The Vampire: Fantasy vs. Realistic
Vampires are posh. We have True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Anne Rices’s vampverse and that movie series with the sparkly vamps. There are probably a few other productions about vampires too. And there is an endless supply of books. Most of the shows and movies started as books, but there are literally dozens of series about vampires by respectable publishers and tens of thousands of self-published titles.
I subtitled this “Fantasy vs. Realistic”. What does that mean? Fantasy is make-believe. Since we’re talking vampires, Realistic is also make-believe. I’m defining the difference between the two is whether or not the existence of vampires is realistic, with some allowance for the reality of the established setting. When in doubt we’ll go back to Bram Stroker’s defined rules.
Early depictions of Vampires are pure monsters. Often little more than mindless undead with a craving need for blood. This changed in 1819 when Polidori published a novelette titled “The Vampyre” which established vampires as romantic figures. Romantic in this usage is not necessarily related to love, but more related to the desire for people to be part of the upper class. Lord Ruthven is the vampire and, as revealed in his title, a noble. Established by this story is that vampires are socially manipulative for both power and their own protection. At the same time, they are still monsters craving blood.
Which would be more likely to survive, the Monster Vampire or the intelligent Noble? Anyone who survives for a sufficient length of time can acquire enough wealth to become nobility. Almost all the legends have vampires as not aging. This makes the noble a logically possible scenario. The monster would hide during the day out of instinct, but lack the cunning to avoid the dedicated hunter. An intelligent noble could develop the wisdom and methods to hide their nature to avoid being hunted.
Sunlight kills vampires. It does not make them sparkle. That’s the last I’ll mention the word ‘sparkle’. Actually, the sunlight killing vampires is not always part of the myth. However, consistent through early representations, vampires are far less powerful in daylight, often powerless. Sunlight, being pure and associated with the divine, burns vampires in most early depictions, including those prior to the birth of the Romantic Vampire. Logic follows that if sunlight burns, continued exposure will kill. So: Sunlight kills vampires.
Vampires are created through blood exchange. This is established most clearly in Bram Stoker’s work. In Dracula, a victim must be fed from on three occasions then must ingest some of the vampire’s blood. Then they transform into a vampire, often after dying. Later trends have revealed that the only important factor here is that the victim ingests the vampire’s blood prior to death. Death should occur while there is a reasonable chance the vampire’s blood is still in the victims system. Vampire blood alone does not cause death. The most common reason for death is blood loss, but other methods seem to work.
The scientific analysis paper “Math vs. Vampires: Vampires Lose” shows that people becoming vampires after simply being bitten is a method that cannot be true. That’s all that paper shows, but very few myths use that method of creation. The most famous of those that do: Buffy the Vampire slayer’s universe. Oversimplified logic tells us if this method cannot be true, the ingest vamp blood before death method must be correct.
Having ingested vampire blood gives the vampire control over the victim, but also grants the victim some awareness of the vampire. This usually is accompanied by an emotional bond as well.
It carries all our nutrients to our bodies, right? Therefore it must be nutritious? No, that’s not the proper way to understand why blood. Blood is a spiritual fluid. It is responsible for life so it must carry our living essence. That essence is the food for vampires. Vampires are not possible in a world of pure science. There has to be a belief in the supernatural. If blood were nutritive, it would make a poor source of calories and a vampire would have to kill far too often to exist unnoticed in the world. Therefore vampires must get their energy from the supernatural living essence they get from the blood and this essence must be pretty potent.
Vampires must feed from the victim, not from blood bags. The victim need not be human, but lesser creatures have less potent essences. The blood bags are popular when the author wants to make the vampire a pansy romantic interest for their usually female protagonist. Here I’m using romance as involving the potential for love. Somehow it makes them less monstrous if they don’t feed from people.
Nowhere does it say that a vampire feeding must be fatal to the victim. It’s far more believable that vampires could persist through centuries if they are not leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Therefore the blood bags are unnecessary.
Vampiric mind control can make a victim at least think something else bit them. I’m not particularly against the idea of vampiric blood having healing properties. Vampires heal at an unnatural rate, their blood could have elixir like properties.
I already mentioned sunlight. Burning being a problem, fire would also work. Dracula was killed with a steel knife through the neck and a knife to the heart. Since Lucy didn’t die from a stake to the heart, we can assume the neck wound was the fatal wound. Thus the most efficient way to kill vamps is removing the head. Staking the heart clearly has adverse effects, but death is not one of them. Staking a vampire, given the earlier stories as evidence, most likely paralyzes them. Eventually they might waste away from lack of nutrition, but it’s not an instant death. The Buffy effects are pretty but highly over exaggerating the most likely effect.
Actual historical methods for treating a vampire body cannot be used as evidence because to use actual history we’d have to acknowledge that vampires could actually be real. Without a firm belief in the supernatural, they couldn’t. Suspending the pure realism mindset, we still have to be able to explain things. If, in those explanations, we divert too far from the vampiric traditions, we create something similar to vampire but is not a vampire.