Within the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the author explores concepts of love, darkness, and sexuality as well as the theme of good versus evil. The most powerful theme surrounding the infamous vampire, however, is that of mortality. Death and the possibility of life after death permeate the novel in its most Gothic moments as the text draws attention to one central idea: what does it mean to live forever? That question is asked time and time again through the journey that each character takes and their fears of the strangeness that surrounds them; those fears all revolve around a single being in the shape of a man. Indeed, Count Dracula is in possession of miraculous powers, including access to everlasting life, and the effect of his presence on all those with whom he comes in contact is undeniable. He brings with him the realization that the afterlife may be even more frightening than death itself. In that way, it would at first appear that Dracula is portrayed as the devil, bringing revelations of darkness rather than light. Upon closer examination, however, Dracula’s essence is so specifically juxtaposed with that of the traditional perception of Christ that the Count’s representation may be read as something more profound. The character of Dracula is meant to be Stoker’s Dark Christ, the ultimate critique of heavily organized religion and the Catholic Church, too antiquated for the modern age but not without a strange power. He is a parody with weight, a cautionary tale for those who are all too willing to surrender their souls to what dreams may come in the afterlife. This figure is not Satan, but rather a character esteemed as a god, a character in possession of many Christlike powers, a character offering eternal life. In order to dissect the intention behind Dracula’s representation as a Christlike figure and the symbolism involved in that representation, one must first examine the ways in which the character of the Count is described and the context for said descriptions. Dracula employs many traditionally Christian concepts, including the idea of conversion, the symbolic importance of blood in religion and literature, the significance of antiquity, and of course the connection with eternal life. Even more fascinating are the ways in which Dracula relates to the “Wandering Jew” archetype of Stoker’s time; that stock character was likely considered the ultimate anti-Christian or heretic, and it provided Stoker with his most convincing vampire-as-savior correlation. Dracula’s portrayal as a Dark Christ, however, is not evidence enough to conclude the final intent behind Stoker’s novel — the direct references to the Christian faith in Stoker’s work as well as the style in which those references are written must also be examined in order to make an accurate assessment of the novel’s overall tone. Religious faith and expressions thereof are critical, as are the many appearances of religious figures and symbols and the implied conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism. All of these elements of the novel are important in unmasking the fantastical character of Dracula — not for the sake of exposing the devil, but rather for illuminating the Dark Savior that he is intended to be. The Character of the Vampire: The “Uncanny” Wandering JewDuring the time in which Bram Stoker penned Dracula, a social movement was afoot in his native United Kingdom. Jewish families, once barred from England, were now coming to the country in droves. Eastern Europe, the primary home to Judaism at that time, had seen a massive exodus of its citizens for several reasons, and immigration to England was the most popular choice. Between 1881 and 1900, the number of foreign Jews in England increased by 600 percent, a significant change in the status quo that left many English citizens uneasy (Zanger 34). A Christian nation, England’s traditional source of religious conflict had been the tension between the older traditions of the Catholic Church and the newer ideas of Protestantism and the Church of England. In the face of Jewish immigration, however, such tensions did not seem so great, and the Christian populace was to some extent united by its shared suspicions of the East. The art of the time reflected that concern. The most popular play of the era was Trilby, a production that prominently featured an infamous character named Svengali, who embodied the sinister image of the “Wandering Jew” that existed in the frenzied minds of the English. Hailing from the East with the power of mind control, Svengali manipulates all of the characters that he encounters by surreptitious means. Trilby thus affirmed its audience concerns about the danger of Wandering Jews by tapping into the allure of a dark foreign force. Stoker, who served as friend and assistant to actor Henry Irving, was almost certainly exposed to that play and the frenzied mentality of the time, and he may have written his novel in order to capture that mass audience appeal (McBride 2). It is just as possible, however, that the perceptive Stoker recognized the social significance of the archetype of the Wandering Jew and used it as a blueprint for what could be considered the antithesis to the traditional Christ figure. Like Svengali, Dracula has been described as a “devilish Semitic middleman,” a shyster who “dupes the innocent into a blood pact in return for a king of immortality” (McBride 1). He exerts control over the minds of his associates, and he is sinister and dark in appearance. If contemporary audiences automatically identified a clichéd “Wanderer” from the East as the polar opposite of refined Christianity, then Dracula’s obvious connection to such a wanderer leads naturally to the conclusion that the Svengali-esque vampire is indeed the Antichrist that he resembles. Furthermore, it is possible that Stoker intended his presentation of a vampiric wandering Jew to play into the Gothic convention of “the uncanny” — that is, the depiction of an element that resembles something “normal” or “human” but is nonetheless in possession of a nearly indecipherable quality that makes said element peculiar. In short, an uncanny character may be human yet not human at all, which can be said of the vampire and also of the Wandering Jew. In Stoker’s time, the concept of Judaism was foreign and yet familiar as the basis for Christianity. Due to the lack of any serious religious challengers to Christianity in the United Kingdom, the Jew appeared as the only non-Christian, and therefore the one opposition to the Church; such opposition was therefore a new concept to English Christians (with the exception of the Protestant-Catholic conflict). At the same time, there was an underlying sense of the uncanny in that Judaism shares its foundations with Christianity, and Jews were now pledging allegiance to the same land as Christians. Of course, these ideas result once again in the uncanny character of the vampire — human yet not human, Jewish and thus anti-Christian, anti-Christian and yet strongly associated with Christ himself. The regal vampire figure rests so neatly on the negative spectrum of all things properly “Christian” — in this case, an evil Eastern European Jew — that he is a parody of what was expected of Christian nobility at the time. Jules Zangler concludes in his essay “A Sympathetic Vibration: Dracula and the Jews” that the “insistent Christian versus anti-Christian cast Stoker impressed upon his vampire story gave it particular relevance at a time when so many non-Christians were intruding so visibly and threateningly into the popular consciousness” (37).The Character of the Vampire: The Correlation with Christ HimselfDracula’s association with Christ is embodied in many different ways, beginning with the traits he shares with the “Wandering Jew,” which can also be applied to a different perspective. Dracula may be viewed as the ultimate single-soul missionary. His home, which is essentially a shrine for times gone by, is the altar at which he worships; he reveres not a higher power, but rather the glory of bygone days when he was at the height of his power, as he reveals to Jonathan Harker when the two of them discuss history (Stoker 31). Dracula’s massive mansion is abandoned but for his lusty brides and is thus implied to be a sort of commune for vampires, of which there seem to be few in the modern world. As Christ says in the Gospels, in his Father’s house there are “many rooms” (John 14:2), empty spaces awaiting the welcome of eager souls and new additions — additions such as Jonathan Harker. Dracula’s mansion is his protected dwelling place, a place where he is in control. He takes the chance to leave it, however, in order to begin his conversion of souls to his preferred afterlife, spreading his gospel of death as he goes, calling those to follow him just as Jesus called his apostles. He summons Lucy from her bedroom to his grasp, and she becomes his subject. He summons Renfield to be his servant in preparation for his arrival, and the madman presumably transforms into the equal of Biblical prophets, referring to the Count’s arrival as the coming of the “Master” (Stoker 56).Like Christ, Dracula thrives on conversion, which can only be performed once his prospect (or victim) submits him- or herself to the process. This method involves the exchange and the corruption of blood, though he would probably view it as purification. Blood as a motif is especially vital in observing Dracula’s relationship to Christianity — “as Jesus Christ’s literal and transubstantiative blood has been a mainstay of the Christian Church, the vampire figure’s insertion within the paradigms of Christianity is a logical extension” (LaPerriere 1). Rather than exchanging his own blood for the lives of his subjects, Dracula performs the ultimate perversion of transubstantiation by extracting blood from his people in order to sustain himself as well as bring his converts into the fold of vampirism. Just as the traditional Christian relies on the blood of Christ to save him from eternal suffering, so does this “Christ” rely on the blood of his “Christians” to survive. In a mirroring moment, the transformed Lucy, declared dead and now a vampire, is discovered feeding on the blood of a child (Stoker 103). She is a representation of reverse motherhood, an image of a woman taking life rather than giving it. That portrayal smacks of commentary on the nature of Christianity and calls attention to the weight that both the Catholic Church and Protestantism place on tradition. Bram Stoker’s era was one of discovery and invention, a time in which the status quo seemed to be quickly and constantly evolving. Daily life and philosophy during that time may have proven to be challenging when compared with organized religion, a prevalent element of English life that did not appear to be evolving at the same pace, and which may have even slowed the advance of social constructs and scientific discovery. The sapping of lifeblood from humankind in order to maintain power may have been a theme intended to strike a chord with English readers frustrated by the disharmony of progress and convention. Once again, all of this commentary is made flesh in the character of Dracula and the function of the vampire. Interestingly, in selecting his intended, the Count tends more towards women. Dracula’s attraction to women seems natural enough since he appears in human male form; it may nonetheless be valuable to note that he primarily targets women rather than men to join him in his vampirism. For example, he spends much time charming and wooing Lucy from her pleasant life into his trap, and three women — his brides — reside in his castle. Dracula toys with Renfield, but he does not seem interested in Renfield’s fate, ultimately crushing him for his betrayal. It is also worth mentioning that the Count keeps Jonathan trapped within his castle for some time, probably with designs on his soul. Jonathan’s diary, however, reveals effeminate qualities as well as his strange fear and affection for his host. Still, the Count never acts on his desire for Jonathan to join him as he does with the women of the story. This preference for females could be construed as a reference to the Bible’s depiction of the symbolism inherent in marriage between men and women as a representation of humankind’s closeness with God; in the parable of Christ, Jesus is portrayed as the bridegroom and humankind as the bride (John 3:29). The two are destined for each other just as Lucy is destined to answer the call of the elusive vampire and join him forever in his own personal eternity. As with the traditional perception of Christ, Count Dracula offers his version of “love” and eternal life. Of course, the fine print details the fact that this love comes only through physical and mental pain and this eternal life comes in the form of a hellish, never-ending existence on earth. The vampires in the novel do not appear happy in their survival, but lonely. Dracula’s brides seem bored and thirst for new flesh, and the appearance of Jonathan in their territory is cause for great excitement. Dracula himself seems melancholy at times as well, clearly enjoying Jonathan’s company and insisting that he stay within the confines of the mansion. In the time leading up to her transformation, Lucy suffers her own pain with great difficulty, eventually surrendering to her new “life.” Turning to vampirism allows the convert to last forever, but in Hades rather than Heaven, in literal darkness rather than light. “On the one hand,” Christopher Raible observes, “such a desire denies any hope of a life after death. On the other, it devalues the meaning of life on earth” (2).Once again, this motif is far too specific to be coincidental in its references to the traditional ideas of conversion and Christianity. In the end, though the Count may have the ability to live forever, Dracula’s vampirism is equivalent to captivity. It is alluring in both imagery and concept, but the nature of the vampire is ultimately undesirable and meant to be feared; vampiric nature is much more capable of control than reason can hope to be. Is this an allusion to the Christian Church, perhaps a comment on the captivating essence of its history but the constriction of its nature? Could it be an indication of dissatisfaction with promises perceived as false or a disgruntled statement about what may have seemed like incestuous, overly contained fellowship within English churches at the time? The significance of the text may well respond to all of the above. The novel’s primary focus, however, appears to be the danger of powerful forces, especially if those forces have mysterious, indecipherable qualities — much like those of Christian religion, a powerful society that, at Stoker’s time, generally rejected the advance of culture and thrived on the authority that the English government had bestowed upon it. Though Dracula’s pull is powerful — much like that of the religious Christian community and Christ Himself as described in Scripture — he does suffer and is ultimately conquered. Seemingly all-powerful, the Count struggles regardless, attempting to find his way in a new world in which he has little experience. Dracula has no place in a modern society, where documents may be exchanged at great speed, communication and transportation are advancing every day, and the wisdom of doctors and the scientifically savvy make the Count’s operations progressively more difficult to conceal. Jonathan documents his experiences with the Count to be pored over in the event that another must come face to face with him; Lucy is somewhat girded by the protection of medicinal service, the perceptiveness of her doctor fiancé, and the wiles of the knowledgeable Van Helsing, all of whom use modern technology. Dracula knows that in order to accomplish his goals, he must take leave of his castle-haven, but he spends a good deal of time in study and preparation for the journey as if reticent about attempting the trip. He keeps research materials in his library and learns from the studies of his unfortunate guest, Jonathan, about the inner workings of this new world; though he is successful at navigating it for some time, he cannot maintain his poise, and his undoing begins with the slaying of the vampiric version of Lucy, who is destroyed by the skills of none other than the doctor Van Helsing. Interestingly, it is not the pressure or horror of modernity that helps fight off Count Dracula, but rather knowledge of antiquity: it is the power of the ancient techniques studied by Van Helsing that proves to be Dracula’s undoing. Primitive in function, the vampire is met with his equal in his destruction and achieves the crude death of an old creature in an acknowledgement that what belongs to the past has no place elsewhere. It is curious that Stoker did not choose to do away with his great figure by way of technology; in keeping with the Christ-Dracula comparison, however, it seems like a fitting conclusion to the saga. Stoker is not condemning of history; he