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Referat: Myth of the Vampire (essay)

Alles zu Anne Rice  - The Queen of the Damned

The Myth of the Vampire

The belief in vampires is spread wide around the world. The first recordings of vampires are from the middle ages, mainly located in Eastern Europe. How this myth evolved is unclear. But there are some theories about their appearance, unfortunately without any evidences for one of these.

The Slavic Belief
However, in Europe it is likely that the origins of vampire beliefs come from the Slavic spiritualism. Before and, in some regions even after these lands were Christianized, they had many pagan rituals and beliefs. They had rituals like ancestor worship and they believed in spirits and demons. These spirits could appear at will in various forms and could help but also harm people. This belief is also connected with the belief in witches. These spirits could also participate in malevolent activities such as obstructing the harvest, sucking the blood of livestock and drowning people. Because of this, people thought they have to appease the spirits to prevent them from doing evil things. The Slavs also believed, that after a person's death, his soul wanders around the neighborhood for 40 days before moving on to an eternal afterlife. That's why people kept the windows and doors of the dead persons house open, so that the soul could pass through. During this time, so they believed, the soul could reenter the corpse to bring havoc upon its family and neighbors. In order to prevent something like that, they put much effort in the burial of a person so that the soul wouldn't become unclean. An unclean soul was so fearful to the Slavs because of its potential for vengeance. From these beliefs derives the invention of the Vampire. A Vampire is the manifestation of an unclean soul or spirit possessing a deceased body. This creature is considered to be vengeful and jealous towards the living and needing their blood to sustain its body's existence.
Anne Rice - "The Queen of the Damned
This theory was picked up by the American author Anne Rice, which was the starting point of her famous novels "The Vampire Chronicles basing on this Slavic belief.
The third volume of the Vampire Chronicles with the title "The Queen of the Damned is told in five parts.
The famous rock star Lestat, who has revealed to be a vampire in the first two volumes, and who is now known all over the world prepares for a concert in San Francisco. Due to his outing lots of vampires regard him as an enemy who harms their existence and their past, because in all his songs he reveals ancient secrets of their history. And the only way to made him stop is to destroy him during his concert, even for the risk of exposing themselves.
But there is another thing to worry about. A mysterious dream disturbs the sleep of a group of men and women, both vampires and mortals, all over the world, but no one understands the meaning. The dream is about two red-haired twins who are attending a sort of ceremony, in which the twins are carrying plates with a brain and a heart on them. In front of them there lie a beautiful dead women - it seems to be the funeral of their mother. But suddenly there come soldiers and haunt and torture the twins and cut out the tongue of the one girl and the eyes of the other one. In the beginning the dream is incoherent and blurred for the dreamers, but as they move towards each other the nightmare become clearer and clearer the closer they get. But no one can say who the twins are.
However, the central point in this book, where all the stories lead to, is the greatest problem the vampires ever had to fight - their own mother. Awoken from 6,000 years of sleep, Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, plans to clean the world of all men, in order to create a peaceful and mighty world just out of women.
Akasha has taken the mischievous vampire, Lestat, as her immortal lover and as her new king. She has also destroyed all other vampires, except for a few of Lestat's close friends. And exactly these friends try to stop Akasha in order to save the world of the human and of their own.
In the end, everything is cleared up and the story becomes a clear and logical story. The mysterious dream is being revealed. The twins, Maharet and Mekare were the victims of the cruelty of the Queen in the ancient times and additionally became one of the first vampires in history. Both had been famous witches in her home country, who used the connection to spirits - more to the good ones than to the bad ones - to help people. But when they were sentenced to death by the Queen, Mekare cursed her and ordered the bad spirit Amel, who is the only one of his kind who is able to suck human's blood, to kill the Queen. Amel instead just took possess of the Queen's body and so created the first Vampire on earth. Mekare swears revenge and disappeared for a long time, leaving her beloved sister Maharet behind.
At last, when Akasha is about to destroy Maharet and her companions Mekare suddenly appears and kills the Queen of the Damned, by repeating the funeral feast like in the dream. The twins take out her brain and her heart and Mekare take them both into herself. This is the end of "The Queen of the Damned.
nother theory is that in these times the mob was not very intelligent, and that there were lots of things happening around them, they couldn't explain and what they feared. When something bad happened, like a bad harvest or a storm which destroyed some houses, then they believed that it was the devil's work. It went as far as the people started to exaggerate. They believed that daemons slipped into humans bodies in order to harm people. One example of such unexplainable things of the mob is rabies. People with rabies are no longer themselves. They can't control themselves anymore and maybe even attack and bite people. That was one clear occurrence of something evil in the eyes of the people. There were also cases of people who had hair all over their bodies, even in their faces. That wasn't normal for people, of course and so they thought that these people were possessed by the evil. From such cases the myth of the vampire slowly evolved. These cases also remind of the myth of werewolves, which is often linked to Vampires. The mob looked for someone who could be held responsible for the damage that happened to single persons or families, or for bad harvests or other bad things that happened. So people tried to execute the evil. They looked for sloping crosses or anything else that wasn't like it should be. When they found a sloping cross, they opened the grave and killed the person again. There are reports from such executions. When they opened the coffin the person in there groaned and didn't look like he or she was buried. The nails and teeth have grown and the hair got longer. Sometimes there was blood on the nails and on the cheeks. Such cases confirmed the existence of the vampire for the mob and intensified the belief.

Even the Church has its own theory of the emergence of Vampires.The Christian priests explained the occurrence of the vampire with the story of Cain and Abel, in which Cain killed his brother out of jealousy. Therefore, Cain was punished by god by removing his ability to die and getting hunger for blood of humans in order to watch his beloved ones die, and has to suck blood of humans in order to stop his hunger for blood. He was even banned from daylight, so that he cannot see the beauty of the earth at daylight.

