Mirrors


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Mirrors

Earlier software from Micrografx that allowed Windows programs to be converted to OS/2 with minimal modification. See also mirror site.

Mirrors

(pop culture)

The now-popular idea that vampires cast no reflection in a mirror (and often have an intense aversion to them) seems to have first been put forward in Bram Stoker‘s novel, Dracula. Soon after his arrival at Castle Dracula, Jonathan Harker observed that the building was devoid of mirrors. When Dracula silently came into Harker’s room while he was shaving, Harker noticed that Dracula, who was standing behind him, did not appear in the shaving mirror as he should have. Dracula complained that mirrors were objects of human vanity, and, seizing the shaving mirror, he broke it.

When the novel was brought to the stage and the episode in Castle Dracula deleted, the incident of the mirror was transformed into a confrontation between Dracula and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. The mirror incident does not seem to have any precedent in either vampire folklore or the earlier vampire short stories and dramas, although Stoker seemed to have been aware of folklore about mirrors. Mirrors were seen as somehow revealing a person’s spiritual double, the soul. In seeing themselves revealed in a mirror, individuals found confirmation that there was a soul and that hence life went on. They also found in the reflection a new source of anxiety, as the mirror could be used to affect the soul negatively.

The notion that the image in the mirror was somehow the soul was the source of the idea that breaking a mirror brought seven years’ bad luck. Breaking the mirror also damaged the soul.

Thus, one could speculate that the vampire had no soul, had nothing to reflect in the mirror. The mirror forced the vampire to confront the nature of his/her existence as the undead, neither living nor dead. On occasion, in both vampire fiction and the cinema, the idea of nonreflection in mirrors has been extended to film, that is, the vampire would not appear in photographs if developed.

In her popular reinterpretation of the vampire myth, Anne Rice dropped Stoker’s mirror convention. She argued in part that although vampires have certain “supernatural” attributes, they existed in the same physical universe as mortals and generally had to conform to the same physical laws, including those of optics. Hence, in Interview with the Vampire and Vampire Lestat, Louis and Lestat de Lioncourt, respectively, saw themselves in a mirror and experienced a moment of self-revelation about their new vampire image. (Of course, Rice’s vampires didn’t follow all physical laws since they had the ability to fly.)

During the 1990s, vampire writers and movies have moved back and forth on the problem of mirrors, and the related problem of capturing the image of the vampire on film, television, or with the new digital cameras. Some, for example the vampires of “The Twilight Series” and the books of L. A. Banks can see and be seen in mirrors. Meanwhile, most still cannot, including those of television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Being Human, and the popular books of Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton.

Sources:

Goldberg, Benjamin. The Mirror and Man. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1985. 260 pp.
Ramsland, Katherine. The Vampire Companion. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. 507 pp.

The Miss Lucy Westenra Society of the Undead see: Vampire Fandom: United States

References in classic literature ?
"To that we answer you," said he of the Mirrors, "that you are as like the very knight I vanquished as one egg is like another, but as you say enchanters persecute you, I will not venture to say positively whether you are the said person or not."
Then, by the aid of the mirror inside the open door, she put on the head--as neat and straight as could be--and afterward called her maids to robe her for the day.
When they went once more into the long hall with the windows and the mirrors, yellow evening was dropping over the waters and the willowy banks; and a bittern sounded in the distance like an elf upon his dwarfish drum.
de Chagny," he continued, still with his hand on the mirror, "would that we had to do with a ghost!
By and by she turned her head and picked up the mirror, eyeing her reflection critically.
The mirror still continued the great object of desire, particularly in the eyes of the old housewife, who produced a pot of parched flour and a string of biscuit roots.
"Only fancy!" answered Ignat, surprised at the broadening grin on his face in the mirror.
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the impostors placed themselves before him as if they were putting on each part of his new clothes which was ready, and the Emperor turned and bent himself in front of the mirror.
"If you will allow me,' he said, "to take the place of the mirror, I think that I could give you any assurances you required."
The fair widow knew, of old, that Colonel Killigrew's compliments were not always measured by sober truth; so she started up and ran to the mirror, still dreading that the ugly visage of an old woman would meet her gaze.
A certain courtier who had long enjoyed the king's favor and was thereby enriched beyond any other subject of the realm, said to the king: "Give me, I pray, thy wonderful mirror, so that when absent out of thine august presence I may yet do homage before thy visible shadow, prostrating myself night and morning in the glory of thy benign countenance, as which nothing has so divine splendor, O Noonday Sun of the Universe!"
He crept to it to revive himself, lifted the upper part of his body on his trembling arms, thrust forward his head and saw the reflection of his face, as in a mirror. He uttered a terrible cry.