Grýla

It has been a while I know, and I am quite happy to be able to add a new installment to my ongoing project of brining Halloween to Christmas one story at a time.  It is thanks to an Internet aquainteince of mine that introduced me to the Grýla that I know bring to you to enjoy this holiday season.

Grýla is a figure from Icelandic mythology who predates Christmas but then much like many of these myths and like the Krampus of whom I have previously discussed here, she was later brought into the Christmas lore. Initially she was a mountain dwelling giant that parents would tell their children about in order to frighten them.

It was in the 17th century that she was made a part of Christmas lore, and much like the Krampus served the role of being the one to punish the bad children, and scare them into behaving. Much in the same way the popular song tells us that Santa knows who has been naughty or nice, Grýla also knew who the naughty children were and tracked them year round, then when Christmas came she came down from the mountains to have a feast, her favorite morsel being the tender flesh of misbehaving kids.

One interesting unique and unique part of the Grýla myth is that unlike the Krampus (and other similar figures) she was not a sidekick of Santa’s but rather she was the mother of the so-called Yule Lads who were the Icelandic version of Santa and you may notice that another difference is that rather than Santa being a single being the Yule Lads were several different people, which does make a lot more sense when thinking of the logistics of traveling around the world to visit every home in one night.

Originally the Yule Lads themselves were quite un-Santa like, and were pranksters, at best, and at worst, like mother like sons, they two were avid eaters of children, but throughout time their image was softened a bit, and they went from being figures of fear to sometimes mischievous, but also benevolent gives of gifts to good children, and bestowing rotten potatoes upon the naughty.

In addition they were accompanied by the Yule Cat, who guess what? Yes, also rather enjoys eating children. Though in the case of the Yule Cat according to legend, he favored eating children who did not receive new clothing (one can imagine how this story formulated from all the parents wanting to frighten there kids from complaining about reviving clothing as Christmas presents)

 

 

 

 

Odin and the Crucifixion of Christ

On the surface it would not appear as if there could be a great deal in common between Odin, the god of the warrior culture of the vikings, who honored bravery, strength, physical power, and presided over Valhalla where those who died a valiant  death would go to spend eternity drinking, eating, fornicating, and fighting, and Jesus Christ the celibate who preached non-violence who preached that the meek would inherit the earth.

But there is one story in particular that has some striking similarities between these two other wise complete polar opposites. Now I am sure that virtually everyone is familiar with the story of the Crucifixion of Jesus so there really is not a great deal of need to reiterate that story. But just to state a couple of points of significance about the story, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to be Crucified and while he was on the cross he was pierced in the side with a spear and three days later he was resurrected. 

Now for a story that many people may not be as familiar with. Odin offered himself in sacrifice and was hung from the tree Yggdrasil a sacred tree in Norse mythology also commonly known as the Tree of Life. And very much like Christ, Odin also had a spear pierced in his side while he hung from the tree. He hung for 9 days and 9 nights without food or water (9 being a sacred number in the Norse tradition as 3 is in Christianity. It could also be pointed out the very close connection between the numbers of 3 and 9). The reason for Odin’s sacrifice of himself was in the name of gaining greater knowledge. After his sacrifice Odin was able to perceive the runes which revealed many secrets of all of existence. As one should keep in mind that many of the pre-Christian gods were not omniscient in the way that the Christian god is said to be.   It could also be seen that Odin’s intellectual accession through his sacrifice is symbolic of the more literal ascension when he is restored to heaven. 

Another point to consider is the fact that being that Odin is the god of gods, often referred to as the All Father, sitting above all the other gods, he essentially  sacrifices himself to himself.  And I know that it is held by many (though I understand not all are of this view.) that god and Jesus are in fact one in the same being, and Jesus is god made of flesh of blood, and thus in essence when Jesus is sent by god (himself) to be crucified he is also sacrificing himself to himself.

Maya Creation Myth and Biblical Creation Myth

There are many striking similarities between the creation myth of the Mayas and that which is presented within the Bible. As many are probably readily familiar with the Biblical creation myth I will begin by giving a detailed account of the Maya creation myth. There are many aspects of it which seem to mirror different aspects of the Bible and so I will do a side by side compassion of the all the elements which are similar to each other. But first a presentation of the Maya creation story.

