Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker, published on May 26th, 1897 is the first horror novel in history and ranks among the best of all time. Across the globe, the word “Dracula” has been practically adopted to mean mysterious, frightening, ghost creatures, etc. Bram Stoker’s novel is first of its kind and centers on a vampire that moved from Transylvania to England in other to spread his blood. Dracula is one of the first novels to feature a case of blood transfusions. The book covers areas such as fear, courage feminism, substance abuse, weal, science, religion, and cultism. It has inspired a lot of vampire movies, plays, and novels, one of which Christopher Lee acted as Dracula in 1885.

Introduction

Bram Stoker, an Irish author, wrote a lot of books during his lifetime; however, Dracula is his most prolific book. Some of the major characters in the novel are Dracula, Abraham Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Prince Vlad, Lucy, Christopher Lee, Quincey Morris, etc. Dracula teaches about bravery, how to overcome fear, well, evil, dedication, and the power of wisdom. The depth of this novel is legendary because it depicts the escapades of and Eastern Europe leader Vlad III. The Wallachia ruler gained the name of Vlad the Impaler due to his cruel method of punishing enemies.

Overview

Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, travels to Castle Dracula in the Eastern European country of Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman named Count Dracula. As Harker wends his way through the picturesque countryside, the local peasants warn him about his destination, giving him crucifixes and other charms against evil and uttering strange words that Harker later translates into “vampire.”

Frightened but no less determined, Harker meets the count’s carriage as planned. The journey to the castle is harrowing, and the carriage is nearly attacked by angry wolves along the way. Upon arriving at the crumbling old castle, Harker finds that the elderly Dracula is a well educated and hospitable gentleman. After only a few days, however, Harker realizes that he is effectively a prisoner in the castle.

The more Harker investigates the nature of his confinement, the more uneasy he becomes. He realizes that the count possesses supernatural powers and diabolical ambitions. One evening, Harker is nearly attacked by three beautiful and seductive female vampires, but the count staves them off, telling the vampires that Harker belongs to him. Fearing for his life, Harker attempts to escape from the castle by climbing down the walls.

Meanwhile, in England, Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray, corresponds with her friend Lucy Westenra. Lucy has received marriage proposals from three men—Dr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and an American named Quincey Morris. Though saddened by the fact that she must reject two of these suitors, Lucy accepts Holmwood’s proposal.

Mina visits Lucy at the seaside town of Whitby. A Russian ship is wrecked on the shore near the town with all its crew gone missing and its captain dead. The only sign of life aboard is a large dog that bounds ashore and disappears into the countryside; the only cargo is a set of fifty boxes of earth shipped from Castle Dracula. Not long after, Lucy suddenly begins sleepwalking. One night, Mina finds Lucy in the town cemetery and believes she sees a dark form with glowing red eyes bending over Lucy. Lucy becomes pale and ill, and she bears two tiny red marks at her throat, for which -neither Dr. Seward nor Mina can account. Unable to arrive at a satisfactory diagnosis, Dr. Seward sends for his old mentor, Professor Van Helsing.

Suffering from brain fever, Harker reappears in the city of Buda-Pest. Mina goes to join him. Van Helsing arrives in Whitby, and, after his initial examination of Lucy, orders that her chambers be covered with garlic—a traditional charm against vampires. For a time, this effort seems to stave off Lucy’s illness. She begins to recover, but her mother, unaware of the garlic’s power, unwittingly removes the odiferous plants from the room, leaving Lucy vulnerable to further attack.

Seward and Van Helsing spend several days trying to revive Lucy, performing four blood transfusions. Their efforts ultimately come to nothing. One night, the men momentarily let down their guard, and a wolf breaks into the Westenra house. The shock gives Lucy’s mother a fatal heart attack, and the wolf attacks Lucy, killing her.

After Lucy’s death, Van Helsing leads Holmwood, Seward, and Quincey Morris to her tomb. Van Helsing convinces the other men that Lucy belongs to the “Un-Dead”—in other words, she has been transformed into a vampire like Dracula. The men remain unconvinced until they see Lucy preying on a defenseless child, which convinces them that she must be destroyed. They agree to follow the ritual of vampire slaying to ensure that Lucy’s soul will return to eternal rest. While the undead Lucy sleeps, Holmwood plunges a stake through her heart. The men then cut off her head and stuff her mouth with garlic. After this deed is done, they pledge to destroy Dracula himself.

Now married, Mina and Jonathan return to England and join forces with the others. Mina helps Van Helsing collect the various diary and journal entries that Harker, Seward, and the others have written, attempting to piece together a narrative that will lead them to the count. Learning all they can of Dracula’s affairs, Van Helsing and his band track down the boxes of the earth that the count uses as a sanctuary during the night from Dracula’s castle. Their efforts seem to be going well, but then one of Dr. Seward’s mental patients, Renfield, lets Dracula into the asylum where the others are staying, allowing the count to prey upon Mina.

As Mina begins the slow change into a vampire, the men sterilize the boxes of earth, forcing Dracula to flee to the safety of his native Transylvania. The men pursue the count, dividing their forces, and tracking him across land and sea. Van Helsing takes Mina with him, and they cleanse Castle Dracula by killing the three female vampires and sealing the entrances with sacred objects. The others catch up with the count just as he is about to reach his castle, and Jonathan and Quincey use knives to destroy him.

