The Vampyre A Tale Short story by John William Polidori

The Vampyre

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The Vampyre a Tale by John William 

“The Vampyre”

s a gothic novella by John William Polidori, first published in 1819. It is one of the earliest examples of vampire fiction in English literature and was written during the same literary contest in which Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein.” The story follows the protagonist, Lord Ruthven, a mysterious and charismatic nobleman who is rumored to be a vampire.

The story begins with the narrator, Aubrey, meeting Lord Ruthven at a social gathering in London. Aubrey is immediately intrigued by Ruthven’s enigmatic and aloof demeanor, but his fascination turns to horror as he begins to witness Ruthven’s disturbing behavior. Ruthven seems to have a strange power over people, particularly women, and Aubrey is disturbed by the way Ruthven preys upon them.

Aubrey becomes more and more convinced that Ruthven is a vampire, and his suspicions are confirmed when he witnesses Ruthven attacking a young woman. Ruthven flees the scene, leaving Aubrey to tend to the victim, who dies soon after. Aubrey is haunted by the experience and becomes obsessed with Ruthven, following him to various locations throughout Europe.

As Aubrey’s travels with Ruthven continue, he witnesses a series of eerie and unexplainable events. In Geneva, Ruthven becomes embroiled in a scandal involving a young woman, and Aubrey is forced to intervene to save Ruthven from prosecution. In Italy, Ruthven leads Aubrey into a dark and ominous castle, where they encounter a strange and terrifying figure.

Throughout the story, Polidori’s portrayal of Lord Ruthven is both captivating and repulsive. Ruthven is portrayed as an enigmatic and charismatic figure, capable of both great charm and great cruelty. His behavior is often erratic and unpredictable, and his motives remain shrouded in mystery.

The story reaches its climax when Aubrey discovers Ruthven’s true identity as a vampire. Ruthven reveals to Aubrey that he has been alive for centuries and has lived through many historical events. He explains that his existence is a curse, and that he is doomed to wander the earth for eternity, feeding on the blood of the living.

The story ends with Ruthven’s death, as he is finally destroyed by a group of vampire hunters. Aubrey is left to contemplate the events that have unfolded and the strange and disturbing figure that was Lord Ruthven.

“The Vampyre” is a compelling and atmospheric work of gothic fiction, notable for its vivid and evocative descriptions of the settings and characters. The story is also notable for its historical significance as one of the first works of vampire fiction in English literature. The character of Lord Ruthven has since become an iconic figure in vampire mythology, inspiring many subsequent works of fiction.

Overall, “The Vampyre” is a haunting and memorable work of gothic literature, one that continues to captivate and disturb readers more than 200 years after its initial publication.

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