Romance Roots: Dracula (Part 1) review:
“Romance Roots: Dracula (Part 1)” is a blog entry that focuses on an interview between the author of the blog, Jessica, with her husband, Stephan M. Miller, Ph.D, F.R. Hist.S. regarding Dracula and its British Empire background.
The first question Jessica asks regards imperial characteristics in the novel. Her husband states that the novel can be, and also isn’t at the same time. Growths such as railroad building and improvements of transportation in general should not be looked into. He believes that Stoker, the author of Dracula, merely includes details regarding transportation improvements to “set up” the novel, and does not expand upon it.
At the time this novel was written, several wars were going on between Britain and Africa and Islam. When Jews and Slovaks are included in Dracula, there are no character descriptions. Miller concluded that Stoker left those out because “the British public held certain beliefs about the followers of Islam, most of which today we would consider prejudicial and inaccurate.”
The second question Jessica asks regards churches. She wonders why people were not as focused on church. Miller responded by stating that the influence of the Church of England over British society was declining, but was still important to the middle class. I saw references of such when Harker was leaving a hotel before he ventured to Castle Dracula. One woman approached him and begged him not to go, when he refused to stay, she gave him a crucifix to protect him, a symbol of religion.
Another question regarded Mina. Jessica understood that Seward represented a scientific view, when Val Helsing represented a spiritual openness, Arthur represented the “pure knight of Old England,” and Morris represented the “fresh fighting, innovative spirit from the New World. Jessica wondered, what about Mina? She wondered if she represented the ideal “Victorian woman.” Her husband disagreed because Mina is a strong character. He declared her to be more of a powerful woman, the kind that would later “take to the streets to fight for the vote.” I automatically referred back to feminism and the feminism theory when I read this. Mina is a strong, powerful character. She carries traits much like that of a man in a patriarchal society. Because of these traits, I agree with Miller, there is no way Mina can represent the Victorian women back in the day when they represented the ideal in the patriarchal society. Mina represents the complete opposite.
“Romance Roots: Dracula (Part 2)” review:
Part 2 of Jessica’s blog, “Romance Roots: Dracula,” mainly concerns the text and her reactions to it. Firstly, Jessica reacts to the type of writing in Dracula. She notices that the majority of the text is composed of letters and journal entries. What annoys her is how obsessed the characters seem to be with writing, even to the point of writing about writing. Jessica responds to this with “WTF,” which I feel is a little harsh. When I write in my journal, I often find myself writing about why I am writing, so I feel that it is normal. Perhaps Stoker decided to include this in his novel to relate to the readers.
Secondly, Jessica puts Mina’s position in the “Scooby gang” in context. Basically, Mina is kicked out of the group searching for Dracula because she is a woman. The others in the group, all men and suitors of Lucy, know she is bull-headed, but understand she is a woman who needn’t be in the business of a man, aka hunting and killing. When taken into context, this is a very patriarchal, “ideal woman” view of Mina. When Mina is doing all she can in researching, logging, and hunting for Dracula, the “man” who doomed the spirit of her close friend, Lucy, the suitors of Lucy, all men, try to take it all away by kicking her out of the group.
In relation, the suitors do not think that Mina could be in the same situation as Lucy, even though she sleep-walks and is continuously exhausted—exactly how Lucy was! The men did not think Mina could be an object of Dracula because she is powerful, and hold the same traits as a man, making her unattractive and not an object of Dracula, who is portrayed as a man.
Another topic Jessica covered in her blog was “bloodsucking=sex, blood=semen.” This is one example she used from the novel: “When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one off his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the – Oh my God, my God! What have I done?” When relating this excerpt to the bloodsucking is symbolic for sex, and blood is symbolic for semen ideal, it becomes very sexual and graphic. With this simple relation, it then becomes more obvious that there is a sexual intent behind most of the novel. The gothic vampire setting then becomes more relatable. Dracula can be related to the alpha male, which is prevalent in everyday life—every man thinks they are the alpha, making Dracula relatable. Because of this, I feel that an average reader can read Dracula two ways: 1. Dracula can be read as a scary, horror and gothic novel of a vampire who feeds on the “innocent” on order to survive, or 2. More in depth—relating the vampire to an actual man sexually preying on “innocent women,” along with other double standards and relations.