Letting the Right One In

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Bill: Someone who lives here must invite me in!
Mr. Hamby: No! Don’t do it, he will kill us all!”
Bill (to Eden): Come here, little girl. I am here to protect you and your mother and your father. I am your friend. All you have to do is invite me in and I can make it all stop.
Eden: Please sir, won’t you come in?

S2 E2 True Blood

One of the rules of Vampires among humans is the rule that they must be invited into a mortal’s home. This is designed to be a protection of the home, for your home is your castle, and to reinforce the notion that evil cannot come into your life unless you expressly invite it to do so.

The origins of Vampires having to have an invitation into a mortal’s home is not clearly recorded in Vampire mythology. There is  a vague notion that early people believed that disease came into the house with the night air. Early Romans believed it came on the mists and fogs that sometimes traveled through the foul Roman streets, looking for open doors and windows to come and cause illness. And in ancient times most illness was thought to be caused by evil spirits.

In more modern times, tuberculosis, or consumption, was thought of as the Vampire disease because the patients would usually have long periods of illness followed by a short respite where the tubercular patient would have an unearthly, rosy, healthy appearance. The notion that TB was a Vampiric disease was later more firmly asserted as other members of the family and community fell ill with the disease. Especially those who had close contact with the patient.

As all myths carry some cautionary element, the notion that you do not open the door after dark, that monsters lived in the night’s shadows, may have been a concoction to make sure that no one answered the door after dark. This was a good rule to follow because not only did the children of the night walk the darkness, thieves and murderers and other human monsters did as well.

We see these vague notions really take shape in the 1700’s early Vampire literature with early Gothic stories of the Vampire entity, usually in the form of someone the person has known, asking for entrance into the house. Even Bram Stoker’s Dracula awaits invitation into Lucy Westerna’s house and into Mina’s house. Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot also works with the old belief that Vampires must be invited into the home.

The notion of rescinding the invitation is first seen here as well, as Abraham Van Helsing finds Dracula in his wolf form feeding from Lucy and he rescinds the invitation. This is a fairly new construct in the Vampire mythos and gives the human characters one more weapon in their arsenal. The only exception to this rule is it does not work in public places, like Merlotte’s for example, as Liam, Diane and Malcom showed us last season.

In the Sookie Stackhouse novels and in True Blood, we see this tradition being carried through with Sookie first inviting Bill into her house, then rescinding her invitation. And in future scenes, this rule of fang will be further applied.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Over-night fan (almost literally) of the Sookie Stackhouse series since early 2008. Co-owner of True-Blood.net. Anxiously anticipating season 6.

8 Comments

  1. Rebecca

    July 6, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Thank you for the info.Myths have such history behind them. The older the myth,the more history you have.Even tho vampires and such are not real its still good to be weary of things that go bump in the night.

  2. sydney

    July 6, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Oo this was really interesting 😀 I love vampire lore! That vampires have a “history” just makes it so much more.. realistic? haha
    For a second there I thought the title was homage to the Swedish novel/film lol
    Which, incidentally, also deals with vampires and permission to enter.

  3. neonskyq1

    July 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    well thars a thorough investigation on that idea and
    how it entured to folklore thanks alot for that

  4. Lady Perseverance

    July 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Letting the Right One In…..so I’m thinking you have seen swedish film by Tomas Alfredson? If you haven’t – let me highly suggest it….

    And thank you for your input on this page….I enjoyed reading it.

  5. CourtneyLucky

    July 6, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    My friend and I have been reading the books, and right now we are on the forth one. Now as much as we love Eric part in the show we are crossing our fingers that the show will not follow the book on the relationship that is forming between Eric and Sookie. We still have not finished the book, but we hope that Eric is out of the picture and Bill will be back in. And as for the show, we are just hoping they never go down that path, EVER!!!!

  6. Nia

    July 7, 2009 at 8:39 am

    This was so very interesting. I just love the world that has been created concerning the vampire and how they have settled into modern society. Well done in the show and books.
    In reply to CourtneyLucky, I do so agree with you. I have read all the books and did not care for the fact that Bill is not in most of them as a main character. I understand that Sookie had to explore her new “suxuality” and that meant forsaking Bill for others but at least Bill was always in the background (and never stopped loving her). It did mean for more drama and the eventual make up sex, but that even dwindled as the books progressed. Eric was a fine distraction, but after the seeing the show (and the handsome, talented Stphen Moyer) I wanted Bill to be her main Man/Vampire. I skimmed through a lot of the books especially when Bill was not there. I do want to see, in the show, Eric (and the other supes) make power plays for Sookie, it should be interesting to see all the drama in a vampire love triangle, but Bill will always be THE main vampire at least in my heart.

  7. aslinn

    July 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Tahnk you everyone for the feed back and continue to visit us. We have more to share

    • Nia

      July 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

      Anytime aslinn, there is always so much to be said. Sharing over True Blood has been very special to me.I enjoy it almost as much as the show….Almost.