Dracula was written in 1897 by Irish author Bram Stoker. The later 1800’s were a transitional period in time where social rules and ideas about sexuality, sexual acts and sexual divides were still stringently in place, though a change in the way a person could live, publicly and privately slowly beginning to emerge. The book has many sub text and sub plots, and it is in these place where Dracula parodies and breaks Victorian taboos.
At the time when Stoker was writing Dracula, the British held huge prejudices against anyone who didn’t fit the WASP or upper middle class mould. Women weren’t equal to men, they didn’t have the vote, and the childbearing housewife was the ideal and stereotypical woman that was maybe ‘respected’ or ‘required’ by the men of the day. The contrast between modern-day taboos and taboos that existed in Stocker’s 1897 is massive. Few real taboos exist today, in a discussion in class the only ones that held any truth, which everyone agreed with had to be utterly vile as to compensate for the desensitisation that we have today.
To Kill A Mocking Bird was written at the start of the 1960’s by Harper Lee. It is set in the 1930’s and is written from a child’s viewpoint or perspective and unlike Dracula, the taboos in this book are not written in sly sub texts or sub plots. The story is predominately about the taboos involved, and a town’s reaction to a taboo breaker. Atticus is a local lawyer, he has two young children, he is not especially rich, he has no particularly special upbringing and his religious beliefs differ little to that of the rest of the town. What separates him from the rest of Maycomb is his willingness and personal pledge to help and not segregate the towns ‘niggers’. The taboo that is highlighted in Harper’s book is the defiance of a white man against a whole community to prove a Negro’s innocence over a white man’s.
Heroism is; Great courage, valour, bravery, intrepidness, fearlessness, boldness and pluckiness. Heroism is the ability to maybe use arrogances to reach the best result in a challenging event. Do heroes exist? Or are they just special people to a minority who they have affected? Therefore being no different or better than every other person alive. Using this understanding of heroism, I will try to match both Dracula and Atticus’s personality and actions to my definition of heroism to find if either of them are heroic.
It would be pointless quoting from either book to build an opinion as to whether ether character is heroic; one would just persistently contradict oneself. There are so many different character’s opinions and view points in both books, it would be a babbling mess to pen and for me at least, the out come would be no clearer! The approach I have taken is to re-read the texts with my now extended knowledge so that I can best describe the two subject matters, Atticus and Dracula.
Dracula is a character that has been feared since his invent. A darkness loving, blood drinking, lady slaying monster. But if you explain Dracula in a way that is deeper than just a character profile, then a much more complicated and meaningful summary appears. There are reasons for the things he does, and these things become connected, not just random barbaric actions, but events that represent social biases, sexual fantasies both male and female, hetro and homo-sexual, ridiculing and mirroring at every point, building for, and showing a new perspective of the way women, sex and life should be perceived and allowed to exist. Dracula’s relationship with others is only ever for his gain. He will use men and women in different ways, but will never talk or interact with anyone or anything that he cant gain from, whether it be for their information, the blood or their participation in his fetish for sadistic and taboo ridden version of ‘sex’.
Does he have any heroic characteristics? He certainly goes about his way of life without concern for what ‘outsiders’ will think of him and his ways. For this should we respect him? Maybe, but this doesn’t mean he is heroic, being admired for living your own individual way of life isn’t a heroic quality. Being a hero usually requires doing some physical act that helps another person or group. What could Dracula possibly do to help others? Maybe Dracula’s heroic qualities are hidden by our modern-day ease of life, the things we take for granted he is persecuted for. His castle of locked doors is surly representative of his status as a victim of social repression.
His life of blood taking and dark ways has made him an outlando d’amour, and has inflicted a life of almost complete segregation and solitude. Whether he is breaking taboos knowingly, or just doing what he has to do to survive and breaking them in the process is of no importance. His society says he cannot live how he has to live, and has driven him underground where he has become a renegade against the synchronicity of his day. But should he be seen as heroic for breaking physical taboos, this would put Dracula in same hypothetical ballpark as modern day individuals such as Charles Manson, Ed Gein and Thomas Hamilton. These people (to the majority) are not perceived as heroic in anyway. They are all physical taboo challengers, where as Atticus Finch strives to confront metal taboos.