Paranoia Strikes Deep in “Dracula” By Bram Stoker (Movie Review Sample)
Often in life we face fear, but the way that we handle danger or fear varies from one individual to another. Some individuals choose to stand up and fight their fears while others give up and become victims of their fears. Bram Stoker in his horrific tales of Dracula presents a varied set of individuals faced by a common looming danger. Each character reacts differently towards the impending danger and fighting Dracula, who is the antagonist of the story. The prominent characters in the Dracula story handle the dominating paranoia in a very different manner and are depicted by Stoker in a Victorian age context.source..
English Texts and Contexts
Professor Elizabeth Rees.
Paranoia Strikes Deep in “Dracula” By Bram Stoker
Often in life we face fear, but the way that we handle danger or fear varies from one individual to another. Some individuals choose to stand up and fight their fears while others give up and become victims of their fears. Bram Stoker in his horrific tales of Dracula presents a varied set of individuals faced by a common looming danger. Each character reacts differently towards the impending danger and fighting Dracula, who is the antagonist of the story. The prominent characters in the Dracula story handle the dominating paranoia in a very different manner and are depicted by Stoker in a Victorian age context.
Jonathan Harker, a naïve solicitor travels Transylvania with a goal of setting a property deal with count Dracula. Harker as a protagonist who narrates the story senses fear the very moment he sets foot into the castle. He fears that Count Dracula might be a dead man walking, however, he soon forgets about his fear when the Count offers him a warm hearty meal and a place to rest. “The light and warmth of Count Dracula seemed to have dissipated all my fears and doubts” (Stoker 27). A few days into staying at the castle and Harker begins to confirm his initial suspicions. This highlights the beginning of his fear, anxiety and panic. He notices strange events such as the Count only appears after the sun has gone down, how the castle has no mirrors, and how the Count has no reflection when he looks into his shaving mirror. He becomes even more fearful when the Count lunges for his bleeding neck. He also notices that the Count never eats or drinks in his presence. The epitome of Jonathan’s paranoia sets in when he discovers that every door in the castle is tightly locked and he might never be able to escape. “You may go wherever you please in the castle except where doors are locked,” says Count Dracula (Stoker 33). Jonathan becomes a victim of fear from the instant he sets foot in the castle until the end when he manages to escape from the castle.
Circumstances that lead Jonathan into this tormenting situation are rather self-induced. Even before he gets to the castle, the villagers warn him of the impending danger that awaits him at the castle. “Whether it is the old lady’s fear or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix I do not know” (Stoker 9). Jonathan’s naivety and ignorance leads him to the castle. He chooses to ignore the initial signs of danger and he falls right into Count Dracula’s trap of manipulation. Jonathan comes face to face with three vicious, bloodthirsty female vampires, who seduce and attempt to suck his blood. He is extremely scared but he manages to maintain a brave face. In portraying his naivetyHarker states, “I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited-waited with beating heart” (Stoker 59). During the Victorian times in Britain, the society shunned sexually aggressive women. By Stoker characterizing such women as blood sucking vampires, he manages to win the Victorian society’s approval into accepting his story. Harker handles his fear passively and inwardly, and writes his ordeals in the diary. Harker disguises his fear by acting complacent in the presence of Count Dracula “ I must be careful not to awake Dracula’s suspicions” (Stoker 43). His crucifix serves as a shield towards any vampire advances. He applies his intelligence into saving his life from the danger that lurks him. When Harker overhears Dracula state “Tonight is mine. Tomorrow night is yours” (Stoker 77). He knows that death awaits him and he refuses to go out.
When fighting his fears, in the later chapters of the novel, Harker has significantly transformed. He now displays bravery and even attempts to kill Dracula while he is sleeping. Harker is no longer a naïve character the readers met at the start of the narration. Subsequent to exposing the Dracula’s evil ways Harker decides to cunningly fight back rather than holding on to his crucifix and hoping that his fears will vanish the next morning. His decision to take courage pays off for him because eventually he frees himself from the castle and meets his lovely Mina again.
Mina is described as the epitome of a real Victorian woman who also falls to be a victim of Dracula’s manipulation and wickedness. Unlike her husband Jonathan, Mina conveys more ability and wit in tackling her fear and the danger that looms them. Just like her close friend Lucy, Mine upholds chastity and innocence. In fact, Van Helsing describes Mina as “one of God’s women, fashioned by his own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter” (Stoker 320). The lack of alluring sexual appeal saves Mina from the Count turning her into a vicious blood-sucking vampire. Mina serves as Van Helsing’s assistant when trying to hunt down Dracula and save her friend from his wicked spell. In fighting Dracula Mina detaches herself from any emotions that she might feel as a woman and puts on a brave face in her pursuit of the Count. In chapter 18 Van Helsing still describes Mina as “wonderful Madam Mina! She has man’s brain-a brain that a man should have were he much gifted-and woman’s heart” (Stoker 342). Indeed Mina’s courage and intelligence lead them in hunting down Dracula. Stoker’s portrayal of Mina is a conservative English female who appealed to the male dominated society of the Victorian period. Mina represents an ideal married English lady of the Victorian period. Even though, she feels strong emotions especially when her friend Lucy dies, Mina’s u...
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