The gods first create birds, deer jaguars, and snakes to watch over the forests and bring offerings to their creators. But the animals cannot praise the gods, they cannot speak at all and when the gods realize this they decree that animals are only good for one thing: to be eaten. 

So the gods try again. This time they fashion a human being out of clay, but the clay is soft and won’t hold together. “It won’t last” the mason and sculptors gods say. “It seems to be dwindling away. So let it dwindle. It can’t walk, and it can’t multiply, so let it be merely a thought.”

In the third creation the gods decide they need something more solid so they make creatures of wood. These beings look like people, talk like people and reproduce like people but they don’t have feelings, they don’t think and worse of all fail to remember their creators.  The wooden people are busy populating the earth when the gods destroy them by flood and by the Gouger of Faces, the Sudden Blooedletter who cuts off their heads, the Crouching Jaguar who devours them, and by their own grinding stones.

In their final creation the gods choose corn for flesh, water for blood, and grease for fat. And thus the first true humans were created. They talked and praised their creators. But their own flaw was they became too smart. “perfectly they saw, perfectly they knew everything under the sky, whenever they looked.  As they looked their knowledge became intense”  The gods clouded human knowledge so “they were blinded as is breathed upon and such was the loss of understanding along with the means of knowing everything.”

To start with the hiarachy of creation, and the idea of first creating the beasts, and then creating man, and the idea of giving man a position of dominion over the animals is directly reflected within the Biblical creation myth.

From Genesis:

 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.1:27 So God created man in his ownimage, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

On an interesting side note, in Milton’s interpretation of mans creation in Paradise Lost he states:

There wanted yet the Master work, the end [ 505 ]
Of all yet don; a Creature who not prone
And Brute as other Creatures, but endu’d
With Sanctitie of Reason, might erect
His Stature, and upright with Front serene
Govern the rest, self-knowing, and from thence [ 510 ]
Magnanimous to correspond with Heav’n,
But grateful to acknowledge whence his good
Descends, thither with heart and voice and eyes
Directed in Devotion, to adore
And worship God Supream, who made him chief [ 515 ]
Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent
Eternal Father (For where is not hee
Present) thus to his Son audibly spake.

Let us make now Man in our image,

This interpretation presents a similar idea presented by the Maya myth which suggests that the motivation for the creation of man was a desired by the gods to have a being of which would be capable or worshiping and knowing their creator.

In addition, it is widely held that as in the first creation of the Maya, in the Biblical creation myth man was created out of class as well. And on a side note many of you may be familiar with the Lilith, and though not a part of the Bible, it is represented in the Jewish creation mythology, which deals with the idea of multiple creations. As a quite sum up, originally both man and woman were created out of claw, and Adam’s first wife was Lilith, but she demanded to be treated equal to Adam and would not obey him properly, so Adam complained to God, who banished Lilith and then made Eve from Adam’s rib.

 Another interesting similarity is the fact that we have an example of a flood myth presented here, in which the gods become angered by their creation and thus destroy it, using flood as at least one of the means of doing so, in order to be able to start again. And interestingly enough the Maya particularly mention the way in which the wooden people spend too much time copulating  instead of worshiping the gods, as within the Biblical flood story, God destroys man because of their wickedness and corruption.

Than at the end of the creation in the Maya myth the gods become concerned because they believe man is too knowledgeable, and thus they dampen mans understanding and knowledge so he will not see too clearly or know too much. This to me seems to have a lot in common with the idea of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the way in which in the Biblical creation myth God believed there was knowledge man should not have, and wanted to prevent man from knowing too much.

 

Abraham & Isaac vs. Agamemnon

Many of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac, but to give a brief recap of the story:

God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac and thus Abraham obeys the command and takes his son Isaac to the mountain, and rises the dagger, and in the moment as he is about to slit his sons throat, an angel appears and stops Abraham, and as a reward for his willingness to sacrifice his son in the name of God without question, gives him a lamb to sacrifice instead.

In the Greek myth of Agamemnon there is a story which very closely mirrors this Biblical tale. Agamemnon was ordered by Zeus to go off to Troy to fight in the war but Artemis creates winds which prevent Agamemnon’s fleet of ships from setting sail and will not let him fulfill his quest to go to Troy and free his ships unless he offers her a sacrifice. There are different variations as to the reasons behinds Artemis in demanding this sacrifice of Agamemnon. In some cases it is said that it was because he killed a deer in her sacred forest and boasted himself to be a better huntsmen than Artemis. In some versions, Artemis demands the sacrifice as way of making up for the blood of the innocent women and children who will be killed in the war.

