Free research paper example on Vampires:
A dark figure stands concealed among the shadows of a young girl’s room. He peers at the beautiful young woman lying there across the room so innocently, completely defenseless. Suddenly, he lunges forward with ease and stealth to the girl. He leans over the unsuspecting body and sinks his pearly white fangs into an artery in her exposed neck. This dramatization is the typical scene associated with vampires today. When we first got this assignment, I had no clue what I was going to choose for my topic. I decided to use Vampires as my topic because I already knew a little bit about them, but I was curious about their origin and history. Before I began I had no idea about where they came from and figured they were merely part of an exciting story made up to entertain and appeal to others. However, legends of vampirism and vampire-like creatures have been passed on through cultures around the world for centuries for various reasons. I was able to uncover the beliefs of different peoples across the globe and find out different theories about the vampire’s origin. Yet, the ultimate question prevailed, whether vampires truly existed. Some sources said yes while others said know, but I looked deeper into vampire folklore to form my own opinion about the existence of vampires in our world.
At the start of the project, I already knew the basics concerning vampires. I knew that a stereotypical vampire was a creature that rose from the dead and drank blood. Also, they had two fangs and a pale complexion, not surprising considering they were dead. To my knowledge they had an aversion to garlic, crosses, holy water, and sunlight. I also knew that vampires had no reflection in mirrors, I didn’t know why though. Count Dracula was the vampire’s leader and creator, and he would travel to towns during the twilight and would attack young women, biting them and making them vampires. As far as I knew, the only way a vampire could be killed was by impalement through the heart with a wooden stake; this I found to be untrue. I also knew that vampires slept in their coffins and had the ability to transform into wolves, mist, and even bats.
Even though I probably knew more about vampires then the average person, I still didn’t comprehend half of the truths concerning vampire folklore. As I researched, I discovered that there are three main theories on the origins of vampires in mythology. The first theory involves the one and only dark lord himself, Dracula. However, the Dracula that is known by most people is a fictional character created by Bram Stoker, an author of the early 1900’s. Stoker used ideas from European folklore about vampires and a fifteenth century prince of Wallachia to model his story of an evil dark lord named Dracula (Sterling 14). The prince’s that he modeled his story after was Vlad Tepes, more commonly known as Dracula.
Vlad Tepes was the prince of a province of modern day Romania called Wallachia. I had heard of Vlad previously, but I didn’t comprehend what an evil man he was. He was born around 1431 in Transylvania as the second son of his father Vlad Dracul. Dracul lead his country in hopes f keeping peace with both the Christian nations in the north and the Turks in the south. However, while conducting trade among the Christian nations he broke a treaty he had made with the Turks. In order to keep peace between them, Dracul was obligated to send two of his sons, Dracula and Radu, as hostages to the Turkish land. In captivity at the Turkish palace Vlad was kept in the dungeons where he experienced the harshness that would form his future cruelty. As time passed on, his father died, and Dracula and his brother Radu were released. Dracula joined the Turkish army and quickly grew in stature due to his obvious leadership skills. Soon he commanded his own group of followers and with them was able to fulfill his hunger for revenge against his elder brother who was allowed to stay behind while he was sent as a prisoner to the Turks. His brother had become the new crowned prince and Dracula and his army quickly overthrew him, and claimed the throne for his own. His power only lasted a few months, for he was overthrown by another nation only a couple months after he had taken control. Yet, he regrouped and with the help of his Turkish allies claimed the throne once again. His evil reign had begun. It was easy for me to see why Stoker had chosen Vlad Tepes Dracula as a model for his novel. Dracula was one of the most evil rulers that ever lived. Even though he was only in power a few years, he killed hundreds of thousands of people. In his kingdom, Vlad emphasized the honesty and loyalty of his people, and those who broke these laws paid dearly for it. No matter if they were nobility, men, women, or children Dracula would torture them mercilessly. He earned himself the nickname Vlad the Impaler due to his favorite way of punishing those who defied him. By impalement, a long wooden stake about 15 feet long and sharpened on one end was inserted usually between the buttocks. Then, the pole was set upright so that the victim slid down slowly until the stake finally protruded from the victim’s mouth or chest. During such executions, Vlad would sit at a table and feast while watching the suffering of his victims. When I read this, I could hardly believe how cruel and evil Vlad Tepes actually was. I even read that he would impale entire villages at a time in order to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies (McNally 150-217). I thought that such an evil man could have easily given birth to a race of vampires, but the vampiric Dracula was merely a story made up by an author so I decided that this could not be the origin of vampires in folklore.
