UPDATE: More material, academic papers, analysis & critique @ my current blog Elastic Collisions - http://elasticollisions.blogspot.com
Polidori crafts an image that is very much made obvious to the reader, as if there are certain elements of imagery he wants there to be no question about. Seemingly, the author wants the reader to know that these men, the protagonist Lord Ruthven and his traveling coming of age cohort named Aubrey, are the very objects of nepotism, straight from a silver spoon. This starts immediately with the opening scene to the story, which is one of grandeur. A man enters a location that is beautiful and seemingly perfect, leading the very men he enters with, but feels he is unable to completely participate with the scene in front of him. Yet he attracts everyone around him; he is a beautiful contradiction. A charmer, someone with a "reputation of a winning tongue". However, this man turns into a stranger being, in fact, the character of Lord Ruthven even starts to take on elements that hint toward the tension of immigration at the time. Many stories, especially from the early 19th century, have hinted toward a fear of foreigners (Dracula himself is a foreigner from Transylvania).
The reaction to Ruthven as a character in “The Vampyre” is strong. Aubrey believes Ruthven to be a "hero of romance" but shortly after he is now assuming "the appearance of something supernatural". Ruthven is a character that does not belong in the society around him; he feels as if he is emulating it and this becomes obvious as his charm is revealed to be a protective layer. After Aubrey has a conversation with Ianthe, who is “unconscious of his love”, his suspicion grows.
It seems that noted literary critic Auerbach believes that Ruthven is only "half-encumbered" by his body and "immune to the rules of physical existence..." (Giving up the Ghost p21). This allows for gender play, sexual exploration and, most notably it seems for the 19th century, what would normally be 'taboo' storytelling in a way that is perhaps more publishable. What I find interesting, or rather, what I find interesting and would like to know, is what critics thought of this material in the time period. It is all very exciting so therefore it strikes me as pop material; something to titillate, to bring fear. This material is usually what the masses will gravitate toward, understandably and especially in this time (with the industrial revolution happening, there were few landscapes worth looking at to the eyes of many people). Were these books and articles respected by the high society? If they were not, it strikes me as humorous; the characters use the rich as a smoke screen to attack them. Not only does Ruthven, the foreign, beautiful and titillating man use this smoke screen, he takes from them their most promising young and ruins it for personal gain.
With Polidori’s “The Vampyre” I see a commentary on foreign influence by moving into territories and I also gather a hint of a message leaning toward taking advantage from those that have it. Given that writers are artists, and all artists usually create art to entertain the bourgeois (while, much of the time, also making fun of them) I find this most legitimate.