Mise en Scene in Nosferatu
F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” is a traditional visual tale of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. The quiet film is filled with obsession and lust, surrealism as well as the prosaic style of good versus wicked. The movie states the tale of Hutter, a property representative hungry for money, and his journey to vampire Count Orlak’s mansion, as well as the weaves found heavily within the scenes. Nosferatu (Count Orlak’s alter ego) falls for Hutter’s spouse and moves in to the house next door to the couple, where a series of occasions happen that would eventually lead to the fanged beast’s demise.
Mis en scene is a critical component throughout the film, specifically for expressionist director Murnau, whose natural take on frightening the audience with the usage of lighting, camera angles and framing supersedes that of directors who highlight the huge props or costumes. The director’s extreme usage of shadows is a tool utilized in order to make the events happening throughout the film become more realistic, as well as represents the evil situated in the character of Nosferatu.
Cast shadows can be seen throughout the movie and all is because of the lighting Murnau chose to offer.
For example, in among the last scenes of the motion picture, we see Ellen lying in bed with Nosferatu’s shadow casting above her. This take on camera angle and lighting is particularly important as it sums up among the main themes, desire. Ellen does not battle under the supremacy of the Count, nor does she fear for her life, rather on the contrary she is using herself to him and she likes it. This sensual analysis can be splintered to the method the director played with the setting. Ellen’s body is plainly brighter than her surroundings, which also reinforces the eroticism of her motions.
Also, Nosferatu’s shadow is bigger than it is in any other scene, which allows the audience to feel that at that moment evil is the strongest, and the most powerful. Setting is a very crucial and profound constituent in the cinema, even more important than actors at times. Nature plays the role of symbolizing all that we cannot see through the character’s actions and through the plots words and scripting. Here, nature expresses the hardships and obstacles that reflect upon the emotions of Hutter, Ellen and Nosferatu. During Hutter’s first journey, it is calm and beautiful. However, during his travel back home, it becomes chaotic and disturbing.
The instances when the nature prevents Hutter from moving further arguably begin to show the paranormal side nature is supporting, for example, the river is filled with rocks, which makes it difficult for him to pass; the trees seem very chaotic, the wind is always coming towards him. The scene where Ellen is by the seashore, the sea seems wild and angry. The viewer also knows that it will bring Nosferatu to her too. The environment is helpful only when Nosferatu is around. The sea always seems calm while he is sailing the ship. Other scenes, where elements of nature such as creatures and plants are shown as ghosts or blood-suckers expose the alliance between the vampire and the elements of the Earth.
This shows not only the power Nosferatu harbors within him, but that nature is well and truly an antagonist in this depiction of a vampire’s tale. Probably one of the biggest and most important quotes in the movie has been dropped near the beginning, as Hutter runs to his workplace and is stopped by the professor exclaiming “Wait, young man. You can’t escape your destiny by running away…” This line allowed the audience to begin thinking and to start connecting the limited amount of dots that have been given to us so early in the movie. We know that Nosferatu exists, and that something bad is going to happen to the protagonist, or the character the audience most identifies with.
Such a saying would infer that no matter what Hutter did, destiny has already scripted his actions and what is yet to come. The mis en scene parallels the saying in a very subtle way as during the scenes in which Hutter is on his journey to the count, he always seems to be entering the picture, rather than the camera following him. This shows that no matter where he went, it was always predestined for him. Another tell was the clock that kept appearing, not only to give the viewer an idea of the setting but also to show that time is running out and destiny is knocking at the door. Alternatively, a redundant word that was used throughout the film was “Hurry!” which gave away two aspects in the film.
The first that no matter how much you hurry, destiny will always be on the corner, and second it pinpoints at Hutter’s hyper actions and the way he is always in a rush. This can also be boiled down to the editing that slightly speeded up the movie in order to give an eerie vibe to the already paranormal state of the world the characters live in. The film’s camera angles also capture the audiences’ attention without them even knowing. Throughout the movie, Murnau’s choice of camera angles had not only connected the viewer with the characters, but also connected the characters to one another.
In many of the scenes where Hutter encounters the great Nosferatu, the camera angle shows the events occurring in the scene from the protagonist’s point of view, that way the audiences become one with the character, allowing them to see exactly as he does, thus realistically flowing the fear through them and connecting them with him. In other acts, Ellen would be at the seashore awaiting her beloved (but who?) and she would be pointing to the horizon, at the very same moment camera cuts to the ship Nosferatu is sailing and we can see the bow of the ship is pointing “towards” Ellen.
This technique found in movies sanctions the spectators to see the small influences the characters have on each other, no matter where they may be.
The movie’s total ambiance and mis en scene are vastly superior to that of the plot and acting, to such a level as to allow the cinema world to dissect the film piece by and study from the inspiring and largely accredited director Murnau, whose expressionist views and interpretations made the classic “A Symphony of Horrors” is today. With mis en scene and camera angles, as well as lighting and setting, Murnau combined so delicately as to achieve this work of art that shall be studied for years to come.
Analysis "Dracula" by Bram Stoker
Primarily, it is my assertion that the release of Dracula by Bram Stoker, as comprised during the scientific period, played a paramount influence to gothic supernatural tales through the use of filling the reader’s mind with new horror and romantic thoughts towards vampires. Being prominent during the 18th century, the Gothic era was already well established with numerous amount of films and novels already published. However, with Stoker’s release and heavy Gothic motifs, the genre sparked even more with his desire to evolve vampires into societal fears, which would intrigue an audience’s mind even more.
The scheme of the novel is essentially Count Dracula attempting to spread his evil castings upon a group of men and women, who are attempting to vanquish the town of any source of evil. It seems that Stoker’s use of dramatic and gloomy choice of words makes the novel show elements of horror, terror, sorrow and sometimes even romance. The legend of the vampire did not take place in English literature until 1734 when it was used in an Anglo-Saxon poem titled ‘The Vampyre of the Fens'(Barnes).
Because of this, Bram Stoker’s interpretation of Dracula takes this fable and attempts to show how a tremendous source of evil can be written in the form of a novel. In the novel, Count Dracula is on a mission to head to England with a conflict between him and Professor Abraham van Helsing, who is in charge of a group of men, including women.
Stoker makes sure to transform the traditional image of vampires during this period into one with a dramatic amount of gothic, murderous material. I found he executes this precisely by including plentiful amounts of references to blood and romance. ‘And you, their best beloved one, are now to me, flesh of my flesh; blood of my blood; kin of my kin; my bountiful wine-press for awhile; and shall later on be my companion and my helper'(Stoker 295). It is clear that Stoker wanted to do more than just jot down a novel about the traditional vampire, but instead include more societal fears within the character and promote more of a romantic, psychological impact rather than other accustomed books at its time.
