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Abraham Stoker And Theater Essay

1592 words - 7 pages

Abraham (Bram) Stoker began his life bedridden, weak, and helpless. Stoker, third of seven children, was born in Clontarf, a suburb of Dublin, on November 8, 1847 (Whitelaw 9). His parents were Abraham Stoker, from Dublin, and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley, who was raised in County Sligo (“Bram Stoker”). He spent most of his early childhood laying in bed, watching his brothers and sisters play outside through a dusty old window. “As a child, he wondered if he would get sicker--if he would end up dying” (Whitelaw 10). He could fully comprehend the definition of misery by the age of ten. Stoker was considered lucky, given his paralyzed condition, to have a mother who sat by his bedside telling his stories to keep his mind off of his illness. He grew up fantasizing about vampires and fairies in Irish tales. It is not very shocking to see that, because he grew up around misery, he became so intrigued with dark literature. His mother built the foundation that Stoker would later build his theatrical/literary empire on. His love for theater introduced him to the literary world. Stoker’s work and interest with theater is what eventually led him to become so involved with Gothic Literature.
He was not fully capable of his writing abilities until after he enrolled in college. “[Stoker] enrolled at Trinity, a highly respected college of the University of Dublin, in 1863” (18). He was a very athletic student; rugby, football, swim, and crew were the sports that earned him an award as athletic champion of the college. Along with his love for sports, Stoker enjoyed being part of the historical society, a debating group at Trinity College. He learned to think and speak quickly. To him, debating was a lot like acting. The debater, like an actor, focused on capturing and keeping the attention of the audience. “He went to plays, read lots, and worked on short stories to get away from school work” (22). Stoker became interested in the theatre while a student through a friend, Dr. Maunsell. Watching plays was so similar to debating for Stoker, that it became his favorite hobby, at least in the beginning of his involvement with theater. In 1867, He saw Henry Irving on stage playing a soldier who put his life on the line for his integrity--Stoker had a new hero. (Whitelaw)
From his love of being on the field to being on the stage, Stoker truly found himself, his calling, during the first few years of his college career. Showing off his confidence on stage, he became infatuated with his college and was unwilling to leave after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science. So, he went back to school to get his masters in mathematics (Whitelaw 22). Stoker’s father was against his work in theater and in literature and wanted him to be a civil servant (Whitelaw 23). After graduating with honors from Trinity college in 1870, “he was hired as a civil servant at Dublin Castle, home to British royals in Ireland from the early 1800s to the early 1920s” (“Bram Stoker”)....

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