Dracula has been interpreted a myriad of ways over the years, with many focusing on its depiction of women and sexuality or simply describing it as a battle between good and evil. And these are valid ways to look at the book, but one significant message of Dracula is its...
Dracula has been interpreted a myriad of ways over the years, with many focusing on its depiction of women and sexuality or simply describing it as a battle between good and evil. And these are valid ways to look at the book, but one significant message of Dracula is its emphasis on contrasting the past and the present, the ancient world clashing against modernity.
The conflict between the ancient past and the modern world was nothing new in gothic literature, but Dracula especially emphasizes it. Modern technologies connect the world through telegraphs and telephones and allow people to survive illnesses that killed people long ago, yet the vampire is still able to wreak havoc on the populace. Modern blood transfusions are unable to rescue Lucy from becoming one of the undead, and only ancient methods of destroying vampires can save Mina's soul from corruption. Even Jonathan Harker, long before he learns his host is a vampire, can sense the power the ancients still hold over the modern world:
Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last. It is the nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere "modernity" cannot kill.
(A contextual note: shorthand was considered new-fangled at the time of Stoker's writing, hence why Jonathan deems it "up-to-date with a vengeance," compared to a longer, old-fashioned love letter.)
There is a greater meaning to the ancient vampire's lingering power: going back to the view of Dracula as a classic tale of good and evil, Dracula represents the ultimate in evil: selfish, cruel, violent, and corrupt. Because Dracula still has power even in the modern world, Stoker is similarly suggesting evil is something modern manners and technology cannot simply dispel.