Needless to say, the sacrifice that Artemis demands of Agamemnon is that of his own daughter Iphigenia. Caught between the orders of two different gods that of Zeus telling him to go to Troy and Artemis preventing him from doing so unless he obeys her sacrifice, Agamenon makes the choice to do as Artemis bids and prepares to sacrifice his daughter.

While in some versions of the story the sacrifice is completed, there are other versions of the story which state that at the very last moment Artemis snatches Iphigenia away and than as substitute gives Agamenon a deer to sacrifice instead.

 

Does Santa Equal Satan?

I have always thought it a bit strange the way in which Santa Clause is often refered to as St. Nick  or Jolly Old St. Nick, because “Old Nick” is also one of the names which is frequently associated with the devil. Than as I began to think about it, I began to see several similarities between Santa and Satan. When you really being to think it over, it actually is quite interesting in many ways.

So is it pure coincidence? Or is it something else?

I will state the various ways in which I see a connection between what on the surface would seem to be two vastly different characters and you can decide for yourselves.

First and foremost the name itself cannot be ignored.

Santa Clause vs. Satan

The same exact letters used in both names, only arranged in a different way, in addition the word Clause is pronounced the same as Claws, thus giving it a possible double meaning.

In addition is the fact that both figures are traditionally associated with the color red. Just why does Santa go around in a read suit all the time?

As I began to think about it I also began to realize that in many ways Santa also does encourage and act out upon the so called Seven deadly sins:

Lust/Temptation: He is a tempter of children, and he appeals  most specially to the materialistic and base natures within us. He seeks to lure children towards him with gifts of objects or treats of candy and sweets.  Satan is a figure of many disguises and often comes in a form which is most charming, deceptive, and seemingly harmless, thus he appears to children as a grandpa like figure who can easily earn trust and wishes for children to indulge themselves.

Greed: This links to the above, Santa inspires children to want! want! want!  Christmas is the favorite holiday of most children because of what they think they will get out of it, because of the idea of being showered in gifts. While it sounds nice to say it is better to give than to receive, and for the older and wiser this may be said with sincerity, but to many people and particularly to the young, well they snicker to themselves when they hear grown-ups say such things and they “know” that it is far better to get.

Envy: This also connects to the other two, in a situation in which you have gifts being given you will inevitably end up in situations of children thinking that so and so got more gifts than they did, or got better gifts, or got something they wanted or they will think more of the gifts they wanted but did not get instead of the things which they were given. Instead of simply being grateful for being given free gifts in the first place and just enjoying the occasion, it is just as likely that many will spend their time thinking about the things they didn’t get, or the things they don’t have.

Gluttony: Santa is one of the biggest gluttons around, (no pun intended) not only is he often seen as indeed being a very robust figure, well we all know that he loves to eat. One of the most beloved traditions is the leaving out of cookies and other treats for Santa. Just think, if every house in the world left out something for him to eat, and he vigorously consumes it all.

Sloth: In spite of the fact that Santa has a lot of time off it does not seem as if he looses any weight, in addition to the fact that the guy only works once a year  and he has elves do much of the actual hard work for him ( slave labor perhaps or evil minions?) Elves are often also considered to be a type of imp, and imps are often perceived as being mischievous spirits or demons.

Wrath: While it is hard to imagine Santa, the jolly old fellow who goes around delivering presents to children as being very wrathful or mean-spirited, and yet almost all Santa traditions comes with a dark side, that is the threat of some negative repercussions against naughty children. While within the U.S and other places, it is commonly the thread of being left with a lump of coal, this is relatively tame compared to many other traditions which often involve the idea of naughty children acutally being taken away. Some may recall my article last year on the Krampus a demon who followed Santa around to drag naughty children away in chains and beat them and torment them. This may also being seen as akin to claiming the souls of those who had fallen to his temptations.

