Recently, I have been interested in the evolution of certain things through the course of history. One example I found was the evolution of the vampire novel, beginning with Bram Stoker's "Dracula." I picked up "Dracula" expecting it to be similar to the "Twilight" novels I (regrettably) read back in middle school. To my surprise, the two could not have been more different.
During the first couple chapters of "Dracula," Stoker is already evoking feelings of fear. The Carpathian Mountains are secluded, the people there are strange, and the description of Count Dracula seems like it should have haunting music and bolts of lightning to accompany it. Dracula is a frightening, bloodthirsty creature that preys mainly on women, which is disgusting to the men. He even says, "Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine -- my creatures, to do my bidding, and to be my jackals when I want to feed." How creepy is that? A good part of the novel is spent avoiding Dracula, and the other part is spent trying to kill him. Basically, the main characters see their purpose in life as killing Dracula or dying trying. Also, I was actually scared while reading the novel (tip: never read Dracula in a dark room at one in the morning), which is a characteristic I have found few novels to have. Stoker definitely achieved his goal of producing fear from his readers, because I was pretty much terrified for the majority of the novel.
On the contrary, modern vampire novels present quite a different view on vampires. For example, in Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight," the characters view the vampires as their friends. Not only are these vampires "vegetarians," which means they do not prey on humans, but they also attend normal high school with non-vampires. Meyer's characterization of her vampires blatantly contradicts that of Stoker's. While Dracula is living in secluded quarters in an unknown land and then equally separate housing in London, the Cullens are busy fraternizing with the humans, who are their supposed enemies.
This change occurs partly because of changes in social attitudes during the late 20th and 21st century. During the time when Stoker wrote Dracula, England was in a period of imperialism and colonization. They viewed everyone in a different country as conquerable and less important. In this century, people have a different perspective of those who look or speak differently. For example, the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s made many people realize how terrible they had been to those with a different skin color. A second, less important example is the emergence of "hipsters." As recently as the 1990s, people who dressed in oversized sweaters and large glasses, such as Steve Urkel in the popular television show, "Family Matters," were considered to be nerdy and unappealing. Now, however, those who dress in the same garb are labeled with the sought-after term of "hipster." In the same way, vampires have transitioned from being disgusting into a period where the general population adores them. I suppose living in a time period with a more open mind caused writers of vampire novels to be less prejudiced as well.
The vampire novel has obviously evolved over time, which could be considered a good or bad thing. Personally, I prefer vampires as what they were originally intended to be. Obviously other teenagers disagree with me, or there wouldn't be such a large fanbase for "Twilight" and other modern vampire novels. I do hope that in the future, a vampire author comes along that appreciates Stoker's original work and takes it as inspiration.