Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Book: Dracula by Bram Stocker

I know I haven't been reading many new books lately but I thought I'd write a bit about the one's that I am rereading, and this morning I finished Dracula again. I just love this book, its the way that it's written, in the diary, letter and newspaper cuttings format that makes it different, and to me enjoyable (in contrast to Sherlock Holmes written around the same time, which I am not such a big fan of). This book is seriously better than all of the more modern Vampire books in excistance, particularly Twilight I'm afraid! 


One of the major issues found in the book (in my opinion) is that of women and their place. When reading the book there are actually very few female characters, and only two of the central characters (Lucy and Mina) are female. Though there are other minor female characters, such as Mrs Westerna and the Nun who looks after Jonathan, both who play minor roles. And then there is Dracula's Brides (though they are not referred to as that in the novel) who are seen about 3 times throughout. However the female characters aren't always used in a good way, both Mina and Lucy are 'seduced' by Dracula, with Lucy dying and becoming Un-Dead herself, while Mina comes very close, which seems as though Stoker wants to portray women as easily seduced and corrupted, shown particularly by the scar Mina gets when Van Helsing touches her with the Holy Wafer. And this can also be shown through the female Vampires themselves. 


The three women who live at Castle Dracula are said to be volumptious and hypnotic, and simular words are used to describe Lucy when she is a vampire, along with seductive. This is quite in contrast with the words used to describe both Mina and Lucy's appearances while they are both human, which is mostly use of the word pretty. This seems to show that the devil has corrupted the women and made them desirable and so that men want them. Ultimately the use of more female vampires than male vampires shows that Stoker thinks that women are more suseptable to evil. In a way this is also shown by the fact that the female vampires in Dracula seem to drink the blood of children, as seen by Jonathan by the child in the sack and then by Lucy as the bloofer lady. In contrast Dracula himself is only mentioned drinking the blood of adults, with Lucy, Mina and the mother of the child he brought for his brides, and with the death of the ships crew. This almost suggests that Dracula has more concience than the female vampires, though it could also simply be a twist on the caring and nutureing qualities that women at the time would have been expected to have. 


One thing that is suprising after seeing the above points, is the role that Mina herself actually plays. When told the facts about something she comes up with suggestions and ideas that non of the male characters have, and in most cases her hunches are correct and her ideas come in useful. Mina is a character that knows her mind and once she has made a decision she sticks to it, and sometimes even reaches the same conclusions as the male characters. An example being when Van Helsing and Dr Seward decide that they can't let Mina into their confidence in case Dracula reads her mind, Mina herself has come to that conclusion and sends word that she won't be coming to the conferences through her husband Jonathan Harker. Though there is often much talk of her being protected she is given a weapon for herself while in Translyvania and does seem to aid the male characters in any way possible, after all it is down to her that they had all the information together and in order after Lucy's death. 


Mina is described as someone 'with a man's brain and a woman's heart' and Van Helsing does say that God must have made her for a person. In this way Mina is just as strong as many of the male characters and yet different as well, she is certainly a key character in the novel. 


I'm SORRY I got a little English ified! I did English Literature at A2 level and one of my coursework pieces was on feminism, though I did that on Little Women, when I was reading Dracula again though I did wish that I'd done it on that its so interesting! I would write what else I like about the book but I really don't have time! Literally I am so sorry about the fact that I just went off like that, it is an important issue with the book. 


This is definately a book worth reading!


Til Next Time, 
L x