Contemporary Relevance of Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula has stood the test of time over the last 100 years since it was written. Although there were other works with the “vampire” design, Dracula emerged a master piece that has remained relevant through the past century. The novel graced the dusk of the 19th century. Ever since, it has been a point of reference for vampire literature, as well as films. Bram Broker set the pace and artists past his generation continue to find his material helpful in creating the virtual, entertaining vampire world. It has also furnished the world with great lessons on the relevance of history in the contemporary world. The relevance of the novel in the modern world is also examined through the “madness/insanity” theme.
The novel is a manifestation of consequences of modernity during the ushering in of the 20th century. When the story begins, Harker is evidently terrified by his host and lodgings at Castle Dracula. He concluded that old centuries possess some special powers that are beyond the scope of modernity. Modernity cannot simply remedy them. The 20th century marked the end of tradition beliefs held by the English people such as the Evolution Theory by Charles Darwin. The English Society also exited the agrarian system as the Industrial Revolution took charge hence changing political, economic and social order (Jódar).
Stoker introduces the audience to his story in a ruined castle. However, he makes a fast transition to Victorian London where modernity advancements sets the ample ground on which the English society could be preyed upon y the count (STILES). At one point, Dracula’s spell befalls Lucy. Neither Dr. Seward nor Mina could rescue Lucy. Being devotees of modernity, both of them remained foreign to Lucy’s predicament. It is only Van Helsing nears comprehension of Lucy’s affliction owing to his open-mindedness regarding non-western folk remedies and ancient legends. Blending these with modern medical methods, he maneuvered the situation. He cautions Seward that it would take the possession of all the knowledge to free the world of the terrible monster (SparkNotes). Helsing is committed to comprehend modern medicine techniques. Beyond this understanding, he seeks to harness both foreign and ancient schools of thought bringing them in harmony. He believes that the spells could only be remedied by a thorough understanding and appreciation of the ancient world. He blames science to have lacked the capacity to explain everything that emerges. Science dismisses the existence of anything that it is unable to explain. It is, therefore, exceedingly dangerous to only subscribe to contemporary school of thought. He warns that the world is completely left vulnerable and defenseless in the absence of diverse understanding of history: history inexorably repeats itself. It is true that history repeats itself. Unfortunately, his effort to establish a harmonious relationship between literature, spiritualism and science was described as “insanity” by other characters (Jódar). History must be studied keenly and incorporated in the contemporary studies. In the present day, numerous historical events keep coming up. This includes events described in the Dracula novel.
Dracula’s arrival in England and his settling on working his evil spells on Lucy Westenra informs the audience that the battle between evil and good is anchored on female sexuality. The two women featured are presented as less like real folks. They are merely bi-dimensional virtuous embodiments have been coded as female over the ages (Stoker 29). The two are pure, chaste, devoted to their men, and innocent of the world’s evils. However, it appears that Dracula is keen on turning the two ladies into their very opposite. His desire is to convert them into females recognized for their voluptuousness and bear unapologetic sexual desire.
When Lucy and other beautiful women were successfully transformed into a raving vampire vixen, Hesling’s aids run out of remedies and opt to destroy them in a bid to restore them into a more respectable social state. Following the transformation of Lucy, men closely and carefully watch Mina fearing that the dark side will rob them yet another Victorian model. Hesling tirelessly explained that the conversion of the beautiful ladies into vampires could be explained by studying ancient world’s history. With time, people came to make sense out of Hesling’s knowledge which had initially been dismissed as mere “madness” (Jódar). The madness was said to have originated from reading Harker’s journal. This made sense after Dracula mocked Hesling’s aids by telling them that he already had them hooked because all their women were now his. The existence of demons and vampires, therefore, became a common concept of insanity.
This novel comes out as a classic literary masterpiece in the sense that it is open to new interpretations and readings. The eminent concept of shared madness or insanity bridges the ancient and modern worlds. It establishes a link between literature, spiritualism and science at the dusk of the 19th century. In the same token, the novel is able to effectively engage the audience of the 20th and 21st century.
Jódar, Andrés Romero. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A Study on the Human Mind and Paranoid Behaviour.” Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies (2009): 24-38.
SparkNotes. “SparkNote on Dracula.” SparkNotes LLC (2003).
STILES, ANNE. “Cerebral Automatism, the Brain, and the Soul in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences (2006): 131-151.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Plain Label Books, 2007.