Pride/Vanity: This is the one sin of which does not appear to have any direct connections to the occasion and of which it is more difficult to make a case for. Though the holiday does breed a certain feeling of self-centeredness within people, both in leading them to be thinking only of themselves and the things they want others to give them. It can also be said that it breeds pride in those giving away of gifts for those who do seek out to buy bigger, better, more expensive items as a form of trying to show off and perhaps out do others.

When one really thinks about it there are some very hedonistic aspects to the way in which the Christmas holiday is celebrated.

Dracula and Let the Right One In

I have recently finished reading “Let the Right One In” of which I think may be the most brilliant contemporary vampire novel ever to be written and was a true work of genius which offered so much more than just a vampire story, and while on the one hand was true to the vampire, it still was able to adapt the vampire into a modern context. I have also recently read “Dracula” which though not the first appearance of the literary vampire, it is certainly one of the most well known and for good reason.  I belive there was a strong “Dracula” influence within “Let the Right One In” I found a lot of similarities between the books and so I wish to compare and contrast the classical view of the vampire with this modern rendition.

The main points on which these stories should be compared is, on how they construct their vampires, the way in which each author draws from traditional vampire folklore, how the vampires fit into the age in which they are being written, and than the structure and content of the stories themselves and similarities in how the stories are put together.

The best place to start is with of course with the very beginning, that being where does the vampire come from?

In both these stories it remains a mystery just where the vampire originally emerged and how the first vampire came to be, but they both offer their own views in way of an explanation of the presence of the vampire. Stoker alludes to the historical Vlad the Impler, linking his Dracula with the historical Count and coming out of the period of the 1800′s a period in which men were embracing reason and logic and moving away from old superstitions, and yet religion still played an important role within the backdrop of it all. Stoker’s Dracula draws upon the religion portraying vampirism as a curse, an impurity of the soul and relying upon religious iconography as the method in which the vampire is to be repelled. The vampire is seen as an incarnation of evil that does not have a conscious mind, though it displays intelligence and cleverness, it is given no control over its actions, no mortality.

In “Let the Right One In” Lindqvist modernizes the understanding of the vampire, and moves away from old religious beliefs which while religion still has a strong hold in the modern age, would not on a wider scale satisfy to explain the existence of vampires to a wider audience and would seem more far fetched than in Stokers day. So Lindqvist turns to science for his answer. In his story vampirism is explained as being a sort of disease, a cancer which overtakes and evolves the body.

One interesting thing to note is the character of Virgina from “Let the Right One In” and Mina from “Dracula” as there does bear some similarities between the two individuals. What is most particularly interesting is both women become infected or cursed by the vampire. In the case of Mina, Van Helsing places a cross against her forehead which burns into her skin, and throughout the novel she struggles with what has been done with her in fear that she will be driven to hurt the ones she loves and she makes the others promise that if she changes beyond the ability to be saved they must take her life. She laments many times that she is “impure”

Virgina has a similar experience once she realizes what has been done to her, what she has become she struggles with herself and what she knows is happening to her, and she lives in fear of what she will be driven to do to those whom she is close with, and while Mina cries of impurity, Virgina cries the lament that she has been infected and in the end she does find the means in which to end her own life, both to save herself as well as to save those she is close to.

There are other ways in which these characters can be compared and contrasted to each other and how there can be seen similarities in them. In a way the very fact that they seem so different from each other points out the ways in which they are the same. Virgina could very well be the modern manifestation of Mina when they are viewed in the context of the times in which they lived.  In some ways Mina can be seen as typical of a Victorian woman. She is virtuous, a loyal wife to her husband, pure and chaste, yet in other ways she is quite unconventional of her time. She is noted for having a “mind like a man” She possesses a great reason and ability for rational thought of which would be uncommon for a woman in the Victorian mindset. She also has a great courage and bravery that would be atypical of a woman at this period of time.

Virgina can be seen in a similar way. In many ways she can be viewed as a typical woman of the modern age, a single woman who had been married once before, dedicates her time to her job, does not really feel the need to be held down by domestic ties. Yet on the other hand there are aspects of her which push the boundaries and make her unconventional.  The fact that while she loves one man, Lacke she is incapable of allowing herself to get close to another person and carries on meaningless sexual relations with random men as a form of protection to herself.

As we have discussed how the notion of the vampire is conceived, and ideas of curses and infections the next step is to review how each of these authors explain how a vampire may create others, and one of the most intrigues aspects of the vampire is the vampires bite. The differences here I find to be quite interesting.

