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Ivan Alilovic

Gothic Literature
July 4th, 2016
How was the vampire convention explored and adapted in the Victorian period?
For nearly two centuries the Gothic genre is subject to interpretation, which for literary
theorists, historians, sociologists, gender theorists, theatrologists and theater and film directors
represents an inexhaustible source of inspiration and the source of information on various
aspects of society and time. Gothic genre mirrors the behavior and reactions of people in
times of great social changes that marked the late 18th and early 19th century. The French
Revolution had a strong impact on the concepts of identity and class, a flood of gothic novels
criticism is linked to concerns about the position of the individual in the family and society.
On the field of sociology, the analysis covers the entire range of meanings and their changes
in terms of marriage, family, individual, community and patriarchy.
In terms of literary history, a chronology of the genre is never an easy task, nor is it
possible to subject it to exact testing. When it comes to the genre such as Gothic, whose
development is so much dependent on multiple factors, socio-cultural and other things, the
right answer is hard to find. Overall, the Gothic literature can be divided into five periods:
pregothic, early Gothic, High Gothic, late Gothic and Victorian Gothic or post-Gothic. PreGothic means the period from 1721 to the launch of the first gothic novel, and was marked by
a renewed interest in the Middle Ages and the growing fascination with ghosts. Early Gothic
begins with the publishing of gothic novel by Horace Walope Otrant's castle in 1764 and runs
until 1778. High Gothic from 1789 to 1813 was dominated by the novels of Ann Radcliffe,
the revolutionary events and the impact of political terror. Scott's novel Waverley, gradually
changing public tastes and social activism marked the late literary Gothic period from 1814 to

1838, while Poe's detective novel and psychological fiction and Dickens and Collins
mysteries and "ghost stories" borrowed elements of gothic genre continuing post- Gothic
period from 1839 onwards.1
Gothic genre represents man as a being who is constantly fighting against good and
evil, and who can not fully understand this relation. The gothic man is in a dilemma and is
divided between the two opposing sides of the world and himself. So it is in Gothic literature,
one of the frequent themes, the struggle between good and evil, and reveals the dark side of
human nature, and its different faces.2
Vampires have always been contradictory creatures, evil creatures who drink blood
coming out of the coffin, and on the other creatures that come from the night, mysterious and
elegant, sexual. At the same time we look at them as terrible but fascinating creatures.3
During the Victorian era, vampires have gone through a transformation, and of
monsters which we knew earlier, they became what we know today. From human body taken
up by the spirit of a vampire from Varney the Vampire (James Malcolm Rymer, 1845), to
immortal beings full of elegance and seeking for a comfortable life. Yet with all this elegance,
today and during the Victorian era, vampires represent the passionate side of real or unreal
life, but also a sign of the passion that people in the Victorian age were deprived of. Vampire
or Gothic literature, mainly represented the fears of society. So it was in the Victorian era,
which was the time of sexual repression, the time when everybody was scared of women's

1 "The Origins Of The Gothic". The British Library. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.
2 "Gothic: Origins". Resources.mhs.vic.edu.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.
3 "Dracula: The Victorian Vampire". The British Library. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July

sexuality or worse homosexuality that could destroy society. One of the most famous novels
in vampire literature of that time is Bram Stoker's Dracula from 1897.
Dracula has been described as the most amazing story ever, full of contradictions
between tradition and the modern age. Stoker's vampire shows the greatest fears of Victorian
society and high class. Scientific rationality is in constant conflict with folklore, traditional
europe with modern London. Dracula who can move through the crowd and the city invisible,
with the possibility to touch everyone with his vampire teeth, is talking about fears of the
victorians from the immigrants.
In Dracula we have a fear of female sexuality. Lucy, who is ill, and human inventions
of blood transfusion can not save her, but do even worse (probably because there was no
thinking about different blood groups), turns into a vampire, femme fatale, full of passion, the
desire for blood. She represents the exact opposite of the Victorian woman, the opposite what
everyone feared.4
Vampire blood in Victorian times and Gothic literature, was also the fear of sexually
transmitted diseases such as syphilis, and with it the fear of moral condemnation of society. At
the end of the book Mina says: 'The Count is a criminal, and of criminal type, Nordau and
Lombroso would have classify him '(ch. 25). She is everything that Stoker himself considers
moral and right, and lead by the Hungarian critic Max Nordau and his book Degeneration
(carrying the pseudo-Darwinian language analysis of the psychology of the criminal mind),
through Dracula he represents everything that is morally criminal, incorrect and perverse in
the Vistorian era.5

4 "Dracula: The Victorian Vampire". The British Library. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July
5 "Vampires: The Victorian Era". Jordan L. Hawk. N.p., 2013. Web. 4 July 2016.

Carmilla another Gothic novel written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was the one step
more to Victorian vampirism. It represented something inconceivable, more than perverse and
monstrous - homosexual, lesbian vampirism in 1872. Carmilla, the top of a breach of taboos.
In the Victorian times she was the embodiment of eroticism, possessive and seductive: "You
are mine, you shall be mine, and you and I are one forever." she says to Laura. For the first
time in Victorian literature a women (Carmilla) admits her love to another woman (Laura).
Carmilla on the verge of morality and conservative society, is no longer a human (and not by
type, rather behavior). Victorian society is afraid of homosexuality, because the woman could
find other women in exchange for men. This fear represents Carmilla although an elegant,
beautiful lady. Vampirisam here does not represent something terrible, but more seductive.
Since then, vampires marked not only as a thirsty and hungry, but also passionate, loveable
Vampires were in Victorian times unacceptable by society, but desirable by many in
their imagination. Literature has always represented an escape from reality, and so it did at
that time. Vampires have existed in books and represented everything that is prohibited and
undesirable in society, but only out of fear of getting out of control. Although only literature,
characters from gentle heroines, aggressive and sexual fantasies to paranormal events, are all
themes in Gothic literature, which in the Victorian era represented and reflected the political,
social and cultural scene.

1. "Dracula: The Victorian Vampire". The British Library. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.
2. "Gothic: Origins". Resources.mhs.vic.edu.au. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.
3. "The Origins Of The Gothic". The British Library. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.
6 "Vampirism In Victorian Era". Directessays.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.

4. "Vampires: The Victorian Era". Jordan L. Hawk. N.p., 2013. Web. 4 July 2016.
5. "Vampirism In Victorian Era". Directessays.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 July 2016.