Jenny Martinez, Com 220
University of Phoenix
January 9, 2008
THE MYTH OF DRACULA
In October of 1999, a television series began that would run for approximately four and a half years. This series would again sate the American appetite for vampire stories begun by the likes of Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Tanith Lee, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. The name of the series? Angel. The Premise? A vampire, originally named Angelus, had been cursed by a gypsy victim, with a soul, and could no longer kill humans. And if he fell in love with one, his dark side would return, which he feared more than anything else. The series featured many flashbacks to many centuries past because the vampires depicted were several centuries old. Not only that, but the vampire had true eye-appeal for the female audience. He was tall, dark, and handsome, just like almost every vampire in almost every myth America has ever heard (Angel site, 2004). But could such a creature truly exist? Although the vampire myth is present in many societies around the world through the centuries, there is a basis in science and fact, for this legend.
To start off with, one of the most popular modern vampire stories, written in 1897, was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. To this day, it sets the bar for the modern vampire. Authors have a tendency to pull juicy pieces of many different tales together to patchwork them into something to hold the reader’s interest. From where could he have gotten this character? First off, the legendary figure of Vlad Dracule was the basis, for this character. Dracule was born in November or December of 1431 in Romania (Leblanc, 2000). In 1442, he and his younger brother were taken hostage by the Turks for political reasons. During his imprisonment, he was badly abused by his captors (Highby, 2003). His father was assassinated by the Wallachian Boyars while the young Dracule was being held by the Turks. Dracule took power of the Wallachian throne in July of 1456 and immediately killed the Boyars that had assassinated his father, impaling some on stakes, others, he forced to march 50 miles to build a fortress. He had grown to become a very handsome and strong Christian leader, much revered by his people (Leblanc, 2000). He was very devout in his beliefs, choosing to wear the black cape over red garments every Friday, which signified penance (Highby, 2003). In 1462, Vlad took his vengeance on the Turks for their cruelty, Christianizing the entire region. History, however; marks him as a bloody tyrant who tortured and staked his enemies and drank their blood as he surveyed the staked bodies of his victims. Legend has it that once; he was angered by what the emissary of one of his enemies had to say, so he had the man’s metal cap nailed to his head. This monster was said to have been assassinated by the Wallachian Boyars who had replaced those who killed his father, because they disagreed with his foreign policies (Leblanc, 2000).
Vlad Dracule was not the only source of Bram Stoker’s Dracula myth. He also pulled elements from Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She was called the Blood Countess because she led blood cults in her country. Countess Bathory was born in 1560 or 1561. Rumor had it that, as a child, she suffered from fits and exhibited uncontrolled rages that may have indicated a brain disorder associated with increased aggression. The same rumor also says that her nurse from childhood practiced the black arts requiring the sacrifice of children for their bones and blood (Ramsland, 2007). She first started preying on her serving girls. When villagers began missing their wives and daughters, they launched an investigation (Wyatt, 2003). The result of this investigation was that the Countess had been murdering these young women and bathing in their blood in order to keep her beautiful, youthful appearance (Wyatt, 2003). The scene at her castle was...