Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dracula Part One

I found the reading for this week to be an emotional roller-coaster. A great deal of it was interesting but there were so much jargon in the beginning about real estate that it was at times difficult to follow. While I have read this novel before and knew what to expect, what I found most interesting in this version were actually the notes. Some points in particular I found interesting was the fact that Dracula in Stoker's version is not only a vampire but also retains characteristics of wolves and has control over them as his servants. It is also intriguing that Dracula is depicted in Stoker's novel as being very hairy, including the hairy palms--a sign of masturbation. And yet, in the films he is depicted in a clean-shaved and smooth this merely to make him more appealing to  a broader audience? Over the years in film adaption it seems Dracula's character has been made to look 'sexier'.

"Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)" does a decent job keeping with the overall feel of the book but Hollywood will always be Hollywood and it is always going to make things more appealing to the eye.

I think this is part of why people find vampires so alluring, not only are they powerful, dangerous and mysterious but movies makes them look sexy. What fascinates me about Dracula though is that the vampires (both Dracula and the three vampiric sisters) are both repulsive and attractive. For instance, Johnathon's encounter with the 'Weird Sisters',

"Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. [...] All three had brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. 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." (p.42)

"The fair girl went on her knees, and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white, sharp teeth." (p.42)

There is a definite sexual tension here, any time a vampire sucks the blood of their victim. It's clear too that more than just a poke at the neck is going on. There is a kind of hypnotic fascination, a bodily desire. I think, more than 'love' vampires 'desire' and lust after their victims. The fair vampire's statement about Dracula's inability to love is not so surprising, what is surprising is his reaction:

"You yourself never loved; you never love!'

'Yes, I too can love; you yourselves can tell it from the past." (p.43)

Also what is fascinating are the notes on the bottom of the page, both that the word 'belong' to Dracula means possession of, and that he considers himself perhaps above humanity and able to take what he pleases and do with it as he wishes. Also, the idea that vampires cannot have sexual contact with one another but only with humans brings to light the idea of sexual tension and a distorted idea of love and lust. Dracula's connection to Johnathon and Lucy hardly seem to be love but rather fascination or need for the contact, for the life blood of the victim.

What is amusing is that vampires in recent media (books, movies, television shows) are more 'human' in a sense and have a capability to do more than act on an animal desire for blood or contact. The idea that a vampire can love is certainly an interesting one, and I can see where the appeal for them being romantic creatures comes from. I love to see the evolution of vampires and how they are portrayed, but one thing that never seems to change is the sexual tension.


  1. I like how you mentioned that modern vampires are less animalistic than the less modern ones. The glaring example that comes to mind is Twilight, and how those vampires are clearly able to love and are about one another, and about humans. I think it adds to the romantic views of vampires, that one will be able to love and care about you.

  2. Emily, I also found Dracula’s characteristics to be interesting. As you noted, Stoker gives him many supernatural qualities that have been stripped away or split into different characters. Dracula in this novel has the ability to not only control wolves but to transform into one. More in line with the vampire archetype, Dracula also had the ability to change into a bat and to seemingly control or hypnotize his prey. I think you would agree, but one of things that has been so enjoyable about our readings so far has been the evolution of the vampire throughout the different novels. Ruthven seems to be the model of the dark and brooding vampire, as mysterious as he is captivating. Heathcliff while not a vampire in the purest sense of the word, still maintains many of the key emotional aspects that Ruthven displayed while also adding an ability to be devilishly devious. Meanwhile Carmilla employed a more natural supernatural aspect of the vampire, she also had the ability to manipulate and pass through walls. Dracula it would seems to succeed in accomplishing all of these while also adding what you note so well, the ability to “retain characteristics of wolves and has control over them as his servants. It is also intriguing that Dracula is depicted in Stoker’s novel as being very hairy.” I didn’t notice that at first, but reviewing his description does call to attention Dracula’s difference in the novel versus his more modern brethren. Great unique post!

  3. Thanks, Andrew. I really do believe the progression of the novels we have read thus far has been an interesting mapping of vampires and vampire-esque characters. I do love to compare all of the characters we have read about thus far and compare them. While none of them are identical, each of them seems to share characteristics with one another. Dracula seems to share the most characteristics with Ruthven and Carmilla, being as mysterious as he is, with so little known about his true self and the fact that he has the ability to hypnotize like you have said and even drive people mad, like poor Jonathon. His depiction in the novel being part wolf, or having control over them is one thing I have not noticed in other vampire novels. In a way, this makes him seem more powerful than the other vampires in literature.