Dracula is a classical Victorian horror epistolary novel that centered on the narrations of Johnathan Harker, a young lawyer sent to the unknown Transylvanian territories where a curious Count Dracula lurks; Mina Murray, Harker’s fiancee and a close friend to Lucy Westenra and a psychiatric doctor, John Seward who recounts the ravings of one of his patient and who had held a flame to the beautiful Lucy Westenra.
The story detailed the plight of Harker’s experience with Dracula whom he noted the count’s curious abilities and idiosyncracies including keeping Harker locked up in his castle and the intense forebodings of a monster playing him like a meal. The narrative often diverged from Mina’s letters to Lucy and Seward’s observations and the horror when Lucy started to fall ill and the introduction of Professor Van Helsing; a doctor well-informed in the paranormal studies and the effect of vampirism.
Although, I love paranormal genre especially on vampires, I do find an intense dislike to the original work. I have suffered through bad Dracula movies and enjoyed some of the good ones and had read this book countless of times, I still find that I was quite indifferent to the tale.
As I was older now, I do notice the eroticism subtleties that was associated to blood-drinking in this novel. The hint of polygamy which I am quite familiar with was very minimal in this book although it does bring a scandalized subject to the Victorians. I’ve included my essay at the bottom which I discuss some of the things related to blood in this vampiric novel.
Another fact that this book condemns was the signs of overt “voluptuous” female sexuality and the embelished anti-feminism by men in this book does conflicted with my psyche. I do live in a society that somewhat still practice Islamic perceptions in some matters but this is clearly different that the complete overreaction of Victorians men (author and the protagonists) toward the dangers of sensual female figures (vampiress) while holding highly to the idea of a gentry society of Victorian ladies with conventional Victorian values. It does gave me a sense of irony considering there are various things that real Victorians in 19th century do that would give 19th century people in Malaya creeps against the colonials had they have internet access.
There are a lot of contradictions in this book and philosophical discussions narrated by the point of views that are possibly self-contradicting and biased in every way. Dracula were barely prominent with his motives and such before the Van Helsing’s vampire hunter team create a conclusion that leads Dracula’s to his death. In fact, I always wondered if it is possible that Dracula isn’t the only vampire in London especially with Lucy’s case and Renfield’s fascination with the undying. I do think the Renfield is someone an addition by Stoker trying to keep his foreboding apparent throughout the entire storylines. His fascination toward the cycle of life isn’t new. Somehow he would have known about the immortality that Dracula can offer and the fact that Dracula was aware of his existence before this. The more I think about it, the more motives that the narration tried to portray are filled with plot holes.
And why would Dracula need Harker’s service if he had been out of Transylvania before? He should have known to cover his traces, bought the house in England and avoid the whole Harker and Demeter fiasco. I don’t even think he was aware of Mina’s association with Lucy and the fact that Lucy was targeted at first instead of Mina is unbelievable if you thought about how he would have claimed Mina first before Johnathan do. If you consider that Dracula can only go out at night, the space between Lucy (11th August) and the time where he came to London via Demeter (8th August) was quite short to know that Lucy was connected to Mina. In fact the whole villainy timeframe towards Dracula is an oversight. I guess, this was a sort of bias from the contradicting narrations.
With Dracula’s unrelenting blood desires on either sex, it is possible that he might have fathered several vampires in the society that might have targeted Lucy. If the brides were Dracula progeny, I’m not surprised to expect the villany is by someone other than Dracula who Stoker painted his character in a less dynamic sort of way.
As a classic, one should always do try to read the book first before drawing the conclusion by simply watching the Dracula movies. I do think it appeal to men more than a woman. The descriptive can be annoying until you realize photographs are rare and descriptive in journals does help when the character reread his older journals in the future. As a modern woman, I still dislike the one-dimensional character of Mina Harker, Lucy Westenra and the three brides. The bodily descriptive details by the male narrators on vampires does confounded me about the male protagonists characters. Overall, the book make me question everything about everything and its quit shallow when you simplified it.
Blood Symbolism in Dracula
On 17th September, Dr Seward heard his patient, Renfield cried “The blood is the life! The blood is the life!”. and it is not farther from the truth. Metaphorically, blood symbolised life and continuation of a bloodline. An abundance of it gave strength, wealth, health and impressive character while blood loss would mean as a sign of weakness, illness and even death. Blood is the most repetitive symbolism that occur in every character in this epistolary novel. The style provide great depth to the characters’ inner thoughts and perceptions.
The antagonist, Dracula used the word ‘blood’ to show Johnathan Harker his bloodline. A product of kings and conquerors. When Harker accidentally cut himself whilst shaving, Dracula exhibit his darker side of his addiction. The pervasive lust to Harker’s lifeblood told a degree of obsessiveness and this is evident with his reaction against his three vampiress when they tried to seduce Harker. When Harker escaped, Dracula reverted his attention to Lucy and Harker’s newly wedded wife, Mina. While Lucy’s transition was greatly described, Stoker’s excessive detail to Dracula’s attention to Mina showed unsubtle degree of eroticism and thus a blatant defiance against the Victorian morality. Although Dracula himself were not as notorious as Jack the Ripper, his presence as a foreign sexualized polygamist creature who prey the good women that somewhat alarmed the secluded Victorian men.
The protagonists, both Dr Seward and Professor Van Helsing used blood as an analytical tool to find reasoning against the supernatural. Seward’s observational skills on Renfield’s ‘zoophagus’ paranoia overshadowed the arrival of Dracula and both of them used their phlebotomy skills to help Lucy and Mina who suffered the signs of vampirism. However, Van Helsing philosophy and motives were more similar to a Christian crusade against the force of evil in Dracula. His overdeveloped self-righteousness reflected his obsession to destroy Dracula.
Dracula challenged the perception of its readers and revealed their darker desires and curiosity toward the unknown. Despite Dracula’s eventful death. Stoker’s depth of vampiric fascination and uses of blood in his literature had embedded Dracula into the subconscious of his readers for centuries. Thus the story of ‘Dracula’ achieved its own immortality and continued to intrigue the world with its fascination toward the famed bloodsucker.
(this is my assignment that I created just today and if you copy it, the karma gods with their grammar-spellcheckers will know and so I advice you.. don’t)