Analysis of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
“In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the novel begins with the idea of superstition/wariness but then later transitions from good to evil. Dracula’s genre of literature fits in with Gothic literature, a style of writing that developed in the eighteenth century. The plot moves forward by Harker’s mysterious curiosity he has for Dracula. Anne McWhir states “Dracula is remarkable for its blurring and confusion of categories. Modern and primitive, civilized and savage, science and myth are confused; so too are other categories like good and evil, clean and unclean, life and death” (McWhir 31). By this, McWhir wants the reader to realize that Dracula is may seem like a free flowing novel that grabs readers attention, but it may contain literacy that the reader may not have seen coming in the first place.
In the beginning, Jonathan Harker finds himself trapped in a castle, kept apart from his fiance Mina due to a business trip. Through the power of friendship and love, the characters overcame this predicament. The ending of the story is anticlimactic but is predictable to the reader. Even though Dracula ends in a brutal way, Jonathan Harker, one of the main characters in the story, and his fiance Mina (who turns into a vampire) shows some degree of uncertainty and denial towards marriage and love. Which may have some setbacks to how Harker feels towards Mina in the end of the novel. As some other vampire books suggest once you turn into a vampire your humanity is completely gone, incapable of having any feelings for something or for someone. Through the weird unreliable narration in Dracula, Bram Stoker creates the iconic image of a vampire as a tragic figure displaced from time and a powerful invader that is feared by many.
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Good versus evil presents itself throughout Dracula, deaths role throughout the story is challenged in many different ways. During the story the main characters changes in ways that are unpredictable and sinister. They eventually make a statement towards the middle of the story. When Lucy is dying, and Van Helsing is trying to save her, she has multiple lives as she is consistently on the brink of death; countless times but is kept being “reborn.” One author claims that “Evidently, death is preferable to vampirism. In Stoker’s Christian worldview, trading your soul for immortality or an existence dedicated exclusively to hedonic pleasure is just not a viable proposition” (Clasen 392). It is better to be dead than to be a vampire due to all the bad things vampires do. According to Stoker, being a vampire is having a second life but it isn’t the same regarding proportion of human existence versus vampirism.
Later on in the story when Lucy is suffering from blood loss, Stoker says “I wonder why he was so anxious about these flowers. He positively frightened me, he was so fierce. …for I feel comfort from them already… …There is peace in its smell. I feel sleep coming already. Goodnight, everybody” (Stoker 146). Here Lucy is in a deep coma; she doesn’t know what is happening to her and cannot control her actions, due to the lack of blood she is enduring. But finally she says “I feel sleep coming” which implies she may die at this time. This point in the novel is when Lucy wakes up and is becoming more aware of her surroundings and may be on a recovery to better health. Later on, Van Helsing sees that Lucy’s marks have gone away which makes him believe that she has recovered from what has happened. This connects to the topic between good versus evil. Dracula who is evil commits a horrible act on a innocent girl that has done nothing wrong.
Sanity is very important in Dracula, when humans are drained of blood, they are in a state where they are mentally unstable, just like what happened with Lucy. In the beginning of the story Mina sees Lucy sleepwalking and says “Lucy was very restless that night… Lucy did not wake, but she got up twice and dressed herself… It is a very strange thing, this sleepwalking, for as soon as her will is thwarted in any physical way, her intention, if there be any, disappears, and she yield herself almost exactly to the routine of her life” (Stoker 97). This quote describes Lucy before things in the novel start getting out of hand, at this point in the story Lucy starts to sleep walk. According to Mina this seems strange because it seems like she has no control of her body like someone is controlling her, this is one example of Lucy not being sane. Later on in the story Mina and Lucy go to Transylvania to see if Johnathan, her fiance is okay. This is when Lucy gets used to please Dracula’s hungry desire. After, she gets taken to a mental institute, where Van Helsing, and Dr. Seward try to ease her back to good health but unfortunately fail to do so. As stated by Carol Senf “Sanity provides another clue in the narrator’s reliability. More than half of novel takes place in Dr. Seward’s London mental institute; and several of the characters are shown to be emotionally unstable” (Senf 162). The narrator of the story cannot be trusted because of the things that have been happening to Lucy. For a long period of time, a character like Lucy has not been in total control of her body.
From the beginning of the book when Lucy is clearly emotionally unstable as she shows the reader that she may not be completely sane. Dracula takes advantage of this and uses her as a “human blood bag” which completely wipes her sanity clean. “Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams” (Stoker 36). Lucy is saying that she fears sleep because she can only interact with Dracula emotionally at this point in time. She has no intention of meeting Dracula in person, she only meets him through unnatural methods like sleep. Harker had a similar experience in the castle with Dracula, “has had some fearful shock… ” (Stoker 108). He only wants to talk about what happened in a nonsensical and insane ways to the sisters that took him in because not all of reality can be understood with logic and reasoning.
Vulnerability is another consequence of death in Dracula, multiple characters throughout the story have let themselves be overtaken by the enemy. Harker is the first to experience this when he first arrived in Transylvania everyone around him acts different, giving him crucifix and holy water. Later he goes to see Dracula, where he realizes he’s been kidnapped by him and is forced to stay in the castle for months. This is when Mina gets suspicious and decides to come look for Harker. While these months pass, Harker is very vulnerable to Dracula and his servants.