Moreover, many believe that much of Brad Stoker’s ideas of creating Dracula derived from an ancient 15th-century Romanian prince by the name of Vlad the Impaler, but this idea is still up for controversy. Vlad, being categorized as a savage ruler, involved having his deviants being impaled by a number of sharp stakes and eventually progress inside of the flesh of their torso. His character, mainly consisting of an eager for his prisoners to produce substantial amounts of blood, made for a strong resemblance to the character of Count Dracula with extremely similar traits. Some evidence suggests, ‘Scholars assumed that Dracula was based on Vlad because Vlad was a member of the noble family House of Dracula, whose title translated to Voivode Dracula in English'(Bibel).
Furthermore, at the time of writing Dracula, Brad Stoker takes the patriarchy beliefs that were erupting in popularity for its time and takes the need for sexual changes in civilization into account by associating them into his female characters in the novel. During this era in Victorian England, men who were becoming more accustomed to religious beliefs and holy motifs believed that a society that is under control by a government should have the men hold the most power while the women are largely prohibited from this ability. With men were becoming more intimidated by the thought of women during the time, Stoker includes this idea into the novel.
Additionally at the time of this era the release of the famous, feminist-inspired slogan ‘New Women’ occurred, which allowed for an increase in independent women fighting for their own rights. The novel would fight against a male-dominated culture and allow for women to oppose traditional gender roles. Stoker made sure to include these feminist roles in his novel by including female leader Mina Harker, who would serve as a heroine in the book. Mina not only serves as a courageous woman with noble qualities but ‘if it were not for Mina Harker, the reader might conclude that Stoker is a repressed Victorian man with an intense hatred of woman or at least a pathological aversion to them (Senf 34). Because of this, many of the female vampires in his novel are capable of enacting actions that typically only men are capable of, such as breeding without a man, being violent to others such as hunting children, and even being hostile to other males. All of these actions are opposing the traditional female role and thus allow for the idea of a ‘New Woman’.
For instance, a female character in the novel known as Lucy Westenra has the astonishing ability to transform into a vampire. Lucy, having the traditional aspects of a woman, transforms into a demonic, dark-haired seductress that is eager to feed on innocent children., were formidable, fearsome, and monstrous creatures that, at the time, opposed the traditional views of what the Victorian culture saw in its women. It is clear, that Brad Stoker’s primary interest when creating this novel was not just for the creation of a new vampire tale, but to promote the awareness of feminism and increase the roles that women could play in a novel, or in the everyday standards. Stoker addresses the exclusion of women and the awakening of feminism ideals, by giving female characters traits that reject traditional gender roles.
Barnes, B. James. ‘9 Terrifying Facts About Vampires From Ancient Folklore.’ Thought Catalog, Oct. 17, 2014, https://thoughtcatalog.com/james-b-barnes/2014/10/9-terrifying-facts-about-vampires-from-ancient-folklore-that-will-scare-the-sht-out-of-you/
Stoker, Bram. ‘Dracula.’Archibald Constable and Company: United Kingdom, 1897. Bibel, Sara. ‘Best Thing I Saw This Week: Bram Stoker’s Dracula Was Inspired by Bad Seafood, Not Vlad the Impaler.’ Biography, Oct. 23, 2014, https://www.biography.com/news/bram-stoker-dracula-vlad-impaler-myth
Senf, Carol A.’Dracula’: Stoker’s Response to the New Woman.’ Victorian Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, 1982, pp. 33??“49. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3827492.
Sexuality in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is a blend of legendary motifs regarding the myth of the vampires. The author’s imagination transposes the legend of Count Dracula in modern times. It is significant that the novel is a product of the Victorian Age. It is well known that the Victorians had very exact requirements regarding the social conduct and the education of the individual. The basis of their ethical system was restraint, moderation and the stifling of all instincts. Against this backdrop of inhibition and control of freedom, Stoker’s vampire fantasy appears extremely exotic.
The essential element in the plot, Count Dracula’s attempt to leave Transylvania and settle in the midst of the bustle of civilization in England, translates the fear of a civilization of being undermined and destroyed by this wave of exoticism, coming from a distant primitive and superstitious country. The story has moreover notable and strong sexual connotations. The vampire myth can be easily interpreted in terms of sexual symbols.
The act trough which a vampire passes on the practice of vampirism as well as immortality resembles a sexual act in the utmost.
The vampire’s lust for blood, the piercing bite on the neck and the idea of possession are all strong indicatives of the sexual act. The novel is therefore the fantasy of the civilized world’s plunge into primitiveness, into the obscurity of the instinctual life. As it has been noted, Dracula’s attempt for establishing a vampire cult in the midst of the busy London life is a key element in the novel. To add to the contrast of the primitive world represented by Count Dracula and the mysterious women in his castle and the modern world represented by the story-tellers or journal writers-Jonathan Harker, Mina, Dr.
Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris and so on, Stoker shifts the place of his story form the Transylvanian strange and uncivilized world, where the castle of Dracula is located, to the London scene. The characters move from one place to the other, pointing to the clash of these two worlds. The fantastical legend seems to contain all the elements that the Victorian world perceived as threats. Beyond the obvious religious connotations, the legend imposes a predominance of the instincts over the human reason. The sexual aspect is extremely marked.
The victims of Dracula are transformed from virtuous and integer characters, into lustful and wonton creatures. Lucy Westenra, a veritable symbol of purity and sweetness before her contact with Count Dracula, becomes in the end utterly corrupted. The vampires do not only play with the life and death of the body, but also with that of the soul. Through the symbolic bite, the victim also loses his or her soul. Although the symbolism attached to this idea is very complex, one crucial aspect of it is the gradual slide of the victim into a world of complete immorality and lack of scruple.
The whole of the story seems therefore to be derived from a dark, subconscious fantasy of power, lust and immorality. The purity and uprightness of the characters is obviously not immune to this corruption. Jonathan Harker is ineluctably attracted into this fantastic world, while he stays at Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. Although he is repulsed and horrified by the Count, he cannot be above corruption. His encounter with the three unnamed women vampires, during his stay in Transylvania, is particularly sensual.
The description itself is nearly shocking for the Victorian audience. The persistent feeling of uneasiness around the vampires is given by the man’s plunge into the instinctual world. Despite his love for Mina, Harker is inescapably tempted by the voluptuousness of the three women: “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 33). The act of vampirism is, at the same time, one of promiscuity.
The sexual thrill that Harker feels is at once exciting and repulsive. His body and spirit are drawn, against his will, to the animal – like possession intended by the woman: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth” (Stoker 34). The act of vampirism is concluded through a symbolic kiss that seals the lapse into the fantastical and unnatural world.
Unknowingly, Harker is drawn precisely to these details, being fascinated with the red, voluptuous lips of the woman and her sharp white teeth. Along with Harker, Lucy is one of the most significant victims of vampirism in the novel. She is deliberately portrayed as a thoroughly innocent and vulnerable woman. Her sensibility however is one of the things that lead her to perdition. A crucial aspect of the sexual dimension of Lucy’s possession by Dracula is the time and the nature of their encounters. Everything seems to happen only in her dreams.
