Dracula by Bram Stoker Review

Dracula introduced the vampire myth to its own area of literature and fantasy. There have been numerous films, performances and television performances of Dracula so he is now a famous villain in literature.

It is an epistolary novel, a novel written in the form of documents. The story of Dracula is woven together with the diary entries of the main characters of the book Jonathan Harker, his wife Mina Harker and Dr John Seward. There is also Van Helsing, Lord Godalming and Mr Morris. Certain words and phrases are in Latin, French and Greek and the One World Classics version that I read had an explanation of the phrases at the back. “Dos pou sto” was translated as “Give me somewhere to stand,” a Greek phrase. There were also biblical references particularly towards the end when the characters realise that vampires dislike the crucifix being close to them, signalling them as irreligious beings, possibly influenced by Bram Stoker’s upbringing as he was attended a private school that taught protestant Christianity. Christianity is largely what influences the characters voyage to find Dracula.

“Give me somewhere to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the earth” -Archimedes

The beginning follows Jonathan Harker’s experience staying with Count Dracula at his castle and how he learns that he is a vampire. The word vampire is not used widely throughout the book, there are several hints that Dracula is a vampire however as Jonathan discovers. As the story progresses, many of the typical traits of a vampire are uncovered It is also hinted that Dracula is a vampire because it is discovered that Dracula cannot be seen through the mirror and does not eat regular food.

Dialogue is sporadic within the novel and there is use of literary devices for descriptive purposes “There for a while there came over her face a repose which was like spring after the blasts of March” a description of Mina, who is described as beautiful. While Count Dracula’s descriptive technique is harsh “You think to baffle me- you, with your pale faces all in a row like sheep in a butchers.” Van Helsing also uses multiple rhetorical questions when he is trying to convince John Seward of the existence of Vampires. “Can you tell me why the tortoise lives more long than generations of men?” As well as being immortal, it is also revealed that Count Dracula sleeps in a coffin and dislikes garlic. Because of this Count Dracula is described as having a “child-brain” rather than the ‘man brain’ of humans. This is a reference to Lombroso the Italian criminologist who believed facial structure was related to whether someone was a criminal and criminality was inherited. “The count is a criminal and of criminal type. Nordau and Lombroso would so classify him.”

Count Dracula is the only male vampire shown in the novel. The others are all women and there is no explanation for why the men do not get bitten by Dracula when attacked. The main female character Mina is described with thinly veiled sexism “She with all her goodness and purity and faith was outcast from God” for reasons which are not her fault. The men have a paternalistic attitude towards Mina and believe the is fragile. “Most we want all her great brain, which is trained like man’s brain, but is of sweet woman and have a special power which the Count give her” They appreciate her for her knowledge but do not believe that it is her own capability, it is seen as ‘like man’s brain’ which is assumed to be superior. Any ability she has is not her own but “a special power which the count give her” so she does not receive the necessary praise for her help.

Dracula appears mainly in the beginning, with Jonathan Harker, but does not have much of a role in the rest of the novel, his character depiction is mysterious and there is not much emphasis on his appeareance “tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache” but mainly on the plans he has to turn people into vampires. His traits are discovered throughout the book by the John Seward and Van Halsing, because they have access to the information about vampirism along with Jonathan Harker’s experience staying at the castle. A long read, with 27 chapters, but the pace was steady and it has helped begin the enduring myth of the vampire in literature.


Links

Bram Stoker’s Great Grand-nephew is writing a prequel to Dracula

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/07/bram-stokers-nephew-dacre-writes-first-authorised-dracula-prequel-dracul-jd-barker

Context of ‘Dracula’

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dracula/context.html

Plot overview of Dracula from SparkNotes Editors. (2003). SparkNote on Dracula. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/dracula/summary.html

Cesare Lombroso, Italian Criminologist & discredited views

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cesare-Lombroso

My Twitter thread on the experience reading Dracula

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