Mental Illness

Dracula teaches about the meaning of sanity, insanity, and wellness to a great extent. Most of the book centers on the treatment for both “insanity” and “illness” using special care.  At some point, every character in the book questions his or her wellness or sanity. The novel teaches that when people are confined and maltreated, they may develop mental illness. The example is when Jonathan Harker took a trip to Dracula castle and became a prisoner. He went insane due to the long term confinement in prison. When Harker finally escaped, he was treated for a nervous illness.

In today’s society, confinement and maltreatment are two factors that may cause mental illness, amongst other issues. The novel teaches that in exploring alternative approaches to mental health, it is paramount to first understand what mental illness is and its implications.

Today there are many causes of mental illness, and it’s becoming obvious that a combination of factors causes it. Biological factors can also cause mental illness. They include genetics (Hereditary), Infections capable of damaging the brain, prenatal damage, and lots more.

However, the most common cause of mental illness in the 21st century is substance abuse. When people undergo long term substance abuse, it can result in anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins like lead may also cause mental illness. Dracula has many useful lessons for people today. The novel goes further to educate readers about how environmental factors also contribute to mental illness. Some of those factors include death and divorce, dysfunctional family life, loss of a job, and lots more.

Religion

Dracula educates readers on the interactions of Christian belief, occult practices, and science. Dracula was tracked through methodical investigations using these three fields. There were lots of characters in the book that portrayed each of these fields. The Harkers are devoted Protestants and God-fearing group. The author is another character that had an extraordinary Christian life. Dr. Seward was a scientist who also practiced Christianity. He would, most times, combine Christianity and Science in solving problems. However, Christian, science believes, superstition and occult practices became interwoven with most of the characters later in the book.

While in Transylvania, Harker observed that many people have special charms to ward off the surrounding evil. They had powers to chase away vampires, and most characters in the novel looked for superstitious means to fight Dracula. Harker was astonished by how some of these people were successful at what they do. So he combined Christianity with superstition as well.

Dracula draws out rational and irrational beliefs around religious thoughts, scientific thought that was very much a part of Victorian England. Van Helsing is an ardent Christian and a Protestant, but also a man who practices superstitious acts from Central Europe. He was also versed in Biology and Medicine, and he used all his knowledge in search of Dracula and destroyed him. Several characters attempted to capture Dracula, but they were not successful. This is because Dracula was not only a devil walking in England. He was not only a monster, but science could not adequately describe him. Only a combination of science, religion, and superstition could capture and kill Dracula. So, the novel teaches how a combination of different strategies can solve some problems in life.

Female Sexuality

During the Victorian era, women and girls lived very private and quiet lives. Their major roles were limited to the home; being a good housewife, be motherly, innocent, and carry out tedious house works. Dracula’s novel examines the social restrictions which women suffer, and it teaches us how negative it can impact them. Some female characters portrayed the theme of female sexuality. Characters such as Mina and Lucy were a perfect example of how society sees a woman’s sexuality as dangerous and why they must remain under control.

Unfortunately, putting social restrictions on women has a lot of negative consequences, and people ought to be aware of them. Lucy eventually turned into a vampire, and once she did, the first thing she did was to portray all the behaviors that the society didn’t want in women. Lucy turned into a vampire due to social restriction. If she were not confined, Dracula would not have had access to her. She went about kissing people, creating female vampires, and expressing her sexual desires to disrupt the tradition.

The novel also teaches the negative effects of punishing ladies that exhibit their social desires. Arthur killed Lucy to protect society; however, other characters came out in full force to defy society again.

In today’s society, women still face unequal treatment, and Dracula teaches readers about the dangers of such. According to data, women still earn 22% less than their male counterparts in the workplace. Women are always treated with no significance in society, and these date back to ancient times. In an ever-changing and developing world, women need to take a stand and fight against it. Men also need to understand the consequences of such treatments and give women an equal openings and opportunities.

Money

Dracula has many supernatural powers that made him very formidable. However, Money is another major element that made him very powerful and dangerous. He easily engaged in economic exchanges and influenced people with his money. He bought a new home through a perfectly legal and commonplace financial transaction. He paid for his travels to and from England rather than using his magical powers to travel. He was able to blindfold people with his wealth and lure them into captivity. With enough money, Dracula could carry out his plan. Dracula was so wealthy that he stacks up gold in most corners of his home.

Dracula teaches how wealth can corrupt, absolutely leading to deviant attitudes. Some people are not able to manage wealth positively; instead, they use their wealth to oppress others and the system. Most rich people would do anything they can to get what they want irrespective of the adverse effects of their actions. Wealth also leads to the creation of frustrated individuals in most societies. Dracula is an exciting novel that exposes the wrong use of wealth and also how to solve such negativity in the society.

Conclusion

Dracula is one of the most successful novels in history. It has been translated into more than 44 languages. Despite initial mixed reviews, this novel sold 3000 copies in 1897. Today the novel has sold millions of copies maintaining its pole position as best horror novels of all time.  The most exciting thing is that Dracula is the basis for the entire gene of vampire novels and movies.

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