The dreams are nightly manifestations of the subconscious and, therefore, Lucy is completely subjugated by the Count at a time when her reason is asleep. These nightly encounters with Dracula are the equivalent of erotic dreams. Dracula’s influence is so pervasive, that Lucy is soon completely lost: “The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness” (Stoker 198). Her initial characteristic sweetness and innocence are transformed into a luring, demoniac voluptuousness.
Her tempting invitations to Arthur have a clearly erotic substratum: “She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace, said, ‘Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come! ’”(Stoker 198) The sexual act is here almost undistinguishable from the act of vampirism per se. The demoniac possession is realized through debauchery. Sexual orgies seem to be a pattern in cases of demonism. The story also evinces many other sexual connotations.
One of them is simply given in the specific conditions in which Dracula is able to exist. He is thus bound to sleep in his coffin during daytime and perpetrated his horrid crimes only during the night. Darkness itself is not only associated with the fear of the unknown, but also with the world of the subconscious. In obscurity, these deeds seem to become even more real. Another important aspect of the novel that is closely related to the sexual connotations of the text is the basic motif of corruption.
Dracula defiles precisely the most holy of the characters, choosing his victims among them in order to inflict even more pain: “Just as their hideous bodies could only rest in sacred earth, so the holiest love was the recruiting sergeant for their ghastly ranks” (Stoker 278). The corruption of the innocent and even holy people is in itself a semi-sexual act, resembling the act of taking away someone’s virginity. In this sense, Dracula’s corruption of the innocents is a sign of violent rape. The gain of immortality through vampirism is another essential aspect of the work.
This state is the opposite of the Christian idea of a heaven, where all the reformed souls reside contently. Dracula’s immortality is one in which only the body survives, while the soul dies forever. This demoniac state is synonymous with a state of absolute debauchery and corruption, in which the senses are free and the idea of morality does not exist. In this state, sexuality is practiced in all its forms, without restraint. The vampire symbolically feeds on other human lives, being nurtured by death and by the absence of a soul. It is also notable that this particular form of sexuality is not necessarily similar to the natural form.
What is distinct about it is that there are no restraints and no obstacles to it. It is sexuality in the purest beast-like form. This fact is emphasized by another symbol present in the novel. As it is well known, the legend of the vampires must have been initially inspired by a simple, natural element: the bat and its way of feeding itself with blood. This particular similarity between a bat and Count Dracula himself points to the clear hint towards an animal-like life: “‘Do you mean to tell me that Lucy was bitten by such a bat, and that such a thing is here in London in the nineteenth century?
’”(Stoker 218) The story reveals a civilization that is unable to come to terms with the inherent traces of primitiveness. The ‘bat’ is a symbol for this return to nature and its eccentricities. The above quoted passage best illustrates the fear of a civilization to relapse into a primitive state. The modern world assumes that it can effectively control the whole range of natural phenomena, but as Stoker shows, civilization is still liable to its own myths and ancient beliefs and superstitions.
It is significant that the characters have to fight their enemy not only with their modern means, but also through the weapons that are prescribed by popular lore and superstition. Along with garlic and other cures which are prescribed by superstition, the characters have to use yet another weapon to vanquish the demonic influence: the pole or stick that pierces the heart of the vampire and kills it. This phallic symbol is the only weapon that is able to kill a vampire. The scene where Arthur uses this instrument in order to kill Lucy is probably one of the most significant in this sense.
Thus, the mythical and the modern world can meet in reality and the belief that science and development can completely eradicate myths and ancient beliefs, may be wrong. Although the book has a happy ending, and the evil is vanquished, the author does not share the optimism of his characters, and in an overall picture, the book actually demolishes the modern myth of a human civilization that moves steadily towards progress and that is not liable to a relapse into primitiveness. Works Cited: Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal. New York: W. W. Norton 1996.
Literary Merit in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Although it is rather a subjective concept, “literary merit” essentially means the worth, quality, or excellence of a writing relative to other well-renowned literary masterpieces. In a Constitutional framework, the absence or presence of literary merit would determine the government’s limits to freedom of expression. To possess literary merit would mean that the work is not obscene. The landmark case of Miller vs. California enumerates key guidelines to ascertain the literary merit of a particular text, to wit:
1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest…
2) Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law , and
3) Whether the work, taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
(Miller vs. California, 37 L. Ed. 2nd 419, 431 (1973))
Fundamentally speaking, in any framework, to have literary merit is to have value.
The popularity of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula has reached such endemic proportions that it has been claimed to be the most recognized book next to the Bible.
A Victorian novel with the distinctive gothic appeal toward the macabre, Dracula has undeniably become a classic milestone in horror fiction. Establishing its literary merit however, is a different matter. A review from The Athenaeum, an influential periodical in Victorian England described the novel as “sensational.” The review further states:
Dracula is highly sensational, but it is wanting in the constructive art as well as in the higher literary sense. It reads at times like a mere series of grotesquely incredible events; but there are better moments that show more power, though even these are never productive of the tremor such subjects evoke under the hand of a master. (The Athenaeum, 26 June 1897). Emphasis supplied.
The unremitting succession of the bizarre, the gross and the fantastic, as explained in the review, would seem tantamount to a lack of refinement in the “higher literary sense.” This observation was supplemented by another review of the same sentiment:
The plot is too complicated for reproduction, but it says no little for the author’s power that in spite of its absurdities the reader can follow the story with interest to the end. It is, however, an artistic mistake to fill a whole volume with horrors. A touch of the mysterious, the terrible, or the supernatural is infinitely more effective and credible. (Manchester Guardian, 15 June 1897). Emphasis supplied.
As interpreted, instead of relying on the intelligence of the reader to grasp on their own the significance of subtle nuances and take in the various shifts and twists in the story as it evolves, Stoker instantly and unceasingly bombards the reader with an onslaught of palpable and shocking horrific scenes as if the reader is too untrustworthy and unsophisticated to deal with subtleties.
If there seems to be little literary merit in the intellectual or scholarly sense, Dracula is still credited for its universal allure. The Pall Mall Gazette, in a commentary of Dracula states:
…the story deals with the Vampire King, and it is horrid and creepy to the last degree. It is also excellent, and one of the best things in the supernatural line that we have been lucky enough to hit upon. (Pall Mall Gazette, 1 June 1897). Emphasis supplied.
The universal allure of Dracula is probably in its resurrection of the vampire lore in a straightforward, practical and illustrative fashion. A vivid and uncomplicated quote from the novel confirms this: “I shall cut off her head and fill her mouth with garlic, and I shall drive a stake through her body” (Stoker, 261). The novel’s refreshing simplicity is also evidenced in the following review:
Here, for the latest example, is Mr. Bram Stoker taking in hand the old-world legend of the Were-wolf or vampire, with all its weird and exciting associations of blood-sucking and human flesh devouring, and interweaving it with the threads of a long story with an earnestness, a directness, and a simple good faith which ought to go far to induce readers of fiction to surrender their imaginations into the novelist’s hands. (The Daily News, 27 May 1897). Emphasis supplied.