in fact encourages it to be examined and sees many uses for it. In his creation, the false and dangerous element of the past — the Christ figure and the perceptions attached to him — are finally vanquished by an examination of practicality from the past. It is only thanks to the past that one recognizes the value of the present, and only through failed experimentation that mankind is alerted to the solution that will lead to success. As John Steward states, “We learn from failure, not from success!” (Stoker 124). That may be the most pivotal sentiment found in Dracula: one can only overcome the mistakes of the past by confronting them; one may only elevate themselves by releasing the persistence of haunting. And indeed, “haunting” may very well be Stoker’s idea of Christianity’s method of staying afloat. In the end, its floating centerpiece — the Christ — is outdated and must be gotten rid of or altered in order for the glory of the new age to commence. Like Dracula, this god of the past is only a crack in the construction of a new edifice of beauty and social and scientific triumph. Religion As Presented in DraculaOne of the most interesting qualities in Dracula that supports the argument for the Count as Stoker’s answer to Christ is the distinct style in which the novel is written. In keeping with the grand tradition of Gothic storytelling, Stoker utilizes the gimmick of including stories within the story, each serving to reveal part of the overall tale of Count Dracula’s journey to London. This method is referred to as a “Chinese box structure,” and though it originated in the Gothic genre with Melmoth the Wanderer, in Dracula, its manner of expressing each character’s individual perspective, primarily through lengthy letters and official documents, draws very close comparisons to none other than the Bible. Though unified by one main purpose — to tell the story of Jesus Christ and all that came before and after — the stories of the Bible are revealed according to a great number of sources and perspectives. Descriptions differ, but they ultimately provide a cohesive viewpoint. Dracula functions the same way, revolving around the enigmatic, magical figure of darkness as perceived by multiple observers, and every observation culminates in a final agreement on the subject of his existence and ultimate destruction. Of course, this exploration of darkness is constantly associated with powerful imagery by casual readers: the caped vampire, a coffin made for slumber, a Gothic castle in Transylvania. The most memorable images of all, however, are religious in tone: primarily the crucifix meant to stave off the approach of vampirism. But it is not Christ or Christianity that the Count shrinks from, as mentioned previously; rather, it is only symbols of the past. Once again, at close examination one makes the discovery that this imagery is just that: imagery. Pomp and circumstance has long been associated with Christianity, especially within the Catholic Church, and here, in keeping with Stoker’s depiction of religion as belonging to an older age, the Church is evaluated as mere antiquity. Here it is boiled down to symbols that affect only the Count and his memories of past lives. Another very striking issue with regard to the style of Stoker’s novel lies within what is not mentioned. There is a peculiar absence in the novel of any exploration of religious faith. True faith in God, Christ, or vital trust placed in organized religion is not explored or rewarded. Though the story is rife with the aforementioned religious overtones — and though Jonathan and Mena are prone to sayings such as, “We are all drifting reefwards now, and faith is our only anchor” (Stoker 254) — there is very little specific mention of Christianity or its ability to battle the evil at hand. Mena and others mention prayer, but only in passing and often in prattling, helpless distress, not with the confidence one would expect to see placed in such a spiritual tool. The country nuns who provide the only significant connection to the Church are trustworthy but inconsequential. While they are helpful in nursing a scarred Jonathan back to health, they are horrified by his staggering tale of the Count’s castle and impotent with regard to the vampire’s defeat. That is an unusual observation at first, especially considering the dramatic Catholic imagery used throughout the tale. There is no religious ritual or power of God, however, that battles the unexplained supernatural power of Dracula; in the end he is slain by mortals, thus furthering the conceit that he and his converts are the only supernatural forces found in the story. In Stoker’s world, the Church holds no real power, a fact that enriches the notion of the novel as a challenge to the oppressive tradition of organized religion and strengthens the figure of Dracula as a perverse interpretation of Christ himself.Still, there is a small but fascinating thread running throughout the story that draws a certain amount of attention to the relationship of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Church, and it appears as though Stoker is challenging his readers to reassess their assumptions. Both Jonathan and Mena are moved by the care of the peaceful nuns, but even more interesting is Jonathan’s attraction and attachment to the crucifix that an old woman presents to him. After being in Dracula’s home for a time, Jonathan writes: Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck! For it is a comfort and a strength to me whenever I touch it. It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavor and as idolatrous should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help. Is it that there is something in the essence of the thing itself, or that it is a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort? Some time, if it may be, I must examine this matter and try to make up my mind about it” (Stoker 53).Finally, in order to bring about Dracula’s defeat at the end of the novel, each of the characters come together to battle their common enemy in spite of their many different religious affiliations. In a novel so heavily laden with religious overtones, this fact does not seem insignificant. M. West, in her article “Hauntings in the Church: Counterfeit Christianity through the Fin-de-Siècle Gothic Novel,” suggests that Stoker felt as though “the ideas of redemption and salvation… were more important than what he perceived to be trivial arguments about doctrinal variations” (West 35). If this is so, then Jonathan’s affiliation with Protestantism and his attraction to the Catholic Church are also not without significance — in fact, his feelings aid the argument that Stoker’s construction of a Christlike figure is meant to illustrate the failure of organized religion to succeed, suggesting that faith and goodness rather than staunch theology and law will be triumphant in the end.ConclusionIn conclusion, with a bit of perspective and research, the typical equivocation of Count Dracula to the devil grows less and less certain, and indications that the definitive vampire may draw more comparison to the Christian savior’s antithesis become more apparent. Though no one may ever know whether Bram Stoker’s true intent for his Gothic masterpiece was to criticize the outdated yet powerful functions of Christianity that permeated his country, there are many hints to that effect. Regardless, the vampire has been slain. There is no place for him in the modern world, Stoker implies. Respect for the useful things that the Church has given us is important, but one must not allow oneself to be suckered in by the romantic idea of this figure, this perverted Christ, who promises eternal life only to capture those who trust him and use them for his own purposes. In the modern age, there are great plots at work, and without the accessibility of a Chinese box-style guide to the world, it is important to be on guard so as to not to be overtaken by the power of the past. Bibliography1. Evans, Elrena. “THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD.” Christianity Today 54.2 (2010): 36. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.Evans highlights the current and consistent obsession with the undead, ultimately concluding that a Christian’s interest in such topics is not negative but positive; through fictional vampires like Dracula, one can explore and study human nature. She also asserts that Dracula is an Antichrist figure (Elrena 1). This article will be useful as the correlation between Dracula and the concept of Antichrist is an element I wish to explore.2. Herbert, Steven G. “Dracula as metaphor for human evil.” Journal of Religion and Psychical Research 27.2 (2004): 62-71. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.Herbert draws attention to the concept of Dracula as the ultimate in human evil, defeated only by the power of faith and religion. He says that figures such as Dracula help “regular people” examine “our own shadow in a less threatening way” (Herbert 1). Stoker’s work allows us to confront our own human nature by bringing out our more outrageous and negative traits, allowing us to assess our shortcomings and bring balance to our perspectives. This is essential, as an unbalanced personality is a dangerous one; such “monsters” in history as Hitler and Stalin were human beings who became overpowered by archetype. Dracula, Herbert says, “most concisely presents to us a metaphor of human evil distilled to its most insidiously perfect form” (Herbert 1). This and Raible’s article highlight what I want to explore further in my paper; the concept of Dracula as the ultimate evil, and the question of whether he represents human evil or the opposite of Christ in morality and mortality.3. LaPerriere, M. “Unholy transubstantiation: Christifying the vampire and demonizing the blood.” Diss. Universite de Montreal (Canada), 2008. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.LaPerriere focuses on the importance of blood as sustenance to the traditional vampire, reminding readers that this sustenance, “as Jesus Christ’s literal and transubstantiative blood, has been a mainstay of the Christian Church, [and] the vampire figure’s insertion within the paradigms of Christianity is a logical extension” (LaPerriere 1). She also reminds readers that during Victorian times the loss of blood was equated with disease, and that such disease could be spread sexually, and therefore sinfully. I will use this article in my paper when equating Dracula with the Christ/Antichrist archetype.4. Marks, John. “In Dracula, a Metaphor for Faith and Rebirth.” All Things Considered, 21 March 2008. Research Library Core, ProQuest. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.Author discusses Dracula as the key to Christian conversion, drawing attention to what he describes as the “great tension of the book,” which he sees as “the struggle between rational fact and supernatural reality” (Marks 1). I want to use Marks’s article here because of the struggle with the supernatural, something that pertains to faith and religion, also belonging in the supernatural category with Dracula, another element that aligns his existence with Christ.5.McBride, William Thomas. “Dracula and Mephistopheles: Shyster Vampires.” Literature Film Quarterly 18.2 (1990): 116. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.McBride’s piece offers further explanation and evidence as to Count Dracula’s alignment with the archetypal “Wandering Jew.” He compares the novel to the 1931 film version and then insists that Dracula is presented as a “devilish Semitic middleman,” a shyster who “dupes the innocent into a blood pact in return for a king of immortality” (McBride 1). This character is comparable to Faust’s Devil and, to some extent, Shakespeare’s Shylock. McBride also highlights the comparison of Dracula to Goethe’s Mephistopheles and concludes that the Count has joined “the shadowy group of Shylock and Fagin and Mephistopheles, who, as crypto-Abrahams, induct some gullible goy into a blood-inscribed covenant.” This is useful for my essay because it is another source aligning Dracula with the archetypal Jew, the strongest opposition to Christianity as the Victorians perceived it. 6. Philadelphia, D. and Ressner, J. “Wake Up and Smell the Garlic.” Time 163.17 (2004): 20. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.The writers highlight the popularity of Dracula and vampirism over the past two decades. They suggest the reason for this is the presence of a religious divide in the media (Philadelphia & Ressner 1). This is useful for my essay as it reminds the reader that religious concerns seem to trigger the popular vampire trends, both now and in Stoker’s time.7. Raible, Christopher G. “Dracula: Christian heretic.” Christian Century 96.4 (1979): 103-104. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.In Raible’s article, he claims that the themes of Dracula are direct — “mirror” — inversions of Christian values. He reminds readers that the presence of Christianity in the novel is merely symbolic, such as the communion wafer that has the power to cleanse. Aside from the Eucharist, a wafer is not in or of itself holy. “To suggest that objects may themselves radiate divine power is to reduce religion to magic” (Raible 1). Mostly, Raible is preoccupied with the concept of Dracula as the ultimate heretic, “taking life so that he may live” as well as living forever in eternal life, but only on earth and shrouded in darkness. To want to live in this world the same way forever is a Christian heresy. “On the one hand, such a desire denies any hope of a life after death; on the other, it devalues the meaning of life on earth” (Raible 2). (Also see Herbert.)8. Stiles, Anne. “Cerebral Automatism, the Brain, and the Soul in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 15.2 (2006): 131-152. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.In this essay, Stiles illuminates the connection between Stoker’s Dracula and neurology, a subject on which Stoker had vast knowledge. His composition notes for Dracula include information on somnambulism and trance states and explore theories that scientists at the time were still developing — most importantly, the concept that human behaviors were not so human after all and were in fact merely reflexes of the body. By using Dracula as a catalyst of trances and mind control, Stoker “dramatizes the pervasive late-nineteenth-century fear that beings are soulless…” (Stiles 3) and motivated only by physical and physiological reactions. This is applicable to my paper because it refers to the soul, an important proponent in Christianity and in Dracula.9. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. 448. Print.10. West, M. “Hauntings in the Church: Counterfeit Christianity through the Fin-de-Siècle Gothic Novel.” Diss. Liberty University, 2009. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.Using the comparison of three Gothic novels, West explores the concept of the Gothic genre as a response to religious turmoil. Stoker, she suggests, thought that “the ideas of redemption and salvation through Christ were more important than what he perceived to be trivial arguments about doctrinal variations” (West 35). She also points out that in the novel the characters manage to battle a common enemy in spite of their many different religious affiliations. This article is fascinating and pertains to my subject of religion in Dracula.11. Zanger, Jules. “A Sympathetic Vibration: Dracula and the Jews.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 34.1 (1991): 32-44. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.Zanger discusses the context of Dracula and the state of religious society at the time. Jews were being let back into much of the United Kingdom from Eastern Europe, and the sheer magnitude of their immigration was overwhelming and worrisome to Western Europeans, who saw them as dirty and threatening. A popular play at the time was centered around the devious character of Svengali, meant to embody the clever evil that many Europeans perceived the modern Jew to be. Stoker may or may not have drawn inspiration from this play; his business associate was an aging actor who was eager for choice roles, and Dracula may have been conceived to give Svengali competition. The characters of Svengali and Dracula are very similar to one another, as well as to the “Wandering Jew” stereotype that emerged at this time: each hail from the East and relocate to the West; each is in possession of psychic powers used to assert control over others; and each is apparently well-off and aristocratic, with similar appearances (35). Stoker also gave more literary weight and power to the roles of the iconographic “Christian” elements in his novel than had been lent to preceding vampire tales (36). The “insistent Christian versus anti-Christian cast Stoker impressed upon his vampire story gave it particular relevance at a time when so many non-Christians were intruding so visibly and threateningly into the popular consciousness” (37).
