Thursday, March 25, 2010
Unholy Embrace vampire novel by Neil Benson - The vampire as beauty and the beast.
In my vampire novel, Nessa, the vampire, is a beautiful, elegant woman. But as her mortal lover, Frank, finds out early in the novel, she is capable of acts of physical violence he finds difficult to comprehend. Furthermore, when he sees her fangs dripping with blood, the lovely woman he loves is transformed into the hideous, undead creature of myth.
There was nothing startling or revelatory about this kind of change. The duality of good and evil is clearly stated in the Old Testament in the passage that follows.
"I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. "(Isaiah 45:5-8)
The novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the vile Mr Edward Hyde. The work is famous for its vivid portrayal of a split personality, split in the sense that within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality each being quite distinct from the other. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.
In my novel, Nessa strives deny her vampirism as much as possible. She wants to be the "good human," not the "evil" vampire. However, there are times when circumstances force her to become the lethal vampire in her own self-defense, or to save Frank. Even acting in self defense, her ferocity and physical power enable her to act in a way most people would find abhorrent. There are instances in the novel when her actions go far beyond self-defense, and the crueler, aspect of her nature is revealed.
We all struggle with our own impulses of good and evil. In order to retain our essential humanity it is necessary we keep our evil impulses at bay. Recent history has shown that under certain circumstances "good people" can act in ways that contravene the ethical and moral standards under which we live.
Nessa, despite her desire to be human, is the vampire, the beast. So beauty and the beast reside side-by-side.