is never explained why she decides to go there.  From the information given in the story I’m going to attempt writing the passage below from Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in Carmilla’s perspective, to possibly give the reader a reason for Carmilla’s presence in Laura’s life.

            “I can’t have been more than six years old, when one night I awoke, and looking round the room from my bed failed to see the nursery maid.  Neither was my nurse there; and I thought myself alone. I was not frightened, for I was one of those happy children who are studiously kept in ignorance of ghost stories, of fairy tales, and of all such lore as makes us cover up our heads when the door cracks suddenly, or the flicker of an expiring candles makes the shadow of a bedpost dance upon the wall, nearer to our faces.  I was vexed and insulted at finding myself, as I conceived, neglected, and I began to whimper, preparatory to a hearty bout of roaring; when to my surprise, I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed.  It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet.  I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering.  She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell asleep again.   I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried loudly.  The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid herself under the bed.”

The Visit

I have waited many years to find her.  I knew that when I saw her it would be apparent that she was the one.  My family is ancient and strong, but the lineage that has followed me has left more to be desired than I can describe.  I have visited the women of my line for the last fifty years and when I do find her I will place on her the same blessing that I have been given; the gift of eternal life.  I have decided to visit her tonight.  I have observed her from afar since she was an infant and I am convinced that it is her.  The mother I let parish.  She did not have the qualities that her Laura has, nor the features.

I came into her room the first time while she was asleep.  I kept hidden as she awoke from her slumber but when she began to weep I made my presence known to her.  She was only a child of six yet she was not afraid as you might expect any child to be.  She regarded me with interest and did not pull away when first I touched her.  I soothed her gently and joined her on the bed, where soon after she fell asleep in my arms.  I knew she was the one I was waiting for and so I marked her.  I let myself transform into my other nature and I glided back towards the bed, drew the collar of her nightgown back slightly, and struck!  The response from the child was immediate and dramatic.  Her eyes flew open, she shrieked and I was gone.

I have only a few years now to wait before I can claim her as my mate.  I know she felt the connection, as I did, and I know she will remember me when again I come into her life.