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It seems strange at first to consider one of the greatest of Victorian gothic novels, and the genesis of the entire modern vampire craze as a masterpiece of Christian fiction. However, it is precisely accurate to do so. If it were written today, it would most certainly be considered Christian niche fiction. The entirety of the novel is filled with appeals to the wisdom, justice, and aid of God, and the protagonists eventually consider themselves to be the righteous warriors of God fighting to save Christian England. There is throughout a very strong sense of evangelicalism in phrases such as "God is merciful and just, and knows your pain and your devotion."(Ch 22) What, one might ask though, is a Christian book doing introducing one of the most seductively evil of modern monster protagonists? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: the vampire Dracula is portrayed throughout and meant to be interpreted as a gothic version of the dread Antichrist of Christian myth. In short, Bram Stoker's Dracula can be justly reinterpreted as an allegory about power of Christ and his Church overcoming the predations of the Antichrist.
His status as an Antichrist figure is relatively obvious. To begin with, it is commonly known that the word "Dracul" means both "devil" and "dragon" in its native tongue. The Antichrist is commonly considered to be the devil incarnate, even as Christ was God incarnate. According to traditional readings, the great Beast and the great Dragon of Revelations are considered forms of the Antichrist. Obviously, as Dracula means "son of the dragon/devil" there is a connection here. Additionally, his connection with the beast makes perfect sense. "Who is like the beast?" (Rev 13:4) the Bible asks, and Stoker answers by consistently painting Dracula as an animal. He goes down the wall like a lizard. He can transform into a wolf or a bat, and has power over all unclean creatures.
In Revelations the Antichrist has other more precisely vampiric qualities as well. He is said to have been "mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed." (Rev 13:12) Of course, in order to qualify as a mortal wound, a wound must kill someone. The Antichrist, it seems, is capable of being killed and healing his own wounds. This of course is a familiar trait belonging to vampires, who are nearly immortal and can survive many mortal wounds. The Antichrist of Revelations is seen to die and come back to life, even as a vampire was dead and lives again as one of the undead. Additionally, in Revelations the consort of the Antichrist, known as the Whore of Babylon, is said to be "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs." (Rev 17:6) In short, she drinks blood even as do Dracula's consorts.
The Antichrist is not just a single prophetic character, however. He is also understood as the antithesis of Christ. Thus anything that is sacred to Christ may be seen in inverse in the Antichrist. This is obvious, for example, in the way in which communion is a vital sacrament of the Christian church and is parodied in Dracula's relationship to blood. In Deuteronomy the Israelites are instructed not to eat blood, because "for the blood is the life and you shall not eat the life with the flesh." (Deut 12:23) This is precisely the same phrase used by Renfield in explaining why he wanted to devour living things and blood, because he wished to devour life itself. "simply repeating over and over again, 'The blood is the life! The blood is the life!'" (Ch. 11) The importance of the blood being the life becomes apparent later in the Bible and in the book. Later Jesus will explain to his disciples: "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54) This is also true of Dracula, that if he shares his blood with another they will live forever and be resurrected after death. Even as the good doctor explains to Mina, if they live their entire life normally after that moment of drinking Dracula's blood, they will still be resurrected after death as a vampire. Yet this is not the end of gaining the life of the blood. According to John 6:56, those that "drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." Dracula likewise dwells within Mina and Mina within Dracula after they share blood, for she can literally see and hear with his senses, and one assumes the same is true in inverse.
So Dracula can be seen as the evil reverse of Christ -- as the Antichrist -- and this is perfectly in keeping with the fears of his hunters that he will breed a race of vampires to overcome England. According to the Bible, the Antichrist is not a singular individual, but rather many individuals springing from the one: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." (1 John 2:18) In the same way one might say that one has heard that the great vampire will come, but as these are the last days there are now many vampires. The fear that the devil will convert others to follow him is rampant in Revelations, and much of the book is based on exhorting believers not to fall away from the faith.
Keeping the faith is a major theme of Stoker's novel. The protagonists are seen as spiritual warriors, and epitomes of the Christian ideal: "She is one of God's women, fashioned by His own hand" (ch 14) yet they must be careful not to fall away from this faith, and repeatedly one hears them calling out "God! God!" As their faith is challenged and tested repeatedly.
Like Christians in the Bible, they are not without help. The Bible frequently speaks of how the Cross overcomes sin and the devil. In the exact same way, the cross overcomes Dracula and other vampires. Jonathan is given a rosary to protect himself against Dracula, and he finds that it is effective. Vampires flee from crosses throughout the story, and cannot approach them. It is also worth mentioning that they can be overcome only by a wooden stake -- and that wood is in Christian mythology associated with the wood of the cross. (Jesus was killed not with the strength of metal swords or spears, but with wood which then becomes consecrated to him)
Additionally, Christians are fortified by being part of the very body of Christ. While Christians are considered part of the body of Christ, the holy host (also called in the book a "wafer") is considered the incarnated flesh of Christ used in communion. Throughout Stoker's book, the holy host is used to sanctify land, seek God's guidance, and defeat the vampires. "the Professor...was holding towards him the envelope which contained the Sacred Wafer. The Count suddenly stopped, just as poor Lucy had done outside the tomb, and cowered back." (Ch 21)
Fighting Satan is vitally important, but according to Revelations and other parts of the Bible, martyrdom is inevitable for many. Moreover, Christians are exhorted to rejoice in tribulation and sacrifice, and to understand that trials and temptations come from God. This theology is reflected in the text of Stoker's book: "that scar shall pass away when God sees right to lift the burden that is hard upon us. Till then we bear our Cross, as His Son did in obedience to His Will. It may be that we are chosen instruments of His good pleasure, and that we ascend to His bidding as that other through…[continue]
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