After eighteen years of hearing the name Dracula and theorizing about yet another love story between said count and a pretty lady (thanks, Twilight and just about every vampire-related thing in modern media), I finally got the chance to actually read the classic.
And oh man, did I say I thought Dracula was going to be a love story, with a glittery and beautiful vampire, a clumsy, mortal human and all? HAHA, I’m funny.
Written in 1897, Dracula is Bram Stoker’s most famous novel. The story is told through a series of letters written to by the various characters to each other and personal notes & diaries, beginning with those of Jonathan Harker. A lawyer who travels to Count Dracula’s house to conduct a real estate transaction, Harker pretty soon figures out that Dracula isn’t like your average rich royalty: he’s weird, as in he never eats, scales up and down his walls, can control wolves, owns two beautiful yet baby-eating lady-monsters and, well, has Harker locked up. The rest of the story follows Harker, his wife Mina and a group of his friends’ attempt to trap and kill the Count when the latter begins to spread his influence to London (and tries to take control of Mina).
Dracula is certainly a very interesting read — though at some times, I could have done with less of Van Helsing’s notes, but I understand it may have to do with his way of speech — and it launches itself through the collective journeys of the main five characters. Not a huge fan of Stoker’s insinuation that the female expression of sexuality is a threat: that Dracula plans to use women and their sexuality to lure men into his trap and eventually destroy England seems to imply that a woman’s unconstrained desires will lead to man’s downfall. Now, given that this was written during the Victorian ages, I understand that Stoker’s mindset was largely a product of society’s attitude and beliefs. It’s just, at some points, the male characters’ worship of Mina’s purity and innocence is a bit excessive.
Of course, the novel also heavily emphasizes Christian salvation — and through that, the victory of good over evil: throughout the novel, the characters are trying to fight Dracula with weapons that hold symbolic value in Christianity. At the same time, they attempt to cleanse the souls of the Un-dead using rituals founded in Christian beliefs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but perhaps the ending was a little abrupt. The whole novel chronicles the characters attempts to eradicate Dracula, but then his actual death is literally on the last page of the book and BAM, that’s it. A little anti-climatic, you can say. Still, perhaps Stoker’s focus is more on the message itself: the good will always prevail.