While Bram Stoker’s Dracula is deficient in literary refinement, it nonetheless is considered to have literary merit by virtue of the fact that it captures man’s imagination. It certainly has value for having the extraordinary capacity to fascinate multitudes across time. Ultimately, its worth, quality or excellence is confirmed by its ceaseless popularity.
Miller, Elizabeth. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Documentary Volume. Detroit: Gale, 2004.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Penguin Books, 1994.
“Dracula.” The Athenaeum 26 June 1897: 235.
“Dracula.” The Daily News 27 May 1897.
“Dracula, by Bram Stoker.” Manchester Guardian 15 June 1897.
“For Midnight Reading.” Pall Mall Gazette 1 June 1897.
Miller vs. California, 37 L. Ed. 2nd 419, 431 (1973).
Femininity In “Dracula”
Numerous critics and literary analysts think that femininity or to some level metamorphosis of ladies makes up the main theme of Stoker’s “Dracula.” For example, Kline discusses that femininity takes place in two ways: initially by the change of the “excellent” English women into sexually or intellectually tough New Women, and then once again when their “potentially innovative qualities … are ruined, one way or another” either through death, as seen with Lucy, or reduction to a silent (and for that reason no longer intellectually difficult) inspiring figure, as occurs with Mina (Kline, 144).
Describing the idea behind women in Dracula Stoker argues that “… for ladies to reject their standard function was to deny their womanhood, to challenge the differences between women and males upon which the household ~ and for that reason society– depended” (Stoker, 206). Stoker’s “Dracula” addresses these concerns regarding womanhood as detailed by Stoker and Kline, and contains examples of it, through the “brute force” and “sexual wantonness” of the vampire females that assault Jonathan, along with Lucy’s transformation and the “masculine aggressiveness” represented by Mina’s abilities.
The guys in the book are established as representatives of a patriarchal society, but it is the reliable presence of Van Helsing that is primarily used both to promote a return to a patriarchal system, and to refeminize ladies through either rejection of their abilities or by repeated insistence that they are items of chivalric concern. The text is replete with examples where female identity is transformed.
This is achieved through a range of methods that are, like the vampiric taint from the blending of blood, related. For instance, Mina is transformed into a things of idealization and chivalric concern, and as an outcome of this “defense,” she is also assaulted by Dracula and mentally modified as a result of her exemption – both of which happen exactly because the males remove her from their counsel and leave her unattended.
The text is used to show that these women – in a sense “new women” representatives – are dangerous and in need of “correction,” which occurs in the novel through punishment, including death and destruction, and the denial of authority. The sexual aspects of the New Woman are vilified through association with the monstrosity of vampirism, and what vilifies the intellectual woman in the text is her challenge to male intellect and authority.
The attack on the sexual woman begins with Jonathan’s assault by the vampire women at Castle Dracula, which then justifies the attack on Lucy when she takes over as their “modern” equivalent; since he gets no retribution against these vampire women, it is necessary in the text to have Lucy punished for her seemingly similar challenge to gender roles as a result of her potentially promiscuous behavior. The attack on the intellectual woman begins with what Johnson calls Mina’s “discourteous act” in first handing Van Helsing her shorthand diary, which he is unable to read.
The sexual woman in the text is first represented by the “weird sisters” (Stoker, 80) at Castle Dracula, through both their role-reversing assault on Jonathan and their anti-maternal behavior in feeding on the “half-smothered child” given to them by Dracula when he halts their attack (Stoker, 71). These women symbolize what Griffins calls “the worst nightmare and dearest fantasy of the Victorian male: the pure girl turned sexually ravenous beast” (Stoker, 143), with these vampire women being classified as frightening — and by extension, all modern or sexual women ~ in part due to the emotional confusion they create in men.
Although they are described by Jonathan as “ladies by their dress and manner” (Stoker, 68), having “brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls” and “a silvery, musical laugh” (Stoker, 69), their effect on Jonathan is described, through his own reporting, to make him uneasy (69) due to their “deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive” and his reaction that he “felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me” (Stoker, 69).
Interpreting Jonathan’s mixed emotions as resulting from a fear of an inability to sexually handle three women presents an interesting parallel later with Lucy, who wistfully speaks of being able to marry three men (Stoker, 91). By presenting women’s sexuality as aberrant and monstrous rationalizes the violence that is utilized in destroying Lucy and the vampire women, and the text is therefore suggesting, through this vampiric taint, that all sexual women are dangerous and need to be destroyed. It is this destruction, in addition to physical death, that sends the message that there is no redemption for “new women”.
Seward’s diary records the event that lets Lucy “take her place with the other Angels” (253): “The Thing in the coffin writhed … the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur … [drove] deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it” (Stoker, 254). Similarly, Van Helsing records “the horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam” as he “restore[s] these [vampire] women to their dead selves” (Stoker, 412).
From the beginning of the novel Mina is presented as different from the vampire women, signifying that the woman who challenges gender roles through her intellect is different from the sexual woman. Jonathan’s journal distinguishes her from the “awful” vampire women: “Mina is a woman, and there is nought in common [with the vampire women]. They are devils of the Pit! ” (Stoker, 85). Once the sexual woman has been dispensed of through Lucy’s death, the text then attacks the intellectual woman through Mina; and it is not until the former is eradicated that Mina’s talents are presented as dangerous or threatening.
Although Charles Prescott and Grace Giorgio opine: “Lucy’s transformation and destruction function as cautionary examples for Mina. She learns not only that vampires and transgression must be brutally brought into line but also what can happen to anyone outside the Victorian codes of normalcy” (Stoker, 151), it is only after she is stripped of the ability to use her intellect, as she is silenced by Van Helsing and excluded through the presumably chivalric protection of the men, that she becomes sexual.
Descriptions of violence against women – a retribution for their challenge to gender roles – serve to impart the message that there is no redemption for femininity, that despite any atonement or transformation, their transgressions are considered so heinous that they must be destroyed. Interestingly, the eradication of Dracula, described merely as his “crumbl[ing] into dust and pass[ing] from …
sight” (Stoker, 418), without the brutality that is levied against the female vampires, serves as proof that the destruction previously described is in reprisal for the female transgression of gender codes, and not a necessity in ending the threat of vampirism. Works Cited Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Glennis Byron. Ontario: Broadview Literary P, 2000 Kline, Salli J. The Degeneration of Women: Bram Stoker’s Dracula as Allegorical Criticism of the Fin de Siecle. Rheinbach-Merzbach: CMZ-Verlag, 1992
Andy Warhol’s Dracula Painting
Understanding the artwork of Andy Warhol is something akin to figuring out a Zen riddle. That is, and people will look for something extraordinary when all they need to do is understand the simplicity of what they are viewing. Andy Warhol’s concept of pop art involved taking the very common images in presenting them in such a way that the commonality was elevated. But can you really elevate something that is common? Apparently so; Warhol did this quite effectively in his earlier works.
