Short essay – Bram Stoker

I decided to publish my short essays on the readings from the Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World course syllabus. The course started on the 1st of June and finished on the 14th of August. The essays were supposed to be around 270-320 words a piece. Today, I publish the essay that I wrote after reading Bram Stoker‘s Dracula.

* These are my views and interpretations only

dracula_book_cover_1902_doubleday_89

Bram Stoker’s Dracula seems to focus on “the other” both in form and content. When I say “the other” I refer to a concept explained to me in my first year Area Studies lectures: “one defines him or herself by comparing oneself to another.”

In this case Dracula is “the other” and we are supposed to identify with the remaining main characters. Dracula is always described as different, as other. He is of a noble lineage, he is Eastern European, he is Un-Dead. This in contrast to the other characters who are – aside from Arthur – part of the middle class, Western European and very much alive.

The form Stoker decided to work with also keenly separates the Count from the other characters: we never get a glimpse into his head, into his motivations. All the others get letters and diary entries in which their thoughts and motivations are very clear. All we know about the Count, we know through observations by and conversations with the other characters. Such as his conversations with Jonathan in the beginning, his outrage at Mina for trying to match wits with him or Van Helsing’s theorizing.

But, the form Bram Stoker decided on also has its drawbacks; at least for me personally. Because they are letters, newspaper clippings and diary entries, the reader is reading about the adventures after the fact, causing a distance between the reader and the actions of the characters. Because you’re reading about something they’ve obviously written down after it happened, you aren’t smack-dab in the middle of it. You can see hints of things to come, but the characters are woefully oblivious of the facts up until the moment they aren’t, which can bring out a feeling of frustration, but keeps the tension running for the entire length of the novel.

All in all, Stoker used both his form and content quite perfectly to construe Count Dracula as “the other”.

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