02 March 2010

Home is where you hang your cape

If a man's home is his castle, then a vampire's castle is his home. Hardly a vampire story passes into fiction without the description of a palace, mansion, or some grandiose house.

Who can forget Jonathan Harker's first sight of Castle Dracula?

"Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moon-lit sky" (Stoker 13).

Gone is the time of the folkloric revenant, who passed daylight hours in a water-logged caves or crawled from the graveyard beds at first signs of night. Nowadays, even the vegetarian vampires have a veritable palace, albeit it's made largely of glass, which won't help at all to hide their sparkly skin in the noon-day sun. On the plus side, it's easy to see a mob of angry villagers with torches and processional crosses approaching.

But, before the Cullens decided to prettify vampire imagery, the residence of the vampire was depicted as large, dark, and well-secured. Anne Rice describes countless mansions, palaces, and island fortresses that serve as nighttime dwellings for her immortal characters. The castle may change according to the standard of the time, but her vampires often live well. At times, the image of the vampire is nearly inseparable from the spooky fortress that encloses him.

Even one of the oldest of vampire fictions, Varney the Vampire, touts a large manor as an important issue to the vampire. I'd like to be more specific with this example, but I am not able to wade through the bloated dialogue of that ridiculously long penny-dreadful looking for an acceptable quote to back my claim, at the moment. So, take my word for it, or read it yourself.

"Why is Ana so busy?" You may ask...and inevitably someone will.

I'd like to respond, "Writing little blog articles to explain the intricacies of vampiric existence is not the most entertaining or important use of my time", but I should refrain. So, I will tell you that relocation has rendered me too busy to re-read the melodramatic series in the hope of finding the source of the vampire castle. Yes, I have relocated, and that is precisely my point.

You see, castles are horribly impractical for the vampire. Limelight living is not something for which vampires aspire. Let's face it, ostentatious dwellings draw attention. I know. We've all met Sunday drivers who decide to pass their time gawking at and yearning for the homes of the rich as they drive two miles per hour through residential streets. Who wants this sort of attention? Frankly, I don't.

Anyway, once a vampire has hung around the neighborhood long enough, the locals will notice strange habits and feel snubbed by the repetitious refusal of dinner party invitations. All this doesn't even consider the expected life-cycle of a human. Moving away for half a century only to return, claiming to be the grandchild and namesake of the previous occupant, won't work. Why?--paperwork.

Boil it all down, and I'd prefer a cozy little crypt over a palace. But, since graveyards are full of decaying bodies, I'll settle for an inconspicuous little hovel with thick walls and a low security deposit--just in case I have to skip town in a hurry.

Oh, and obliging landlords with few questions certainly make things easier.


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