Dracula By Bram Stoker: Modern Man To Enduring Romance

1982 words - 8 pages

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula is representative of the superhuman ideal that man is striving to achieve. Dracula is a strong willed, powerful, brilliant masculine figure, and through these characteristics, he appeals to the contemporary reader. By the late 20th and early 21st century, vampires have been transformed into creatures that offer endless happiness and immortality on earth. Such a transformation can be seen in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Instead of viewing the Faustian dream of endless self-gratification and fulfillment as potentially evil, popular culture depicts these satanic creatures as morally justified, and actually good.
Stoker’s Dracula is aristocratic, well mannered, and highly educated with “humanistic touches [which] make Dracula appear noble and vulnerable” (Senf 424). Initially, Dracula seems like a modern man, hospitable, and capable of aging. Dracula is a middle aged man with “astonishing vitality” for his presumed age. He also has impeccable manners, caring for his “guest” when his “people are not available” (Stoker 22-3). Dracula is an educated man, as suggested through his library with books “of the most varied kind – history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law – all relating to England and English life and customs and manners” (25). He seems not only well informed but cosmopolitan, asking Harker “a myriad questions” (28). Harker observes “extraordinary evidences of wealth” (25) alluding to Dracula’s position as a wealthy “boyar” (26). These evidences cause Jonathan Harker to presume Dracula possesses conventional moral principles. Harker, being disarmed by his presumption, causes him to believe he is safe with Dracula. However, Harker soon learns that education, wealth, and social status can be compatible with evil. Because of the cues and clues, reader perceives Stoker's Dracula as initially sinister while Coppola's Dracula is initially simply human.
In contrast, Coppola’s Dracula is initially human. Dracula, played by Gary Oldman, is an aristocratic warrior fighting for the salvation of the Church from the Turks. Elisabeta, played by Winona Ryder, commits suicide following receiving news of Dracula’s death. Because Dracula was victorious in his service to the Church, to God, it is assumed he would have been rewarded. However, once Elisabeta is dead, Dracula vows that he “shall rise from [his] own death, to avenge hers with all the powers of darkness” (Coppola). The loss of Elisabeta morally justifies Dracula’s decision to become a vampire. This is significant in that it suggest the contemporary focus on immediate reward and gratification for service. When Harker meets Dracula, centuries have past and Dracula is old. Since this is the only contemporary film that suggests the aging of a vampire who later rejuvenates, it suggests that Dracula, in this film, is as feeble as man. Although he still has strength, can climb down a wall face down, and...

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