However, in later years, Warhol’s work started to look a little tired.
Perhaps the novelty of pop art was wearing off and Warhol’s creativity had stretched thin. There were, however, some interesting pieces of art produced by Warhol in the last decade of his life. This return to inspired creativity is evident in 1981’s painting Dracula , one of his most underrated works. What was the inspiration for the Dracula painting? Was it Bram Stoker’s novel? Was it the classic Bela Lougosi interpretation? Was it the popular play passion of Dracula that proved very successful at the time?
To a degree, they may have all had their influences in prompting Warhol to use Dracula as subject matter.
But, do not let be fooled: Warhol was probably very influenced by a film he produced entitled blood for Dracula . blood for Dracula was an odd dark, tragic satire that saw the aging Count travel to the Catholic country of Italy to find virgin blood. Unless he can find such a victim, he will (finally) die of old age. Of course, his search for a virgin proves fruitless and his days are numbered.
While the obvious satire of morality is evident, not so evident is the notion that Dracula represents the old world of the aristocracy. Dracula remains the last of the aristocrats having seen the world he previously knew disappearing to the expansion of Marxism. It is this same subtle theme that is also present in the Dracula painting and that is what makes it so striking. With fangs bared, cape cowl turned upwards, and eyes wide open it would seem that this is a frightening picture of Dracula.
Upon close examination, it really isn’t. Yes, in a previous generation the image of Dracula recreated by Warhol would be considered terrifying. However, by 1981, said to image really is – for lack of a better word – corny. Economic woes, foreign policy strife, and social upheaval had driven horror movies to become more violent and more graphic. The classic monsters simply became a casualty of the era. They were no longer frightening. And, as the painting infers, Dracula knows this.
If you look closely into the eyes of Dracula (in the painting) you will notice decidedly out of place emotions. The eyes simply do not appear menacing or frightening. Actually, they appear more confused than anything else. They are wide open and “glassey” and seemingly have a dual expression of shock and boredom. Perhaps Dracula is shocked that he is no longer frightening. Or, perhaps, he is simply bored of his role as King of the Vampires. Either way, this would indicate a character that understands time has passed him by.
This is clearly not the Count Dracula of bygone eras. This is a crucial point because it is this “past him prime” appearance that Warhol apparently wanted to capture. This is interesting since he opts not to elevate a character from pop culture; but, instead, decides to deconstruct one. In a way, there is a melancholy sadness found in Warhol’s Dracula painting. This would seem to make sense, however, since the true role of pop art is to depict things as we really see them. In 1981, we were no longer looking at Dracula as a character as much as a tired caricature.
Modernity and Anti-modernity in Stoker’s Dracula
Present research paper seeks to provide the analysis of modernity’s and anti-modernity’s reflection in Stoker’s masterpiece Dracula, which was created in the end of Victorian era in England. The elements of modernity and anti-modernity are traced on the thematic, discursive and semantic levels to establish interrelation and opposition between them, as well as functions they perform in the analyzed text.
Modernity and anti-modernity are studied as wide social, historic, cultural, philosophic categories, which explain certain constitution of society, including economic and ideological structure, value system, gender relations, the level of the production forces and technology development.
Considering these dimensions, modernity and anti-modernity represent essentially opposite phenomena, reflecting radical changes, which took place in the world.
However, present paper proceeds from the hypothesis that modernity is not only progressive evolution of society, such as democracy, rapid economic development and liberalization, but has its dark side, which unites it with anti-modernity. The mentioned dark side is reflected in the negative consequences of technology, consumerism, commercial ethics as well as the development of social Darwinism, racism etc.
, which were present in modern Victorian society of England.
Based on these reservations, the thesis is defended that modernity and anti-modernity, represented in Stoker’s novel are essentially interwoven and linked. Modernity and Anti-modernity as Basic Social, Cultural and Philosophical Categories Before comprehensive analysis of the reflection of modernity and anti-modernity’s in Stoker’s Dracula, one has to present their basic contours, seen through the prism of our own approach. In the Western social and political thought modernity was traditionally characterized by several important cultural, socio-economic and philosophical developments.
Seen from the philosophical and ideological perspectives, it may be said that modernity should be regarded as emancipation of free subject from the burden of feudal oppression, the establishment of knowledge and progress as the driving forces of development and becoming conscious about the flow of history (Habermas, 1987). From the socio-economic standpoint, modernity should be understood as the rise of capitalism and market economy, individualism and rapid development of technology and productive forces, which spiraled the trajectory of human needs and future perspectives.
Modernity is also characterized by rapid institutionalization of new classes of workers and capitalists, rapid urbanization and industrialization, which have changed the landscape of human civilization and its self-consciousness (Giddens, 12). Another important dimension of modernity is found in the development of representative democracy and citizenship and establishment of the wide ranging human, civil and political rights.
Moreover, such developments fostered emancipation of women and furnishing their new identity as the equal representatives of humanity, having rights for creativity and active way of life (Jarzombek, 2000). Anti-modernity is often regarded as the total opposite to modernity due to the retrograde social order with political, economic dominance of feudal of post-feudal elites, conservative mindset, religious fanaticism, the absence of human rights and secularism (Giddens, 1998).
However, as the thesis defended in the present research paper states, modernity is often characterized by the similar negative trends in the critical thought. For instance, Adorno and Horkheimer argue that technology in modern society became an essentially conservative element, which is used as the tool of power to control and direct human interests. Technology exemplifies the dominance of instrumental reason, which seeks to rationalize violence and control and is totalitarian in nature, which may be observed in toto in Nazi concentration camps and industrial factories (Adorno and Horkheimer, 34).
The similar point is defended by Foucault, who claims that modernity distorted the application of Ratio and made it the instrument of control and oppression, as in the case with education system, prisons and mental hospitals (Foucault, 13). Moreover, Marxist critique of modernity is well known for its debunking of capitalist exploitation, limited nature of representative democracy, partial liberation of women etc. No less important is the critique of modernist ideologies, especially in the context of the present research paper.
Such ideologies as racism and Social Darwinism are inherently modern as for example Amin argues (Amin, 34). Racism is inherently conservative ideology, which was particularly dominant in Victorian England, as the tool for legitimizing its colonial dominance over ‘third-world’ peoples. Its basic ideological presumptions would be immediately seen in the further analysis if Stoker’s Dracula, but here it would suffice to say that racism is significantly affected by Eurocentrism, that is the ideology, which postulates the dominance of modern Western civilization over allegedly, under-developed, barbaric peoples etc.
Modernity and Anti-Modernity in Stoker’s Dracula’s: analysis of reflection and distraction. Central philosophical appeal of Dracula, which lies on the thematic surface, is the unbound struggle between modernity and anti-modernity, which are, however, presented one-sidedly in the Stoker’s novel (McNally, 34). The division line between modernity and anti-modernity lies in antagonism between Dracula and Westerners (Englishmen and Dutch Van Helsing), who oppose the brutal and horrendous invader into allegedly just and free society.