The second theory of the origin of vampires came from Hebrew mythology. In some Hebrew texts a woman named Lillith was spoken of as the first woman of earth. She was supposedly Adam’s first wife, and was a rebellious woman who fought over the dominant position in their sex life. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what the books said. Anyway, when God heard this he cast her out of Eden. She fled to the Red Sea where she became more and more evil. Time passed and Cain, the biblical character who killed his brother Able, wandered to the Red Sea in his exile. There he met Lillith and together gave birth to evil, demonic children who would form the vampire race. However, nothing of a Lillith is spoken of in the Bible and if there was such a woman, it would contradict the teachings of it; this lead me to realize that this myth was unreasonable as well.
The final and most believable of the theories of the origin of vampires, in my opinion, involved Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus Christ’s twelve disciples. However, he betrayed his master to the Roman’s for 30 silver pieces. Afterward, he was overwhelmed with guilt and tried to return the money he had received for his deeds. However, they would not accept the silver so he cast it away and committed suicide. The story of Judas lead the Greeks to believe that Judas began vampirism for a number of reasons. Since vampires fear crucifixes, holy water, and other relics related to Christianity it relates to how Judas feared what he had done to Jesus Christ. Also, because Judas’ hatred for the silver pieces he received for his betrayal, it was believed that this may have caused the vampires aversion to silver. The last reason that Judas Iscariot is suggested as the creator of the vampire race is because he committed suicide, and suicide was a very common attribute to vampirism (www.angelfire.com/tn/vampires/). Even though this seemed the most believable of the theories, I still was not convince and decided that all the theories were about as realistic as vampires themselves. So far, my research told me that vampires were but mere made up fantasies.
As I researched more, I found that myths and legends about vampires existed all over the world. From Asian countries like China and Japan to European nations like Romania and Greece there is folklore concerning creatures of the night that feast upon human blood. In order to get a better understanding of how the vampire existed in these different cultures I researched a few of the countries who held strong beliefs in vampires. In countries like Africa and Australia, vampire-like creatures existed in mythology merely as tales to pass from one generation to the next. For example, in Africa, the Ashanti people told stories of a creature called the Asasabunsam, a humanoid creature that had a set of iron teeth. It would sit on treetops with its legs dangling downward and use its hook shaped feet to scoop up unsuspecting children. The Ashanti people used this tale to warn children not to travel in the jungle alone. If I lived in that area I’d be sure to always look at the tree tops while I walked under the canopy of trees. In Australia s similar tale was present among the aboriginal tribes involving a creature called the yara-ma-yha-who. The yara-ma-yha-who was described as a little red man about four feet tall that had a large head and mouth. It had no teeth and would swallow its victims whole and drain them of their blood. Children were warned not to travel by streams and rivers alone, for the yara-ma-yha-who may be lurking near by, ready to pick off lone travelers (Melton 22).
Unlike the vampires of African and Australian folklore, I discovered that vampires in European beliefs were much more popular. Vampires were believed to often be the results of immoral behavior and any problems surrounding childbirth. In many Slavic countries vampires were of what I had pictured them as with their pale complexions and fangs. The vampire was the product of an irregularity in the community life, usually a problem with the process of either death, burial, or of birth (Summers 297). Also, those who had a very violent death which cut their life shorter then the normal completion were also likely to become vampires. These beliefs were very much the same in Romania and Greece as well. In Bulgaria, if I child died before it was baptized, it was likely for it to become an ustrel, a vampire that would attack and drink the blood of cows and sheep. In many cases, it was likely for vampires to attack family, neighbors, friends, and any people that it had unfinished business with during its lifetime (Auerbach 98). It became clear to me that in European folklore vampires were often used as a warning, a sort of consequence that is presented to those who do not follow the teachings of the society, as shown by how those who committed crimes were likely to become vampires.
Chinese mythology was very similar to that of Europe’s. The Chinese vampire, the chiang-shih, was an evil soul called a p’o that would animate the corpse of a deceased person in order to fulfill its own ends. During the evening when it searched for prey, it became a fluorescent green color and grew serrated teeth and talons. As with European vampires, they originated as a means of explaining problems surrounding death (Summers 185). I began to see a pattern regarding what kind of people were likely candidates for becoming vampires and came up with a theory of my own on why cultures created myths about vampires. It seemed to me that those who committed evil deeds, died an untimely death, or had problems at childbirth were likely to be explained as the work of vampires. I was able to find a text that supported my ideas. In The Vampire Book by J. Melton, it’s said that vampires were used as an answer to otherwise unsolvable problems within culture. It was seen as the cause of certain unexplainable evils including the death of a loved one, suicide, and the end product of an immoral behavior. I was able to conclude that vampires were used as a sort of blame and punishment for those things that happened in life that are hard to bear.
In conclusion, I think that vampires were merely created as a blame for all the cruelty and evil in the world. From my research and hard work I was able to uncover the many different aspects of vampires including their origin, history, purpose, and characteristics. This kind of research may be hard work and time consuming, but it was a great way for me to increase my knowledge and expand my learning experience. If I ever wanted to research something again, I would do it using these techniques. Vampire folklore has been around for centuries, and I believe it will continue to be researched and questioned until one day the truth is uncovered.
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