Sunday, January 31, 2010


Stoker, Bram.  Dracula. New York : Signet Classic, 1992. $4.95. ISBN:  0451523377.  (Image Credit: Cape May County Library)

In the wake of popular vampire fiction, I thought I would take a step back and read the classic, Dracula.  Bram Stoker is the author of this macabre classic, setting the tone for today's modern tale of blood-sucking entities.  Stoker weaves a Victorian epistolary tale, where a group of friends unites in a fight to bring down the monster they know as Count Dracula.

Stoker takes the reader from the outskirts of Transylvania to England's Whitby and London, and back to the Carpathians.  He never truly describes Dracula's motives, outside of contaminating the modern world with his venom. He depicts the creature and powerful and calculating. Stoker focuses mainly upon the characters who set out to bring their revenge and death to the vampire, Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker, Professor Van Helsing, Dr. Serward, Quincy Morris, and Lord Godalming.  It is their unity and belief in justice that solidfy their motives and direction, as they pursue a creature they are afraid will be the end of all mankind.

Bram Stoker envisions vampires as hell-born creatures.  They look for helpless victims, in particular, women.  Once Lucy and Mina are infected by Dracula, they begin to lose their pureness.  They become seductive, volumptuous and sexualized.  They slowly lose the values that make them ideal Victorian women, even though they struggle against the changes that occur within themselves.  The men in the novel set out to stop Dracula from corrupting virutous women into sexual, killing creatures.

Stoker has cemented many of the characteristics we now associate with the modern vampire, shape-shifters, blood-sucking, sexual, and powerful monsters.  Humans are lured in by their overwhelming and seductive power.  They are almost helpless to fight against it.  Humans are easily transfixed by the vampires beauty, thus becoming a victim its lust and needs.  Although, the novel was written in 1897, it manages to convey both the Victorian's moral standards, as well as a strong sexual undertone that makes the idea of vampires so alluring.  It is a tale that has been told, and re-told, in many ways, and yet, it still has the power to capture the attention and imagination of today's modern reader.  Before Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris, Bram Stoker envisioned a world where vampires lurk in the dark waiting to find their next seductive meal.  He has created a tale that never seems to die out, just as the vampire itself.  It is a story that constantly captures the imagination with the possibility that such beings exist.  With elements such as death, sex, power, and adventure, it is not hard to see why the idea of vampires continues to be a modern obsession.