Skip to main content
Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2021 Abstracts

A History of Vampires and Their Transformation from Solely Monsters to Monsters and Romantic Figures

Presenter: Mary McFadden, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, English
Authors: Mary McFadden
Faculty Advisor: Olga Pilkington, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, English
Institution: Dixie State University

Stories of vampires have been around since before Bram Stoker put pen to paper and are still popular story fodder for fiction authors today. However, the image of the vampire is not and has never been homogenous. A look at the history of vampires shows a gradual shift in the vampiric archetype. Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung would see a vampire as a shadow figure or a devil figure. Renderings of these demon-like creatures have been recorded in texts as early as Assyrian cuneiform. Where these monstrous creatures were once the antagonists in the hero’s story, they have morphed in the minds of some storytellers into the heroes, the protagonists. The catalyst for this transformation is the monster’s desire for redemption. By examining ancient stories of vampire-like creatures, early vampire literature, and modern vampire literature, I show a gradual transition of vampire portrayals. One characterization is the terrifying and, at times, a seductive creature of origin. The other characterization through a need for salvation leads to the modern beguiling creature of romantic fantasies. One of the core concepts of most major religions is the desire for redemption. The vampire’s path from antagonist to protagonist parallels man’s journey on the path to that redemption. Their metamorphosis is an allegorical commentary on the human condition.