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Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
Transcript of Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Chapter 3: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
This chapter talks all about symbolism, but not in the usual way that we are taught symbolism. The book talks about how often an author will use an antagonistic or evil type character to represent the same evil ideas throughout literature. The author uses the example of vampire characters because in older literature that was the character often used but more recently other supernatural figures have began to represent evil in their own symbolistic way.
The authors first example featured a very well know character, Count Dracula, from Bram Stroker's famous novel. This example generalized the symbolism used in novels of this time period. The chapter reads, "A nasty old man, attractive but evil, violates young women, leaves his mark on them, steals their innocence and coincidentally their 'usefulness' (if you think 'marriageability', you'll be about right) to young men and leaves them helpless followers in his sin. I think that we would be reasonable to conclude that the whole Count Dracula saga has an agenda to it...we might conclude it has something to do with sex. Evil has had to do with sex since the serpent seduced Eve....Body shame and unwholesome lust, seduction, temptation, danger, among other ills. So vampirism isn't about vampires? It is. But it is also about other unliteral things: selfishness, exploitation, a refusal to respect the autonomy of other people, just for starters." (Foster 16)
Foster also points out that vampires are only one of the supernatural forms that symbolism takes. Ghosts were also a popular symbolic figure in Victorian writing. In fact famous authors like William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens used paranormal symbolism in two of their most famous works. "Think of the ghost of Hamlet's father when he takes to appearing on the castle ramparts at midnight. He's not there simply to haunt his son; he's there to point out something drastically wrong in Denmark's royal household. Or consider Marley's ghost in 'A Christmas Carol', who was really a walking, clanking, moaning lesson in ethics for Scrooge. In fact, Dicken's ghosts are always up to something besides scaring the audience." (Foster 17)
In short what this chapter has taught us is that there are two ways to read a story, you can take its literal meaning and think that the ghosts are just ghosts and the vampires are just vampires, or you can look beyond the physical form of the antagonist to see the symbolism behind that character.