Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Count Dracula the Gentleman

The character of Dracula is a juxtaposition of two opposing forces that were gripping the Victorian world at the time Stoker's novel was written.  A historical context is important to understand the character of Dracula in these terms.  England was in the midst of another industrial revolution where those who opposed it were seen as savage and brutal, while those who accepted it represented the "Victorian Gentleman" to  a tee.  "For the fact is, by Hacker's own criteria, Dracula is the most "Western" character in the novel.  No one is more rational, more ntelligent, more organized or even more punctual than the Count (637)."  Arata is sure to note Haker's obsession with timeliness.  He writes in his diary that he would have been early if his train wasn't late.  Timeliness was a consequence of this industrial revolution occurring in England and was see by Victorian peoples as a mark of a gentleman.  As a result, because of the count's ability to be punctual, he represents a gentleman in the eyes of Hacker.  There is another side of Dracula that Arata comments on.

Dracula is also the savage that an opposition to the changes in English life symbolizes.  "He is both the warrior nobleman, whose prowess dwarfs that of the novel's enfeebled English aristocrat, Lord Godalming, and is the primative savage, whose beastiality, fecundity, and vigot alternately repel and attract (634)."  Dracula's savage nature obviously manifests itself in his vampirism as Arata notes, but at the same time he is a dynamic nobleman who accepts the changing times.  I believe this is the newest evolution of the vampire.  Dracula is not the first aristocratic vampire, but he is the one who plays the role the best.  He has the ability to charm his victims in a way we have not seen in this class yet.  When Hacker arrives, Dracula is reading Bradshaw's Guide.  This was literature put out by Charles Bradshaw as a guide to the new railway system proliferating across England.  Again, the reference to Dracula's punctuality and the connection with the industrial revolution in England is present.

I think it is also important to note that the Victorian vampire has the ability to mold seamlessly with the expectations of the current society.  In many ways, Carmilla was timeless.  She could adapt her behaviors to suite the needs of her victims much like Dracula does.  As the reader, it can be assumed that they have done this for thousands of years.

1 comment:

  1. Dracula truly is an accomplished man who is in tune with the time and events happening around the world. I think it is pretty cool that Dracula can be this blood thirsty monster some of the time, but then he can also be a true scholar and gentleman. He is a gentleman that is always on time, good looking, and inviting. The Count can be inviting and intellectual and yet at the same time you know there is something more sinister about him, something that wants to just push you away. I like how you brought up how vampires seem to be able to, “mold seamlessly with the expectations of the current society.” (cmose). It does seem like no matter the situation, vampires can handle it, they are well read and knowledgeable about many things. I suppose this comes from a lifetime of needing to get out of certain situations regarding their secrecy of being a vampire. If they are out and about conversing and interacting with people then their strange habits are sure to surface at one point or another, causing suspicion with whom interact. They then have to be smooth and convincing to cover it up and dissipate the questions.