In his novel Dracula, Bram Stoker’s characters are deeply disturbed by the existence of the vampire. The notion of a creature that is both living and dead challenges their sanity by forcing them to question those things which they had previously considered to be obvious truths. Typically, these members of Victorian society would believe that one must either be alive or dead, seductive or repulsive, masculine or feminine, sexual or maternal, or mentally stable or unstable. However, many of the characters in the story possess traits which cause them to embody the aforementioned impossibilities. The coexistence of these conflicting ideas causes an uncomfortable tension that is referred to as ‘cognitive dissonance’. When the characters experience this feeling of cognitive dissonance, rather than changing their worldviews, they resort to questioning their state of mind. An intense fear of insanity pervades this novel, therefore, those qualities that cause the characters to question their sanity must be reconciled before they can rest and the story can come to a close. Count Dracula is the most obvious example of a character that exists as two separate conflicting ideas. The vampire is a creature who has passed from human life, but who is resurrected as a monster that walks, speaks, and feeds on blood. As coined by Stoker, Dracula is a member of the ‘undead’. This fact causes much skepticism from all of the characters except for Professor Van Helsing, whose job it is to convince the others that the vampire does indeed exist. The unwillingness to believe that Dracula could be the cause of Lucy’s troubles is best displayed during Van Helsing’s conversation with Doctor Seward. The professor spouts off a list of things which have occurred in the world, despite the fact that, before their occurrence, they would not even have been considered as a possibility. “Here I interrupted him. I was getting bewildered. He so crowded on my mind his list of nature’s eccentricities and possible impossibilities that my imagination was getting fired.” (Stoker 263) As soon as Seward’s mind begins to question his current ideas about reality, the doctor abruptly brings an end to the conversation for fear that he may have to alter his preconceptions. Seward knows that Van Helsing is asking him to draw a parallel between such events and the possibility that Count Dracula is the true cause of Lucy’s downfall, but is afraid to admit to a notion that could be considered impossible or even ‘crazy’. “You are a clever man, friend John; you reason well, and your wit is bold; but you are too prejudiced… Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are… Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.” (Stoker, 261)If a phenomenon cannot be explained through reason, the characters tend to dismiss the event rather than to question the limits of their own knowledge. This is the easier way out. Humans do not like to deal with cognitive dissonance because it is an uncomfortable psychological experience. The three vampire sisters who inhabit Castle Dracula also possess the binary qualities of life and death, but they are also both seductive and repulsive. The vampiresses encounter Jonathan Harker while he is alone in the castle. “There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.” (Stoker 51-52) Rather than act on his desires or confront his fears, Harker simply lays still and allows the vampires to surround him and caress his body. Like Seward’s disruption of the conversation with Van Helsing, Harker’s inactivity is another way of disregarding a situation that he cannot understand. Jonathan is confused about the fact that he is sexually attracted to the vampires even though, during his time, the blatant sexuality that the three women exhibited would have been completely unacceptable from any other female. So, he attempts to avoid the situation by acting as though he were sleeping, almost as if he were hoping that he could tell himself that the whole event was merely a dream. Indeed, the very next day, Harker questions the reality of the events of the previous night. “I awoke in my own bed. If it be that I had not dreamt, the Count must have carried me here. I tried to satisfy myself on the subject, but could not arrive at any unquestionable result.” (Stoker 55) Although the vampire attack was remembered in vivid detail, Harker continues to question the accuracy of his memory by putting forth the idea that all of these events could have occurred while he was sleeping. Because our dreams are often irrational and indecipherable, Harker’s willingness to attribute his sexual encounter to such a hallucination would imply that he believes himself to have been in a less-than-stable mental state. Thus, Jonathan chooses to question his sanity rather than to accept that these ‘impossibilities’ could have occurred. During his encounter with the three females, Harker also becomes an anomaly by developing feminine qualities throughout the scene. “In the Victorian mind men bore the complete onus for sexual depravity; a good woman only submitted to her husband’s bestiality in order to reproduce” (Demetrakopoulos 106). When Harker lies very still and allows the vampires to take full control of him, he is taking on the traditional Victorian woman’s role in sex. In Jungian terms, the vampire sisters act as an agent that brings out Harker’s anima, or repressed feminine side. Later in the scene, Harker becomes so overwhelmed that he faints. Fainting is another activity that is typically labeled as a feminine action, causing Harker to take on the female role yet again. “Without a clearly defined, passive femininity against which to define himself and his world, Jonathan Harker crumbles into a nightmare of uncertainty, confusion, and vampiric ‘brain fever’.” (Prescott and Giorgio 490) Harker’s slip into temporary insanity provides him with another way to deny what has happened to him; he may have seen creatures that were both living and dead, or who were both seductive and repulsive, but it could also have been a hallucination as a result of his ‘brain fever’. When Harker is recovering from his temporary illness, his fiancé, Mina, is there to look after him. Throughout the novel, Mina parallels Jonathan in the sense that she also takes on attributes of the opposite gender. When she vows never to open his journal unless it becomes absolutely necessary, Mina takes on the role of the protector as she attempts to ward off any recollection that may cause Jonathan to relapse into his state of insanity. In a sense, Mina becomes Harker’s ‘knight in shining armor’. Mina also becomes a saving grace for the rest of the men as she learns to work with the newest technology and keeps accurate records of each person’s encounters with the supernatural. When Dracula attempts to destroy their records, Mina has been wise enough to make several copies of the documents, thus allowing the ‘children of the light’ to continue on and defeat the vampire. Van Helsing praises Mina for her great achievements and exposes her dual nature as both feminine and masculine. “Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina! She has man’s brain – a brain that a man should have were he much gifted – and a woman’s heart.” (Stoker 321) However, after making this statement, the Professor goes on to state that, despite her helpfulness, Mina must no longer assist in the battle against Dracula. This must happen because Mina’s feminine and masculine qualities cannot be tolerated when they exist in one person. Nonetheless, Mina does continue on in the battle against the monster and is arguably the most important key to the discovery of Dracula’s whereabouts. In stark contrast to Mina, Miss Lucy Westerna is represented as the epitome of Victorian femininity, except that she is highly sexualized. This sexuality becomes most evident once Lucy has undergone her transformation into a vampire, but her it is also expressed – in confidence – to Mina before she had become a creature of the night. “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (Stoker 81) Lucy is being courted by several men at once and, although she does not accept each advance, she tends to be flirt with each man and wishes to be with all of them. Once Dracula takes her life and she becomes a vampire, Mina’s sexuality is fully exposed and she no longer has the ability to be a wife or a mother. When Arthur, Van Helsing, Quincey, and Dr Seward travel to Lucy’s grave site to end her life as a vampire, they encounter a version of Lucy that is both sexual and, in a twisted sense, maternal. Lucy calls to Arthur in a tantalizing manner, displaying the fact that, as a vampire, Lucy will no longer hide her sexual cravings; she can never be a pure Victorian woman. Lucy feeds on young children and enters her tomb grasping a child tightly before she throws the girl to the floor in one careless gesture. Lucy was a woman who wanted to be married and, presumably become a mother in order to fulfill her wifely role, but the reality was that she could never have done so because of her sexuality. Dracula changed Lucy by exposing her inner self. The final character who possesses opposing qualities is Doctor Seward’s patient, Renfield. Because he is a patient in the asylum, Renfield is considered to be the least sane of all of the characters; he is what ‘the children of the light’ fear to become. In reality, Renfield is one of the most informed people in the novel. He is aware of Dracula’s presence and is able to accurately judge Seward’s affections for Lucy and also tries to warn Mina that she should not stay in the asylum because of Dracula’s impending attack. When his patient speaks to Mina, Doctor Seward is very surprised by his coherent language and apparent insightfulness: “Here was my own pet lunatic – the most pronounced of his type that I had ever met with – talking elemental philosophy, and with the manner of a polished gentleman.” (Stoker 319) Renfield challenges the characters’ notions of what constitutes sanity. It would seem impossible that the man who collects and consumes insects could see things more clearly than the other characters in the story, yet he manages to correctly assess the situation much more quickly than the others. However, his coherent moments are attributed to momentary lapses of sanity rather than indicators of his true mental state. In order to maintain their preconceptions, those characteristics which are binary opposites must be eliminated in order for the characters to rest and feel that their job has been completed. Count Dracula and the vampiresses are killed by the ‘children of the light’ in order to make things right in the world. Because they are successful in defeating them, they no longer need to worry about the existence of a creature who defies all natural laws by being both dead and alive at the same time. Similarly, Renfield is killed off because he cannot exist in the world that the other characters wish to live in. He is a madman who was able to see things much more clearly than the ‘children of the light’, and thus must be eliminated from the story. In the case of Lucy and the three sisters, each one is killed by a male with a large stake. The stake acts as a phallic symbol, thus asserting the man’s power over these voluptuous women. In the scene where the vampire Lucy is killed off, Arthur is the one who ends her life while all of her other suitors stand and watch. This makes all things right because it allows Arthur to assert his power and take his rightful place as her husband. To correct the destabilization of gender roles, Mina and Jonathan are not killed off, but are given defined societal roles by the end of the novel. As the ‘children of the light’ are hot on Dracula’s trail, Mina’s transformation into a vampire has already begun to occur. She does not take part in the killing of Dracula, despite the fact that it was her careful work that ensured the discovery of his whereabouts. “By instructing the men to read the death rite, she gives herself over to the patriarchal control.” (Prescott and Giorgio 505) Mina gives herself over to the men because she allows them to assert their ultimate control over her; she does not want to turn into a vampire because she would become a sexual creature, thus destroying her image as a pure Victorian woman. Patriarchal control is also established when we learn that Mina has become a loving mother. This puts Jonathan in the role of the bread-winning husband while Mina becomes a maternal figure. Stoker’s Dracula comes to a close when all things have been ‘made right’ in the world of the characters that he has created. Each character who possesses conflicting traits is either reformed so that he or she no longer represents a threat to familiar notions, or, if they cannot change, they are simply disposed of all together. Mina and Jonathan Harker’s gender roles are reconciled, Lucy’s sexuality is laid to rest and she is prevented from becoming an unacceptable mother figure, the madman who knows too much is killed in his asylum cell, and Count Dracula and his three vampire sisters are all disposed of so that the characters no longer need to experience the sense of cognitive dissonance which boggles their minds. The story has a happy ending and the remaining characters are free to live their lives without having to question their sanity. Works CitedDemetrakopoulos, Stephanie. “Feminism, Sex Role Changes, and Other Subliminal Fantasies in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Frontiers 11(1977): 104-112.Prescott, Charles and Grace A. Giorgio. “Vampiric Affinities: Mina Harker and the Paradox of Femininity in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Victorian Literature and Culture 33(2): 487-515Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Toronto, ON: Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 1994.
