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Cover page of Fang de Siècle: The Literary Vampire’s Destruction of Western Patriarchy 

Fang de Siècle: The Literary Vampire’s Destruction of Western Patriarchy 


Although vampire lore has existed in various communities, countries, and times, the stereotypical creature that makes us cover our necks or, perhaps, feel a longing desire to be bitten, originates in the Victorian era. Examining texts from the eighteenth into the twenty-first centuries, I argue that vampire literature reveals and challenges the throughline of Victorian patriarchal binary in western society. Often, the authors of these stories, Bram Stoker among them, placed the vampire in a simple binary of good and evil, using the monster to prove patriarchy's morality and validity. As the typical demonic character, the vampire has maintained elements that Victorianism imbued it with--such as piercing fangs, fear of the light, association with the devil, and sexual promiscuity. And, although stories like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005) transform the vampire from evil monster to romantic lover, these characteristics remain. Ironically, however, despite the best efforts of some vampire authors to make the creature unfavorable, the vampire always disproves the efficacy of patriarchal structures. As a subversive figure, the vampire inherently attacks the offensive stereotypes thrown upon it by embracing viciousness. Through sexual promiscuity, for example, the vampire exhibits to women the power in bodily autonomy. As a creature that infiltrates the home, the vampire displays the home and nuclear family as sinister patriarchal institutions that trap women. The vampire’s true potential, then, is not as evil foil but active revealer--showing patriarchy’s illegitimacy and desperate need to formulate lies to maintain its existence. I also examine intentionally subversive vampire tales, such as Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories (1991) and Octavia Butler’s Fledgling (2005), to demonstrate the vampire’s social power in its fullest extent. In these cases, the authors intend the vampire to disprove patriarchy in its various forms, allowing the creature to attack patriarchy directly. I propose that vampire media, which centers in Victorian social and literary tradition, reflects patriarchal lies and offers truth through targeted resistance.