Stoker introduces the supernatural in chapter one, with the ‘wolves, with white teeth and lolling red tongues’ that the coach driver – presumably Dracula – appears to control, as well as the ‘blue flames’. This early introduction of supernatural phenomena prepares the reader for the horrific and violent acts in the novel, whilst also, presenting a sense of uncertainty as there appears to be no explanation for these uncanny events. It could, therefore, be suggested that Stoker is setting up the idea that there is not always an answer to every question.
Van Helsing acknowledges that there are some ‘possible impossibilities’, thus, it would seem that he is characterised by Stoker as pivotal within the novel, as more then just a man of science, but as a character who believes – and is aware – that there are some questions that do not have answers.
Moreover, as a character, Van Helsing is extremely open-minded, he is critical of Dr Seward who lacks this, and is instead, seemingly, dismissive of phenomena which cannot be explained. This is highlighted in chapter 14 when Van Helsing realises that Lucy was a vampire, consequently telling Dr Seward that he is ‘ to prejudiced’, and that ‘it is the fault of science that it wants to explain all’.
It would therefore seem that Stoker does not have an answer for everything, this is perhaps epitomised by Reinfield who is characterised as a madman who clearly does not conform to normal human behaviour. The mystery of Reinfield’s madness consequently places the idea that Stoker cannot provide answers to every question at the forefront of the readers mind, this is because the character is presented as ‘unlike the normal lunatic’ with no reason or explanation given within the novel regarding the reason of his mad and erratic ways.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
I quite like the style here, with phrases such as "It could, therefore, be suggested that Stoker" showing the examiner you are able to evaluate numerous interpretations. This is a great skill to have, and will be rewarded if you can use counter-arguments and show them as weak to make your own point of view stronger. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are fine, but as mentioned above this essay is limited by its length. Essays at A-Level must be substantial, and unfortunately this essay has not met this criteria.
Level of analysis
The analysis is quite basic, and although I agree science and technology are hard to analyse in a literary context, the supernatural is not. At times this essay tends to narrate, for example "Van Helsing is extremely open-minded". Retelling the story won't gain you many marks, and at A-Level you should be able to discuss specific techniques and the effects they have on the reader. There is very little focus on how the reader respond to Stoker's work, and what purpose his novel has. By looking at authorial intent, you naturally begin to address the question, and thus form a more convincing argument.
Response to question
This essay has potential when responding to the question, picking up swiftly that the main focus should be on the struggle of supernatural against science and technological changes. However, there simply isn't enough discussion here to build a cogent argument. There needs to be exploration of why Stoker does not provide answers for every question, and how this exacerbates the terror surrounding Dracula's supernatural.