As a culture we have become obsessed with the lore of the vampire. Having undergone various transformations through the centuries, the legendary creature has taken on many faces: the grotesque monster in Nosferatu, the hopeless romantic in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the seductive artist in Anne Rice’s novels and now in Thomas Alfredson’s film, the child vampire which subsequently draws from all its previous prototypes. Our continuation of the vampire’s myths proves our undying (no pun intended) obsession with the need to witness their evolution in order to retain sustainability. Yet, what is the vampire evolving to? Where do we want it to go, and why?
Through its progression, the vampire has become more human. Besides the trade-in of its monstrous image of the past, into a pleasing near beautiful one of today, it has developed emotion as well as a conscience. It desires human contact in order to cling to the sliver of its own fleeting humanity which threatens to become consumed in the fray of his bestial madness. The vampire is slowly becoming a reflection of ourselves.
The vampire typically seeks out a human she finds beautifully flawed; someone who might have once perhaps been a reflection of her own past as a mortal. She becomes enamored of the human who is gifted in ways that are usually not obvious to others. In Eli’s case, she chooses Oskar for his gentleness and kindness which is generally perceived as weak by his peers who bully and harass him. Our typical vampire story usually encapsulates this formula, so what is this repetitive tale saying?
We all want to belong to something greater than ourselves. We all crave acceptance from others. We are all plagued with insecurities due to our pasts, cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. which make us feel as though we may not be welcomed into the social circle of dominant culture. The vampire becomes an allegorical representation of ourselves as we strive to belong to this larger part of culture. They are social outcasts who want desperately to belong to their prior human culture but cannot as they are now shunned and feared due to being different. Vampires tend to embrace the unique qualities of the humans they choose to love as they understand them to be valuable and beautiful. However, humans tend to have the opposite reaction toward difference in others which can often be negative and closed-minded. Misunderstanding and ignorance of differences breeds fear and hatred and the vampire is a classic example of another being simply trying to survive. Sure, they do so by living off the blood of human beings, but don’t we do the exact same thing when we wage wars on other countries in order to kill their people in order to take their resources in order for survival? Are we any better than the blood-sucking beasts that lurk in the shadows at night?
It is our need to perceive ourselves in the vampire just as it is their need to long for the humanity that dwells within us. Humans seek to find the balance of our nature between the monstrous and the loving. Vampires have become an allegorical figure for the beauty and the beast that lurks within each of us just beneath the surface of our everyday facades.