The Absence of Amsterdam: Confounding Principles of Presentness in Stoker’s Dracula Doctor Abraham Van Helsing is an intriguing and somewhat problematic character on several levels. According to critic Martin Willis the introduction of Van Helsing represents a new understanding of disease and infection. In Victorian times it was still common for people to think of disease in terms of miasma, that disease was imparted through the inhalation of foul smelling air, so Van Helsing’s understanding of the microbial origins of disease shows his understanding of the latest research (Willis 302). It is somewhat paradoxical, then, that Van Helsing repeatedly invokes the discredited pseudoscience of alchemy as the basis of his knowledge for dealing with Dracula. Van Helsing is also credited with recent research in his interaction with Renfield the asylum patient. The source of Van Helsing’s arcane knowledge is obscured through these eclectic and contradictory references. Also strange about the character Van Helsing are his repeated quick trips back and forth between England and Amsterdam. This could be seen as yet another source of knowledge for the professor, or perhaps the other alleged sources of Van Helsing’s power are metaphors for England’s relationship with the old country. Such a postcolonial reading might be useful, especially if considered alongside the readings of Arata, but this paper will attempt to investigate a subtle linguistic relationship underlying and interrelated with geographical and historical factors. Amsterdam’s place is certainly not central to the novel but acts as more of an “off-stage” to which Van Helsing conveniently escapes to allow Lucy to be fed upon. Throughout the rest of the novel our connections to specific places are made through the complulsive tendency of the characters to write while they are in a place. Much is made of the direct textual links to information that is gathered. In fact their obsessive-compulsive need to write is said to be the reason for the existence of the book in the first place (Elmessiri 105). It is significant and unusual, then, that the information on vampires coming from Van Helsing is not attested by written documents but through the word of Van Helsing alone. The others do, of course, provide valuable information through their own narratives, but their words are quickly disconnected from themselves and the written records of what was said become the ultimate authority. Van Helsing, on the other hand, is often seen as the present authority with a logocentric connection transcending textual record. This is, perhaps, why we do not have narrative taking place in Amsterdam, because Van Helsing needs neither a textual nor a geographically fixed reference in order to pass on knowledge; in fact, one of the most extensive pieces of writing that he does himself can be considered a failure. After Lucy had turned but before Van Helsing has told the others about it he wrote a note to Dr. Seward just in case anything should happen to Van Helsing before he has had a chance to tell the others of his findings. Van Helsing ends up surviving to relate his findings in person so the note becomes redundant and is never delivered (Stoker 181). If we are to draw any conclusions about a conception of Amsterdam from the logocentrism of Van Helsing, it is necessary to consider and compare the information passed on by the American. Interestingly, Quincey Morris is also reluctant to commit his communication to writing; even in his letters, he makes no effort to conform to a formal style of English and even lets his marked language come through in his idiosyncratic syntax and vocabulary (Stoker 62). Neither Van Helsing nor Quincey Morris conform to the textual standards held by the rest of the hunting party, but their similarities end there when it comes to communication style. Van Helsing is an authority because of his spoken words, but Quincey Morris’s significance to the party comes with his actions. Even when he speaks he is most often referencing an experience he had in the past or an action he will do in the future. Van Helsing’s reluctance to rely on the written word is related to his reverence for the past and his logocentrism, but Quincey Morris effects a similar stance based on his disdain for deliberation. A broad view of the colonial history of language can be extracted from the comparison of these characters. Van Helsing is a representative of the origins of English, it is assumed that Van Helsing speaks Dutch, and he is overheard at one point crying out in German “Got in Himel” (Stoker 118). Both languages connect Van Helsing with sister languages of English that evolved closer to their point of origin than the itinerant language of the Anglo-Saxons. The “American” language of Quincey Morris would then be a more recent migration of that same West Germanic language. The fact that Van Helsing is able to communicate with authority and without the aid of written language represents a purity to his language and culture. The English characters show great respect for this figure of their progenitors, but when it comes to the American it seems the language has been diluted too far. From a logocentric or historically linguistic perspective the utterances of Quincey Morris are doubly removed from their referent; the English removed the Teutonic purity of the act of reference through their commitment to writing, but the American, rather than returning to the double-sided spoken referent through the abandonment of inscription has confined himself to simple acts of appellation involving concrete and directly experiential events. The Old Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, and American characters seem to bear out their expected linguistic predispositions, but it is ultimately unclear whether a value judgment is made on any one of those tendencies. We can easily imagine that the entire group would have been at a loss without the expertise of Van Helsing, but it is Quincey Morris whom we eventually credit with heroic martyrdom, and without the English the story may not have been told at all. Even Van Helsing, in all his logocentric glory, seems to be deficient in that he neglects to communicate necessary information until the last second and sometimes much later. The conflicting philosophies of language then are based in the geographical origins of the speakers. Considering the importance of land and geography to Dracula it seems necessary to also consider his related notions of language. If Dracula is to fit the previously constructed pattern based on the evolution of language we might expect that Dracula would emphasize linguistic origins and presentness of the speaker to an even greater degree than Van Helsing, but it would also not be unexpected to find that his philosophy of communication is significantly more complex since his origins are in a more distantly related language family than his interlocutors’ and it is likely that his native language has evolved and devolved since the time he was mortal. Indeed, we find that presence is a very important aspect of Dracula’s communication. He tolerates writing to the extent that it is necessary to conform to a new society, but he is unable to conceal his strong aversion to the symbol divorced from the speaker when he encounters the Jonathan Harker’s letter written in shorthand. With Dracula, presence can even function as a significant form of communication apart from words of any kind. This kind of communication seems present between Dracula and each of his victims. Most of his attacks take place without a word being spoken and yet the victims recognize profound meaning through his very presence. This, more than Dracula’s superhuman physical abilities, is what gives the impression of a metaphysical monster. It is possible, then, that the correspondences and doubling between the various characters of Dracula has less to do with the various problematic postcolonial readings of the novel and conforms more closely to subtle notions of presentness with the characters all working within a different point on a single continuum. Such a reading is necessarily confounded both by the psychological inclinations of the speaker and the reader and the medium of communication bridging the gap between them. It is evident through such a self-reflective lens how this concept can be helpful to examine within narrative. When we apply and examine the presentness paradigm within a text it further illuminates the probable intentions of certain characters; when looking outwardly based on our textual findings such archetypes can be useful in the necessary classification of realities. Classification and stereotype seem to be necessary to human patterns of thought, but the awareness that is gained through careful examination of those classifications within a text are useful in gaining a more objective understanding of extratextual reality. Yet another welcome irony of a reading critiquing presentness is that it must assess the text apart from the presentness of the living author. In this case, the author is not alive to confirm or explicate an interpretation. If the author had offered an explicit interpretation it would now be inaccessible or necessarily committed to writing and therefore as divorced from the text as a reader’s own subjective interpretation (or, if one wished, an extension of the text also subject to interpretation). The very problem present within Stoker’s narrative is essentially the basis for the interpretation that reveals the same dilemma. Works CitedElmessiri, Nur. “Burying Eternal Life in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Sacred in an Age of Reason.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 14 (1994): 101-135.Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: W. W. Norton and Company. 1997.Willis, Martin. “’The Invisible Giant,’ Dracula, and Disease.” Studies in the Novel 39 (2007): 301-325.
Bram Stoker’s use of setting to establish some of the key gothic elements to the novel Dracula proves to be crucial in developing both suspense and intrigue. This can be studied particularly closely with reference to Jonathan Harker’s narrative of his journey into the Carpathian Mountains and Mina Harker’s description of her hometown, Whitby. Both passages highlight the natural beauty of the area as well as a lingering sense of mystery, resulting in heightened dramatic tension. This is more apparent within Jonathan Harker’s account of his crossing through an area that is one of “the wildest and least known portions of Europe.” Mina’s description of Whitby, a “beautifully green,” “lovely place,” is also shrouded with legends that are a direct consequence of the way in which the setting is perceived. Indeed, the perception of Whitby Abbey as a ruin that locks in the “white lady” is linked in to the myth of the bells that ring when ships at sea are lost to cause apprehension within the reader that persistently increases throughout the novel. Meanwhile, the repetition and reiteration of the “darkness” and “grim,” “solemn effect” of nightfall in Transylvania forseshadow the imminent horror that await both Jonathan and Mina. Both selected passages precede the arrival of Count Dracula– initially, before Jonathan meets him at Castle Dracula, and, subsequently, upon the Count’s arrival in Whitby, England. Therefore, the use of setting as a device to create suspense is highly successful. The result is an excited anticipation of an “atmosphere” that will soon evolve into an “oppressive sense of thunder.” The reader is forced to recognize the fear of the unknown. Jonathan Harker’s passage through Transylvania and towards the Carpathian Mountains begins with reassuringly pleasant scenery. “A bewildering mass of fruit blossom” in a “green sloping land” encourages a false sense of security that Stoker soon exploits. Indeed, he leaves the reader in awe of such an obscure and far-away land: “the mighty slopes” are said to have “towered” over Harker, while the “jagged rock” and “pointed crags” of the mountains present the landscape as daunting and emphasize its differences from Harker’s homeland, Britain. It must be noted that the foreign and unknown land of the East is a prominent theme throughout the book. Transylvania is said to be “an imaginative whirlpool,” while Harker notes that “every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians.” David Rodgers remarks that Stoker creates an environment “that with its indistinguishable location” is “a land nether wholly material or locatable nor defined by the strict negotiations of those terms.” Indeed, to a Victorian audience that had seen the boundaries of imperialism stretch across the whole globe, an area that was so secluded was rare and unnerving. The loss of the West’s comforts and civilized nature is accentuated within the early chapters of the novel when Harker acknowledges, “There were many things new to me: hay-ricks in the trees, and here and there, very beautiful masses of weeping birch.” It is notable that the popularity of travel books in the Victorian period was enormous – Stoker is thought to have used Emily Gerard’s The Land Beyond the Forest (the English translation of “Transylvania”) to provide factual information for Dracula. Indeed, Victorian desire to explore and acquire knowledge for remote lands meant that the setting of books was crucial to the overall disposition of the reader. Stoker suddenly describes the setting differently, causing a major shift in mood. While previously the setting of the passage through the Carpathians was both beautiful and foreign, when night falls, an eerie tension of the mysterious is suggested to the reader. Harker notes that “the shadows of the night began to creep round us.” This is proof of the peculiar change that occurs as daytime ends. Stoker ensures that the reader is aware of Harker’s growing apprehension of the “great masses of greyness,” and the “bestrewed trees” that are said to be “peculiarly weird.” Meanwhile, night is a “growing twilight” that “seemed to merge into one dark mistiness of gloom.” Stoker uses repetition of the key ideas of the landscape under nightfall to produce a relentlessness that seems to submerge the valley the carriage is traveling in, in a “darkness” both “grey” and “grim.” The landscape has become a negative backdrop with an impending sense of doom. The “ghost-like clouds,” and, later, “dark, rolling clouds,” glide “ceaselessly through the valleys” to give a compounding feeling of enclosure as the clouds form a ceiling to trap in the “thunderous” and already claustrophobic atmosphere. Stoker’s intention is to establish the metonymy of gloom and horror, a characteristic of gothic drama. Metonymy, a subtype of a metaphor, uses one thing–here, darkness or gloom–to stand for something else–here, mystery and the supernatural. Prolonged darkness sets a precedent for the rest of the novel. The reader learns that darkness, – the time in which Dracula thrives as a vampire, is the time to expect the horror to climax. Like a great deal of gothic literature, such as The Mysterious Stranger (1860), which is thought to have influenced Stoker, dramatic tension is increased steadily, with all of the text contributing towards the author’s intention, including metaphors such as the “snake-like vertebra … of the road” — all used to reaffirm gothic suspense and intrigue.Mina Harker’s description of Whitby contains some of the most notable gothic characteristics. The easing of dramatic tension is key to enabling the building-up of suspense at a later on. The “beautiful view” of the churchyard and the “romantic bits” of Whitby Abbey settle the reader’s nerves, much like the initial description of Romania in the early stages of the novel. The setting of Whitby does therefore show similarities to the way in which the Carpathians are described. However, the homely feel is emphasized particularly by the manner in which Mina states, “This is a lovely place.” Possibly most integral to the role of Whitby’s setting in understanding gothic drama is the mysterious history of Whitby Abbey and the “legend” “that when a ship is lost bells are heard out at sea.” Meanwhile, the “mournful sound on the wind” that sounds during bad weather continues the sense of history in Stoker’s introduction of Transylvania. By referring to the influence of the sea Stoker highlights its significance, which is apparent later, when Dracula arrives in Whitby in a terrific tempest. Stoker successfully creates a mood of looming excitement that stresses the threat of, predominantly, the unknown. In the case of Whitby, this is clearly the unexplained legends of the setting–the “white lady” of the abbey and mournful cries of the sea. One is naturally intrigued as Stoker uses the character of Mina Harker to accurately depict a traditional English village, while still maintaining the gothic principles of the novel. Stoker’s use of setting as a technical device to control dramatic tension and enable the contrast of the natural and unknown allow the foundations of Dracula to be formed. Through setting, and especially the effect of darkness, Stoker effects a change in mood. The thunderous atmosphere towards the end of Harker’s narrative of the Carpathians shows the suspense and claustrophobic anticipation of gothic drama. Meanwhile, the suggestion of history and ancient legend in Mina Harker’s account of Whitby ensures that the reader does not feel wholly comfortable with the supposedly “beautiful” surroundings–a sign of the terror that will ensue. The fear of the unknown in an age when imperial Britain was at its height was a topic that enticed Victorian audiences toward the idea of the supernatural and mysterious. One of the key elements that enabled such powerful themes to function was the use of setting to provide a backdrop for the impending action. In both selected passages, such ideas are explored to great effect, with the reader ultimately left intrigued and drawn into a plot that promises to submerge them in anxiety, fear and, indeed, horror.
