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Title: The notion of moral ambivalence in vampire narrative and film
Authors: Tanti, Charmaine
Keywords: Vampire films
Vampires in literature
Moral conditions
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: In less than two centuries the vampire has become one of the most powerful archetypes in literature and in popular culture, dense with signification and capable of accommodating a wide spectrum of signifiers. A creature such as the vampire, so deeply rooted within the human subconscious, mirrors and embodies humanity's ambiguities and its moral dilemmas. However, no study, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been directed exclusively at the moral ambivalence endemic to vampire literature and film. This study aims to explore the moral ambivalence at the heart of the vampire genre by analysing a diverse selection of literary and cinematic narratives. Spanning more than two centuries of vampire literature, and more than ninety years of cinema, this thesis looks at significant contributions in each field, including, but not limited to, such milestones as the prototype of the female vampire/demon in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Christabel', the first vampire short story penned by John William Polidori, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and its most significant cinematic adaptations, and the rewriting of the vampire myth by Anne Rice. The vampire’s protean qualities have allowed it to be successfully incorporated within other genres, such as science fiction, social realism, and romance. Moral ambivalence permeates all of these forms, be it through of the ontologically ambiguous figure of the vampire itself, or, more often, via the complex dynamics that play out between the vampire and its victims or hunters, which challenge established notions of heroism and monstrosity. This thesis also analyses significant literary characters that, while not being literal vampires, are either described as vampiric – such as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre – or, like Dorian Gray, are associated with the vampire through their actions and their essence. Including these characters in this analysis throws further light on the function and significance of the vampire as a metaphor, and on the notions of Otherness within dominant ideologies.
Description: PH.D.ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2015
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 2015

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