Books and Movies Reviews

Vampire Lore

'The Vampyre' was written at a time when Europe was in upheaval, having just experienced the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. This can be detected in a slight xenophobia present in the story, evident in the distrust of the continent. Whereas Britain is depicted as a country of aristocracy, enjoying themselves frivolously but harmlessly (until Lord Ruthven's entrance), the countries visited by Aubrey and Ruthven on their travels are shown to be places containing endless ancient ruins to be discovered, populated by a superstitious people (particularly Ianthe's family, complete with "the supernatural tales of her nurse") that believe in such ridiculous notions as "the living vampyre". Europe is portrayed as being mysterious and, later, dangerous, with the unexpected and violent attack in the Greek hills. This view would seem to be more Aubrey's than the author's, however, for, as the story develops, each of the rural Greeks' portentous worries comes to pass. Rather than ultimately showing the superstitions to be baseless and ludicrous, Polidori in fact confirms it all, especially with the final, melodramatic and very conclusive statement that: "Aubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a VAMPYRE!"
Foreshadowing is also employed extensively, enabling the reader to anticipate events far in advance of the primary character, Aubrey. The links between the legends of the'vampyre' and Lord Ruthven are built up slowly but clearly. One of thefirst things we learn of Ruthven is that, whilst gambling, he likes to be in total control, and preys upon the "rash youthful novice", "his eyes [sparkling] with more fire than that of the cat whilst dallying with the half dead mouse." This is a clear parallel to his vampiric tendencies, in which he targets young and innocent girls. We go on to learn of his "irresistible powers of seduction&…


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