Tragic Monsters and Heroic Villains: Anne Rice’s Contribution to the Rise of the Heroic Vampire

In: Concerning Evil
Author: Kristin L. Bone

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Anne Rice’s contribution to vampire literature played a significant role in the shift of the vampire from villain to hero. This shift arose in the form of what genre theorist Yury Tynyanov defines as opposing constructive principles. These principles include giving the villain a moral code, telling the vampire’s story in a first person narrative and shifting the setting of the story from places generally associated with death and decay to more modern and urban landscapes. As these principles gained notoriety, they were soon imitated by fellow authors to become the new standard for the modern vampire. By tracing the evolution of these opposing constructive principles, it becomes apparent how the vampire was able to escape the role of the villain and transition to that of the hero. In addition to tracing this evolution, this chapter will examine the shifting definition of both villain and hero for the purpose of determining whether Anne Rice was responsible for creating the first heroic vampire, or merely opening the door for others to do so. This paper will also focus upon various characters’ gradations of evil and their multiple, and often failed attempts to shift from the realm of the villainous into the world of the heroic.