It seems that when it comes to understanding how vampirism can be passed on, Anne Rice actually took a note from Stoker in the way in which Stoker puts forth the idea that there must be an exchange of blood on both sides, but it also seems for Dracula it is a process which takes a period of time to secure. Dracula visits his victim upon a nightly basis each time drawing little by little more blood to eventually lead to the complete draining of the blood of the victim and once the victim bodily dies, they are reborn to arise as the vampire.  In a rather evocative and sensual scene in which Dracula visits Mina it seems that the victim must also take of Dracula blood as part of the changing process.  In addition Dracula is able to use a form of mind control over his victims and compel them to him he also seeks out victims to turn and draw to him. It seems that is primary interest is in women, when we first meet him he has a harem of three brides, and he goes after both Lucy and Mina.  This plays upon the fears and anxieties of female sensuality which existed at the time, and the importance of virtue and chastity in a woman. The women when under the influence of Dracula are made to seem grotesque in the blatant seductions and their open sexuality, they men are repelled by this and made horrified.

“Let the Right One In” takes a different approach. In consideration of the fact that vampirism is presented as a disease, the spread of it works in the same way as a virus, in a way that is rather reflective of Zombie movies. All it takes is one bite from the vampire for the infection to be passed on to the victim, but interestingly enough Eli, the vampire of Lindqvist, does not seek to make others and kills those who are in danger of being infected by the virus to prevent its spread. As well for this reason Eli attacks others purely for the sake of feeding without any other motive in mind, and it seems that the infection works independently in each person, meaning there is no concept of Eli have any form of control over those whom are subject to the bite. One more thing of which I have to talk about that I loved about “Let the Right One In’ is instead of the classical neat little two fangs which we are use to in vampires, Eli’s feeding is much more savage and animatistic in which he has a mouthful of sharp teeth and instead of neat little puncture wounds to duck out the blood Eli rips and tears.

Now let us review some other common aspects of vampire folklore and how these authors address these things:

Mirrors: Stoker holds true to the myth and has one very powerful scene in which to demonstrate this as well as offer the reader one of the first suggestions that there is something strange going on. Dracula cast no reflection within a mirror.  There is one moment in which John Harker is at the castle Dracula and he makes an observation that there are no mirrors to be found within the house, he then sets to shaving with a hand held mirror he brought with him when Dracula walks in behind him and Harker notices that his reflection does not appear within the mirror.

A contrast scene appears within “Let the Right One In” where mirrors seem to have no effect upon vampires. At one point after Virgina had contracted the infection she happens to take a look at herself within the bathroom mirror and was confronted back by her reflection. This of course does further support the theory of disease, for traditionally the lack of a reflection is meant to be indicated by a vampire having no soul.

Garlic: Van Helsing makes considerable use of garlic as a repellant of Dracula, while garlic takes no role within “Let the Right One In”

Sleeping: Now this is another interesting one in which there are both strong differences as well as curious similarities. As usual Stoker takes a very classical approach to the method of a vampires sleeping, though he also seems to add some things of his own invention. Dracula tradtionally must make his rest within a coffin and when he travels from Transylvania to London it seems crucial that he bring with him dirt from his native land. He travels with 60 boxes full of Transylvanian soil in which to lay down in. As well when Lucy sucumbs to the curse she is compelled to always return back to the tomb in which she was berried.

In “Let the Right One In” there is a more modernistic approach in which all that seems to be required is that the vampire have a dark place in which to lock themselves into during the day, though there is one interesting aspect about “Let the Right One In” which seems to take a note out of Madame Bathery, and that is a scene in which Eli’s place of slumber was invaded, and Eli was found lying in a bathtub full lf blood.

One thing that seems to hold true for both these books though, is that in both cases the vampires seem compelled to “sleep” during the day, yet at the same time it a sleep that is not truly sleep, but rather a sort of shutting down of their bodies in which they do seem to be rendered paralyzed and unable to move physically, in a trance like state.

Now this talk leads to of course the role of the sun. Now here I find Stoker’s concept to be most interesting because it actually rivals against what we have come to think as a part of traditional folk lore. As it turns out  the sun is not in fact deadly to Dracula, and further more there are a few moments in which he is seen actually moving around during the daylight.  It seems that while he lacks some of his power during the day and is stronger at night, the sun does not physical affect him.