The fantastic […] lasts only as long as a certain hesitation: a hesitation common to reader and character, who must decide whether or not what they perceive derives from “reality” as it exists in the common opinion. At the story’s end, the reader makes a decision even if the character does not; he opts for one solution or the other, and thereby emerges from the fantastic. If he decides that the laws of reality remain intact and permit an explanation of the phenomena described, we say that the work belongs to another genre: the uncanny. If, on the contrary, he decides that new laws of nature must be entertained to account for the phenomena, we enter the genre of the marvelous. – Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic, p. 42 Bram Stoker’s Dracula belongs to all three genres mentioned by Todorov. The first few chapters exemplify the fantastic; but as the narrative progresses the characters try to realize the uncanny truth about the events overtaking them, events which ultimately give way to the marvelous. Chapter I is a fine example of the fantastic – the narrator is at a loss to make sense of his surroundings. He uses his Victorian wisdom to rationalize the events, but ultimately hesitation and bafflement obscure his rational thinking. Let’s pretend we don’t know what is going to happen in the subsequent chapters; let’s also pretend we have no knowledge of what the Count really is. I say “pretend” because pretension is necessary in order for us to share in the character’s fantastic observations of the incidents – from his journey from Bistritz through the Borgo Pass to the castle of Dracula. In Chapter I Jonathan is presented as a naÃ¯ve narrator, putting every detail of the East and its customs in his journal; but there are moments when his unquestioning naÃ¯vetÃ© faces an eeriness that defies explanation. This results in an uncomforting feeling of something that disturbs both Jonathan and the reader. For example, when the landlord’s wife puts the rosary around his neck, he feels what Todorov calls “hesitation”, the characteristic feeling of the fantastic: “Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.” We as naÃ¯ve readers are equally unsure regarding the cause of this feeling of the fantastic. To create a sense of the fantastic the author often makes the central character ignorant of things the other characters know because it is through the character that we witness the events. But this is not dramatic irony in that dramatic irony requires the audience or reader to know more than the character does; in fantastic irony, on the other hand, the reader is just as ignorant as the character. Thus, on his journey from Bistritz to Borgo Pass, Jonathan’s fellow passengers seem to know more about his impending fate than he or the reader does. Characteristically, no one tells him about the real danger of daring to meet Count Dracula. Their obscure gestures of warning, punctuated by their frequent acts of crossing themselves, only add to the fantastic nature of his journey. The fantastic is the major component of any thriller, literary or cinematic, and the ending of a thriller is either uncanny (weird but ultimately explainable by natural laws, as in Hitchcock’s Psycho) or marvelous (out of the world and explained only by means of something more than simple human reason, as is the case with any decent horror flick). The fantastic arouses a feeling that numbs the faculty of drawing straight conclusions, and the characteristic expression associated with the visual fantastic is a gaping mouth. In the literary fantastic the character as well as the reader is made to wait with what Jonathan calls “a sick feeling of suspense” while various contradictory conclusions are drawn until the truth is revealed. This seemingly random drawing of conclusions is reflected in the use of simile, a comparison between two distinctly different things by means of “like”, “as”, “as if”, etc. (Interestingly, metaphor, which is a atronger, more direct comparison, is often employed by Van Helsing, a more knowledgable character in Dracula). In Chapter I Jonathan’s hesitation about the true nature of the strange events becomes linguistically patent in his frequent uses of “like” or “as if” and their verbal equivalent, “seem”. Todorov also says that the literature of the fantastic “has still greater extension: this is the effacement of the limits between subject and object” (42). This in part is due to the phantasmagoric nature of the fantastic which all but dissolves the separation between the perceiving mind and the thing perceived for it is in dreams that we become what we see: “I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident, for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back, it is like a sort of awful nightmare”. Throughout the journey Jonathan is in a kind of trance, and even his optical illusion of seeing the faint blue flame through the driver may well be attributed to this dissolving of the barrier between mind and matter. The fantastic generates a kind of compelling hallucination that urges the reader to read on. This is one of the many powers of the literary fantastic: instead of arousing a sense of loathing for the unexplained horror, it encourages the reader to enjoy the hallucinatory effects of the actual act of reading. This has obvious Freudian connotations explainable in terms of the self’s longing for the macabre. From a technical point of view however, this spell-binding effect is produced by the grimly romantic descriptions of nature, a nature which is no less human than the characters that populate it. Consider the following excerpt: Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel. And again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along. As we can see, nature is personified, described as acting like a human that both “frowns” and “guards[s] boldly”, and “moans” and “whistles” like a sick child. The fantastic, as Todorov observes, “leads a life full of dangers, and may evaporate at any moment” (42). The volatility of the fantastic is exemplified by the character’s gradual understanding – or at least an attempt at understanding – of the weirdness of her or his surroundings. The natural supernaturalism of the fantastic is substituted by the explainable supernaturalism of the uncanny or the accepted supernaturalism of the marvelous. In Chapter I this dissolution of the fantastic into the uncanny/marvelous is hinted at when Jonathan is overcome by an “uncanny” fear that almost immobilizes him. He must now equip himself either to explain away this fear by his Victorian rationality or to subscribe to the beliefs of the superstitious peasants. Failing to do either would result in his loss of sanity. Works CitedStoker, Bram. Dracula. W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. (All quotations are from Chapter I of this edition)Todorov, Tzvetan. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Cornell University Press, 1975.
The issue of social class and its effects upon society in Victorian-era Europe is a theme central to Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. On the surface, the novel seems to be a story of a battle between good and evil; upon further analysis, it could be seen as a battle between high and low social classes. The vampire Dracula is a quintessential aristocratic figure, one who prides himself on his superior bloodlines in more ways than one. The people who slay him are of assorted nationality, gender, ethnicity, and economic privilege. Through the interactions between characters of various socioeconomic status, Stoker illustrates the class-based prejudices operative in a society.The earliest explicit example of this is Dracula’s almost boastful description of his family and heritage in chapter I. The Count asserts, on behalf of his ancestors and himself, that “in our veins flows the blood of many brave races” (p. 33). This is a curious comment because of its obvious double meaning. While Dracula is using the word “blood” as it is commonly used, that is, as metaphor for ancestry and heritage, he is also using it in a literal sense: as a vampire, the blood of many people does flow through his veins. However, neither the reader nor Jonathan Harker yet know of Dracula’s blood-drinking habit, so this comment could easily be passed over as a description of Dracula’s social status. It is only later, after the nature of the Count’s character is revealed, that both the ambiguity and the twisted humor of this phrase become apparent.In the same passage, Dracula uses the word “race” interchangeably with the word “family” or “ancestry.” This is another example of a possible double meaning that foreshadows what the reader will learn about Dracula. Like the idea of blood being both literal and figurative, the idea of race can be thus interpreted. As a vampire, Dracula truly is a member of a distinct race, perhaps even a distinct species. His gruesome lineage (or taxonomy) ensures him not only respect among the lower-ranking Transylvanians, but physical power greater than that of other men, even immortality. In telling Jonathan Harker the story of his ancestry, Dracula speaks about events in the plural first-person, implying that he might have been present: as an immortal vampire, this is very likely. However, both of these statements can be interpreted figuratively: the skeptic Harker does not readily accept the gory nature of Dracula’s tale.Indeed, all that is immediately evident is the Count’s emphasis on both the nobility and the achievements of his heritage. For example, Dracula claims to be descended from Attila the Hun, a powerful, violent and fearsome warrior. According to Dracula, this power is directly proportional to purity of lineage: when his distant ancestors “mated with the devils in the desert,” power and glory of the vampire race was sacrificed. The mention of other supernatural beings, such as “devils and witches” should be noted: although easy to bypass as metaphoric hyperbole, Dracula might be speaking literally of the superiority of vampires over not only humans beings, but other monsters (p. 34).Whether or not Dracula is implying supernatural heritage, his pride in being what he considers a member of an elevated social class is apparent. The Count explicitly considers himself to be a “boyar,” or a member of the privileged class, which has ensured him not only monetary fortune but an elevated status among the peasants in his land (p.26). This nobility sets him apart from the common Transylvanian, whom he considers to be “a coward and a fool,” (p. 27). These qualities are starkly contrasted with those of his own race of fearsome warriors.Unfortunately, Jonathan Harker does not pick up on the double meaning of the Count’s life story. Although he enjoys Dracula’s storytelling and even seems vaguely impressed by his social status, he is not intimidated by what is a discreet warning of Dracula’s potential power. Initially, Harker even sides with Dracula concerning the ignorance of the local peasants. Here we see that although he is a man largely driven by pragmatism, Jonathan Harker is not without class-based biases of his own. As a civil worker he does not rank highly on the socioeconomic scale, but he is not a peasant, and so scorns the beliefs and practices of the Transylvanian commoners accordingly. He dismisses their practices as superstition, but in this assertion there is an element of disdain wholly separate from his conflicting spiritual beliefs. Jonathan Harker is not rich, but he is both educated and Anglican. The Romanian peasants are uneducated and heavily reliant upon Catholic relics as protection against evil, and are therefore considered by Jonathan to be “ridiculous” and “idolatrous”(p. 13). However, Jonathan has a change of heart when he realizes that the crucifix he accepts from a peasant woman is his only protection from Dracula once he is imprisoned in the castle. Harker’s acceptance of practices he previously shunned represents a vindication of the common person, which is a theme echoed by Bram Stoker at several points in the text.The social disparity between men and women is another example of the theme of class in the novel. The most pronounced and, curiously, the least developed of these instances is demonstrated through the characters of the three “weird sisters.” These female vampires whom Dracula keeps imprisoned in his castle represent the “kept woman” common during the Victorian era. Indeed, the sisters are “kept” by the Count in the most literal way: they are not permitted to hunt, leave the castle, or even prey upon Jonathan Harker without Dracula’s consent. This can be interpreted as a parallel to the role of many women at the time, who were not permitted to do anything outside of the home without the permission of their male superior. Of course, the example of the weird sisters is clearly hyperbolic, even humorous, as the average Victorian woman wasn’t concerned with hunting human prey in the first place, and could most likely eat when she chose.However, the subjugation of the three vampire sisters is even more interesting when Dracula’s opinion of the vampire race is taken into account. As mentioned earlier, Dracula speaks at length about the superiority of the vampire race to the human race. The weird sisters, being vampires, are undeniably part of the same race as Dracula. It is curious, then, that Dracula shows more hospitality towards Jonathan Harker than he does to his own kind, even though he ultimately intends for Jonathan to be a victim. It would have been easy enough for Dracula to drain Jonathan’s blood the moment he entered the castle, yet he does not. Although he is a monster, Dracula seems genuinely interested, at least for a short time, in the knowledge of the outside world that Harker brings with him, and attempts to disguise his bloodthirsty nature from the clerk for as long as possible. Dracula does not seem to ever extend the same courtesy to his female captives, even though they should be, by his own standards, elevated above Jonathan in their social status. Thus the issue of sexism within the larger realm of class bias is present in this novel.Perhaps the most explicit example of the effects of social class is illustrated by the events leading up to Lucy Westenra’s death. When Dracula begins to prey upon the young woman, the somewhat unorthodox doctor Van Helsing demands a series of blood transfusions to save her life. Although her life is ultimately