themes - religion and the supernatural

The novel resolves into a tale about Manichean conflict between the forces of godd and the force of evil (which is also linked to the focus of Jekyll and Hyde)

The earth can be considered a battleground for these metaphysical entites to contest the ownership of the soul of humanitiy. 

Dracula is a powerful demon, a willing servant of the devil and a mainfestation of pure evil. Van Helsing is an angel of mercy and an avenging of the lord, both characters having higher powers. 

Gothic tales use the idea of supernatural being and forces that requires superstitious belief in extraordinary realms beyond the norms of nature and beyond the limits of accepted beliefs.  

Atheist might see little difference between superstion and faith, but the distintion is crucial to a person of relgious outlook.

Stoker introduces the notion of extradordinary phenomena in the first phrase of the novel. "blue flames"  which Harker witnesses as the count explain are the most common examples of something above and beyond the norm of nature. 

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themes - religion and the supernatural #2

The relationship between the count and the wolves is uncanny as the count refers the wolves as his "children of the night". They are wild, dangerous in nature but can be tamed by very thoughts.

Draculas mutability of corporeal substance and his lack of pyshical nature. There can be no such thing; yet there he ramains stubbornly exisiting in defiance of all rational explanation. 

Atmospheric ruins that inspire nervous thoughts of spooks and ghosts which feature in gothic tales. Whitby Abbey which Stoker incorporates the Whitby skeletal ruins in Dracula  are a relic of the 13th century. Whitby itself has its own ledgends of hauntings and saints, it combines relgion ans supernatural in its own ruined acent forms. 

The eerie, dismembred architecture of this abandoned and desolate place of worship overlooks the mood of the narrative.

The aspect of supernatural being is to belive in the impossible, its mostly carried on by the characters on the side of good. This is because, a demon has no need to doubt its own exisitence or suffer much existential angst about its purpose. 

Renfield does not show any soul who seems disturbed when Dr Seward questions him on the subject. The distintion between a demon and a madman, it is seen as "possessed by demons" its enogh to explain his quibbling dismissal of the soul whose lives he consumes.

Dracula is intested in making everyone his "creatures" the vampire women however are sexualised and shown to only be intrested in "kisses". 

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themes - religion and the supernatural #3

The novel becomes more than a romantic adventures with a highly moral lesson about the dangers of sexuality. It is a expostion of the necessity of religious faith that appeals unashamedly to superstition in its argument. 

it makes use of horror a kind of primitive aversion theraphy with the purpose of instructing the reader in the consequences of certain personal chocies. 

There is a anomaly use of symbolism of the Roman Catholic faith that would have been easily shocking to the readership of his time. Stoker, with his protestant family background and upbringing in Ireland would have been only too aware of the sectarian significance.

The way the nominally Anglican characters are enabled to adopt the characteristics of the Roman Catholic faith can be read in various ways. 

The message amy be that the horrors and evils in the world need a more aggressive response than the more traditionally tolerant Anglican view. 

The theatricality of the "weapons of superstition" and their effectiveness is one of the most vivid images of the story. Dr Seward, the sceptic feels the "mighty power" that makes Dracula cower away from the crucifix. 

The novels assmption of an afterlife is its premise and its chief dynamic.  If the soul exists as is also assumed in the novel, and does survive death then its destination is a matter of some interest . 

Eternity is a long time to be in the wrong place. The character in the novel that represent the forces of goodness have a moral obligation, as good christian folk to save lost souls. 

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themes - science and modernity

Dr Seward reflects modernity as he finds it difficult to believe in vampirism and cannot accept "that such a thing is here in London in the 19th century." (chapter 14) Dr Seward desires to make a contribution to the advancement of science.  its his cause, but he is uable to realise this ambition. 

19th century was a time of unprecedented technological and scientific advancement. Alongside theories that have retained scientfic credibility were many other views competing for attention, as interest in phenomena and the possibilites  of science increased rapidly which are now referred as  "pseudoscience" and van helsing lists a number of the therioes dr seward. Dr Seward sums up his own dilemma; "i do not know what to think, and i have no data on which to found a conjecture." .The objects that characters use define their relationship to the modern world. Dr Seward and Lucy have a phonograph but only he uses it to record his diary. Mina and Harker are trained in the art of stenography or shorthand writing  and mina uses a typewriter. Van Helsing makes a rare venture to modernity when he uses a phonograph , butu associates with books and religious symbols. 

19th century was the age of steam and the age of railway expansion used by  the "men of the world" aided by their "pearl among women" there is also mention of a sailing ship and horse drawn wagon. 

Van Helsing and Dr Seward are the chief participants in the debate on scientific method. the scientifsts into conflict with the supernatural and their rational view of the world is broadened to accommodate the irrational and inexplicsble. 

The idea of modern technology to characters are taken as fetishes, a mundaine espression of their scientific progress, learn to value and respect relgious objects.  

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themes - science and modernity #2

A major philosophical conflict initaiated by Charles Darwins On the Origin of species by Means of natural selection (1859)  ( The novel itself, participates in the debatable coversation) 

There is no question mark over the nature of creaction and the existence or a scientific view of the world is not a concern for these characters. They are far too busy finding a way to incorporate susperstion "scientifically" into their religion. 

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themes - law and civilisation

Harker is a solicitor. Dracula makes use of the agents of the legal profession to 

potentially subvert the instruction of law and orderin the civlised world. The count is an arbiter of life and death in his own country. eg. he can tame wolves and steals children with impurity and appropriate the wealth of the dead as he sees fit. 

Van Helsing has a legal medical background but disobeys the boundaries of the law. 

Dr Seward and he can cover up the incovenient deaths to prevent intrusive investigation by other authorities. He advises peer of the realm on the best means of the fraudulently gaining access to Draculas house.

The qualities  of Western civilisation are represented  most of all in the people of Stokers story. Apart from the nobility, the middle class professions and the ex colonial allies, the working class characters represents a kind of healthy cheekiness and yeoman like stoicism in the face of the foreign threat. 

Dracula in his identity as foreigner and an ambassador of evil is very clearly repsentated as "other" to all that is just and good. 

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themes - the new women

The new women was part a reaction to the increasing moves towards emancipation and economic independance for women. Middle class women who had ambitions beyond marriage, domesticity and child rearing were ridculed and portrayed as either promiscuous or deluded. Much of the discussion was created by, and limited to the press.

Lucy nor Mina thinks of herself as a new women and they respond  to the most eciting and shocking aspects of the notion. Stoker gives the two women different elements of the caricaured female. 

LUCY: flirtatious, indulgent and romantic 

MINA: diligent and organised. Stoker reaction to the new feminity is to kill off the foolish virgins and marry off the wise ones.

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themes - madness

Chapter 23; Mina: "Sleep has no place it can call its own." she questions under hypnosis. the exploration of madness and dreaming is a conventional feature of the gothic genre. 

Stokers characters have diffuculty sleeping and question their own sanity. The treatment of mental disorder and the developing notion of mental health care were the 19th century advances in medicine. 

CONTEXT: medical science was also beginning to investgate realms of the unconscious, Psycholgical as a distincy study, was beginning to form an identity under the leadership of sigmund freud. 

The metaphorical link between sleep, death and the enternal afterlife comes into stokers use of the vulnerability of the sleeper which we see in lucys corspe. The realisation of this is the fear of going to sleep and not waking up.

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