In contrast in “Let the Right One In” the sun most be avoided, vampires experience physical pain if they venture out into the sun and it causes their skin to actually burn.  In the end Virgina uses the sun as the means in which to kill herself.

Now before I venture any further I think I should say some important things about Eli, as Eli does make for a very unusual and atypical vampire. Eli appears in the image of a 12 year old girl, though in truth Eli is in fact void of sex, Eli is neither boy or girl, and in a rather interesting concept Eli is immortality 12 years old. While Eli’s mind may perhaps have a certain mature understanding that would not be found in typical 12 year old, Eli’s mind does not actually truly age beyond being 12 anymore than the body does.

Now one very interesting about this in connection with Dracula, is the fact that while Dracula appears as a full grown man, and Dracula is undoubtedly powerful, Van Helsing describes Dracula as having a ‘childs brain’ Dracula is learning as he goes along, for his trip to London is in fact his first time out of Transylvania and he is discovering and testing the limits of the full extent of his power and capabilities along the way. In this same way Eli is also not all powerful in spite of possessing a grater physical strength as most people, Eli is weak in some ways and needs to rely upon the help of another…..but I do not want to get ahead of myself I will address that in a bit.

There is one more topic in which I want to touch upon first and that is the concept of aging and the vampire. Both Eli and Dracula show signs of age when they have gone a long time without feeding. Dracula appears looking like an old man at first, but soon after a feeding he suddenly looks like a much younger man. While Eli takes on a sickly look, and develop streaks of gray in its hair if it has not fed in a while, and after feeding the gray disappears and a healthy look returns again.

Now to return to a topic of which I touched upon before, both Dracula and Eli bring into their service minions, or companions to assist them with things of which they cannot do themselves, and there are interesting similarities in their choices.

Dracula enlists the help of Renfeild an individual who is instituted within an insane asylum and there is a certain mystery about his past and how it is Dracula came upon him, but the suggestion is because of his unstable mind, it made it easy for Dracula to gain a measure of control over him. He makes promises to Refield to turn him into a vampire in return for his service.  But in the end when Renfield is no longer of use to Dracula, Dracula kills him.

Eli also chooses a man of certain mental instability by the name of Hakan, but it is not Hakan’s mental weakness which Eli uses but rather his physical weakness, Eli also offers something to Hakan which Hakan wants in exchange for his service, but in this case Hakan is a pedophile who is attracted to Eli’s child-like appearance, and so in exchange for physical intimacies Hakan does Eli’s bidding. In an interesting twist Eli eventually is lead to infect Hakan and as a result Hakan becomes a complete salve to the infection. He has no self-control or restraint, but degrades into a monster led by his carnal lusts and is driven to hunt Eli down and satisfy his desires.

Now we have discussed aspects of traditional vampire folklore within these stories, as well as touched upon how some of the characters reflect each other, it is time to speak of the structure of the books.  Both stories are told using multiple different view points, but they use very different techniques in which to achieve this.

Dracula is told through a series of Diary entires, letters, telegrams, new articles as a way in which to view the story from the perspective of many different characters within the story. Let the Right One In is told in the 3rd person point of view but it gives little episodes throughout the book which highlight the lives, thoughts, experiences of all of the different characters within the book so we are still allowed to see things unfold through varying different view points.

Atmosphere is another important area to touch upon. Dracula rather masterfully uses the gothic style of writing which was quite prevalent at that time and even today is capable of effecting a rather eerie feeling. Gothic literature is defined by some basic elements which can be found in nearly all Gothic literature, we will explore these and how Dracula fits the bill:

1) Setting in a Castle: The story starts off with with John Harker being taken to Castle Dracula, and the first chapters of the book are held within the castle, and the story ends with Dracula making his way back to the castle to have the final encounter after he has been discovered.

2) An atmosphere of mystery and suspense: this predates throughout the entirety of the novel. And I think added to this should be a key element in which often times the physical environment is meant to reflect the emotions of the characters and the events. Lots of rain and storms within gothic novels. The story starts out in a highly suspenseful mode touches of mystery are laced throughout the story.

