Author: Bram Stoker
Jonathan Harker is travelling to Castle Dracula to see the Transylvanian noble Count Dracula. He is begged by locals not to go there, because on the eve of St. George’s Day, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will come full sway. But business must be done, so Jonathan makes his way to the castle – and then his nightmare begins. His beloved wife, Mina, and other lost souls have fallen under the Count’s horrifying spell. Dracula must be destroyed…
Dracula: the very name instantly brings to mind visions of vampires, stakes, garlic and crucifixes. But when I read the novel I realised, sadly, how twisted modern vampire fiction has become. Vampires are not meant to exist as heroes. Go back a few hundred years and men believed truly that the vampire was a real immortal, cursed to quench his undying thirst with a living mortal’s blood. The very idea of a blood drinker inspires the very image of a villain in my mind. And that is what this novel is.
I say novel, but I could also write that this is a collaboration of journals, letters and papers. For that is how Bram Stoker chose to fashion his famous novel, a fine example of an epistolary. And the different viewpoints through each journal serve to create suspense. I love the use of letters and correspondence to tell the story. One would think that this would create a distance between the reader and the story, but strangely it does not. Instead it infuses the story with a human element, as we see things unfold through the eyes of the humans who witnessed everything. In addition, the diary entries from all the people show the emotional impact of the characters to the horror of Dracula.
In all it is a macabre novel that serves to make the reader reflect upon good and evil. The vampire to me is nothing more than an indication of man’s own cursed. Ultimately only the righteous can destroy the darkness that serves to drain life.
My thought was that I could see why I loved this book the first time I read it. The image of a bestial vampire like Dracula sucking the life out of victims to continue his un-dead existence is so metaphoric for the very idea of evil. Evil can be seductive, it can look appealing but ultimately it leads only to a sort of un-dead experience in which you seek to gain satisfaction and purpose through draining others of their vitality.
This is an incredible classic that has to be read to be understood. The little flaws in it make it more appealing and humanised if anything and the tragic nature of its story causes its readers to be both appalled by the villain and to feel sorrow for the victims. While Dracula is not the first vampire novel it is perhaps the greatest as it shows the vampire as a truly malevolent and brutal figure (not a sparkly heartthrob but a killer). It’s a solid horror story along with crime, thrill and suspense with that historical fiction feel that can be read by anyone who enjoys any of the aforementioned genres.
Characters: All the characters have been given equal spotlight by Stoker. The mental trauma and the stress that they go through has been so well expressed in their entries.
Count Dracula – An extremely powerful being with a lot of wealth, Dracula wants to broaden his claws in a place where he can find more prey than he could in Transylvania – London. He can transform into a bat, a wolf, fog and also control the minds of his victims. The story revolves around him and how his presence changes lives drastically.
Jonathan Harker – Kind of the main protagonist, he had been absolutely terrified by what he experienced there at the Count’s disposal. Despite all of this, he remained strong and fought for the people he loved.
Mina Murray (Harker) – She was close to two of the Count’s victims, one being her fiancée and other being her best friend. She works tirelessly to help capture Dracula despite becoming a victim herself later on.
Lucy Westenra – Being the most innocent of all, she became the easy target for the Count and gradually turns into a vampire herself. Her friends restore her soul and enable her to rest in peace.
Dr. Van Helsing – The Dutch professor summoned to cure Lucy. He later becomes the leader of the group and hunts Dracula down.
John Seward – A young doctor, once a pupil of Van Helsing. He runs an asylum and is in love with Lucy. Even after her turning him down, he is devoted to her through illness as well as after her death.
“Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker”
“Despair has its own calms.”
“Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.”
“Though sympathy alone can’t alter facts, it can help to make them more bearable.”
“It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.”
“Truly there is no such thing as finality.”
“It is wonderful what tricks our dreams play us, and how conveniently we can imagine.”