Sunday 8 May 2022

Nerd Church - Rich Vamps: Dracula and The Blood of the Poor

 Warning: this is probably obvious, but we're gonna talk blood, death, and murder

'Rich Vamps: Dracula and The Blood of the Poor' with a background of a fancy hand - with a ring and everything - reaching for a wine glass

You ever notice that vampires are filthy stinking rich?

I was talking about this topic with Em @ The Paperback Princess a while back (...I can't find the conversation, but it exists, I'm sure! 😅):

You rarely see fiction or media with vampires who struggle to pay the bills

 - which does mean that they're in line to combine with a dozen or so other tropes to make romance novels titled 'The Alpha Bad-Boy Motorbike CEO Billionaire Daddy Vampire's Baby Surprise.' 

Apologies if that's the title of your novel - because I feel like this thing exists somewhere.

And if it didn't before, it does now 😅

But moving away from romance novels and things that would even make fanfiction writers wonder if you may have overdone the tropes...

So where does it come from? This idea that vamps are rolling in dough?

Well, I don't know about the handful of published English-language vampire stories from pre-1897, but the trope - as with most vampire tropes - was cemented by the granddaddy of them all: Dracula by Bram Stoker.

(I may go into SPOILER territory here - but the book's over 120 years old, so I figure I'm allowed 😅)

And as with all good horror stories, Dracula isn't really about vampires.

Well... I mean... it's about vampires, but it isn't really about vampires, you get me?

Horror isn't about monsters - it's about people, society, and our own fears. The monsters always stand for something...

And Dracula is no different.

Think about the late 19th Century in Britain, OK?

The working-classes are becoming more political, more educated. More of them can vote than ever before (although, not all of them - not until 1918.)

There's also a larger and far more varied middle-class, emerging in a force and number that this country had never seen before.

And the people at the top? What we call 'the landed gentry'? The ones with titles like 'Earl' and 'Lord' and 'Count'...?

They're still sitting pretty on the toils, suffering, and often deaths, of those below them.

Enter Count Dracula - 

Bela Lugosi's Dracula: Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.
Bela Lugosi - the legend, the OG, the best. Gif via Giphy.

- rich Eastern European aristocrat, who has depleted the life-force of his own peasant population to the extent that he needs to look further afield for his nourishment.

It's a metaphor - the vampires in Dracula are literally draining the blood, and the life-force, out of the lower classes. 

(...and it's entirely possible that my Valleys South Wales Socialist upbringing made this easier to spot than it is for many people! 

I've literally met more members of the Communists, Socialist Workers, and Marxists than members of the Conservative party.)

Dracula's prey of choice is actually the middle-class - solicitors, and wealthy socialites who exist just below the level of landed gentry. 

But he will take the poor peasants when needs must.

Lucy Westenra - said wealthy middle-class socialite - doesn't prey on the middle-class after she becomes a vampire. 

Her prey is the poverty-stricken working- and under-class children of London. She lures in poor and starving children as her meals.

Just as Dracula preyed on her, she will prey on those below her in the social strata.

So what we have is the vampire as a metaphor for the oppression of the working-classes by the ruling-classes.

A metaphor which definitely pre-dates Dracula...

'Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks'

- Karl Marx, Das Kapital (Capital): Volume 1, (first published 1885) edited by Friedrich Engels, translated into English by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling

'But we are strong, each in our purpose, and we are all more strong together.'

- Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897) what does that say about us in the 21st Century? And all of our vampire billionaires...?

I love vampires because of the plethora of other metaphors - disability, Queerness, etc. - that come with the territory.

But the riches has always been... well, it's still there.

Yes the monster has been subverted to become, more often than not, the hero or the anti-hero, with a far stronger ability to explore things - such as Queerness, such as desire - which Bram Stoker could only say in the subtext in the world of 1897...

But still, the wealth.

Vampires are still usually so rich they don't have to worry about anything. 

And that's seen as part of their appeal - especially in romance novels. Every romance heroine wants to bag the billionaire vampire, right?

...So what does it say about us that instead of fearing the blood-sucking wealthy, we have turned towards them, and away from the sun?

'And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere 'modernity' cannot kill.'

- Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)

What do you think?

Talk to me! 😊💬


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  1. I remember that convo, as I remember every vampire-related convo I've ever had with someone lol! I could talk about vamps for hours:
    I definitely agree with your post. Vampires and vampire mythology touches on a variety of different marginalized communities, such as disability and queerness. But, as a whole, most vampires relate to the metaphor of the middle class preying on the working class. But, where it gets complicated in my opinion, is in my favourite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel is a middle-class man before getting turned. However, he doesn't actually really prey on the working class. He was turned by a working class vampire named Darla, but then the two of them actually wreak havoc on the middle class by killing middle class people and then stealing their wealth, moving into their homes, etc. So while Angel is rich by proxy of killing rich people, what gets even more interesting is how Darla, a working class sex worker who was dying of consumption before getting turned, actually gets to become rich because she almost takes revenge on the middle class folks who failed her in her human life. Then Angel becomes good and vows to help working class folks, he ends up living quite humbly as he struggles to build up a new reputation of wanting to help people. The bottom line is: you can't talk about vampires without talking about class. Vampire reinforce class anxieties. However, with vampires shifting between personas of good vs. evil, sometimes where they fall in the class line opens up a bigger can of worms! It's a fascinating discussion, me and you could probably write a paper on, lol.

    1. Lol, I'll let you cover the Buffy section of our textbook on the Socialism of vampires, Em ;) I don't remember enough of the intricacies of Buffy and Angel to contribute - but I love your analysis!!! :) <3

      I mean, in fairness to Bram Stoker, you couldn't really avoid class in Britain in 1897! Lol.

  2. I love this because I had never thought about it like that before. Now I'm thinking...

    1. Ha, good! Again, the whole *waves hands vaguely* Socialism-in-the-background thing of my upbringing probably makes it more obvious to me! Lol.


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!