Previously on My Turn to Talk, I wrote down my thoughts on seeing the vampire as an allegory for sin, and it was all brought on by watching the 1979 Dracula with Frank Langella.
I can’t help it if movies make me think things, okay?
Anyway, at the end of Part 1, I said there would be a Part 2 that discussed how the vampire, by its very nature, is incapable of feeling real love and how its promises of immortality and eternal life are really just a scam. And before anyone starts hurling Twilight in my direction, I’d like to go ahead and say that I’m not counting that in this article; I’m going off Dracula, both the book and the movie. Besides, I was never really convinced about the sparkly undead counting as real undead. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only thing that should happen to vampires when they’re exposed to sunlight.
This wasn’t very prevalent in the book, but in the majority of Dracula film adaptations, there’s a tendency to pair Dracula romantically with either Mina or Lucy (in the ’79 version, it was Lucy). Perhaps it’s just my overly practical nature, but this viewing of vampires as romantic bothers me because, well, they can’t truly love someone. It goes against their natures.
How so? Well, true love requires sacrifice, the willingness to give up anything and everything, even life if necessary, for the one that you love. But a vampire knows nothing of sacrifice. His nature is inherently self-serving; he must take the life of others in order to sustain his own. He can only take; he is incapable of giving. Wherever a vampire goes, death, corruption, and destruction follow him. Such is the nature of evil; it seeks only to serve itself and cares nothing for what happens to the people around it.
Because a vampire was once human, it is very adept at pretending it can love, usually in order to trick a potential victim into loving it in return (again, a useful tactic for getting close enough to someone for exsanguination). The human will be willing to sacrifice anything, even–and especially–life, in order to serve the vampire, and what typically happens? The human either dies or joins the ranks of the undead. The human gains nothing; the vampire gains everything.
Going back to the movie, Dracula expects Lucy to sacrifice her humanity, her family, and her upcoming marriage to Jonathan to become his vampire queen and mother of a race of new vampires. What is he expected to sacrifice in this relationship? Nothing; this is all for his benefit. Lucy is the means to an end, but by binding him to her with declarations of love, he ensures that she will be less likely to leave him or betray him to Van Helsing.
“But wait, Emerald!” you’re probably crying. “Lucy gets to be immortal as a vampire! She does get something out of this relationship!”
Yeah, well, if you think about it, vampires aren’t really immortal. Immortality implies an immunity to death, but they can be staked through the heart, decapitated, or fried to a crisp in the sunlight. They have weaknesses just like humans; they are not all powerful even though they would like everyone to think they are. If they were all powerful, I don’t think they’d be quite so susceptible to sunlight or decapitation.
Moreover, vampires are restricted to moving about only at night (although you do see Dracula out and about on cloudy and rainy days), and the sight or presence of garlic or religious objects like crucifixes and Blessed Sacrament are physically repellent to them. It’s more than just repellent, though; these objects can burn them if they come into contact with their skin. In a sense, vampires have fewer freedoms than humans do; there are more restrictions imposed on them than there are on humans, and these restrictions are an intrinsic part of their nature and cannot be ignored. Humans have the ability to overcome their natures and better themselves, but vampires are forever enslaved to theirs. In a sense, they have lost their free wills. Humans can choose whether or not to follow their instincts or their intellects, but vampires are completely controlled by their instinct to hunt humans and drink their blood. Their intellect is powerless to fight back. So the vampires promise power and immortality to their victims, but in reality, they do nothing but imprison them.
Seeing how life as a vampire is more of a curse than anything else, if Dracula had really loved Lucy, he would not have wanted to subject her to that. But one of the simplest ways to see how vampires are incapable of love is to remember how they cannot stand the sight of a crucifix; they always avert their eyes and cower back. What does this have to do with their inability to love? Well, the Crucifixion was the ultimate expression of love the world will ever know, that God became Man and willingly laid down His life to save us from Satan’s grasp. If a vampire cannot stand to look at a reminder of that perfect expression of love, how can it possibly understand what love is?
Good news! There is no Part 3. You’re free! But if you ever do have a chance to watch the 1979 Dracula, please avail yourself of the opportunity. It really is a good movie even if they changed a lot of stuff from the book.