The novel ‘Dracula’ was one of the best-known horror stories in English literature. Bram Stoker first decided to write the novel after being influenced by other horror/ghost stories written in the late C19th. He started taking notes while on a holiday in Whitby on the 8th March 1890. He finished making notes in 1896 and published the book in 1897. The title ‘Dracula’ came from the word devil translated from the Wallachian language.
Bram Stokers ‘neck biting, blood sucking, ubiquitous’ Count was the most popular anti-hero in the Western Culture. The novel was made to stand out; all the other horror novels did not develop their main character in quite the same depth, were as Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a character to remember. He was a fully developed character, which was why it was so popular with the people. The novel was so popular that more than 250 films, novels and comics all got their inspiration from it. Dracula became a classic due to its narrative oppositions such as Good vs Evil, Science vs Superstition and purity vs uncleansliness.
The genre of the novel is Gothic Horror. In chapter 2, Jonathan described Count Dracula to the reader on his first day in the Castle. Dracula was described as having ‘a strong – a very strong aquiline face.’ The fact that Jonathan repeated the word ‘strong’ and added ‘very’ before it emphasises his undefeatable strength. Dracula’s mouth was described as being ‘cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp teeth.’ This description of Dracula gives the reader the sense that he was no ordinary person but he had special features that proved him to be of another species. Because Dracula was described as if he were an animal it causes the reader to distinguish the fact that Dracula was different.
Whenever Dracula seems to appear in the novel, the atmosphere changes from being quite normal to being unpleasant. For example when Dracula was on the boat, the crew said ‘guide us in the fog that seems to mere with us.’ This gives the reader the sense that Dracula has an influence on the weather. Also using the fog conveys another meaning; that Dracula could be in the shadows for must of the novel to achieve a sense of mystery to his character and it creates tension.
Dracula represents a number of themes and ideas. Firstly, he represents Good vs Evil (he represents the Evil). In chapter 11, Lucy Westenra wonders why ‘all the powers of the devils’ were against them. Here dramatic irony is created because Lucy seems to think that they are only having bad luck while the reader knows that Dracula is behind it all. Also the battle of Good vs Evil is shown in Chapter 22 when the plan to kill Dracula becomes personal and they ask that ‘God will aid us to the end.’ Here the characters are showing the reader a sense of doubt seeing as they are asking God to save them as if they are about to die.
It is then represented as ‘death’ in Life vs Death. ‘The curse of immortality; they cannot die.’ Here Dracula threatens that he is immortal and no living creature would be able to kill him. Here he gives the reader a sense of fear for the characters in great danger. Dracula also represents the ‘superstition’ in Science vs Superstition. In Chapter 14, Van Helsing begins to let out his superstitions, ‘It is the fault of science that it wants to explain all’. Here Van Helsing is trying to explain to the others that they should not only try to conclude in Science but also in superstition. He then says, ‘Do you know all the mysteries of life and death?’ Here Van Helsing is trying to explain who or what Dracula is. To the others the case only begins to pick up on superstition when they begin to witness things for themselves, for example when they have to kill Lucy a second time.
The threat that Dracula poses to the Victorian society and its principles is that he is there to overpower the society with people of his own kind, by turning people into vampires. The novel is written with multiple narrators, including Jonathan, Mina, Lucy, Van Helsing and Dr Seward. The effect of using multiple narrators was so that the reader could get to know each character individually, including the way the think and behave. This would help when the reader would be trying to figure out what a character would do in a certain scenario and to help the reader get in role (if they were to do a play). It would also help the reader to get a different point of view from each character.
Van Helsing plays and important role in Dracula. Throughout out the novel the reader realises that represents Good. Van Helsing was an extraordinary scientist because unlike any other he was also able to adapt into the world of superstition without getting lost, therefore this helped in the pursuit of Dracula. The ‘Old, Dutch professor’ was the most threatening adversary to the Count because the Count knew that Van Helsing knew a lot about his past and how to get rid of him due to that fact that it was one of the myths going around when Van Helsing was younger. This also threatened the count because Van Helsing was a modern scientist with an understanding of superstition. Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ gains a long lasting impression to all the readers because it dealt with issues of life, e.g. love and hatred. Also all of the descriptions and atmosphere adds to this. The fact that vampires are only a myth added to the many other books and programmes created.