“Dracula” is a horror novel by Bram Stoker. It was first published in 1897. Over the years, the book has been translated and revised several times. In this paper, the author explores the structure and setting of the novel, themes, characters, as well as symbolism and subjectivity.
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An analysis of other scholarly writers and their arguments about the novel will also be provided (Belsey 34). A critical evaluation of “Dracula” reveals that it is an epistolary novel with a number of intertwining themes. The plot of the story is supported by symbolism and subjectivity as literary techniques.
“Dracula”: A Synopsis
The book tells a horror story. It portrays events taking place in England and Transylvania. The story is set in the 1890s. It begins with John Hacker, a solicitor visiting Count Dracula (Stoker 2). The Count lives in Carpathian Mountains. The solicitor intends to provide legal support. He is working on his employer’s real estate.
While at the Count’s castle, the solicitor encounters three female vampires. Dracula comes to his rescue. Afterwards, Dracula moves away from Transylvania. In the meantime, Mina is writing to her friend. The girl is Harker’s fiancée. Three men approach Mina’s friend for marriage. She accepts Holmond’s proposal and rejects those from Seward and Quincey (Schaffer 385).
Mina decides to visit Lucy at Whiteby. A ship has been wrecked. The whereabouts of the crew remain unknown. In addition, the captain died. After a while, Lucy starts to sleepwalk. Mina finds her in the cemetery. She sees an object bending over her. She falls sick and Dr. Seward sends for his mentor, Professor Helsing. The professor determines her condition but refuses to disclose it (Stoker 45).
Mina and Jonathan join others in destroying Dracula. They go through journals and diaries to trace the Count. Dracula is able to access the asylum. He starts nagging Mina. Mina is transformed. She becomes a vampire. Dracula is forced to go back to Transylvania.
His trail is followed over land and sea. Meanwhile, Heising and Mina come into contact with the vampires. They manage to kill them. Finally, they use sacred objects to block access to the building. The people catch up with the Count as he gets into the castle. Jonathan and Quincey use knives to kill him (Schaffer 390).
“Dracula”: Structure and Setting
“Dracula” is an epistolary novel. It is composed of journals, letters, and diary entries. It also uses telegrams and newspaper clippings. A number of people have made contributions to the novel. They include Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, and Seward. Lucy Westerna and Abraham also made major contributions. The book is largely journalistic (Dittmer 240).
Analysis of Themes
Modernity is evident in the novel. For example, Harker is uncomfortable with the lodgings provided by his host at the castle. In addition, Stoker moves the story from the old castle to modern Victorian London. Helsing brings together modern and ancient schools of thought. For example, in chapter 17, he warns Seward that they should get rid of the monster. The move illustrates modernity (Byron 50).
Female Sexuality and Homosexuality
Stoker addresses the issue of sexuality in the book. A Victorian woman in “Dracula” has two options. She is either ‘pure’ or a mother. If she is neither of these, she is regarded as a whore and a useless person. In addition, homosexuality is regarded as an indecency in the society (Yu 150).
Even though it is a minor theme, reverse colonization gives the reader an understanding of ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ cultures. A case in point is how the British view Transylvania. They regard it as a society full of social and political instabilities. Dracula travels to London. His shift depicts Britain as the scene of the conflicts. One can argue that the Count represents conquerors and vampires. The ‘animals’ colonize their victims instead of killing them. Consequently, they subvert the host’s culture while strengthening theirs (Arata 636).
The novel has several characters. The first is Jonathan Harker. He plays a number of roles. For example, he is a solicitor. In addition, he is engaged to Mina. He is also held captive in Dracula’s castle. Count Dracula is another character. He is from Transylvanian. He owns a residence in London. Westerna is Mina’s best friend. Holmwood is Lucy’s suitor and fiancée. John Seaward is a doctor. Helsing is a Dutch professor (Senf 4).
“Dracula”: Symbolism and Subjectivity
Stoker uses symbols to enhance the flow of the plot and to make it more captivating (Dittmer 241). A case in point is the depiction of the three sisters. They appear in Hacker’s dreams. They illustrate sexual proficiency, but they are evil. Another use of symbolism involves the stake driven through Lucy’s heart. It is meant to kill the devil in her and purify her. The use of the name Czarina Catherina is also symbolic. It is the name of a ship. It was derived from a Russian empress known for her promiscuity (Yu 154).
Subjectivity is also used in “Dracula”. It relates to how a person experiences things. A case of subjectivity is seen when Jonathan moves into Count’s castle. He shifts from the known to the unknown. On his way, he encounters people with conspicuous features and customs. However, he views his experiences as adventure (Senf 3). He also acknowledges the superstitious nature of people in this region. Gradually, he sees some truth in these superstitions.
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“Dracula” is an interesting epistolary novel. It is set in Victorian London. Stoker addresses a number of themes, including modernity, sexuality, and reverse colonization. Symbolism and subjectivity are used to develop the plot of the story and bring to life the various characters.
Arata, Stephen. “The Occidental Tourist: ‘Dracula’ and Anxiety of Reverse Colonization.” Victorian Studies 33.4 (1990): 621-645. Print.
Belsey, Catherine. Critical Practice (New Accents). 2nd ed. 2002. New York: Routledge. Print.
Byron, Glennis, Bram Stoker’s Gothic and the Resources of Science. 2015. Web.
Dittmer, Jason. “Dracula and the Cultural Construction of Europe.” Connotations: A Journal of Critical Debate 12.2-3 (2003): 233-248. Print.
Schaffer, Talia. “‘A Wilde Desire Took Me’: The Homoerotic History of Dracula.” English Literary History 61.2 (1994): 381-425. Print.
Senf, Carol. “Rethinking the New Woman in Stoker’s Fiction: Looking at the Lady Athlyne.” Journal of Dracula Studies 7.1 (2007): 1-8. Print.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula, New York: Dover Publications. Print.
Yu, Eric. “Productive Fear: Labor Sexuality and Mimicry in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.2 (2006): 145-170. Print.