Mothers, Daughters, and Vampires: The Female Sexual Dilemma in Eighteenth-Century Vampire Poetry


  • Ashley M. Quinn


Early vampiric poetry often included two female characters: a mother and a daughter. Despite the prevalence of the inclusion of a mother within these poems, scholarship on the literary vampire fails to give that inclusion proper attention. This paper examines how the mother’s relationship with her daughter in these poems connects the liminal space of the vampire with a woman’s involuntary position in a restrictive place between unrestrained sexual desire and the restrained social codes and conventions of eighteenth-century society, exposing the powerless position women are in when it comes to their identity construction in relation to sexuality. The
interactions between the mother, daughter, and vampire in “Der Vampir” (by Heinrich August Ossenfelder) and “The Bride of Corinth” (by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) highlight how female sexuality is chosen either by a mother for her daughter or by a vampire or vampiric nature. Exploring these poems encourages a conversation about the construction of female sexuality and the forces that exert influence over that development.


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