Bram Stoker's Dracula as a Romantic Myth
In this paper, I will present my reflections and thoughts on the myth of Dracula in particular, and the vampyre in general, as a love story and show the deeply rooted links between the two myths and Christianity, as refracted through the prism of Francis Ford Coppola's film Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).
One of the most well known aspects of a vampyre is that it must feed upon the blood of the living; Dracula must drink to survive, (akin to people drinking the blood of Christ--the blood of divine life). However, I do not believe that this act of survival should be the basis by which the myth of Dracula is labeled as horrific and evil. From a mythical perspective, Dracula was simply, to borrow the life sentiment of Joseph Campbell (1964), "following his bliss". The story is a love story, a romantic myth which has deep connections to Christianity. Coppola presents it precisely this way. The following are a few examples showing the parallels between the Dracula myth and Christianity.
Christ dies for the sins of humanity and rises from his own death so that humanity may achieve life after death. Dracula dies for the sin of his bride's (Elisabeta's) suicide and rises from his own death so that their souls may again be linked in soul-love one day.
In the Catholic mass, worshippers continually feast upon the blood and body of Christ in order to maintain their mortal link with the immortal life of the divine. Dracula feasts upon the blood and body of mortal life and incarnates immortality within himself; he becomes his own god.
The eternal love relationship between Dracula and Elisabeta is the archetypal sacred marriage--a bond that cannot be severed by death or time--just like the marriage between Christ and the Church.
The film's prologue is narrated by actor Anthony Hopkins, who portrays Professor Abraham van Helsing:
The year: 1462. Constantinople had fallen. Muslim Turks swept into Europe with a vast superior force, striking at Rumania, threatening all of Christendom. From Transylvania arose a Rumanian knight of the sacred "Order of the Dragon", known as Dracula. On the eve of the battle, his bride, Elizabetha, whom he prized above all things on Earth, knew he must face an insurmountable force, from which he might never return. (Coppola, 1992)
Dracula is victorious against the Turks. However, seeking a measure of revenge, the Turks shoot an arrow into his castle, carrying false news of his death. Elisabeta, overcome with grief, hurls herself into the river from atop the castle ramparts.
The prologue establishes Dracula as a Christian knight, defending God's church and the light of Christendom from pagan, heathen forces of darkness. It is a fascinating combination of mythic-religious symbols residing on the extreme eastern edge of 15th century Christian civilization. The sacred, blessed "Order of the Dragon" is a very pre-Christian symbol of feminine strength and magic...