lost, the blood transfusions occur in a noteworthy manner: blood is taken from donors in descending order of social status. The first man to donate blood to Lucy is Arthur Holmwood, Lucy’s fiance and a wealthy member of the Victorian gentry. The second donor is John Seward, a working-class doctor and well-respected member of society. Van Helsing transfuses his blood next: he is third in rank because although he is a distinguished doctor, scholar and lawyer, he is also a foreigner. The final blood that Lucy receives comes from Quincey Morris, a Texan transplanted in Victorian England. Despite being strong, charismatic and courageous, Americans are lower on the ladder than even Dutchmen; so Morris donates last.Although Van Helsing claims that “A brave man’s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble,” the quality of the blood seems to depend less on bravery than on social status: clearly, some brave men are better for the job than others (p.136). The way that Stoker has arranged this hierarchy is not likely coincidental, but neither is it without irony. By the conclusion of the novel, Quincey Morris, the lowly American, is depicted as the most celebrated hero among these men.Despite the many instances of class-based prejudice in this novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has, overall, a resounding theme of hope. Though it is not apparent throughout the novel, by its conclusion Stoker is clearly rooting for the underdog. The end of Stoker’s Dracula portrays a world in which feeling has triumphed over reason, bravery has conquered fortune, and human resilience is proved superior to social status. Members of the higher class ultimately suffer: Dracula is slain by the human beings he once terrorized, and Mrs. Westenra, an aristocratic woman, sabotages her own fate and the fate of her daughter when she innocently ignores the protective talismans offered by Van Helsing. This does not mean that lower-class characters escape unscathed: the Transylvanian peasants, though eventually freed from the plague of Dracula and the weird sisters, have lost loved ones to the vampires’ hunger. Quincey Morris, the resilient American, dies as a casualty of Dracula’s execution, and Van Helsing’s controversial remedies do not save Lucy from the vampire’s fate. However, Morris is immortalized in name and memory with the birth of the Harkers’ first child. The peasants, though not present in the final action of the novel, have the retrospective distinction of being right about Dracula all along. Van Helsing indirectly saves all of London; even Jonathan Harker, for all his flawed suppositions, emerges as the hero when he is instrumental in the slaying of Dracula. He and his bride, Mina, are ultimately freed from the grasp of the vampire, and even manage to come into an unlikely fortune along the way, ensuring middle-class comfort for the rest of their lives. Thus, these lower-ranking citizens are vindicated, even celebrated, by the end of the novel.
The era of industrialization ushered in new ways of disseminating and creating art. Along with technological innovation come the anxious reservations of aesthetic purists. These reservations stem from wariness about the dehumanizing effect of mechanical reproduction and a sense of powerlessness over the work of art in its mediated form. In the aftermath of the printing press, writers and artists have struggled to understand this new phenomenon and its effect on the creation of texts. Two texts, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Walter Benjamin’s “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility” reflect this towards technology and its effect on the art of writing.In his essay, Benjamin focuses on how the shape of art and its reception have changed in an age of technological reproduction. He also assesses the effects of this new artistic medium on an increasingly evolving public. Simply put, mechanical reproducibility has allowed for the proliferation of copies of art. This has dissolved the validity of the concept of originality in art. There is a rejection of traditional functions of art in favor of new and more expansive functions. Art is now a product for mass consumption and loses its uniqueness, its “aura.” Benjamin’s discussion of authenticity is interesting for what implies about the power of an original. He begins by stating, “the presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity.” (220) The authenticity, then, depends on the existence of an original, a beginning point from which all other reproductions will measure up to. All authority derives from this authenticity. This is how art has been traditionally valued. This reliance on the original for authority has implications in terms of the “authenticity” of art that bears no original. The implication is that once the original is lost or destroyed, so has the authority.The definition of authenticity is also dependent on its assumption of history and tradition. “The authenticity of a thing,” Benjamin explains, “is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced.” (221) Authenticity is related to the lifespan of the work of art. This is the “testimony” it bears of its enduring quality. In this sense the work of art is an artifact, a relic of past eras, bearing the combinations of historical and social contexts it has survived. The characters in Dracula share a similar view about the delegation of authority to an original. If Dracula can be viewed as the original, then Mina and the gentlemen who help her destroy Dracula represent mechanical reproducibility. Their insistence on eradicating Dracula despite the risk involved arises out a pure belief in the power of the original. They believe that once they have destroyed Dracula, they will purge the world of the evil and the many vampires he has spawned. He is the “auratic” original; once he is destroyed, so will his authority and authenticity. When describing the necessity of killing Dracula, Van Helsing emphasizes his uniqueness. “With this one, all the forces of nature that are occult and deep and strong must have worked together in some wondrous way.” (319) This vampire, more than any other of the “Un-Dead” has managed to survive centuries due to the combinations of “occult” forces of nature. He is the original that bears all the marks of history and tradition in his blood. His authority derives from his authenticity and from the “testimony” of his history in his existence.The vampire-hunters are determined to eradicate their authentic original. Their methods involve technology and reproducing texts. According to Benjamin authority is based on tradition. Two processes lead to a “shattering of tradition”(221) the substitution of copies for the original and the closeness of the beholder to the reproduction. Both these developments undermine the traditional functions of art. This shattering of tradition seems to be a good thing. He describes it as “a renewal of mankind.” (221) By compiling and reproducing texts about their adventures, the characters of Dracula replace the Dracula with copies. In the same way that technological reproduction usurps the authority of the original by virtue of its medium, so do the vampire-hunters. Benjamin’s labeling this a “renewal of tradition” is also the way Van Helsing labels their mission. The value of art, therefore, is based on the public’s perception of it. As art becomes increasingly detached from its tradition, it becomes more attached to its audience. This is because something is lost in this age of technological reproducibility – the object’s “aura.” He does not give a definition of this term, but rather describes it as part of an experience of the “unique phenomenon of distance, however close it may be.” (223) The aura is desire for proximity of a work of art while simultaneously maintaining a distance. Therefore the aura is a product of distance, or the perception of distance by the audience. The distance is caused by the object’s uniqueness. With the advent of mechanical reproducibility, that uniqueness has dissolved.Similarly, the characters in Dracula dissolve Dracula’s uniqueness by creating a text about him and subsequently copying this text. They bridge the gap between this figure and their lives by replacing him with a text of themselves. It is their voices, not Dracula’s, that the reader knows through the text. The aura, and Dracula, is lost because a distance is no longer there; the audience, and the characters of the book, is empowered through mechanical reproduction. The dissipation of the aura is a product of what Benjamin sees as the evolution of the public. In this vein, his observations have been labeled “anthropological” rather than philosophical. He labels this audience the “masses.” The modern public is not concerned with preserving authenticity. The “masses” want to bridge the differences created by uniqueness. It is “the desire of contemporary masses to bring things “closer” spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of everyday reality by accepting its reproduction.” (223) The “masses” want instant gratification. They no longer value the distance a work of art affords them. By accepting its reproduction, they overcome the uniqueness that distance represents. The shriveling of the aura also has another benefit for the audience the increased opportunity to participate in this new medium. In relation to the printing press and the participation it affords, Benjamin writesWith the increasing extension of the press, which kept placing new political, religious, scientific, professional, and local organs before the readers, an increasing number of readers became writers at first, occasional ones. It began with the daily press opening to its readers space for “letters to the editor.” And today there is not a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere or otherThus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. (232)The printing press has allowed for any person, from the educated intellectual down to the “gainfully employed European” to become an author. The proliferation of printed texts has resulted in this blurring of distinctions between the public and author. The reading public now becomes the writing public. By abandoning tradition, mankind has “renewed” itself, but at the cost of the aura. The printing press has destroyed the aura but it has also generated the energy to write for a public that was denied access to artistic creation because of other considerations. These characters are a good example of this phenomenon. Jonathan Harker more than deserves the title, “gainfully employed European.” His journal, written in shorthand, the most technical form of English, is the foundation for the text. The characters also blur the distinctions between author and public because they each play both roles. They compose the text and are the only readers. They are their own audience. Stoker problematizes this relationship to the printed text. Dracula celebrates these new techniques of disseminating and organizing information, yet those who use it seem comical in their almost religious zeal in using these tools. Mina, the embodiment of this phenomenon of compulsively typing and copying, remarks, “I feel so grateful to the man who invented the Traveler’s’ Typewriter and to Mr. Morris for getting this one for me. I should have felt quite astray doing the work if I had to write with a pen.” (350) She writes this as she and Van Helsing are in the midst of Dracula’s exotic and foreign country. It is filled with superstitious natives and lacks the accouterments of any kind of technological innovation. Her only joy is the use of a machine, this “Traveler’s Typewriter”, the only vestige of the burgeoning manufacturing industry taking over Europe and transforming Western culture. A pen, itself a medium for human presence, would have made Mina feel “quite astray.” The only way to organize and convey information is by the use of this machine. The reliance on mechanical production for disseminating information is fetishized for Mina, and by extension, modern culture. Benjamin describes this reliance on producability as the Genesis of an era in which art will no longer be the same. The loss of the aura may be a “renewal of mankind” but it is not a good development for art. Stoker addresses this fear in this passage. Mina, in the process of losing her humanity and becoming a vampire, relies so heavily on the typewriter and its dehumanizing affects. The pen, while still a mediated form, displays the uniqueness of the human presence in handwriting. Humanity then begins to mirror the mechanics of production by becoming systematic and exact. This reflects the influence of modernity on writing. Relics of modernity litter the novel: there are Kodak cameras, bicyclists, messengers bearing telegrams, Winchesters, etc. Technology is a pervasive force in their world. They value it for their destructive purposes, but they are also in awe of it.These vampire-hunters feel a need to record everything as accurately as possible. By recording these supernatural events through these mechanical tools, these English characters maintain a control over a force that makes them feel increasingly powerless. Seward at one point says, “Jonathan Harker has asked me to note this, as he says he is hardly equal to the task, and he wants an exact record kept.” (329) Harker, like Mina, reveres the act of recording and organizing information. This desperate attempt to keep an “exact record” seems the only way to conquer Dracula. As the original, Dracula must be destroyed through the means of technology, by methodically recording and systematizing his movements and history of events. The vampire-hunters seem to crave and foster this disembodied communication. They do not think twice about using all these new and advanced gadgets. The letters between Lucy and Mina, the diaries, Sewards’s mechanically reproduced voice – all get compiled into one text. Mina, in the name of expediency and noble cause, assimilates all these traces of human presence into many copies of a typewritten manuscript. Their words, now in the shape of uniform typeset characters, lack any mark of individuality or human origin. Mina is the printing press and Dracula is her text, both literally and figuratively. In reflecting ambivalence towards modernity, Dracula also resists any type of neat analysis. The text itself is multi-layered and ambiguous and forces the reader to see both perspectives of