Hypnotic Powers

Hypnotic Powers

(pop culture)

In many books and movies, the vampire possessed hypnotic powers. Jonathan Harker discovered this the day he attempted to kill Dracula. Dracula was lying in his box of earth in his vampire sleep when Harker threatened him with a shovel. However, the vampire turned his head, and as his eyes fell on Harker, the sight paralyzed the man. Instead of delivering a fatal wound, Harker merely grazed Dracula’s head with the shovel he wielded.

The vampire’s hypnotic hold on a person was even stronger after it had first bitten the victim. Dracula’s hypnotic powers were evident, for example, when he lured Lucy Westenra from her bedroom in Whitby across the bridge to a meeting place on the other side of the river. Nothing that her protectors did after that time prevented Dracula’s access to her. Again, Dracula appeared to have put Mina Murray into a trance after first attacking her. She was not aware of what she was doing in the crucial encounter with Dracula in her bedroom, when he forced her to drink from the blood flowing from his chest. Also at that moment, as vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing observed, “Jonathan is in a stupor such as we know the Vampire can produce.” When Mina came to her senses, she pronounced herself unclean. Van Helsing was later able to used the hypnotic link between Mina and Dracula. He hypnotized Mina, and while in a trance she was able to give him information on Dracula’s progress on the return trip to his castle.

Hypnotic powers were not evident in the accounts of the folkloric vampire. However, it often attacked at night while its victims slept, and there were a number of accounts in which people awoke with the vampire hovering over them. In like measure, the nineteenth-century literary vampire did not use any hypnotic powers. Varney the Vampyre stole into victims’ rooms as they slept. Carmilla seduced them with her charm and beauty. Since Dracula (1897), however, the vampire’s hypnotic energy has been an essential part of its power. The look could be used to call victims from their bedrooms or to get them to open the door and let the vampire into the room. With suggestion, victims could get rid of barriers such as garlic or a crucifix that blocked his access. Frequently it appeared as a simple exercise in power, as the vampire forced an unwilling victim to walk across the room to meet a set of gleaming teeth, or as it hypnotized a third party to assist him in seizing his victim. On occasion, a vampire like Diedre Griffith in Karen Taylor’s Blood Secrets, would use its hypnotic powers to make a person forget the encounter. Such a situation arose in the 1988 comedy My Best Friend Is a Vampire, when the youthful Jeremy Capello must hypnotize his friend Ralph so he can forget his close brush with death. Other vampires like Count Yorga, uses their hypnotic abilities to seduce their next victim, and still others, such as vampire cop Nick Knight (Forever Knight) uses it to get his way and cover the fact that he is a vampire. The hypnotic glare of Bela Lugosi into the camera remains one of the memorable moments of the movie version Dracula, and the success of those who followed him in that part often was related to their ability to copy that intense look.

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
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