*SPOILER ALERT* (You should have read Dracula by now anyway)
The well-known novel Dracula, is everything it lives up to be: gore, horror, love, passion, thriller and of course, blood-sucking, baby-killing vampires. I have always wanted to give this book a try, but never actually picked it up. I am a wimp, a get scared at comedy horrors… So, you can understand why I always avoided Dracula. However, for my third year at University, I decided to pick gothic narratives, because besides the fact I am the biggest wimp on the planet, I do want to write thriller novels and the gothic genre as we know it does interest me… So what do you know, Dracula is on the reading list. Fantastic!
I thought Dracula was a brilliant novel with an interesting narrative structure. The story is told to us by different characters who write in their diary. We are informed of things by diary, letter, telegram, newspaper clippings… it is really intriguing to feel, as a reader, like one of the characters yourself. The tale of Dracula is very well-known, but I never knew the full story. Besides a few minor lagging parts of the story, which is expected with this kind of novel, I couldn’t put it down. I was constantly eager to find out what the evil, that is Dracula, would do next to his many victims. I was surprised I enjoyed the novel this much, but I did and would definitely recommend.
The book brilliantly adapts to the medieval times and a wonderful description(s) of old school London. The infamous Van Helsing plays a fantastic character who is determined to rid the world of this crazy creature, whose ambition is to have Europe as his own and murder/turn the people in it. Van Helsing is definitely my favourite character, alongside the comical young American man, Quincy Morris. I found that the mannerisms and things that Morris said drove light to the gloomy parts of the novel. Therefore, the end is so heartbreakingly sad, not because they won their final battle with the vindictive Dracula, but because Morris is killed in the final battle. He fights valiantly but falls and dies almost straight away. It is evident he plays a big role for all the characters, as Jonathan and Mina name their first-born child Quincy. Yes, if you haven’t finished the end yet be prepared to lose good old Quincy Morris. The characterisation within the novel is wonderful, I felt for each and every one of the characters, such as Mina and her troubled relationship with Jonathan. She must watch him make the journey up to Dracula’s castle, probably knowing-but-without-knowing, that he could have/would have died. Mina and Jonathans love is evident throughout, ‘she looked appealingly at us all in turn, beginning and ending with her husband.’ (pg 275) This is the heart-breaking scene were Mina is turning slowly into a vampire and time is running out to save her. It helps you remain involved, keeping you at the end of your seat. As well as the contradicting story of Van Helsing who also adores the beautiful Mina, regardless of her husband fighting by his side. We learn about poor Lucy, troubled from the start and how all her lovers become involved in the killing of Dracula after the gruesome way she was taken.
Although I loved this novel, there are sections inside it that are a little less exciting. It can go from a crazy, upbeat, thrilling anticipation of a scene to moving into a slow explanation of the surroundings. Sometimes Stoker just needs to explain what is happening next with the characters and it may not be all as exciting as when Dracula enters Lucy’s room… The planning of the killing isn’t very exciting, as readers, we just want them to kill him after what he did to poor Lucy and Mina, which I thought was blatantly obvious.
The best part of the novel is Harker’s diary and his journey to Dracula’s castle at the very beginning. We are tense with anticipation from the start because he was not the original person to be going on this dangerous trip. He had to step up for someone who could not make it, which suggests already that something bad was going to happen… not to mention the conventions we already know about the horrifying Dracula’s castle. ‘The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!’ (pg 24) I feel these chapters set up the novel and creates the true evil monster that is Count Dracula. We learn what he is like, sort of living a double life… one moment a well-kept gentleman, the next moment crawling down the castle walls like a spider. This helps us understand why the characters are so determined to hunt him down throughout the novel. The gothic theme is evident with the monster, violence, gore, gothic buildings, victims… Stoker intended this novel as a gothic piece and horror and gothic lovers are exactly who are drawn to this classic piece. The writing is beautifully written and drew me in numerous times, as I was determined for them to beat the giant bat/wolf/monster, Dracula.
Dracula was wonderful, it portrayed the features of the gothic text perfectly, creating a brilliant example of a gothic novel. It is an ideal read for the gothic narrative course. The narrative surprised me and gave me lots of ideas for my own writing. I love the way we hear accounts from many different characters and it excites me to learn more and more about them including the relationships between them all. I would highly recommend, a must read. (If you have not already)