Symbolic Meanings of Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires

Introduction

Supernatural fiction has been popular for the past few hundred years, and looking at the popularity of the latest movies around vampires and werewolves, as well as the series: “Vampire Diaries”, it is important to review the reasons why these symbolic supernatural creatures are the favorites of the worldwide audience.

Symbolism

There are various authors who associate zombies and werewolves, as well as vampires with the action to take revenge. Some say that as many people secretly wish they had the supernatural power to punish those who did them wrong, their fantasies are symbolized by these creatures. (Edwords, 1993) However, the author also concludes that myths have always been created even in pre-historic times to explain the supernatural events. Still, vampires, werewolves and zombies are different from giants and half-gods, because they take revenge and are completely human.

Vampires, for example, in the 18th Century literature were always aristocrats. They did have power and never appeared as slaves or unimportant people. Zombies (in Haitian: “spirit of the dead”) (online) are the symbols of different human fears. These are the loss of free will, consciousness and losing humanity. The same metaphors can be applied to werewolves, as well.

One of the fears zombies and werewolves represent is the fear of losing one’s human self. However, it is interesting that vampires, on the other hand are appearing to be normal human beings taking control of others. Still, zombies also represent humans’ fear of their own dead flesh, sickness and plague, just like in the Day of the Dead (1985) Werewolves can also be apocalypse symbols; fear, unity and family in some movies. According to Guðmundsdóttir, (2007) the transformation of physical self represents one’s transformation in spirit; becoming closely related to traditions, ancestors and universal truth.

Recent Studies and Metaphors Associated with Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires

Recent studies (Von Drang, 2010) show a different approach to the symbolism of these supernatural characters. Werewolves are the metaphor of the human’s struggle with its own inner beast. This motive is the subject of many recent movies. A zombie, however, represents uncertain times; health problems, plague and the power of the masses. Lack of order is one of the main messages of zombie movies and books; these creatures are uncontrollable. Vampires appear the least emotional and connected creatures in 19th Century literature, however, the creators of movies have changed their attitude to become “more human” a little. Modern vampires are not cold aristocrats anymore.

Conclusion

The symbolism of vampires, zombies and werewolves has changed significantly in the past decades, after movies evolved. There is a great difference between the traditional myths and legends associated with these supernatural characters and today’s popular movie villains. When looking at a Zombie picture created in 1943 (I Walked with a Zombie, 1943) the creature was controlled by a master all the way through. However, in the “Night of the Living Dead”, these people are returning from the “final frontier”. Similarly, werewolves and vampires have become more humanlike during the history of horror movies, and with the growing popularity of the theme will evolve incorporating popular emotions, fears and events.

References:
  1. Zombies. (online) http://www.umich.edu/~engl415/zombies/zombie.html
  2. Guðmundsdóttir, A. (2007) The Werewolf in Medieval Icelandic Literature. Journal of English and Germanic Philology—July 2007 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
  3. Edwords, F. (1993) Myth and Symbol in the Pattern of Truth. Humanism Today, 1993
  4. Darabont, Frank. The Walking Dead. AMC. Television
  5. Von Drang, L. (2010) Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies Compendium Monstrum: From the Papers of Herr Doktor Max Sturm & Baron Ludwig Von Drang. Peter Pauper Press,
  6. Romero, G. Night of the Living Dead. (1968)
  7. Tourneur, J. I Walked with a Zombie. (1943)
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