Dracula - Bram Stoker's Immortal Count, the Modern Anti-Hero and Fallen Angel of Romantic Dreams
Dracula, written by Bram (Abraham) Stoker in 1897, and was originally published by Archibald Constable and Company. The modern version is Published by Penguin Classics, London. Dracula is set in 1893, 4 years prior to the books published date of 1897, Bram Stoker takes the reader from the journey of a young Solicitor named Jonathon Harker through to a series of individual accounts that give the reader the understanding of how Victorian life and how classes were supposed to act.
Stoker has used a mix of narratives using the past tense in the form of Journals, diaries, personal letters and recordings collectively assembled by one of the characters during the book.
Apart from the main character of the book that is Dracula, who is actually absent from the novel for nearly three quarters of the narratives, there are several other key figures these are a mix of people from the middle to higher classes of Victorian society; these are Jonathon Harker, Sir Arthur Holmwood (later Lord Godalming) Dr. John (Jack) Seward. Quincey P. Morris; Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Lucy Westernra, and Wilhemina (Mina) Murray (Harker). Other figures that represent a minor but important role within the book are Renfield and the three voluptuous creatures called women that Harker is exposed to upon his visit to Castle Dracula.
The Book Dracula has created many arguments of blood, power, sexual symbolism, political and even magical discussions. The main question that needs to be asked concerning the book and even the author is what Stoker had in mind when he created this masterpiece. After all the book itself is Stokers' Frankenstein monster, he has taken from nearly every aspect of his life that has been influential to him in some way. From the holidays in Cruden Bay and Whitby to the people in his life who became the characters of his book.
So Ok you have read the Book, seen the numerous movies and read countless (no pun intended) comics on the Lord of the Undead. Hey if you are sad enough you probably have a plethora of vamp films and books all with something to do with big D. himself but not actually starring him.
The book opens with the travels of a young Solicitor by the name of Jonathon Harker.
Seen through his Journal, to administer and serve from a legal perspective, the desires of an old man, Dracula, who has sought the services of Harker's firm of Solicitors based in Exeter, England to purchase property in London.
Even before Harker reaches the desolate home of his client he comes face-to-face with the superstition of the region of Transylvania. As the people of the region he is travelling through learn of his travels to Castle Dracula, in the Borgo Pass, their fears and worries for him increase.
Through out Harker's stay at Dracula's castle he becomes witness to the strange and macabre world of his host. However, once Harker discovers the true nature of his strange host and those who reside within the ancient castle he becomes fearful of his life. Especially as the Count has promised his guest to the three voluptuous young ladies as a token of his love for them.
Once the devilish Count has left his domain, the story then turns to the gay life of two young women, Wilhemina Murray, betrothed of Jonathon Harker and schoolteacher, and Miss Lucy Westernra. Here the story begins to unfold as the two young ladies of Victorian society, one of means (Westernra) are involved oin the daily life of society. Their letters say nothing of any concerns for the world or life outside their own small world. Westernra is concerned that her friend Murray has not written to her and about the three men who have each proposed marriage to her.
Murray on the other hand is more concerned about her Jonathon and life of a schoolmistress.
Once the two are happily ensconced together in the fishing town of Whitby, the tale begins to change to one where death and pain become part of the young ladies and that of the men in their lives, world.
Whilst at Whitby they are witnesses to an unnatural storm that forces a schooner on to the bay, here there nightmare begins. Lucy becomes a victim of the sleepwalking curse, it is here she begins to meet her destroyer, and within the churchyard of the ladies favorite spot, Mina sees for the fist time the Man who is to haunt her.
Dracula, does not really make an entrance into book for several chapters after he leaves Harker in Transylvania. The reader is given peripheral insights into what deeds Dracula has committed, the proverbial rape of Lucy Westernra, the distant seduction of Wilhemina (Mina) Murray and the death of his servant Renfield.
Dracula's nemesis is man of learning, Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Helsing takes on the role of a father to all concerned as he instructs the company on how to dispatch Vampires.
The book continues with a battle of minds, it can be likened in some ways to human chess, except Dracula as the Black King, has one piece, the King, where as Van Helsing has several pieces in play.
Eventually the Black King is trapped by the White pieces and a desparate fight for survival comes to a bittersweet ending.
There are several themes within the book of Dracula, religion, sexual symbolism, paternal and maternal attitudes, love, and clearly distinguished is the matter of life and death.
The main issue to understand that does encompass many of the taboos of Victorian life is Life and Death, many Victorians viewed death as a subject to be kept locked away from society until the event actually happened, for instance, looking at the attitude of Queen Victoria before and after the death of her husband Prince Albert, prior to his death she was a gay happy woman and this gaiety was reflected from her onto society.
However, when her husband died she went into a period of mourning that was to last for the rest of her days, this mourning was again reflected from her into societal ways and attitudes.
Looking at Dracula it is clearly illustrated that death is a main issue, from the beginning Stoker illustrates the issue by the fear of the peasants in the region. He even goes so far as to use and take a similar line from Burger's Lenore (1773). The line in this German poem reads several times "the dead ride fast," Stoker has translated the line to read "Denn die Todten reiten Schnell " or " For the dead travel fast." (1993,19).
Death is an irresistible force, it is always the victor, it has that one factor that can never be out run, death comes to us all. Death is also no regarder of race, color, creed, age or wealth.
The Victorian although viewing death as a taboo and not to be spoken about in society circles also had a strange attitude regarding homes for the dead and cemeteries. The Victorian's built lavish new cemeteries on the outskirts of cities, and took strolls through them as a Sunday outing for the family. The Victorian Cemetery was to them and possibly to those of today a suitable understanding of how they felt in a collective attitude towards death.
It is the women of this classic novel that we shall discuss with especial reference to the film version of Bram Stokers' Dracula produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
Before actually discussing the female roles within the book and film it is advisable to have an understanding of how the role and view of women during the Victorian era were thought upon and also how it was expected of them to act within the confines of societal rules.
Women have always been viewed with some superstition and fear, this can be seen in the comments of the Malleus Maleficarum where it states "There is no head above the head of a serpent: and there is no wrath above that of a woman...women are naturally more impressionable and are more ready to receive the influence of a disembodied spirit...they have slippery tongue... since they are feebler both in mind and body it is not surprising they should come more and more under the spell of witchcraft" (Malleus Maleficarum Part one Question 6).
With this comment in mind from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and with little change in view until the actual twentieth century itself we can form a vague opinion of how women must have been viewed. Therefore, there status stood in one of two camps, either they were harlots and women of the devil or as that of a saint, there could be no middle ground.
With the onset of the nineteenth century we see a new attitude to sexual liaisons, that of embarrassment rather than disgust, even more so discussing or writing about any form…