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The Vampyre

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by

George Ayoub

on 20 December 2013

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Transcript of The Vampyre

The Vampyre
Byron's 'A Fragment'
Was the basis for Polidori's Vampyre

Arguably reflects the relationship between the two
Character Analysis
Relation to other works
Frankenstein
Themes
The Story
By John William Polidori
Background
John William Polidori (1795-1821)

Studied Medicine in Edinburgh

At 21,hired as Lord Byron's Physician and travel companion

The Villa Diodati - june 1816
A gathering a writers the fruit of which were works like
The Vampyre
Frankenstein

Polidori committed suicide in August 1821 at the age of 25

Summary
Lord Ruthven, an aristocrat, shows up at various upper crust parties.

Aubrey encounters Ruthven at one such gathering and is immediately enfatuated by him.

Ruthven, who kept most at arms length, befriends Aubrey and takes him along on his travels through Europe.

In Rome, Aubrey learns of Ruthven's plan to seduce the daughter of an Italian Countess.

Ruthven's excessive gambling habits combined with a letter of warning from Aubrey's guardians lead him to part ways with his peculiar friend.

Before he leaves though, Aubrey warns the countess.

Summary
In Greece, Aubrey falls in love with a poor yet stunningly beautiful and innocent girl named Ianthe.

The two are happy together and she tells him about the legend of the Vampire.

One day, Aubrey goes for an errand a few hours away. The villagers warn him to be back before dark as his path passes through a haunted forest.

He does not heed to the warning and ends up passing through the forest at night.
in the forest, he hears the scream of a woman and runs to her help.

He is attacked by a creature with superhuman strength and thrown to the ground.

While he is saved by the torches of hasty villagers, Ianthe is found dead with two puncture wounds in her neck.
Summary
Ruthven arrives at the scene shortly after Ianthe's murder.

Aubrey does not connect Ruthven with the murder and rejoins him in his travels.
The pair is attacked by bandits and Ruthven is mortally wounded.

Before he dies, Ruthven makes Aubrey swear an oath that he will not mention his death or anything else he knows about Ruthven for a year and a day.

The next morning, he looks for Lord Ruthven's body where the villagers had left it, but it wasn't there.

However, Aubrey finds a sheath among Lord Ruthven's effects and realizes that it perfectly fits the knife with which Ianthe was killed leaving no doubt that Lord Ruthven was, indeed, a vampire.
Summary
Aubrey stops in Rome to check on the Countess whose daughter Lord Ruthven had tried to seduce. He learns that the family is in ruins, and that their daughter is missing. He fears the worst.

He rushes home to his sister who is in a state of melancholy.

They attend a party where Aubrey discovers that Lord Ruthven is alive, back from the dead, and courting his sister. He snatches her away and the two head home.

Throughout, he hears a whisper "remember your oath".

Desperate to keep his sister safe, Aubrey starts falling into madness. His guardians hire a doctor to tend to him.

As the year-and-a-day oath's end approaches, he returns to his normal self.
Summary
He learns that his sister is to be wed to an Earl of Marsden the next day, but finds out, to his horror, that Earl of Marsden is in fact Lord Ruthven.

He tries to tell his sister, but the words would not come out.

He writes her a letter asking her to delay the marriage by a few hours, but the physician thinks it better not to bother Miss Aubrey.

He is able to relate the message to his guardians, but only too late.

Aubrey dies right after, Lord Ruthven disappears, and Miss Aubrey falls victim to "the thirst of a VAMPYRE!"
The Narrator
Not a character

Not involved in the story

Impartial

Unbiased

Following the story at the reader’s pace
Ruthven/ Earl of Marsden
Mysterious man (dead grey eye, peculiar)
Social Aristocrat
Imposing figure: all the women wanted to be with him and all the men wanted to be friends with him
He rarely speaks
Ominous figure: Don’t know his true intentions. As the story progresses, we figure out Ruthven’s intentions
Deceiving, manipulative, controlling
Dominant in the Aubrey-Ruthven relationship
Chooses Aubrey and those close to him as his victims and preys on their virtue, candor, innocence, naivety
Aubrey
Orphaned boy who inherits his family’s wealth
Grew up with guardians
He is handsome, rich and full of candor
Before meeting Ruthven, he has a strong sense of pride
It diminishes when he becomes infatuated with Ruthven’s character
Which eventually consumes him.
Is a submissive character in the relationship with Ruthven
He is a very virtuous individual
Is seeking the approval of the father-figure who could be considered as lord Ruthven. By being submissive, by keeping his promise even when he finds out that he is evil.
Ianthe
Young beautiful Greek woman
Aubrey meets her after abandoning Ruthven in Rome
Begs Aubrey not to travel through the midnight forest
He disobeys, but is not able to prevent the murder of his one true love
She is his escape from Ruthven
Innocent
Virtuous
Caring
Fearful for Aubrey
Traits that Ruthven might find appealing
Brings out the normalcy in Aubrey’s life. Brings out the strong confident side of Aubrey.

Miss Aubrey
Aubrey’s sister
She was tending to Aubrey when he fell ill after the murder of Ruthven
During that year, she meets and falls in love with Earl of Marsden (AKA Ruthven’s resurrected self through moonlight)
She takes the role of the mother-figure which could be emphasized by her involvement and marrying of the said father-figure
Innocent
Naive
Passive character
WOMEN AND SEXUALITY
Women as hunters (mothers of eligible daughters)
Women are marginalized (passive, hardly recognized)
The story is clearly an allegory for sexual seducing, but also of rape.
Ianthe: violent encounter of aggressive and overtaking force
Strong sexual connotation: "orgies" in the forest
Women's powerlessness against male seduction and power
Relates innocence with ignorance (Ianthe)
Relates victimization with vice and desire
Betrayal
Aubrey begins to betray after meeting Ruthven
He betrays Ruthven in Rome
He betrays Ianthe by traveling through the forest at night
He betrays his sister

The Vampyre does not take betrayala lightly
Aubrey's oath: a double-edged sword
Ambiguity
Not certain is the vampire really exists in the story
Ambiguity stems from Aubrey's deteriorating mental condition
Vice-Virtue
Virtue is defined as the conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
Runs parallel to the theme that women of the time should be proper, pure, and whole.
Is focused around those ladies in which Lord Ruthven pursues.
Lord Ruthven is actually attracted to the pure woman because of his thirst for blood.
The attainment of virtue was a common desire of the time.

“Aubrey being put to bed was seized with a most violent fever, and was often delirious; in these intervals he would call upon Lord Strongmore and upon Ianthe---by some unaccountable combination he begged of his former companion to spare the being he loved. At other times he would imprecate maledictions upon his head, and curse him as her destroyer.”
It is this moment in the text that first suggests that Aubrey’s memory is not to be trusted
if Ianthe has been killed or is still endanger from the vampire
“Lord Ruthven chanced at this time to arrive in Athens.”
vs.
Resurrection (his death is never seen)
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Carmilla
Full transcript