Vampires are the fad that always comes back. They might go out of style in art and literature for a while, but they always come back.
Writers and readers have fallen in love and back in love with vampires again and again. I’m no exception. But why?
After a few literary criticism classes, I’ve learned storytellers and readers have a fascination with what we fear and what we want. The thing is, vampires represent both.
1. What We Fear
- Death – Dying is the only way to become a vampire. For humans, vampires are the only thing to top us on the food chain.
- Torture – Pain is an integral part of vampire lore. The pain of being fed on, the pain of the transition, the pain of a vampire’s hunger. It’s terrifying.
- Powerlessness – Vampires are powerless to stop their blood-sucking urges and humans are just as powerless to fight back.
- Loneliness – As Stephen King said, “Alone is the most awful word in our language and hell is only a synonym.” Vampires are typically isolated to some extent and their aching for companionship is something we see again and again.
2. What We Want
- Immortality – Who wants to live forever? Quite a few people, actually. Our fear of dying makes the prospect of immortality a kind of Holy Grail. Who wouldn’t at least consider that offer?
- Pleasure – From the euphoria for a vampire during feeding to the heightened intensity of sexual experience, vampires can feel pleasure on entirely new levels. It’s all intensified and compounded.
- Power – Vampires may not be able to stop their urges, but good luck keeping them from what they want. Strong enough to move buildings and charismatic enough to charm the pants off just about anyone, vampires are the ultimate apex predator.
- Passion – Vampires experience everything IN ALL CAPS. Because of their heightened senses, the world is an exciting place. They do nothing in halves. When they love, it’s all-consuming. When they hate, centuries-long blood feuds ensue.
In short, vampires are just too cool not to be around forever. From a storytelling standpoint, they represent so many wants and fears, even opposites at the same time. I can’t think of any other mythological creature that has this level of duality.
It’s creepy, come to think of it.
Why do you think people love vampires?