3) An ancient prophecy:  Perhaps this novel lacks an offical declared prophecy, but the story revolves around the legend of Dracula himself, and in a way Van Helsing seems at first almost prophetic with the knowledge he knows, and yet does not at first reveal. The character of Renfield also makes prophetic  like statements about his “master” and things of which are coming.

4) Omens, portents, visions: Lucy experiences episodes of sleepwalking and has troubled dreams, and feels uneasy without understanding way and speaks about a figure with “red eyes.” Later Mina also begins to have trouble sleeping and feelings of uneasiness which she cannot explain.

5) Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events: the answer to this one is obvious, as the stroy is focused around a vampire

6) High and even overwrought emotion: throughout  the story all of the characters experience a constant high intensity of emotion as events unfold. John initially suffers from believing he is going mad because of the things of which he experienced, and the story runs on a high level of emotion that is marked primarily be distress and fear.

7) Women in distress: yes, this appears both in the case of Lucy as well as Mina and as a sort of sub-group of women in distress is women under threat by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male, which of course perfectly define Dracula.

And though this gothic atmosphere can still be potent today in sending chills down the spine of the reader, the elements which define the gothic novel are outdated in the modern mindset, and so we shall now view how Lindqvist creates a modernized creepy atmosphere for his story. Moving away from gothic sensationlisim he instead paints a rather black picture that is all the more stark because of the way in which it touches upon reality. As has been indicated prior, the story touches upon the lives of many characters all of whom are struggling with problems of their own and foremost the book is led by the story of Oskar, who can be viewed as the “hero” of the book. A young boy who is terrorized by constant acts of bullying which become progressively more extreme. Living in a state of constant fear and humiliation which make his life miserable. There are also many examples of dysfunctional and broken families which predate through the novel, and of course there is also the examples of pedophile. So this novel touches upon real life problems which are the source of pain and agony and stimulates a very real fear among with the supernatural elements.

One more thing I think is worthy to note the way in which both novels deal with sexuality within the context of their time periods. I have already touched upon the ways in which Dracula deals with the anxieties about sexuality in relation to women and touched upon the Victorian fears. Well Let the Right One In deals with sexuality in a much more modern context by bringing up questions of gender identity through the relationship of Eli and Oskar.

Oskar befriends Eli who moves into the apartment next to his own, and while interestingly the notion of love never directly actually comes up as no real declarations of love are pronounced, an intimate affection grows within Oskar for Eli and she becomes the joy within the darkness of his life ( rather ironically) yet at the same time, this story does not degrade into some romanticized idea of the vampire. Eli remains aloof, distant, though a part of her is drawn to the way in which Oskar does appeal to the child within her. And after Oskar’s discovery of the truth about Eli, the question of her gender, or lack of gender does not disturb Oskar’s feelings towards her, though the notion of the truth of Eli’s nature as a vampire creates a crisis for Oskar, in the end he cannot forsake her.

Pazuzu

 

Pazuzu is a demon of ancient Babylon, believed to have the feet of an eagle, the hands/paws of a lion, head of a dog, and tail of a scorpion with four wings. Half of his head is skinless exposing the skull to display a death like grimace.

It was believed that in demons brought pestilence within the scorching hot, and deadly winds of the Arabian desert, a place known for its wind storms, and with the great power which these winds have, it is no wonder that people could imagine some powerful and frightening entity being brought within the wind to bring terror to the people.

It was common for people to keep images of the demons in their windows facing outward, as a way to try and drive off the Pazuzu which came within the winds, in addition, they had a chance to act as an incantation against the demon:

They are seven! They are seven!
In the depths of the Ocean, they are seven!
In the heights of the heavens, they are seven.
They come from the Ocean depths, from the hidden retreat.
They are neither male nor female.
They have no spouse. They do not produce children.
They are strangers to benevolence,
They listen neither to prayer nor wishes.
Vermin come forth from the mountain,
enemies of the god Hea,
They are agents of vengeance of the gods,
raising up difficulties, obtaining power by violence.
The enemies! The enemies!
They are seven! They are seven! They are twice seven.
Spirit of the heavens, may they be conjured.
Spirit of the earth, may they be conjured.

The Pazuzu are demons which are devoid of any emotion or feeling, completely incapable of mercy, pity or sympathy, they have no sense of connection to human beings, and will spread death and disease without thought and can only be kept at bay if scared off by the frightening images of other demons.