Therefore, it may be reckoned that from the point of view of narration, anti-modernity is reflected predominantly in the protagonist of Dracula (Hughes, 2000). It should be noted that such evident polarization between Western modernity and outsiders’ traditionalism and barbarism is very characteristic of English ‘invasion literature’, which depicts ‘third world’ peoples as the immediate threat to English society and represents these people as lacking of modern values of freedom, liberation, English virtues of dignity, self-respect etc.
The latter elements of Dracula’s racialization will be further traced in the analysis of the dark side of modernity in Stoker’s novel. Positive and widely acknowledged features of modernity are present in Stoker’s novel. Gender dimension of modernity in Stoker’s novel The first crucial element of modernity, which is evident in Dracula, is changing gender patterns of modern Western society. The changing status of woman is evident in the Mina Harker’s protagonist, who is depicted as emancipated woman, having the equal voice in the relations with men and using such modern technologies as typewriter.
There is no denying the importance of the fact that many characteristics of the ‘new woman’ may also be seen in Mina Harker, such as deference to man superiority and evident economic independence. It is obvious that the latter elements of modernity are reflected in Dracula predominantly in non-critical manner. The woman’s emancipation in such interpretation of modernity is seen as woman’s right to engage in business activity, independently realize her own desires and needs. At the same time the repressive nature of market discipline and exploitation, commoditization of woman’s body and needs are ignored.
(Giddens, 1998). Hence, modernization of gender status is partially reflected in Stoker’s Dracula, paying primary emphasis on the positive consequences of modernity for gender independence. However, it should be noted that Mina’s protagonist is not completely modern, as she is considerably affected by the religious and moral Conservativism, existing in Victorian England. Her maternal nature and social function as school mistress still exemplify these conservative status of women within Victorian society.
Another crucial theme that epitomizes the dominance of anti-modern gender relations and morality in Victorian society may be traced in depicting Dracula as sexual seducer of morally pure and religious English women. For example, Leonard Wolf pointed to the sexual implications of blood exchange between Dracula and his victims. Moreover, it is evident that in this respect Dracula is depicted using traditional eugenic and racial prejudices against Black men, who were represented as sexually obsessed in Victorian racist discourse.
The sexual relations between them and English women were strictly prohibited not only from the genetic point of view (the clearness of white race), but also from moral, because outsiders ruin British women’s moral dignity and serenity. As Wolf notes in this respect, ‘Dracula has embedded in it a very disturbing psychosexual allegory whose meaning I am not sure Stoker entirely understood: that there is a demonic force at work in the world whose intent is to eroticize women.
In Dracula we see how that force transforms Lucy Westenra, a beautiful nineteen-year-old virgin, into a shameless slut’ (Wolf, 15). The latter idea may be utilized as sufficient evidence to the fact that representation of women in Dracula partly should be understood as a means for indulging Victorian male’s sexual imagination (Stoker, 54-56). Three female vampires, met by Harker in the Dracula’s castle should be interpreted as simultaneously Victorian men’s dream and nightmare.
Their sexuality and brutality serve as the object of desire and curse. Here, traditional Christian theme of forbidden object arises. The strict fixation of women’s status in the Victorian England was one of the main reasons for intensification of Imaginary component of male subjectivity: a woman had two options – to be either a virgin or a wife. Notwithstanding the new role of sexual fantasy, moral imperatives still worked and it is evident in the episode of killing Lucy, when she transformed into the vampire vixen.
The latter metaphor may be interpreted as moral warning against breaking moral order existing in Victorian society. To sum it up, the representation of gender in Stoker’s novel is characterized by the interconnection of modernist and anti-modernist trends. On the one side, one of the main characters is presented as modern independent woman and on the other, the flavor of Victorian moral and sexual control over women is still seen, particularly in the collision between it and unbound sexuality of Dracula.
Moreover, it should be noted that modernity’s dark side of woman’s existence in modern society is distorted and hence, the negative trends of modernity in terms of women’s status are not adequately covered in the analyzed novel. The collision between modernity and anti-modernity at the socio-economic level. Stoker’s novel represents deep inner conflict between anti-modernist world of religion, slavery, prejudices etc. and modern rise of positivist science, Enlightenment, secularism and technology.
Expressions in Horror: Dr Caligari and Nosferatu
Two of the earliest examples of German Expressionism in film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu are classics remembered as some of the best horror films of all time. These two films, directed by Robert Wiene and F. W. Murnau respectively, share several key aspects in common, while still retaining their own uniqueness that has left people debating which film is paramount, even nearly a century after their releases. This paper will examine these similarities and differences, and will seek address them in light of the German Expressionist movement they each resonate.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu both tell the story of a young German man’s subjection to the madness of a dark overlord with seemingly supernatural powers. In Caligari, a young man named Cesare, who is a somnambulist (or sleep walker) is controlled by the powers of a crazy doctor, who orders him to kill innocent victims. In Nosferatu, a young man named Thomas Harker is sent to sell property to Count Dracula, a vampire who comes to haunt his life and town after becoming obsessed with Hutter’s wife, Nina.
Though while these films share some key components in common, no one could ever call the two films the same. Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is defined by the films stage-like quality, due mostly to the unique set it is shot on. An example of German Expressionism, the director creates a world of stark lines, sharp angles, darkness, and shadows bringing the viewer into a surreal world. Unnaturally angled houses line crooked cobblestone roads. Misshapen rooms contain demented furniture. Rooftops are acutely angled to the sides.
It is radically warped scenery, and helps create a genuine expressionist set. F. W Murnau’s Nosferatu, however, is shot in real world environments, but employs shadows to make small rooms appear larger then life, adding suspense and a feel of supernaturalism to the movie. The Count’s castle perhaps best conveys the expressionistic form, with its gothic architecture and abundance of shadow. Or, better still, the Count himself embodies the expressionist form, with his exaggerated features. His ears, chin and teeth are all pointed, and his stature is unique, hunched and very thin of frame.
His eyes, much like Wiene’s Cesare, are darkly shaded, and his nails are long giving him a distinctly monster like quality. Both films successfully impress a dark mood by exaggerating the film’s dark aesthetic, drawing viewers into the mindscape of German Expressionism. The films also share in common a sleepwalking theme, and perhaps it was just Murnau paying homage to Wiene’s Caligari. Partway through Nosferatu, Harker’s wife Nina is described as being in a sleepwalking trance, specifically calling it “somnambulistic”.
In fact, the character Nina looks surprisingly similar to how the character Jane looks in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I don’t believe it is too extreme to suggest that perhaps Marnau played off certain motifs created by Wiene in wanting to create a horror film. However, Marnau’s depiction of Count Dracula is unsettling to this day, and many still believe that it remains the most terrifying portrayal of the character ever on film, perhaps only second to the iconic Dracula played by Bela Lugosi. Murnau certainly created his own sort of horror, so it could not be suggested Nosferatu is unoriginal.
