The Evolution of Vampires in Pop Culture

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Vampires have long been discussed and portrayed in books and movies. Originally, vampire folklore depicted vampires as savage, parasitic and, of course, bloodthirsty monsters. However, over time the way vampires have been portrayed has markedly changed.

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We now see handsome/beautiful creatures that have a more sensitive soul, more intelligent, and of course let’s not forget the romance. Tales of vampires are told in many cultures around the world. Throughout history these undead beings have evoked fear and intrigue from us. The image of the vampire has evolved over the last few decades. The earlier vampire possessed few traits that would endear them to people, but they still served a purpose of personifying the darker side that all humans. Society has contributed to the evolution of vampires in popular culture from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Twilight.

To see how vampires have evolved we must take a look at how they came to be in the first place. Many myths surrounding vampires originated during the medieval period. Vampire folklore originated in Eastern Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries. These tales formed the basis of the vampire legend where they were subsequently embellished and popularized. Ancient vampires of lore were anything but as pleasant as the ones encountered in popular culture today. Their origins are rooted at the beginning of time and almost all of them are founded on superstition. Nearly every culture has its own version of the vampire, each with different attributes, but all are regarded as undeniably evil. The circumstances leading to vampirism include factors such as cannibalism, sacrifice, ancestor worship, plague, and premature burial. Central to the vampire myth is of course the consumption of human blood followed by the possession of sharp teeth or fangs to facilitate this task (Eldridge). Many people lacked the knowledge of what a human body went through when it decomposed. This lack of knowledge added to the creation of vampires. Digging up the bodies of suspected vampires was practiced throughout Europe, and it was thought that the natural characteristics of decomposition such as receding gums and the appearance of growing hair and fingernails reinforced the belief that corpses were in fact continuing some manner of life after death (Eldridge). In some cultures the dead were buried face down to prevent them from finding their way out of their graves (Eldridge).

During the late 18th and 19th centuries the belief in vampires was widespread in parts of New England, particularly in Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. There are many documented cases of families disinterring loved ones and removing their hearts in the belief that the deceased was a vampire who was responsible for sickness and death in the family. The deadly disease tuberculosis, or consumption as it was known at the time,

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