Vampires: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil

By Peter Day | Go to book overview

Piercing the Corporate Veil – With a Stake?
Vampire Imagery and the Law

Sharon Sutherland

The prevalence of vampiric imagery in popular culture has been examined by scholars from many disciplines including literature, film and television studies, anthropology, art history and biology. While there have been some few examinations of the representation of lawyers and law in vampire fiction,1 there has been no investigation of the prevalence of vampire imagery in legal writing. Likewise, despite considerable scholarly study of the generally negative public perception of lawyers since the 1970s, the recent proliferation of metaphors conflating vampires and lawyers in the popular imagination has been unexamined. These two related developments in vampire imagery are considered in the two parts of this paper. In the first part, this paper looks at the spill-over of popular culture vampire metaphors into the staid and traditional world of the law. Secondly, this paper examines contemporary popular culture images of lawyers as they interrelate with popular culture images of vampires. Taken together, these two streams of vampiric imagery in connection with the law are examined for their thematic linkages to other vampire scholarship.


1. Vampire Metaphors in American Caselaw

Metaphoric vampires have a long and rich history in literature, film, television and art: what is less well known is that metaphoric vampires have a long and rich history in legal writing as well. While reference to the occasional gruesome crime with elements of vampirism (typically blood drinking in association with crimes of murder and rape) may be located by any quick search of legal databases, it was surprising to us2 to discover the sheer volume of vampire images appearing in cases and legal commentary having no connection with physical enactments of vampiric behaviour (nor for that matter claims of mental illness which might include visions of vampires).3 Take for example the following quotation from a case in the unlikely context of corporate law:

When it comes to piercing corporate veils, courts are
loath to act like Vlad the Impaler. Indeed, the stakes are
too high for courts regularly to disregard the separate
legal status of corporations.4

Similar references occur with such frequency in American caselaw in particular that it begs the questions of how and why vampire imagery is used in the law. Nina Auerbach posits that vampires reflect the cultures

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