The use of shadows, especially when it comes to scenes involving the Count, create a horrifying imagine on the screen. While having never seen Nosferatu before deciding to write this paper, I immediately recognized a scene towards the end of the film, when the Count ascended a staircase to Nina’s room. Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes of early horror films, you see the shadow of the Count as he makes his climb up the staircase, hunched form, long fingernails, offsetting movement and all. It is his shadow you see climbing the steps, never his actual form, which may possibly hint at a metaphor.
The German Expressionist movement was born out of the anguish following the Great War and before the birth of Hilter’s Germany. Perhaps, as suggested by James Franklin in “The Shadow in Early German Cinema”, shadows acted as a sort of “visual metaphor for evil or for the dark and threatening forces that allegedly lurked in the pre-Hitler German psyche or soul” . Both films use music to add suspense to the plot, however each film approaches it’s use in separate ways. Caligari is distinctively jazzy in nature, where as Nosferatu is more classical. Both films, however, create music that mirrors and changes with the action on the screen.
In Nosferatu, music creates a terrifying feel to the movie, shaping the most horrific scenes remembered from the film. There are several instances throughout the film where silence is broken by a quite sound, almost like a heartbeat in the background, yet more off putting. While I am in no position to argue which film is the better, both have come to be the best examples of horror films to come out of this time period. Classic examples of German Expressionism at work, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu play with the presence of shadow, the distortion of nature, and the imaginations of audiences, even today.
Dracula by Bram Stoker Analysis
Dracula, written by Bram Stoker, presents readers to possibly the most infamous monster in all of literature. The fictional character Count Dracula, has come to symbolize the periphery between the majority and being an outsider to that group. Dracula’s appeal throughout the years and genres unquestionably stem from his sense of romanticism and monster. Readers no doubt are attracted to his monstrous sensibilities, which provide a sense of looking first at his appearance, personality, and behavior at the beginning of the novel.
Readers can easily see Dracula’s blurred outsider status, as he occupies the boundaries of human and monster. Related to this is Dracula’s geographic sense of outsider. The creation of Frankenstein’s Monster experiences this in the Mary Shelley story of the same name, as both characters are truly unable to be defined outside of a physical description which frequently relies on the horrific.
For all intents and purposes, Dracula is an immigrant to England, thus placing him further into the realm of outsider.
To look at Bram Stoker’s Dracula as solely a monster in the most violent sense of his actions would to be look at a sole aspect of his character, and should be analyzed based on how he interacts with the outside world to genuinely understand him. The purpose of Dracula’s physical description is to place him against humanity and see how he appears. He has various features which obviously make him a vampire, such as a set of sharp teeth, but there are other peculiarities to his description which mark him as being an outsider. For instance, when Jonathon Harker, and by extension the reader, first meets Dracula, he describes him as being, “a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot” (Stoker 15). At this point, he is a regular looking man, or at least normal enough that nothing elicits a reaction in Jonathon.
Later, however, the aberrant constitution of Dracula comes to the forefront, as he is noted to have massive eyebrows, a cruel mouth, sharp teeth, and pointed ears (Stoker 17). These countenances of Dracula work in tandem to purge him from the human realm and into that of an outsider. These are attributes that one would not discover in a so-called “normal” human and as such we are able to immediately label him has something monstrous. The numerous references to Dracula’s monstrous physical attributions are the surface when it comes to Dracula’s demonic nature, but it is his vampiric abilities which truly place him as divergent from humanity. For instance, he holds the power of transformation, which in-and-of-itself is an indicator of his inhuman nature. He arrives in England, after maintaining himself upon the crew of the Demeter, in the shape of an, “immense dog, [which] sprang up on deck from below, as if shot up by the concussion” (Stoker 72). This removal from humanity is such that, if he so feels it, he does not even have to be in the form of a human. Dracula is at this point in time, indefinable, as one cannot truly explain what he is.
As a result of this, Dracula casts his lot as a monster. In short, if we cannot adequately explain a phenomenon, we brand it as being something completely different, and likely to be feared. The largest feature of the vampire is ultimately what expunges Dracula’s entrance to the human world; the fact that he must gorge himself upon blood in order to survive. This abhorrent act is the anchor to Dracula’s monstrous persona, as it is simply something that, for the most part, humanity does not abide by. It is this quality of Dracula that ultimately spurs Van Helsing and company to put a stake to his chest and kill Dracula. The description of his feeding upon Wilhelmina Harker (who will later be referred to as “Mina” in the story), betrays his suave and sophisticated demeanor: The Count turned his face, and the hellish look that I had heard described seemed to leap into it. His eyes flamed red with devilish passion.
The great nostrils of the white aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edge, and the white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood dripping mouth, clamped together like those of a wild beast. With a wrench, which threw his victim back upon the bed as though hurled from a height, he turned and sprang at us (Stoker 248). His feeding upon Mina is also the instance wherein the reader finally sees Dracula’s true form, namely that as a bloodsucker. While it is alluded to in the past, it is at this moment that we truly see what it entails, namely the grotesque image of Mina, unable to do anything in retaliation and covered in her own blood as Dracula forces her drink his blood from his body. The fact that Dracula is a vampire and as such does those activities which pertain to Vampirism paints him as an outsider in and of itself, but there is another characteristic that places him yet further outside humanity, namely the fact that he exists as an unholy creature, so much so that, “a sacred bullet fired into his coffin [will] kill him so that he may be true dead” (Stoker 211).
Furthermore, when the group of vampire hunters is discussing what tools they have at their disposal in which to attack Dracula, Van Helsing states that, “then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of, and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve” (Stoker 211). The fact that Dracula exists separately from religion tells us that he has, within himself, erased the demarcation of human and monster. This paints him as being different, and as such is to be feared. The audience at the time may have either have questioned Christian tenets or put their faith in Science, but they still respected the boundaries of Religion. Beyond the purely physical and spiritual aspect of Dracula, the reader sees that he encompasses the notion of the outsider through geography as well. While he is, in a humanistic sense, not of this world, he is also from a foreign land. We can therefore start to see Dracula as being an immigrant in a foreign land as being his largest outsider quality.
Michael Kane posits the notion that Stoker, “sought to project a considerable variety of fears regarding the state of England and the English themselves onto the figure of the immigrant ‘foreigner’…whose origin is not clearly defined” (Stoker 9). In effect, the reason that Dracula elicits a feeling of fear from the reader is that we do not understand where he comes from. As he is lacking an origin, other than the vague fact that he claims to be a “Szekely” descended from Attila the Hun, Stoker places Dracula in a position –to prey upon our fears (Stoker 27-28). Further, Dracula’ place of residence is the embodiment of “outsider”, especially to Jonathon Harker. Dracula himself states that, “Here I am noble. I am a Boyar. The common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one. Men know him not, and to know not is to care not for” (Stoker 19). Jonathon’s description of the castle itself is one that places it as being ‘other’, “from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the sky” (Stoker 14).
