Dracula eText - Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

Bram Stoker

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Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

As you read Dracula, be aware of the following:

  1. Stoker employs an unconventional writing format, using journals, letters, and telegrams from the main characters to tell the story of Dracula. The shifting point of view allows Stoker to manipulate the reader's understanding of the story by revealing events through differing perspectives. This writing technique also adds to the suspense of the novel.

  2. Dracula is a typical Gothic novel that contains the following characteristics:

  3. Themes, Motifs, and Symbols:

    • Logic, reason, and salvation are lost in the face of desire. Both men and women are able to be controlled by the seductive influences of a vampire. The loss of reason leads to the loss of one's soul.

    • Female sexuality is detrimental to Victorian society. Throughout Dracula, Victorian ideals are expressed and adhered to, especially in regard to women. Women are partrayed as dependent, innocent, and domestic creatures who rely solely on men for happiness and financial stability. Victorian women do not express their desires outwardly, and they certainly do not act upon them. Notice, however, what happens when a female is unable to resist her suppressed desires. Acting on these impulses and desires, is sinful, especially for women; Stoker invokes vampirism/damnation as one result of these actions.

    • Science vs. Superstition: Science is a powerful concept, dependent on logic and reasoning. Utilizing scientific information is essential for doctors who are treating ill patients. Throughout Dracula, however, science is questioned, and superstitions become truth for many of the characters. Dr. Seward and Van Helsing have great internal conflicts when they are forced to choose between their reasoning and intellect and superstition.

    • The Weird Sisters: The three vampire sisters become tempters of men throughout the novel. They symbolize the loss of reasoning ability that results when someone gives in to temptation.

    • Czarina Catherine: This is the name of Dracula's ship. Czarina Catherine the Great (1729-1796) was a Russian empress who was known for her modern way of thinking, as well as for her promiscuity. The Czarina Catherine becomes a symbol of Mina's possible future and of Count Dracula's desires. If Van Helsing's plan fails, Mina's future will be filled with deceit and lustful attacks to satisfy her bloodthirsty desire.

  4. Stoker's villain, Count Dracula, was based on the infamous Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia), which gives the Count and the novel a sense of verisimilitude. Refer to the Glossary for a more in-depth explanation of Vlad Tepes.