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.


  1. The prey idea was a really good point to bring up. I have never really thought about vampires killing people like that. When compared to an animal it is very different, an animal basically will kill and eat anything in order to survive. However the vampires pick and choose who they desire to feed from. This doesn’t mean just anyone, but someone of more significance to them. I think this shows that they have passion, desire, and as you said, “It also gives a reader an idea of the vampire's personality”. In some senses it does make them seem a little more human, like having a favorite food. Although since they do devour humans I am not sure how humanlike they can be.
    Another point brought up that I never thought about was when Lucy was turned into a vampire. Not only did I not think about vampires having selective prey, but how strange it was that Lucy was feeding on children. Dracula most often went after young women that were easy on the eyes; Lucy however started to feed right away on children. This is a weird concept to think about considering Lucy was a perfectly fine individual when she was human. I think it could be that being a vampire had her confused and she was so new to her raging blood thirst that she just killed the first human she could find. It makes sense because a small child would be easier to convince to let their guard down than a full grown man.

  2. I think you bring up a really good question here with the idea of prey -- especially concerning Lucy. Why does Lucy feed on children? I think the idea that she wished to have children in her life could be part of it, which would also insinuate that had Mina become a vampire, she would’ve fed on children herself. But I also think it could be due to the male dominated Victorian society. Dracula, the all-powerful male vampire, gets to feast on whomever he chooses -- in London, it happens to be adult women. Could it be that as a male, he is considered stronger, and therefore gets to feast on adults, whereas the women feast on weaker beings?

    It’s also interesting to consider Renfield in this equation. Renfield preys on insects and animals, yet he is not actually a vampire. He actually creates his own food chain by feeding the flies to the spiders and the spiders to the birds. I think this could be to show that all life feeds on other life in some form or another, only in some cases, it is considered unnatural?

  3. I never considered how much there is to be learned about vampires from their prey. Before this class, I kind of thought that vampires targeted random people, for the most part. I just assumed that their actions were driven purely by a need to feed on blood, and nothing else. However, the stories that we have read suggest that this is not the case.

    The connection that you made between blood and lust definitely seems to be a recurring element of the stories that we have read in this class. Vampires always seem to be feeding on young women which obviously say a lot about the prey that they prefer. I like your comparison between vampires’ prey and people’s favorite food, because while the initial comparison of people to pasta seems kind of funny, it’s a good analogy. Although, while people crave certain flavors, I think that vampires crave some kind of purity, which is a scary thought.

    I also like how you mentioned Carmilla because I think it also connects blood and lust. It is also about a forbidden attraction, as well as the corruption of purity, which adds to the level of fear and tension that the story most likely caused at the time in which it was written.

    The connection that you made between Lucy and her maternal instinct was very interesting too. As you said, I don’t think it really reflects lust. I think the fear associated with lust was the idea of purity being lost or corrupted, and the idea of a maternal figure desiring to prey on young children definitely reflects that.

  4. I liked that you touched on a different view than usual. The vampire's prey is a very good subject to bring up as you did. I say this because most people focus on the actual vampire instead of the actual victim that the vampire is/soon to be thirsting on.

    Bringing them to Carmilla and comparing them actually had something that I didnt notice before, the connection between the preferences of what to eat. When you mention that during the time "Carmilla" was written, it was not socially acceptable yet still intriguing, it's saying that its good yet not good.

    When it comes to Lucy, I do agree with you because I believe that she is bringing her desire for children expressing them in her vampire ways of biting the children and I believe that this was a very good topic to bring up.

  5. I really did find Lucy's desire for children as her prey very intriguing. I was reading through the spark notes on Dracula (don't worry Colleen I did finish the book! lol)and it mentions that Lucy's desire to consume children is Stoker's way of emphasizing the belief in a connection between womens rising independence/sexuality and their decline in maternal instincts. The book was written when women were starting to find there voice and also, I believe, when men were hanging on to the idea of the pure women more than ever. The more I explore Stoker's writing and try to interpret his meanings, the more I sense his sexist/limited attitude and the less I like him. In his defense I do believe his sexist views are partially a product of the period he was living in.