Carol A. Senf uses a critical theory lens when she picks apart Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The majority of literary critics interpret this popular myth to be the opposition of good and evil, they turn a blind eye to the more specifically literary matters such as method of narration, characterization, and style. Carol Senf’s critical essay “Dracula: the Unseen Face in the Mirror” she believes that Stokers novel “revolves, not around the conquest of Evil by Good, but on the similarities between the two” (Senf 421). Her argument is as follows:
In Senf’s essay she points out that modern readers of Stokers novel are more likely to be surprised by this version of Dracula. In Stokers novel most of the action occurs in nineteenth-century London. Senf also shines a light on the fact that Stoker has made it so he cannot comment directly on his characters’ failures in judgment, or their lack of self knowledge with the type of narration selection he has chosen, Dracula as well is never allowed a voice in this novel.
Stoker chooses to lay some clues out for the readers in order to help them interpret Dracula. The distinct warning presented on the page before the introduction saying the narrators wrote to the best of their knowledge the facts that they witnessed. Next is the chapter where Jonathan Harker openly questions the group’s interpretations of the unsettling events that occur from meeting Dracula, and the sanity of the whole. Several characters could be considered emotionally unstable. Senf suggests that Stoker made the central normal characters hunting Dracula ill-equipped to judge the extraordinary events with which they were faced. The central characters were made two dimensional and had no distinguishing characteristics other then their names and their professions. The narrators came to a unified belief, giving no one a chance to stand out with an opposing opinion.
Stoker shows the similarities between good and evil by giving Dracula a number of humanizing touches to make him appear noble and vulnerable as well as demonic and threatening. Senf sees two sides of Dracula, he could either be a hideous bloodsucking monster whose touch breeds death, or perhaps he is a lonely and silent figure who is hunted and persecuted. However, Dr. Van Helsing informs the other narrators about Dracula’s nature; how vampires cannot enter a dwelling unless they are first invited by one of the inhabitants, and a vampire cannot influence a human being without that person’s consent. Stoker also suggests that it is generally thought sexuality that the vampire can gain control over such human beings. The way Stoker has written his novel Dracula is never allowed to speak for himself; all of his actions are recorded by people who have already set their minds on destroying him, and none the less question their own sanity. Dracula is never given the opportunity to explain his actions.
The main characters also are shown to violate the laws in which they so profess to...