During the day Harker sees Dracula and realizes that he is harmed by the sun. “Dracula is vulnerable to sunlight, for example, although it is not lethal to him. This characteristic serves a dramatic purpose on giving the vampire hunters an edge during daytime, and a thematic purpose in emphasizing Dracula’s evilness: he is a creature of the night” (Clasen 386). Dracula may not be his strongest during the daytime due to the sun light. This gives people that want to kill him (like Harker) an advantage during this time. Since he is his strongest during the night, this author is saying that he is a monster that is evil and is a creature of the night.
When Dracula is in sunlight he is vulnerable to the people that want to kill him, for example Harker and the vampire hunters. But during the night this idea flips, Dracula is the one that shouldn’t be afraid, the humans should be afraid. “Then, too, Lucy, although she is so well, has lately taken to her old habit of walking in her sleep. Her mother has spoken to me about it, and we have decided that I am to lock the door of our room every night” (Stoker 81). Lucy’s habit of sleepwalking makes her vulnerable to Dracula, it puts her in a state of semi-conscious passivity. This makes Lucy be easily controlled by Dracula, which Dracula uses to take advantage and control Lucy. At this point in the novel Van Helsing has tried everything he can to save her but unfortunately has to kill Lucy. Once they visit her grave they find it empty realizing that Dracula turned her into one of his kind. To keep Lucy out of the tomb Van Helsing seals it with communion wafers.
Sexuallity is one of the main topics in Dracula; all the women are pure in Dracula until Dracula takes advantage of them and “uses” them. Lust is one action that is consumed by the characters in the novel. The characters sexual desires overpower them and they cannot resist but to partake in the moment. After Harker witnesses Dracula’s shapeshifting abilities and sees Dracula exhibit lizard-like qualities he decides to explore the castle where Harker says “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. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth” (Stoker 43). Harker experiences his sexual desires and cannot resist them; he is so greatly attracted to the vampires but somehow is also horrified by them.
Moreover, He is ashamed to say that he wants them to kiss him, until Dracula tells the three vampire ladies to go away. “Blood?drinking was a sexual act, but we need yield no a priori credence to this interpretive twist. Blood is quite obviously causally connected to Attention, Predation, Counterintuition… most everybody at some point makes the observation that if you get hurt badly enough, you bleed. And if you bleed enough, you die” (Clasen 387). This is a prime example why sexuallity is a main part of Dracula, as Clasen said blood-drinking is a sexual act. This signifies that Dracula is again overtaken by his sexual desires. Dracula keeps coming back to Lucy to drink more and more of her blood, which means that he could possibly be not sane because he has no control of his sexual desires. Blood is what keeps people alive and when you are drinking their blood you have the power to end their life right that instant. According to this author, blood is a sexual act which may lead to pleasure. If you bleed for a long enough time you will die, so Stoker says “the blood is the life.”
Sexuality in Dracula can eventually lead to betrayal because Dracula uses Lucy as tools for his own pleasure, seduction and betrayal. “Lucy’s eyes in form and colour; but Lucy’s eyes unclean and full of hell-fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs we knew” (Stoker 323). During Lucy’s transformation “voluptuous”” is the word used to describe the evil thing that Lucy is becoming. Like stated before, we see sexuality as a bad thing, used by vampires as tools of seduction and betrayal. As Lucy continues her transition into a vampire we start to see things change in her that signify that she is no longer the pure Lucy she was before. “Lucy Westenra exhibits sign of schizophrenia, being a model of sweetness and conformity while she is awake but becoming sexually aggressive and demanding during her sleepwalking periods.” (Senf 162). As soon as Lucy gets involved with Mina, Harker, and Dracula she is consistently in the crossfire between them. As the story progresses, Lucy becomes more and more aggressive and demanding because she has no control of her conscience and physical abilities.
Sexuality is expressed in different ways in Dracula, one way is through confusion and wickedness between the characters in the story. When Lucy is captured by Dracula, Van Helsing, and Dr. Seward had no idea what was happening to her. Stoker says “amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. The very thought drove me mad” (Stoker 55) When Harker found out what was happening to Lucy he couldn’t bear the thought of what she may become. As he says in the quote “semi-demons” Harker clearly thinks that what he has been witnessing could possibly be Satan. Even though Harker may be being brainwashed by Dracula, “He also does not reflect in a mirror—hardly what we expect of physical objects—and is able to change his shape. In one scene, Dracula scales the outer wall of his castle like a lizard, apparently defying the laws of gravity. Unbeknownst to the Count, Jonathan Harker is looking out of a window and sees Dracula’s head emerge from another aperture” (Clasen 386). After Harker realizes that Dracula does not reflect in a mirror, he can change into different types of animals, and he can defy the laws of gravity, Harker knows something is not right.
After reading this book, as Harker arrives in Transylvania he exhibits positive behavior but is given a weird signs by the community that things here might not be good like he thought. Though, by the end of the book and the challenging things Harker has gone through, the love of his life Mina is now a vampire, and Dracula ends up dead. Killed by Jonathan Harker with a stake through the heart and his head decapitated. Dracula exhibits three main themes, good versus evil, sexulaity, and sanity.”