Furthermore, the very country where Dracula resides is effectively between continents and the cultures therein, as Transylvania is in an intersection between Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. For all intents and purposes, it is culturally “other” as it borrows from the various nations that have passed through it, either for trade or for conquering. From this, the reader can easily see that Dracula embodies a sense of “reverse colonialism”, as his plans are to immigrate to England and infect the population with his plague of Vampirism. Stoker plays upon the fact that England, at this time one of, if not the largest, colonizing countries, is in turn being colonized, not by another country but by an intangible immigrant. Dracula’s intent is not of material wealth or power, but of controlling the people and using them as livestock. We can see this when Dracula tells Jonathan Harker that he, “[has] come to know your great England, and to know her is to love her.
I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is” (Stoker 19). Kane reaffirms this by contending that Dracula is an example of “invasion literature”, which acts upon the readers on England by playing with a considerable variety of fears regarding the state of England and the English themselves. Another interesting symbol of Dracula’s reverse colonialism is the fact that he is literally transporting his mother land onto England. He has boxes of Transylvanian earth transported with him upon his attack on England, as he requires these so as to maintain his strength whilst abroad: “We must trace each of these boxes, and when we are ready, we must either capture or kill this monster in his lair, or we must, so to speak, sterilize the earth, so that no more he can seek safety in it” (Stoker 213).
The Vampire Hunters quickly realize that, for Dracula, the very earth itself acts as a conduit of power. He is literally attempting to supplant the English earth with that of Transylvania, so that he can continue with his plans of world domination. It is only when he has displaced the soil of the English with that of the Transylvanian is he able to do so. Ultimately, the fear that the reader feels towards Dracula is the result of Stoker’s ability to place him in the realm of the other. His physical appearance is designed to place him as inhuman, for a human does not have the need to feed on blood in order to survive. Furthermore, Dracula removes himself by taking other shapes and become something that no longer even reveals a human.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, Dracula’s otherness stems from the fact that he is an immigrant from a foreign land, a land that is itself removed from certainty as it is culturally between. This immigrant status first starts out as basic hatred, then turns into a fear as Dracula attempts to colonize England and dominate it. Every part of Dracula’s “adventure” in England is a reaction to his outsider status, but more so because he attacks the readers, or at least the readers that Stoker was writing for in their native land. When coupling his appearance of unnaturalness with the fact that he attacks the protagonists in their own homes, the reader has the creation of a monster. This monster is one that preys upon both the people and the audience’s fear.
Conventions of the Gothic Horror – The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
Tick, tick, tick, the heart ticks on. The Tell-Tale Heart is another spooky Gothic Horror story written in the 19th century by Edgar Allen Poe. Written entirely in first person, we follow the account of a young man driven to insanity by his mad actions. The person we hear the tale from tells us of his emotions and his feelings along the way. The young man lives with an older man who has never harmed him or never done anything wrong to him, but he decides to kill the older man.
The old man’s eye drives him to this terrible deed as it looks like a ‘vulture’s eye’ and makes his blood run cold every time it sets upon him. The young man slowly but surely progresses into a state of madness and plots the murder of the old man by spying upon him sleeping at midnight every night.
We come to the night of the murder, and the young man is almost caught spying on him as the old man wakes from his sleep terrified, the time comes and the young man leaps into the room, throws the man to the floor and pulls the bed over him.
He dies. Chopping the body into pieces and carefully hiding them under the floor boards the police call round about a scream they were informed of, the man is not afraid, but as he sits there chatting away to them calmly a ticking fills his ears and no matter what he tries it gets worse and worse until he finally goes mad and confesses to the police of his crime.
We define different stories by genres, how we find out what genre the book fits in is by determining if the story has the correct conventions within it. Within the Tell-Tale Heart we are frequently shown conventions of the Gothic Horror genre, reversal of common norms is one convention shown to us:
“He had the eye of a vulture…”
From this quotation we can see the narrator describes the old man to have ‘the eye of a vulture’. As we know full well this is not very possible for some one to have the eye of a vulture and a normal human doesn’t have an eye of a vulture. This shows us the reversal of common norms and the irregularity of the characters in this story. The eye is compared to a vulture’s and this creates a sense of fear and unknown as the character is afraid of this eye even though he is not afraid of the owner.
Abandoned isolated setting is another convention in the Gothic Horror genre and is shown in the Tell-Tale Heart:
“Amid the dreadful silence of that old house”
An abandoned setting is frequently used as a setting in the Gothic Horror genre as it easy to use this setting to create an atmosphere of danger, fear and concern. The Victorians are reflected in this convention as they were feeling abandoned and isolated after their beliefs and religion had been purposely ripped to shreds by science proving them wrong.
Another convention is high emotion:
“Very, very dreadfully nervous”
We see that the narrator here is very nervous showing us his high emotions within the story and giving an atmosphere of fear. As it is told in first person we, the readers, are affected by the nervousness of the main character and in the story it creates an atmosphere of fear, nervousness and anxiousness. The Victorians were very nervous at the time of the crisis and were probably in a state of high emotion.
Sense of mystery and suspense is yet another convention found within the Gothic Horror genre and the Tell-Tale Heart:
“… a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it — you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily…”
Mystery and suspense is a convention that increases the Gothic Horror genre intensely as it builds up the emotions of the characters and leaves the readers wanting to read on to find out what happens, the atmosphere created by this convention is an agonizing heightened sense of anticipation. The Victorians would have been in suspense and most of it would have been mystery as well as they were waiting for some sign of their beliefs to be confirmed as still true.
The use of darkness and gloom in the Tell-Tale Heart is shown often too:
“…black as pitch with thick darkness…”
Darkness and gloom creates an atmosphere of derangement and confusion as you feel something could jump out at you anytime. To the Victorians this would have scared them a lot as their loneliness and the darkness surrounding them could mask anything hiding and could scare them even more.
“…It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
This quotation shows us the convention of supernatural occurrences, we get from this quote that the narrator can hear the beating of his heart even though he is dead already. The atmosphere here is of fear and terror as the thought of a dead mans heart still beating is very scary and could drive even the sanest person into madness.
For my last convention it will be dangerous omens:
“All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked him with his black shadow before him…”
From this quotation we can feel a sense of someone being hunted or stalked, in this case it would be the man being hunted down by death and taken from the world. Atmospherically it would create fear and paranoia, as the feeling of getting pursued by an unknown person or being would be chilling and creepy. The Victorians could be represented as the people being stalked and science would be the stalker or hunter, as they were pursuing religion of the people and destroying it with their logical theories.
The Tell-Tale Heart truly is a Gothic Horror story. With the conventions of Gothic Horror found within the story nearly every line you read, Edgar Allen Poe wrote an amazing, gripping and scary story in the 19th century, this story was called the Tell-Tale Heart.