"Vampire-like people in history

Many myths of the vampires originated during the medieval period. These mythic tales are similar to the later folklore which was widely spread in Eastern Europe in the 18th century. This was the basis of the vampire legend that later entered the rest of Europe, where these tales were popularized by various authors like Bram Stoker, who had written one of the most successful vampire stories. He was inspired by some vampire tales and named his vampire in the book after a very cruel person called Vlad "Draculea Tepes. Vlad Tepes is known for his exceedingly cruel punishments he imposed as ruler of wallachia. Vlad's preferred execution method was the impalement.
"They taught me to stake...they were staked.
In various battles he let his enemies impale on long spears, no matter whether he was dead or not. The Surname Draculea is Romanian for Son of Dracula, which is derived from his father's title Dracul. In modern Romanian Dracul means Devil, but in Vlad's days it meant dragon. His father got this surname because of being a high member of the Order of the Dragon.

Bram Stoker's "Dracula
This novel is one of the most famous vampire novel and was formative for the image of Count Dracula. When people think of a vampire they immediately think of Dracula.
The book is written as an epistolary novel that is, told of a series of diary entries and letters.
Dracula begins with Jonathan Harker, a young dedicated solicitor, who is on his way to Transylvania to give information to the mysterious Count Dracula about his new estate in London. But soon it turns out that Jonathan is the prisoner of Count Dracula and sees a lot of strange and unbelievable things. After some time he is able to flee from the castle and return to England.
Meanwhile in England, Jonathan's fiancée Mina is visiting her best friend Lucy, who has just been engaged to get married to the honorable Arthur Holmwood. He has been the chosen one beside the other suitors Dr. John Seward, who runs the insane asylum and the Texan Quincey Morris.
Dracula, who is moving to London to strive after more humans, travels to the part of England where Mina and Lucy are staying. His first victim is Lucy. Dr. Seward tries to treat Lucy's 'illness.' But when he cannot find a plausible explanation he calls his friend and mentor Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Van Helsing figures out what is wrong with Lucy, but cannot save her. By this time, Jonathan has reached home to England and is happily married to Mina.
Van Helsing calls Mina, Jonathan, Arthur, Quincey, and Seward together to convince them of the reality and the danger of the existence of vampires. He says that they have to "re-kill Lucy in order to give her peace.
After this has been done they educate themselves in the strengths and weaknesses of the vampire, and learn through careful and clever research what Dracula's plans are. Dracula has many lairs throughout London. So they decide to destroy them all to confront Dracula in his weakest form and then to kill him in the name of God. The Count, however, has other plans, and as the men search his houses he attacks Mina in the night, feeding her with his blood so that she will become a vampire, too.
The men find out what Dracula has done and manage to drive him out of England. They have to destroy him finally to save Mina from this incurable grudge, otherwise she will turn into a vampire herself. They follow his trail to Transylvania, where his faithful gypsies transport him in his box filled with Transylvanian earth. A few minutes before sunrise and before he reaches his castle, the entire team manage to stop the gypsies and finally kill the Count. During this action Quincey is mortally wounded and dies shortly after. With Mina free from her fate, the rest return to England and remain lifelong friends.

nother known person who was associated with being a vampire is the Hungarian countess Bthory Erzsébet. She was very rich and is nowadays also known as the Blood Countess because of the many people she killed. As wedding gift she got a castle of her fiancé, which is located in today's Slovakia which was at this time a part of the kingdom of Hungary. Her husband was a military leader and therefore he travelled a lot. She managed business affairs and estates and even intervened on behalf of destitute women including a woman whose husband was captured by the Turks. She was an educated woman who could read and write in four languages. Elizabeth had 5 children, but 2 of them died at early age. All her children were cared for by other governesses as Elizabeth had been. After her husband died, she stayed at the castle she got. She lured girls to her castle by offering a well paid job as a maidservant. After luring them to her castle she tortured and then killed them. Later she even killed daughters of Aristocrats of lower gentry, who were sent to her castle by their parents to learn courtly etiquette. After some rumors spread, a palatine was ordered to investigate this case. He invaded the castle and found some imprisoned and even dead girls. So he put the Countess under house arrest. Four of her servants who were her accomplices got a death sentence and were killed. A trial and execution would have caused a public scandal and disgraced a noble and influential family which at that time ruled Transylvania, that's why Elizabeth only got house arrest. There were rumors that she bathed in the blood of their victims and even drank it to live longer, but there is no real evidence for that.

During the 18th century there was a mass hysteria in Eastern Europe because of frequently vampire sightings which were followed by stakings and grave diggings to identify and kill these creatures. This hysteria went as far as believing that Eleonore von Schwarzenberg, a royal member of the Austrian Empire was a vampire. Because of her occult interest, holding of wolves in her castle and her insomnia at night and so her tiredness at day intensified this belief. After she died a postmortem was carried out on her and her heart was impaled. Then she was brought to Krumau where she was buried in a specifically built, closed grave chamber in the St.-Veits church, while every other Schwarzenberg was buried in the Augustiner church. Neither other nobles nor other family members attended the burial. On the grave stands neither her family name nor the family emblem.
Because of that incident and the rising hysteria Empress Maria Theresa of Austria sent her personal physician Gerard van Swieten to investigate the vampire cases. He concluded that vampires did not exist and so the empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves. The hysteria decreased, but the vampire lived on in artistic works.
This essay shows where the belief in vampires derives from on the basis of 2 literary texts: Bram stokers Dracula and Anne Rice The Queen of the Damned. (2530 Wörter)
19.03.2013 von slipknot4ever
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