Dracula Essay, Research Paper
Bram Stoker?s Dracula
Lords of the darkness, Darkling Dancers, Nosferatu, Vrikolakas. And the list goes on like this. The vampire concept is thought by the most to be a myth that has crept into almost every culture. It has influenced many writers to write novels on them and many directors to shoot films on. Vampire myths go back way into the times of first recorded history. Many different legends are known about them varying from the Chinese belief of the glowing red eyed monsters with green or pink hair to the Greek Lamia who has the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a winged serpent and the Japanese belief in the vampire foxes. The most commonly known legend which is widely used in filming is the blood drinking man who can transform into a bat or mist, wearing a black cape with a suit and with fangs in his mouth. This significant type is the one that is been explained widely in the eastern European myths. This vampire preys on human victims which are chosen at random by biting and sucking blood from the veins in the side of the neck at night time. The prey also becomes a vampire and joins the world of the undead. These specific vampires are the ones who cannot stand the sunlight which will burn them and they usually sleep in a coffin during the daytime. It is believed that these vampires are most active during full moon. They are immortal and they can only be killed if a wooden stake is run through the heart or when they are beheaded.
In the year of 1879 an Irish writer, Bram Stoker, unheard with his previous novels and short stories gets inspired on this and writes the most famous books of all times. Here we are at the close of 1998, looking back and seeing the over two hundred theatrical performances and movies made on it. What?s more is that it is the second best seller book after The Bible in Western communities. This cult figure created by the crazy Irishman has effected us in our actions or emotions in some way. Crudely every single person on earth must have heard his name. But why?
Looking onto the novel, there is a perfect gothic look presented to us with its every aspect. Infact every single concept covered comes deep from mythology. It talks about blood and fire, death and love, good and bad, fantasy and magic. And the Count; who sometimes happens to be an atrocital monster, a romantic lover? No doubt, these make the novel even more interesting. But, these things are only the small, tiny bits of a greater picture. This is not just the story of the mystic blood sucker, one feels that it tells us much more than that.
In the essence we see Bram Stoker?s character search for his gothic novel and he makes the perfect choice: Vlad III, the prince of Wallachia, an area now within the borders of Romania, the southern part to be specific. Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler, had fought with the Ottoman Turks in the name of the church, who were expanding into the Balkans. During his fights with the Turks, he lost his throne several times but each time managing to get back onto it. It is mostly believed that he had fallen dead in a fight with the Ottoman army, beheaded and his head taken back to Istanbul, to the Sultan as a proof that the “impaler” was dead. He was also known with his atrocities and impalement where the victim was impaled between the legs with a large, sharpened but not too much stake that was the width of a man?s arm. He especially enjoyed mass impalements where many victims were impaled at once. As the people to be impaled were hung above the ground, their body weight would slowly drag them down and the sharpened stake would slowly run into them, piercing their internal organs. To enjoy this spectacular moments more, he would have a supper with the visions and the sounds of the dying which would take from hours to days.
Instead of going on with the novel, I would like to move on to the best Dracula film that was made until the concept emerged: Francis Ford Coppola?s B. S. Dracula. This movie, unlike many of its clones, pays respect to the novel and even corrects it in places where it differs from actual historical data. Francis Ford Coppola, the Academy Award winning director who has made his name with the Godfather series, processes the story that sends shivers down your spine with effective cinamatography in a perfect way.
The introduction part: 1429? Dracula who is at war with the Ottoman Turks wins success in the name of the church. On the other hand, the witty Ottomans, sends a message to Dracula?s castle that tells Dracula was captivated and dead. His beloved wife believes this message and commits suicide. With a red background and a progresive music we see Dracula weeping after his wife in the next scene. Then the priest comes and tells Dracula that his wife would not be sanctified due to the fact that she should not have committed suicide according to Christianity. And it happens all at that point where he denies god and pierces the cross by saying “I will raise from my own death.” Blood flows out of the cross and he is cursed by God and his soul is taken by the devil. Then he fills a cup from this spilling blood and drinks it as he says “Blood is life and it shall be mine!” His love for his wife exceeds beyond his love of God and this maybe is the most humane aspect of him.
As the film progresses we travel 4 centuries in time. Dracula moving to London, plans to set up a vampire empire in England and to get Jonathan Harker?s wife who he believes is the reincarnation of his wife. After this point we see the struggle between the good and the bad. Consequently, Dracula dies but the curse on him is lifted.
If we concentrate on Dracula as a figure, we note the anti-christ theme after he?s been cursed by God. For Christianity, Dracula is exacly what Christ isn?t. He is often referred as the son of the devil. He portrays the sinner that has once followed the God?s path. This makes up the religious part of the novel which in my opinion adds a lot to it.
Focusing on characters besides Dracula like Mina Harker and Lucy, we see the Victorian mentality and the pressure that has been imposed on them sexually. Mina?s over shyness, Lucy being full of lust but no thought, the secretly read “Arabian Nights” novel are the proofs of sexual pressure that?s being imposed on them. Dracula?s entrance to these women?s lives and his destroyal of all the taboos can be considered as a revolution against the Victorian period. In the men characters? point of view heroic aspects are important. Jonathan Harker?s struggle for Mina, Lucy?s three lovers? and Dr. Van Helsing?s struggle with Dracula from the streets of London to Transilvania exemplifies the welding of courage, hate and love.
Coming back to Dracula, there is lots more to talk about him. For example, the three vampire women living in his castle. These women are both Dracula?s lovers and daughters. And this is an example of Freud?s Odysseia Complex which is the base of Sophokles?s Odysseus tale. In Dracula?s character we also see signs of fascism. At the very beginning of the story when he and Jonathan are having dinner, he gets angry with Jonathan because what he speaks about disturbs his thoughts on his background and he pulls his sword out. In addition, he is always in a fascist approach to the Turks and the Gipsies. With these aspects of his, Dracula follows a political opinion and with his style and manner reminds us of the Nazis.
Keeping all of these in mind we can see why the story of Dracula is so attractive to us. The Dracula character being a cult figure is because of the fact that his character carries the sins and the emotions of the 20th century: killing, rape, incest, fascism? On the other hand, despite all these Dracula did not forget his true love. Maybe everyone of us finds his/her darkness in the Count and that?s why many people sympathise with him. Whatever it is, the truth is that in the end Count Dracula dies but in real world he has promoted to immortality as a heroic and charismatic character.