Subtitled: Vampire hunting in Shakespeare …
Five down, one to go. The end of the penultimate half-term of the school year brings a sense of giddy euphoria. And, just for once, I’m actually having a holiday … I’ll be spending next week in Transylvania. This is the final instalment of a ‘Dracula’ pilgrimage which has seen me move eastwards: from actually being quite scared at the Bram Stoker museum in Dublin; to standing in schoolboyish excitement on the beach at Whitby, on the spot where the Demetr would have grounded, vomiting Dracula onto the shore in the form of a huge black dog; and now to the Carpathians …
Has this got anything to do with Shakespeare? Shouldn’t I just blog about this somewhere else?
Curiousity, or perhaps obsession, led me to search for the key words ‘blood‘ and ‘suck‘ at opensourceshakespeare … I wasn’t expecting to find vampires, of course, but I was hoping to find some queasiness, some vestige of horror. I was also mindful that the two words together would most-likely have some sort of medical connotation to do with leeches.
Pistol, in Henry V, is surely such a leech, if not a medicinal one:
Let us to France; like horse-leeches, my boys,
To suck, to suck, the very blood to suck (II.iii)
As I suck blood, I will some mercy show.
Follow me! (IV.iv)
But that didn’t quite work for me. Steeped as I have been in vampires for what seems like my whole life, I wanted something a little more evil, rather than just greedy and wicked. If Pistol is a vampire, then it’s in a very minor league sort of way. No ‘Prince of Darkness’.
Which naturally led me to Richard III – the play almost supplied the answer:
God keep the prince from all the pack of you!
A knot you are of damned blood-suckers! (Lord Grey, III.iii)
Nice. but not quite there. I wanted something to reflect, I guess, the idea of ‘the blood being the life’ as the lunatic Renfield says. It’s the idea of feeding on blood to extend your life which I think is at the heart of the vampire, if you pardon the pun. So, a little unexpectedly, to Julius Caesar:
from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood (Decius Brutus, II.ii)
I think that’s as close as I’m likely to get. I’ll certainly be reporting back on anything Shakespearean on my travels. As landlord of The Boar’s Head, I’m looking forward to following Timon of Athens‘ advice:
Go suck the subtle blood o’ the grape (IV.iii)
In the meantime:
ne vedem mai tarziu … mwah, ha, ha, hahahahahahahahahah
All references are from opensourceshakespeare