Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Manganelli, Kimberly S

Committee Member

Bushnell , Cameron

Committee Member

Goss , Erin

Abstract

Long before Dracula was terrorizing English families, Emily Brontë's Heathcliff captivated Victorian audiences. Critics such as James Twitchell propose that Emily Brontë carefully creates the possibility of Heathcliff as a metaphorical vampire, using his unknown parentage and his physical descriptions throughout the novel as evidence for this claim. Indeed, my thesis examines how Heathcliff exhibits characteristics of the vampire in his decimation of the English families in the novel by consuming the Earnshaw's and Linton's properties, monies, and women. In Brontë's and Bram Stoker's novels, the vampires prey upon humanity, consuming property, lives, and bloodlines. However, although vampires are often represented as creatures of death and destruction that annihilate British families inWuthering HeightsandDraculaand invade American homes inThe Vampire Diaries, we cannot view the vampire as simply a monster. These violent acts are a result of the vampire's effort to reclaim its humanity. Analyses of the vampire's domestication, sexuality, or allure often overshadow a study of this quest. The struggle against and with humanity spans cultures, and this juxtaposition is made clear in an examination of the vampire's relationship with the human family. Print media such as serials and novels, along with film and television series, highlight the vampire's desire to become part of a collective human consciousness, as well as the anxieties that its inclusion in humanity raises.

A study of the vampire in the domestic sphere reveals cultural anxieties about racial, class, and national differences, superiority, and the self, especially in Victorian and contemporary texts. Emily Brontë'sWuthering Heightsand Bram Stoker'sDraculaare two of several works that exemplify the fears of domestic England through the novels' families; generations later, Kevin Williamson's and Julie Plec'sThe Vampire Diariesalso exposes unspoken anxieties like the safety of the community, the future of the human family, and the ambiguity of good and evil present in contemporary America. These wildly differing texts acknowledge eerily similar insecurities through the “safe” medium of the vampire. Its interaction with and search for family and humanity act as an analogy for each culture's battle with otherness and itself.

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