A Critical Analysis of Dracula pg. 41

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A Critical Analysis of Dracula pg. 41

        Previous to the chapter being analysed, Dracula has warned his guest never to fall asleep anywhere in the castle other than his own room. Jonathan Harker, the protagonist, filled with anxiety and worry about the mysterious count, hangs his crucifix above his bed and sets out to explore the castle. Then the passage begins as Harker observes Dracula crawling down the wall of the castle, terrified of the ‘lizard’ like creature, and fearing there will be no escape.

        Firstly, at the outset of the passage Harker states that ‘my eye was caught by something’, the oddly constructed sentence, suggesting Harker’s passivity and that he is the victim, especially as ‘something’ implies he is unsure of what the creature is, heightening the fear and tension. This theme of passivity runs central in the passage and in the novel as a whole, perhaps having an underlying contextual message, reflecting the anxieties of the Victorian age as it was the time of the ‘new woman’ and furthermore a time where society was becoming increasingly aware of homosexuality. This passivity however could have multi-accentuality, also trying to eliminate the stereotypical gender role where the woman is passive. This view is reinforced later in the chapter when Harker is seduced by three dominant female vampires.

        The passage progresses in a typical Gothic fashion, describing the sublime setting ‘the window at which I stood was tall and deep’ whilst keeping Harker’s vulnerability and his fear of the creature prominent, ‘I drew back behind the stonework.’ As the passage states that Harker did not ‘see the face’ this emphasises the fear of the unknown and also symbolises Dracula’s regression from human to animalistic. The fact that Harker recognises the count ‘by the neck’ immediately conjures imagery of biting and blood, reinforcing the reader’s inference that he is a vampire. Vampirism stands as a metaphor for promiscuous sexuality, as shown later in the chapter. Both acts involve desire, penetration, the flow and exchange of bodily fluids and this repressed sexuality in the metaphor of a vampire could suggest the Victorian mans fear of women becoming too sexual.        Furthermore, he mentions asides from the neck he also ‘could not mistake the hands which I had had so many opportunities of studying.’ This implies a significant gothic theme that knowledge is power. However this is contradicted as in the current situation, he is losing to the Count who represents an alternative reality to Harker’s reason and economics based world. Dracula suggests that reality can only be accessed by a consciousness that is not restricted to the rational faculty and this can be portrayed as power as altered states of consciousness are common in the novel, and it is these states that provide a window through which it is possible to access the alternative reality of vampires and thus knowledge.

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        Harker goes on to repeatedly claim he is ‘amused’ at the sight of Dracula’s ‘head coming out of the window’, yet as he then describes himself as a ‘prisoner’ it can be inferred that he is just slightly deluded and longing for something to keep him occupied. There is then a stark antithesis in his emotions to ‘repulsion and terror’ as he sees ‘the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss.’ The fact that Dracula was ‘face down’ is symbolic and relates to Harker trying to define the ...

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