16 de ago. de 2022

Dracula - Bram Stoker - Review

Synopsis: Dracula is the most famous vampire in modern and contemporary literature, cited in the Guinness Book as the fictional monster with the highest number of media appearances -- direct or indirect... Originally published in 1897, inspired by Romanian folklore accounts ( collected by Stoker) about the occurrence of nosferatus, or undead, and in the infamous saga of Prince Vlad III Drakulya, the son of the Dragon. Voivode (warlord) of Wallachia and Transylvania who fought against the Turks in the 15th century. |...| The novel "Dracula" defined the archetype of the modern vampire as the diabolical being who feeds on the blood of his victims and has extraordinary powers... [Wikipedia] 'Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula'.' In addition to the significant influence of literary sources on Dracula (Lord Ruthwen, John Polidori's vampire; Sir Francis Varney, James Malcolm Rymer's vampire and J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Countess Karnstein are the most likely ancestors).

Review: "Dracula"

Stories about vampires date back much further than we usually assume, and come from a variety of places and cultures. We see them in ancient Babylon, in ancient Rome and Greece, in India, in China and even in the Inca civilization. On the other hand, we find in Bram Stoker's “Dracula” a portrait of vampires that survives to this day in the popular imagination and is hardly ignored by any author who conceives a story about vampires. What virtues of the work explain this reality? Is it worth reading these days?

In his diary, Jonathan Harker records his visit to Count Dracula's castle. Well received by the earl, Jonathan sees no dangers in staying with him. As time passes, the good guy notices that he has become the vampire's prisoner. He tries to escape the castle, in vain.

One day, Jonathan finds himself in the company of women described by him as terrifying and decides to make another attempt to escape from the castle, claiming that he would rather risk dying climbing its walls than staying there. Would the then narrator be successful?

Just reading the work to know. Without continuing with the narration of Jonathan's experience, the story is told by other narrators, who also participate. Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra retell the story through letter correspondence.

Longtime friends, Mina and Lucy argue over love issues. Mina was engaged to Jonathan Harker, showing in her letters that she loves him immensely. Lucy, in turn, at the age of 20 receives three marriage proposals. It introduces a new narrator of the story: Dr. Seward.

As the narrative progresses, inexplicable events occur again with Lucy. This is when all the structures in which the story is told intersect again.

It is told through an epistolary narrative. It relies on letters, journal entries and newspaper articles. This type of narrative was not Bram Stoker's invention, having emerged in the 17th century and reached its peak in the 18th century. However, it was very well used by the author.

The confessional tone of the diaries and letters bring great verisimilitude to the story. Everything is told in the smallest details, making it absolutely real in the reader's mind and with him sharing the characters' afflictions, being empathetic to them.

We can also see in “Dracula” an influence of Gothic literature. She wasn't Bram Stoker's creation either. It is a branch of Romanticism that emerged in England in 1764, with the release of “The Castle of Otranto” by Horace Walpole. In books of Gothic literature, it is common to find large and gloomy castles.

In “Dracula”, he was the environment in which the main actions of the villain took place. One aspect that differentiates Bram Stoker's work from works of Gothic literature is that the castle is just one of the many environments in the plot. Another common feature between “Dracula” and Gothic literature is in its melodramatic characters, whose deep emotions were expressed through epistolary narrative.

I stated in the first paragraph of the review that the creation of vampires dates from a period long before the publication of “Dracula”. Nor was it in the work that the first appearance of vampires in Literature occurred. It was in “The Vampire”, a work by the Englishman John Polidori, that the introduction of the vampire in the field of prose took place.

For the design of the character, Bram Stoker was inspired by urban legends from western Europe. In European folklore there are no specific records of vampires, but of demons and witches. The author gathered elements of them to build his representation of a vampire in "Dracula".

In addition to legends, Bram Stoker also studied the history of Western Europe to conceive "Dracula". Upon meeting Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia, the author got inspiration for the construction of his villain. Vlad Tepes was also known as Vlad Dracul. With him, Dracula had great similarities.

Vampires have representations that can be reconstructed. In “Dracula”, Bram Stoker brought new things to this, some of which survive to this day. The fragility to holy water, the crucifix and the sun are just a few examples.

Dracula was the most fearsome villain of his day. Today, he is the best-known vampire in fiction. In a context in which epidemics ravaged humanity, Bram Stoker portrayed vampirism as something transmissible.

Dracula was a member of an aristocracy and had devilish characteristics, which is different from representing the biblical devil himself. Inhabiting a region situated between East and West, and constituting a creature between the living and the dead, the villain of this story was between the human and the diabolical.

In a context in which the bourgeoisie was consolidated as the ruling class of society, Bram Stoker associated Dracula with the aristocracy. From the point of view of human sexuality, the author linked both the aristocracy and the working class to the unregulated practice of sex, something condemned by the bourgeois. The habit of drinking, shared by the aristocracy and the workers, was associated with Dracula, representing something to be repelled.

In the work reviewed here, Bram Stoker showed great confidence in science. Following the trends of his time, the author illustrated both science and knowledge as areas restricted to the male domain. At the time, the role of women in science was naturally restricted to supporting their husbands, as was the case with Mina. In this respect, the work contrasts with Mary Shelley's “Frankstein”.

In “Dracula”, misogyny and vampirism went hand in hand. At the time of her conception, the woman was crying out for financial and sexual independence. In this scenario, the man saw his privileges at risk, causing Stoker to reject these desires. By bringing vampires to work, he metaphorized the transmission of venereal diseases as something associated with women's sexual independence.

This misogynist bias through which Stoker portrayed the female claims of her time is associated with her biography. His mother was a strong-willed feminist. His wife, after the birth of their second child, refused to have sex with the author. This impelled him to seek out new women, leading him to contract syphilis.

On the other hand, familiarity with the feminist movement led the author to illustrate women as having the same capabilities as men in the labor market. During the storyline, for example, Dracula's supernatural powers were subjugated by a woman.

Another influence of the historical context and social values ​​of the time on the plot is xenophobia. In the 19th century, England was at the height of its colonial empire. India, China and Africa were some of the regions under English influence. Shortly before the publication of “Dracula”, Transylvania was involved in the Eastern Question.

In that context, there was the well-known fear of the reverse of colonization. It was based on the possibility of contact with different cultures bringing “inferior” ways of cultural manifestations to European territory. In the novel, there is mention of invasions that England suffered from other peoples and the fight against Dracula represented a metaphor about the fight against cultures and peoples of Eastern Europe.

The way this story was structured pleased me a lot. Bram Stoker knew how to create an atmosphere of mystery in relation to inexplicable events and, as the narrative progressed, he provided explanations for them. I have great esteem for stories in which everything is completed and explained and nothing is mentioned at random.

Many vampire stories emerged after "Dracula". I see in horror books some aspects of the work being perfected by other authors. I am surprised that, despite this, the work did not seem outdated to me.

The language used by Bram Stoker was quite simple. Simpler than many books that are not classics. Simple but elegant. And fluid, something we naturally consider ideal.

Original Title: Dracula

Author: Bram Stoker

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Vampire, Terror, Fantasy, Film/TV Adaptation, Horror, World literature & Classics

review by

Sidney Matias

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário