In the beginning of the 19th century a poem called the Vampyre, which introduces us to the modern conception of the vampire that had existed for millenia in one shape or form. The poem is written shortly after the turbulence of the French revolution and Napoleonic wars. The vampire in this era symbolized the abuse of the commoners by the effete and slothful aristocracy, who in violation of noblise oblige, abused their non-noble brethren. This was an issue throughout Western Europe, though less so in Great Britain, and it was the abuses of the French nobility that led to the terrible wars on the continent as it paved the way for Napoleons rise.
Later, during the turbulent era of the 1840s, the Varney the Vampire serials are first produced. The 1840s were the first period when the affects of the industrial revolution were first felt, both the good effects, and the ill. The topic of the poems change, sometimes focusing on the greed and avarice of Varney, and other times his terrible acts done to others due to his self loathing. This is the vampire as the narcissist, concerned only with his own gain, his own feelings, and oblivious, or simply uncaring, about his actions and their affects on others.
Then we have the penultimate novel, Dracula, written in the twilight years of the Victorian era. A lot of themes are present in this book, syphilis, the roles of women, selfless manliness, the growing schism between science and faith, and some claim that there are opinions on post colonialism. I have also heard that Dracula was a allusion to Britain's growing fears of the rise of Germany. What ever the cause, the novel best captures the horror of vampirism and one of items that most stand out to me is Dr. Van Helsing's speaking in reference to Lucy, who is slowing turning into the undead: I am paraphrasing
Where that she would simply pass unto death I would be content to let her die a peaceful death and enter into the peaceful arms of the almighty. But no, there are some things more terrible than death and if she dies now she risks damnation.
As I said, Bram Stocker captures the fears of vampires, and what they represent, perfectly. I would even argue that Dracula is the distillation of everything vampires have represented since we first conceptualized them. It is why his image of vampires has dominated our collective minds for over a century. But now we have vampires turned into the narcissistic sex fantasy completely devoid of any deeper meaning. Where once vampires articulate the very worst fears of the West, they have been turned into an article to swoon over, lust even. Vampires steal the life force of their victims much in the same way a rapist steals the dignity of a woman, yet popular media never draws that comparison.
In twilight, or another god awful show called the vampire diaries, the main character is a girl who loves a vampire but never ever seriously thinks about how terrible her love interest is. Countless of individuals have had their blood taken, their life force raped if you will, but the vampire is not considered an evil individual, he is an object of pity. No time is spent on the victims, or their final moments of terror, instead we focus on the 'forbidden' love between the two. And let us not forget the absurdity in the idea that a creature who has murdered countless numbers of people is able to 'contain' his evil nature because of his love. This is articulation of narcissism right there, that you are so such special snowflake that a vampire, who had no compunction about killing numerous other individuals (most often women I have seen) but frets and agonizing over the risk that he might go 'too far' with you.
This is absurd as vampires don't do this, they are incapable of doing this. They have crossed the event horizon and have made a choice. We see these vampires as regretful for their past actions, but how can I buy that this regret is real? At least with Angel you saw a vampire who tried to atone for his crimes, but with the latest iteration of vampires you don't even see that. If someone is truly regretful for their actions they would seek atonement. And in the case of a vampire there is only one kind of atonement, DEATH. That only way to free your victims, who still live anyways, from their fate and the only way to truly show that you are remorseful for your crimes. Feeling bad about it doesn't cut it.
And that is the ultimate rub about vampires, what makes them so scary, because a vampire is incapable of feeling bad about their actions. They are not simply sociopaths, they are slaves to their worst and most base instincts. They live to consume the life force of others, veritable parasites. This is something that should be revolting to every human being, we have an inherent drive to be useful to our friends, family and our society. But all the while, we have this knowledge that sociopath rests in all our hearts. We are flawed creatures who can commit evil and it is only our faculties, or grace if you believe in God, that keeps us from the worst side of ourselves.
Vampires used to either represent the complete failure of our facilities, or the complete absence of grace. To be a vampire was a fate worse than death. So much so that the act of killing someone turned into a vampire was an act of kindness, and the people who did so, heroes. But that isn't recognized today. Vamparism isn't a fate worse than death, and there is a reason why most fiction portrays the victims of vampires as women, it is something that is desired, lusted after even. While someone might claim that the protagonist of these awful shows simply want what every human being wants, to live forever with their loved one, how narcissistic, evil even, does a person have to be to desire immortality that can only be purchased through the blood of others?