Woman, Mother, Vampire: The Resident Evil of Changing Social Anxieties

Csíki, Ágnes
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In this essay, I explore the changing figure of the vampire woman, which is one of those female stereotypes that haunted mankind from the beginning of human civilisations. As Barbara Creed argues, “[h]istorically stereotypes have been used to represent female sexuality as monstrous in order to justify the oppression of women”. Thus in the 19th century, when vampire literature emerged, the figure of the female vampire served as a desperate attempt on the part of male writers and male society to fight against an even more dangerous and threatening female type, the New Woman. Since in our contemporary culture sexuality is not a taboo topic any more (rather the opposite), vampire women in general ceased to be as disquieting and threatening as they were at the turn of the 19th century. We could assume that nowadays the majority of female vampire characters stand for little more than a perfect female body and an insatiable sexual hunger. Yet, rather than losing all her social-political significance, the figure of the vampiress adapted to the cultural changes of the 20th century, to reflect and embody other problematic aspects of femininity. Also, the advent of gender studies made her literary and cultural significance even more emphatic. The aim of my essay is to trace the origins of the female vampire and to examine, with the help of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the social anxieties that called her to “life” at the end of the 19th century, and furthermore to compare these with the social issues contemporary female vampires reflect upon in the first three volumes of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire; The Vampire Lestat; and The Queen of the Damned).
gender, vampire, Dracula, Vampire Chronicles