2 – Dracula: The Ultimate Gothic Novel

dracula

Abraham Van Helsing

Our journey to hunt down Count Dracula and rid the world of his evil was a dark and fearsome time.

After receiving the unknowing help of Mr. Jonathan Harker in securing a series of residences, Count Dracula came secretly into the very heart of England. Once there he struck quickly, slowly draining the life from young Lucy Westenra. In the later part of her struggle against what was then an unknown ailment I was called by friend Jack Steward to offer whatever aid I could manage. I soon came to the conclusion as to the real nature of her condition, but was too late to save her. Only by piercing her heart with a stake and cutting off her head while she lay in her tomb were we able to free her spirit from its un-dead host. By doing thus our band of courageous men and woman was formed.

The story of Dracula has been portrayed in countless ways over the years with very few of the cinematic interpretations giving any justice to the original work. So when I picked up the book I had no idea what to expect. In hindsight I can say with 100% honesty that the original version of Count Dracula far exceeded my original expectations.

I don’t know why this book isn’t read in schools more. It captures the nature of the gothic genre better than any other book I’ve read, and yes I have read Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. I am aware of the sexual undertones that this book has, as well as the religious focus, but this is hardly the only book with a religious theme. Look at The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne; it’s not exactly avoiding the topics of God, sin, and commandments.

But I digress…

As an avid reader, an English major, and a writer I get excited about the form in which a book is written. Dracula is one of the best examples of an unreliable narrator I have ever read, and this is due to the form in which Bram Stoker chooses to tell the story through the use of letters, journal entries, and various other documents. Each narrator is functioning as a limited first person perspective, a viewpoint that is often unreliable; however, the beauty is how each one is intertwined with the rest. It is a work of art overlaying a very dark plot.

Astonishingly this book is not a satanic novel written in the gothic genre as I have previously been lead to. It is in fact a Christian allegory. Once you understand Stoker’s background in being raised an Irish Catholic it makes sense. During that time religious sentiments ran much deeper than they do today and an author almost always included references to their particular ecclesiastical affiliations in their writing. Bram Stoker’s success in accomplishing such a dark allegory is highly commendable and should be acknowledged more frequently.

This may be hard to believe, but consider what we know of Dracula: he is the spawn of Satan (as is referenced on multiple occasions throughout the book), he is a seductive character, he has the ability to change shape in order to suit his needs, and he is afraid of holy symbols. When you also examine the fact that Dracula is only present concretely in the beginning, the end, and a few short scenes in the middle he gains the illusion of a being without substance. The result is a strong allusion that Dracula is the embodiment of Sin. The journey of the main characters, especially those of the two women in the story, is the story of an individual’s journey from sin to redemption.

I could go on describing and providing evidence for this hypothesis for a great many pages, but I worry that I would lose everyone’s interest. If you would like me to go into this much detail than please let me know in the comments.

I read this book for a class to determine if I felt like it should remain as canon literature. I created a PowerPoint, a board game, and a verbal presentation to explain my conclusion to the rest of the class. In brief, why isn’t this book read more often in classes? Everyone reads Frankenstein, a great book, but no one I have ever met read Dracula for school. Very few people have ever read Dracula period. There have been numerous movies depicting Dracula in a variety of ways, but none of these (as far as I can tell), come close to the original. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a masterpiece.

 

Rating: ★★★★★

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This entry was posted in 2016 Book Challenge, Adult Fiction, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction, Thriller, World of Books and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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