Semiotic Study of Vampires and Vampire Lore|
Individual Assignment for Semiotics|
Roll No: 113B
A semiotic study of vampires and vampire lore, with an eye on the different cultural implications that arise through the ages.|
A semiotic study of vampires and vampire lore.
The field of semiotics exists because of the realization that society has a desire to create and produce signs because it serves as an important aspect and purpose to life. We are capable of performing semiosis and representation to demonstrate the knowledge in which we come to understand the world, and conversely, it is through the same process that the world becomes familiar with the culture in which we inhabit. (WriteWork, 2003) The vampire is one of the most popular and widely recognised myth/folklore of modern times. The semiotic analysis of vampires has changed along with changes in society, making the vampire a vehicle for the oppositional of the era. Marxists considered Dracula as an allegory for capitalism. At various times the vampire has been thought to symbolise everything from gay acceptance to homophobia, women’s subjugation to empowerment. Vampires have also gone through the whole gamut of representation. Starting off with the despicable creature that lurks in the night and feeds off peasants, to the elusive, mysterious nobleman, to now, somehow, the glittering teenager. The present day vampire narrative resembles a sort of parallel alternative universe to human existence. Replete with ‘human’ behaviour and morality. These stories have imbued familial structures, emotional depth and hierarchies and interpersonal conflicts into the previous dark hued world of the vampire. Initial representation of vampires was quite crude. Almost self explanatory. The vampire was shown to sleep in a coffin. Using Saussure’s model to analyse this, a coffin was a place where you placed the dead. It signified death, hence denoting that the person laid inside was dead. The symbolic rising from coffin connoted the vampire rising from death, i.e. he was un-dead, i.e. resurrected from the dead. Rising from the dead, being un-dead was unnatural hence leading to the final understating that the vampire was unnatural and a thing to be feared. The vampire was portrayed as a predator. This was depicted by the vampire going for the kill by biting the victim’s neck. The imagery used here is that of a predator; say a lion, or a tiger or even a Rottweiler going for the kill. They aim for the neck, for the jugular. The vampire also went straight for the neck. Signifying his predator-like instincts. Denoting that he went for the kill, hence the connotation that he should be feared. Vampires feed on blood. Blood is signified as the giver of life. In this case blood IS life. This denotes that blood or drinking blood would prolong life, and increase vitality. This connotation has actually been around for centuries, an accepted ancient social view point. Vampire stories have also always had strong religious undertones. Vampires cannot enter churches. They can be warded off by the cross and holy water. They are creatures of the night and cannot come out during the day. Night signifies opposite of day. Day signifies light. As per Christian beliefs, God is Light. Similarly, their apparent adverseness to churches, the cross, holy water or anything that denotes God, or apparently blessed by God. The significance that they are evil creatures, and anything blessed by God is physically agonising to them. These stories also go a long way in propagating the influence and power of the church. In the end, it is the appearance of daylight, the cross or the stake that does in these vile creatures of the night, these object all signify God, denoting that in the end the Lord had a hand to play in striking them down and hence, the final connotation that in the Church lies the...