Tag Archives: dracula
Artwork courtesy of Recovering the Classics
//01: Cosplaying another vampire
Lestat in a rocky version of Dracula. Hope you’ll like it 🙂
i’m rereading dracula and honestly once it gets into the main plot in england it drags a bit but the opening chapters hold up as some of the most entertaining stuff ever written. like is there anything more delightful in all of horror literature than the rapid escalation from “dear diary: just had a delicious chicken dinner here in rural transylvania, the scenery is beautiful and the locals are so cute with their quaint superstitions” to “dear diary: i made it to castle dracula and things are…pretty weird actually” to “dear diary: i am a prisoner here, the count keeps eyeing me hungrily and also i just watched him crawl down the side of the castle like a lizard so uh. Im Fucked Bye”
One of my favorite parts of dracula is when lucy needs an emergency blood transfusion and jack starts rolling up his sleeve but then van helsing stops him and is like “no. we need to go get arthur from the other room. we need his manly blood. your wimpy nerd blood isn’t going to do anything” and jack is like “shit ur right.”
Thoughts on Vampires, Mesmerism, and Horrifying Other Selves
I caught up again, and I’m thinking a lot about Lucy today, and how I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% certain how I feel about her vampiric self. I’ll be the first to admit that the vampiric Lucy speaks to the fact that Bram Stoker really seems to enjoy creating monstrous women and assigning hyper-violent deaths to them, and this no doubt reflects his rather misogynist views regarding acceptable gendered behavior. At the same time, I also think a lot about how Lucy became a vampire in a world that didn’t necessarily see a continuity between a person before they were a vampire and a person after they were a vampire. I think there’s a tendency nowadays to view vampires as essentially human beings, albeit ones with a radically different biology and an unfortunate diet, and I’m not sure if 19th century readers would come naturally to that assessment.
A lot of my interest in the novel revolves around how it might have been received at a time when philosophical materialism seemed like a scary and threatening thing, and how that impacts the book’s ideas about the brain and the soul. While I don’t agree entirely with Anne Stiles absolutely marvelous essay on the topic, I find something very compelling about her insinuation that Lucy as a vampire is the natural end of Ferrier’s brain science: an entity that acts, however complexly, according to the stimuli provided by an infernal vivisector. I do believe that Lucy as a vampire retains some part of the human Lucy, given her reaction to Arthur, but I’m very unconvinced by attempts to wholly explain her vampiric self as an emerging part of her human subconscious. Besides the fact that a lot of these arguments hinge on really awful victim-blaming insinuations about how Lucy somehow desires her own assaults, I think that Dracula’s role as a mesmerist/hypnotist is often overlooked in the equation. I mentioned earlier Wells’ assertion in The Island of Dr. Moreau that hypnotism is the mental equivalent to the physical self-altering vivisection Moreau perpetuates, and I think that there’s a precedent with Trilby that would indicate that the mesmeric process (at least in fiction) can create a sub-personality that’s something between the mesmerist and the mesmerizer, a second self intermixed with that of one’s violator that may operate on its own even out of its originator’s influence.
This read-through I thought a lot about the actual emergence of the vampiric self, and how Lucy, even not knowing what it was seemed driven to resist it. The back and forth with the garlic and her final plea to Van Helsing are seriously absolutely terrifying to me in the context of the vampiric Lucy as the sort of construct described. I’m not certain how aware Stoker was of all the implications of this sort of thing (He had one source that mentioned both double personalities and mesmeric control but we can’t prove he read it), but I think that for the period it would be possible to see the vampiric Lucy as being in some way an extension of the Count, a parasitic personality that’s a mixture of the human Lucy’s memories and Dracula’s mesmeric will. I still enjoy a lot of the literature, fic, and analyses that maintain human Lucy and vampiric Lucy are functionally one and the same, but that thought of the emerging vampire as something inflicted by an outsider is something that resonates with me deeply, and it’s one of the few ideas from the novel that genuinely causes me to have trouble sleeping at night.
It’s three years since I wrote this, and I realize that I successfully defended a thesis in which this text post was teased out into a full chapter.
favorite vampire movies/series or books?
Dracula, of course. If you dig the epistolary format, I suggest you check The Historian. I am not the biggest fan of the “Stoker’s Dracula is Vlad III” theory/Florescu’s stuff, but the book is still beautiful and the characters are nice and good and very human. Then the “alternate international versions” of Dracula, like Powers of Darkness or Dracula in Istanbul.
Let the right one in. This one feels sad, dark and oppressive. I really loved it.
After 90 years. It’s a short novella, but you all should read it if you are into folkloric vampires over modern ones.
Shadow of the Vampire, Byzantium… there’s also a load of good versions of Dracula to choose from. Then there’s Van Helsing, which is my guilty pleasure.
Dracula 200% does not have any characters who turn into passive pawns devoid of personality, IMO. (Dracula *tries* to turn Mina into a pawn, quite literally through mind-control, but it ends up backfiring spectacularly when she turns their psychic connection back around on him to help defeat him.) The main issue with it as regards what radiatorfromspace wants is that all the canon romances are between humans. (Dracula/Mina was a thing added in by later movie adaptations)
(cont’d) (I mean, you could make an argument for Dracula and his Brides, but nothing about their relationship is really shown as positive or romantic. Everything else consists of vampires victimizing unwilling humans, which is definitely not romantic *or* consensual.)
[^This was a followup response to this post from @radiatorfromspace]
Thanks for this addition, @luanna801!
(Dracula *tries* to turn Mina into a pawn, quite literally through mind-control, but it ends up backfiring spectacularly when she turns their psychic connection back around on him to help defeat him.)
^Hmmmm, maybe I’ll give it a try, that’s intriguing. I’ve seen a few of the film adaptations but not watched them with the attention they deserved.
Re: Dracula and his Brides, I like this comparison pic of them from the 1931 “Dracula” v. the ones from the 2004 ”VAN HELSING”, and while I haven’t watched the ‘31 adaptation, from this still one could argue that they look frumpy/dowdy by today’s standards, but maybe they’re MORE scary bc of the no-frills aesthetic. Could be that that way of dressing and hairstyling was sexual and scary for its time. Plus historical context, the Depression, World War I, all that stuff would need to be considered.
The Brides always struck me as being pretty flat, I don’t remember them having distinctive personalities, and maybe the polygamy of it felt like Dracula was collecting a harem rather than really respecting and loving each of them as individuals, but again, I haven’t read the book to know if they do each have their own developed character and/or a more substantive relationship with him. Or maybe the sister-wife aspect was part of the horror of the story, or perhaps the story was ahead of its time in terms of polyamory being more socially accepted today. Again, historical context would be needed for all of that, but it’s all good food for thought.
(I mean, you could make an argument for Dracula and his Brides, but nothing about their relationship is really shown as positive or romantic. Everything else consists of vampires victimizing unwilling humans, which is definitely not romantic *or* consensual.)
I’ll leave this part unaddressed bc I’m not invested enough in Dracula to engage in a discussion about this part, I hope that’s okay with you.