this phenomenon. In “Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and Its Media” Jennifer Wicke comments on Dracula’s use of modern media to both compose and destroy itself. “What makes this texts so modern,” she explains, “is that it knows that it will be consumed it stages the very act of its own consumption, and problematizes it.” (491) The book is a very self-aware text. It knows it is the product of mass-reproduction, yet can also maintain a critical view about the process. Stoker’s own act of writing the book and the events of the book seem an endorsement of technological reproducibility. It is the meticulousness of the group and their undying loyalty to recording the text that aids them in destroying and eradicating Dracula. The text addresses the fear of technology but it also affirms the need for technologizing information. When Dracula has attempted to impede his hunters by burning the diaries and phonograph recordings, they are relieved to know there is still a copy of the manuscript in the safe. About this incident, Wicke writes, “this fortuitous reclamation of their labors, and also for the text held in the hand of the reader, all too ironically derives from a copy. If copying is the inevitable fate of the mass-produced, here it is also the salvation.” (490) The reader must now acknowledge that their text is a copy of a copy. The originals have been destroyed, but somehow the text still maintains authority. The text’s existence as a copy of the record of a methodical bunch of Brits is tribute to their tenacity as writers and recorders. If Dracula is the original possessing the aura, this text is the modern version, possessing its own auratic qualities.In her essay Wicke shows that there is a connection between “the sexy act of vamping and such prosaic labor” of typewriting. (467) In the same way that a vampire sucks the life out of its victims, the typewriters blends all the human voices of the text into one, uniform, dehumanized form. Count Dracula is analogous to the social force of mass culture “the developing technologies of the media in its many forms, as mass transport. image production and mass-produced narrative.” (469) The text is about consumption and the use of these new media, vampiric though they may be, in the production of texts.Mina, through her use of new media, consumes Dracula through the text and becomes the author of it. Wicke comments that after Dracula bites Mina, she “also consumes him but without longing, without desire, and with her cognitive faculties intact.” Ever the sound-minded woman that she is, Mina still retains consciousness of herself in the midst of consumption by and of Dracula. In fact, she seems to posses deeper insights into Dracula’s whereabouts and is given more authority in the text. Wicke comments that “Mina becomes more and more the author of the text; she takes over huge stretches of its narration, she is responsible for giving her vampire-hunting colleagues all information on Dracula’s whereabouts.” (485) Because Mina has entered into the realm of consumption, the text is hers. She consumes Dracula as the auratic original through the text and physically as a vampire. Or, as Wicke phrases it, “vampiric typewriting.” However, Dracula can also be viewed as the epitome of consumption. Wicke comments that “the text’s action absolutely depends on the inclusion of mass-produced testimony; it absorbs these extraneous pieces within itself just as Dracula assimilates the life-blood of his victims.” (474) Therefore Dracula is also the sight of assimilation of differences. He is the unique original, yet he also contains multitudes. There is a kinship between the text’s “mass-produced testimony” and the testimony that Dracula bears of his history and tradition. The text, an instrument of consumption works to eradicate the original consumer. Hence Wicke’s conclusion that Dracula mounts “a search and destroy mission against itself.” (491) The text works through its own anxiety about the nature of mass-production and mass culture. Stoker complicates and enriches the modern dilemma by presenting his readers with a text that knows itself so well it both celebrates and criticizes its media. The text shares similar ideas about art also presented by Benjamin. Both texts seem t present art in the age of mass-production as a somewhat lethal and threatening force. It is consciously consumptive, sucking the life out humanity and infusing it into its reproduction. Life, memory, and art in the end only amount to a “mass of typewriting.” But it is a clever and self-aware mass.
Bram Stoker’s revolutionary novel Dracula gave way to the splendor of modernism. Displaying many ground breaking modernist techniques, Dracula is especially reliant on the use of a meta-textual narrative. Stoker introduces his novel with a paragraph stating that how “these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated, so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact.
There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within the range of knowledge of those who made them.” (Stoker 5). Right away, Stoker draws to the reader’s attention that he is using a meta-textual narrative to tell the story of Dracula. The book is commenting on what it is going to be doing, specifically drawing the reader’s attention to the process of its own creation. Throughout the novel, Stoker creatively stitches together different forms of media, which ultimately creates the overarching narrative and a general understanding of the power structure between the characters. Stoker’s creative and wide variety of media includes things such as: diaries, shipping receipts, letters, telegrams, medical notes, journals, ships logs, typewriter entries, etc. Each artifact allows the readers to see how the story is being framed and compiled. Many of the artifacts such as the unopened letters and what are supposed to be confidential medical records illustrate how important the concept of knowledge and secrets is between the characters in the novel.
Stoker begins his story of Dracula with Jonathan Harker’s personal diary entries, herein the readers first learn of the monster that is Count Dracula—in addition to personal information about Jonathan and Mina, and even his negative views on non-English culture. As the plot thickens when Jonathan realizes Dracula is holding him prisoner in Transylvania, the narrative shifts to the diaries of characters that are in London, ultimately moving the story to London. By changing between artifacts, Stoker creates and builds the suspense of secrets and the unknown that will persist throughout the rest of the novel. By using a meta-textual narrative, Stoker leaves the readers to walk a fine line between what is reality and what is fiction. For the most part, the novel consists predominantly of journal entries and diaries. The purpose of the journal entries and diaries is to form different views of the overall narrative. However, the readers must remember that first hand accounts in documents such as those are not always accurate. The documents are all written after the events have occurred, and it is safe to assume that all of the characters have a different take on how events have taken place. Stoker plays on the inaccuracies of the documents to instill a form of doubt between the readers and the events happening in the novel.
The idea that knowledge is power is a consistent theme throughout that is brought to light through the meta-textual narrative. Literally the whole plot of the novel is based around secrets, who is keeping them—and from whom, the meta-textual narrative is the perfect tool to instill this theme. As the novel traces its way back to England, huge messes of secrets begin to emerge. This massive web of secrets begins to be woven as Lucy Westerna becomes mysteriously ill. Dr. Seward is unaware of the true cause of Lucy’s frightening and seemingly incurable ailment, however, Mina has seen Lucy sleep walking in a graveyard— in addition to some odd neck wounds, this initial secret sparks a fire. As Mina goes off to take care of Jonathan, Professor Van Helsing arrives per Seward’s request, to try and help cure Lucy. Readers begin to see through Van Helsing’s and Seward’s separate diaries that there is one massive secret being kept, Lucy is being turned into a vampire, Van Helsing kept this information from Seward until after Lucy’s death and her rebirth. As Count Dracula is feeding on Lucy, Jonathan mysteriously surfaces out west, with a bundle of secrets. Jonathan asks his beloved Mina to not read his personal diary, which they sealed up for their own safety. However this diary quickly becomes public knowledge and everyone begins to know of the monster that is Count Dracula. Within the novel, the readers know all of the secrets and are seeing the story formed before their eyes, contrasting with the characters that are all encompassed by secrets.
After Lucy’s death, Mina is put in charge of compiling all of the artifacts, so essentially compiling the meta-textual narrative. Throughout, the men in the novel try and protect Mina, their dear model Victorian woman. However, Mina is aspiring to be a “new woman,” she does not desire to be coddled by the men, but rather solve the mystery as an equal with the men. Due to her shorthand and typewriter skills, Mina is put in charge of compiling the documents and forms of media the gang possesses in relation to Count Dracula. So in all reality, Mina knows more about what is going on than the men—she knows the full story. Yet, in their personal diaries the men comment on how Mina is changing as Count Dracula is consuming her, yet they cannot decide if they should or shouldn’t include Mina in this general knowledge; the irony displayed by Stoker herein is comical.
Overall, the story of Dracula would not have the same effect without Stoker’s groundbreaking use of meta-textual narrative. Use of a wide and clever variety of media and the theme of secrets and knowledge make Dracula a truly brilliant and classic novel.
The opening chapters of Dracula by Bram Stoker set the scene atmospherically and build the feeling of fear steadily through a combination of themes which were feared in Victorian times. Gothic literature was a new and exciting concept for the stoic Victorians, who weren’t used to the overdramatic mannerisms of the gothic characters, and the hyperbolic description that Gothic writers use. The mundane style in which Stoker begins Dracula is traditionally in keeping with the attitudes and importances of Victorian society, it immediately shows the paradoxical nature of the novel – between the normal and the supernatural. Stoker builds an atmosphere of fear by introducing that which is unknown to Victorians – people were completely terrified by things they couldn’t understand. Stoker exploits this very early on with the unexplained blue flame and the paranormal strength of the cab driver.
Stoker begins to create an atmosphere of fear slowly in chapter one with the introduction of Jonathan Harker, a completely innocent middle-class solicitor going on a seemingly innocuous business trip but, he is going abroad and here is the first sign that something maybe amiss. The first sense something is mysterious is the hot and spicy food which denotes a different culture that the typical Christian Victorian would find unfamiliar and possibly threatening as it made Harker uncomfortable and he “had to drink up all the water… and was still thirsty”. The culture theme continues with the description of the Slovaks who at first sight, appear to be in a form of unthreatening fancy dress but subconsciously Harker refers to them as “a band of brigands” which to the Victorian traveller would be a potential threat. This obscurity is a key element of gothic fiction and although it interests Harker, it is still mysterious and brings in an element of subliminal fear. So far, the tenor of Jonathan’s narrative is low-key. This is because Harker simply records everything he sees, thinks and dos. However, Harker then arrives in Bistritz, not far from the infamous Borgo Pass, coincidentally, on the eve of St. George’s Day, a night when “evil things in the world . . . have full sway.” Here, Stoker uses real places and events to build fear and tension as it makes the story more realistic to the reader. Furthermore, Bistritz has a terrifying history of “great fires”, “a siege of three weeks” and mass death from famine and disease. This builds tension as it indicates Bistritz may not be a safe place. Then come the warnings from the landlord and the local people. The landlady, in a hysterical state says “Must you go?” She then gives him a crucifix saying “For your mother’s sake”. Clearly the women knows that something evil awaits Harker. Furthermore, the crowd outside the hotel mentions “Satan”, “hell” and “witch” and give Jonathan the sign of the evil eye. Stoker is leaving the reader in no doubt that with such connotations of the devil, a terrifying fate awaits Harker.
As chapter one progresses, Stoker builds the suspense with more and more references to threats preying on the imagination. He adds suspense by hinting towards the supernatural: when the coachman warns him “you may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep” and, his use of certain language such as “it was evident that something very exciting was… expected” help to build the fearful atmosphere because they suggest something terrible await Jonathan. Examples of pathetic fallacy such as “the oppressive sense of thunder” and references to the preternatural including “flickering blue flame” all build the obscurity and heighten the tension. Stoker uses Harker substantially to build an atmosphere of fear. The normality of Harker enhanced fear as the Victorian audience would have related to him. This would have made moments when Jonathan “felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling” much more believable as it would have been easier for the audience to realistically imagine it. Monstrous animal sounds such as “a dog began to howl” generate horror and the reference to “a hand which caught my arm in a grip of steel” and “a ring of wolves” is uncanny and indicates Harker is overpowered and outnumbered creating a threatening atmosphere. The chapter ends with a reference to the supernatural; the coach driver takes control of the wolves causing them to retreat. This shocks Harker and the scene is set for the main characterisation of Dracula in chapter two.
Stoker’s initial description of Castle Dracula is ominous and gloomy and produces a foreboding atmosphere. He describes an immense door “studded with large iron nails” which has connotations of an isolated medieval castle from which the gothic genre was modelled on. Stoker uses Harker’s naivety to enhance fear. Harker calls his journey a “grim adventure” which he feels is “a horrible nightmare”. This is awful because Harker inadvertently foreshadows his fate. Harker should be suspicious of Dracula’s hand which he feels is “more like the hand of a dead than a living man”, instead he is oblivious and his innocence creates tension, building fear. Furthermore, the first sign of Dracula is “the gleam of a coming light”. This is ironic because usually, light is the symbol of hope, but in this case it brings terror instead of hope, building suspense. One of the first hints that Dracula is a hybrid is when he hears the howling of wolves and says “What music they make!”. This is incredibly frightening and would not be considered musical but to Dracula, it is sweet music which is unexpected and therefore creates fear. The description of “gold” and “beautiful fabrics” suggests Dracula’s wealth and therefore power. Mention of the furniture being “centuries old, though in excellent order” suggests it is never used which is odd. This is another hint that Dracula does not lead the typical lifestyle of a Count which is frightening. Dracula advises Harker not to venture into some places of the castle suggesting he “will not wish to go”. This is threatening and suggests there are dangerous things hiding within the castle which helps build the atmosphere of fear. The description of Dracula’s “long, sharp, canine teeth” is frightening because it animalises him indicating he is supernatural. It has connotations of a predatory carnivore suggesting Dracula is very dangerous and attacks other animals (including humans). At the end of the chapter, Harker realises Dracula has no reflection because “there was no reflection of him in the mirror”. This startles Jonathan and makes him feel uneasy. However, when Dracula saw the blood on Jonathan’s neck “his eyes blazed with a sort of demonic fury” which was quickly overcome when he touched the crucifix. This is incredibly frightening and the reference to the demon suggests Dracula is evil generating horror. This is also the first appearance of Dracula’s demon-like alter ego, a key Gothic element which helps evoke fear in the reader. Finally at the end of chapter two, Harker’s doubts get the better of him and he realises “the castle is a veritable prison” and he is a prisoner. Harker realises Dracula is a monster and that he is therefore in danger which scares the reader as we pity and are frightened and anxious for Jonathan who is an innocent victim.
Stoker begins to build an atmosphere of fear in chapter three with the use of gothic opposition. Harker describes how the crucifix “should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help”. Here he is fighting the good of God against the evil of Dracula. Stokers novel was not the only production of the late 19th century to register the feeling that some gigantic evil was gnawing away at Christian self confidence and therefore the thought of a supernatural monster that was able to challenge God’s omnipotence, terrified the Victorians. Stoker also animalises Dracula in this chapter. Harker is careful “not to awake his suspicion” suggesting Dracula is a sleeping beast who could become very dangerous. This adds suspense and helps build the atmosphere of fear. Furthermore, Harker becomes terrified when he sees the Count “crawl down the castle wall… just as a lizard”. This is unbelievable and creates fear because it focuses on the gothic idea of a dominant supernatural creature, evoking horror in the reader. The introduction of the vampire brides creates fear because their seductive personality went against the traditional views of Victorian society including the Seven Deadly Sins one of which was lust. The terror that haunts Stoker’s work most persistently is a male fear of, yet desire for, sex. One of the brides “went on her knees and bent over me fairly gloating” and Jonathan admits he felt a “wicked, burning desire”. This would have shocked the Victorians, many of whom would not have been impressed however, it would have added suspense. Stoker presents the brides in a very seductive way in order to create a tense atmosphere. One of the brides “arched her neck”, “licked her lips”, and “lapped” her teeth. All these movements resemble feline characteristics suggesting the brides are sensual and possibly predatory, generating fear. The use of an oxymoron, “thrilling and repulsive”, to describe Jonathan’s reaction emphasises the sublime of the supernatural, and how they (the supernatural) have immense power over Jonathan. The thought of a more powerful creature terrified the Victorians who believed they were superior and therefore builds an atmosphere of fear. Furthermore the brides are very shocking because they appear as fine ladies but it is all an illusion. The gothic element of the alter ego would have horrified the Victorians who believed the most important role of a women is to be a good mother which they do not display. Instead, they become demon-like creatures “with fury” and “rage” and they horrifically kill and eat a living baby. This particularly gruesome and horrific event causes Jonathan to “sink down unconscious” and builds and horrifies the reader building an atmosphere of fear. Interestingly, Stoker adds a homoerotic element when Dracula says “this man belongs to me” referring to Jonathan. The idea of homosexuality was taboo and built up fear because it displayed Dracula’s dominance over Jonathan who is completely helpless. Stoker also uses the gothic element of female victimhood to create fear but instead feminises Harker, the innocent male victim, by overwhelming him and causing him to faint. This weakness evokes fear as it shows how horrific Dracula and the vampire brides are that even a man cannot handle their action.
This brilliant build-up leaves the reader in no doubt that something terrifying and supernatural is going to happen. The initial introductory chapters develop the readers anxiety because we fear for Harker’s life. Stoker’s effective use of foreshadowing and pathetic fallacy help build suspense and fear as they suggest danger awaits Jonathan. Setting is clearly immensely important to the novel. The gothic description of Castle Dracula is frightening and foreboding which helps build an atmosphere of fear. Characterisation is also significant. Harker is an innocent, naive man who comes face to face with a supernatural monster, Dracula. The opposition between them is a key gothic element as it emphasises how helpless Harker is against Dracula physically and mentally, making the reader anxious and terrified. The horror and obscurity which is involved in so many of the events as well as the Gothic setting all help to build an atmosphere of fear; in light of such narrative mastery, it is unsurprising that the character of Dracula became one of the most terrifying monsters of all time.
The Gothic is undeniably intertwined with transformative states, both literally, such as with the presentation of supernatural beings that lie between life and death, and also thematically, with the idea of transitional time periods and settings. One of the great contradictions of Gothic literature is how, while transformations are integral to the genre, there remains a divide between novels that use this to portray a transgressive message, and others that promote conformist morals. This contradiction becomes even more apparent when comparing Angela Carter’s 20th century The Bloody Chamber with Bram Stoker’s 19th Century work Dracula, as while both present transformations, the former uses this as a positive force whereas the latter can be viewed as cautionary and moralistic. Both Carter and Stoker combine the gothic trope of the ‘abhuman’ with the idea of transformation to convey wildly different ideas on sexuality and gender. Dracula is perhaps most famous for its eponymous vampire, who acts as the main antagonist of the novel. The vampire itself can be seen as a being that is inherently transformative, anthropomorphic on the whole but with uncanny corpse-like differences such as “sharp, protruding teeth” and “pallid” complexions. Yet what makes the Victorian vampire so distinct – in opposition to the original folklore – is its sensuality and “voluptuousness”, shown also through the vampire women and mid-way through the novel with the vampirisation of protagonist Lucy. Lucy’s literal transformation from an innocent into a “bloodstained, voluptuous” creature with a complexion that resembles “Medusa’s snakes”, epitomises the role of the vampire in Stoker’s novel. Earlier gothic novels often focused on individual vampires, such as Polidori’s the ‘Vampyre’, and most significantly the lesbian vampire of Carmilla, from which Stoker borrowed heavily. However, what makes Stoker’s vampires distinct is not the threat of a Dracula alone, but the threat of mass transformation – an anxiety that is undeniably intertwined with female sexuality. Even before her transformation Lucy showed signs of breaking Victorian sexual taboos, expressing a desire for polygamy when she proclaims “why can’t a girl marry three men”. Thus her transformation and extermination by her fiancé who drives a phallic stake “deeper and deeper” into her can be read as a policing of female sexual expression, and some modern critics have even interpreted the sequence as a euphemized form of corrective rape. In contrast, the transformation of Carter’s protagonist in The Tiger’s Bride can be read as an absolute rejection of traditional sexual morals. The protagonist of the story learns that to defy the patriarchal system – expressed through her father who “lost me (her) to the beast at cards” – “the lamb must learn to run with the tigers”. Carter uses the tiger and lion as representations of men and women, and in the climax of the novel this biblical imagery becomes literal. In an almost magical realist manner the narrators skin is licked off by the beast, revealing a “nascent patina of shining hairs”. It is possible to view this as a Sadian approach to morality, with Carter appropriating the traditional Beauty and the Beast story to one where beauty becomes beast and escapes her sacrificial role as lamb or – as Carter calls it – “existing in the passive sense”. From a sex-positive feminist perspective, Carter, unlike Stoker, uses the gothic trope of transformation from human to abhuman to embrace female sexuality as a method of overcoming a system of oppression. In her novel The Sadian Woman she claims “it is eat or be eaten”, and the transformation of the Tiger’s bride is perhaps best read as a fictionalized version of this view. In the context of the 1970s this approach was radical, as even feminist opinion was divided upon Carter’s arguably sympathetic take on the original sadist Marquis de Sade. Therefore, unlike in Dracula, transformation is intentionally transgressive. Another way both authors convey a sense of transformation through structure and perspective. Stoker uses the form of an epistolary novel to tell his story, constantly shifting perspectives to provide the reader with subjective accounts of the events. This technique is also used in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to similar effect, inducing a sense of verisimilitude, a common technique in gothic literature to give the story a sense of realism. Carter also uses structure to evoke transformation. Her stories can be seen as the literary equivalent of a “Chinese box”, as while they appear self-contained, some critics such as Sarah Gamble argue that taken together her narrators and protagonists become indistinguishable from one another. Therefore, it is no surprise that The Erl King, which acts as the midpoint, has a structure which reflects its transitional place in the collection; the tense goes from “the woods enclose” to “Erl King will do you grievous harm in the space” to “I walked through the wood” in a space of a few paragraphs. Through constantly shifting perspective and tense, Carter evokes a sense of transformation not only in her story but in the language itself. This is further supported by the oxymorons that pervade the piece, such as “grow enormously small”, that reflect the narrator’s contradictory feelings of repulsion and attraction to the Erl King. It is impossible to ignore setting when addressing Gothic transformations in Stoker and Carter’s work. Dracula begins in pre industrialised Transylvania, in a “cornucopia” where “all superstitions in the world combine”. Stoker’s description of Transylvania distinguishes it as a world apart from the modernity of Victorian London, the former remaining a feudal system and the latter now dominated by the bourgeois middle classes. The clashing of the two settings and time periods is a typical feature of the gothic, and the genre has been read by critics as an expression of the anxieties of the demolition of the established order through social change. Indeed, the word “gothic” itself is derived from the original Goths who contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. Dracula represents the fin-de-siècle strain of this anxiety, with the turn of century fears of declining morals feeding into much literature. For example Wilde’s – a friend of Stoker – The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the decadence movement that surrounded it. Moreover, some postcolonial critics have linked the fear of the “vampirisation” of London not only in a sexual light, but also as a representation of the collective unconscious: an invasion paranoia caused by Britain’s declining empire and world presence. Either way transformation is presented in a negative light.In contrast, transformation of the established order is presented positively in Carter’s work The Lady of the House of Love. The setting of this story is also that of a gothic world which is externalized in the castle setting, and internalized in the female vampire who herself is “a cave full of echoes… a system of repetitions… a closed circuit.” Choosing to set her novel on the brink of the First World War, Carter possesses the benefit of 20th century hindsight that Stoker did not have. In the story, the lady of the house represents the last vestige of a patriarchal and mystical system that is on the brink of collapse. Carter’s final breaking of the repetitious lifestyle of the lady of the house caused by the “rational” solider, can be read as supporting social transformation as opposed to Stoker’s fin-de-siècle anxieties towards it.It is clear that transformation pervades the Gothic, as evidenced in The Bloody Chamber and Dracula, narratives in which transformation is evidenced both literally in the characters and settings and implicitly in the structure and subtext. However, what truly distinguishes the novels is how the authors chose to represent this transformation. While Stoker uses the concept to appeal to the contemporary fears of the Victorian reader, using literal transformation to reflect cultural changes such as the changing status of women and the decline of British imperialism, Carter uses it for an opposing motive. The Bloody Chamber can almost be read as a manifesto of sorts, which uses Gothic tropes to highlight the need and importance of transformations within society – particularly towards a feminist goal of female empowerment as opposed to repression. Thus, despite writing almost a century apart, Carter and Stoker represent one of the greatest paradoxes of Gothic literature, highlighting how on the one hand it can be deeply moralistic and on the other completely transgressive.