Dracula is one of those classics that I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. It’s also one of those stories that seems to be more well-known for its film adaptations. In fact, at the time of its publication it wasn’t as popular as it is now.
The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker was more well-known for his connection to the actor, Henry Irving than for his books at the time. It wasn’t until Dracula was made into movies that it started to gain popularity.
I’ve never seen a Dracula film but I have to say that I really loved the book.
There are a few reasons for this but one of the main ones is that Dracula is one of the better classics that I’ve read. For a classic, I found it pretty suspenseful and fast-moving in terms of plot. The writing style was typical of a classic but it had a much darker and gloomier quality than I was used to with other books. Suffice to say that I absolutely loved Stoker’s eloquent writing style.
The structure of the book was interesting as well. I was very surprised to read in reviews beforehand that the book is compiled of a series of letters, memoranda, news clippings, telegrams and diary entries with many different narrators. This structure didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would and I think I actually preferred it over a single narrator.
I especially loved the characters of Mina Harker and Dr. Van Helsing. One theme throughout is the role of females: the female ideal and female suppression of sexuality during the Victorian Era. At that time, the female ideal was a pure, innocent woman but Dracula challenges that idea by turning both Mina and her friend Lucy into vampires, making them “wanton” in their expression of themselves. During the Victorian age, there was this complex where women could only be saintly or immoral. It’s been said that Mina functions as a two-dimensional example of this polarizing idea but I disagree.
I found Mina to be a very liberating character. More than once, Dr. Van Helsing and the other men (her husband Jonathan included) make remarks about her clever thinking or her good virtues. This seems more like praise to me than anything else, although I’m aware that virtuous women like this were put on a pedestal during the Victorian age. Despite this, I thought Stoker crafted a strong and admirable female character that was in no way two-dimensional.
Dr. Van Helsing was another character I enjoyed. At first, his broken English was jarring but I realized that he’s perfectly in-character because he’s a Dutchman. I’ve seen a few different depictions of Van Helsing: one in the TV show Penny Dreadful (where I feel like he should have gotten much more recognition and screen time) and the other in the movie Van Helsing, played by Hugh Jackman. I was really interested to get a sense of the original Van Helsing, who is an older gentleman with a kind manner.
Another part of Dracula I loved were the many different themes: life vs. death, reason vs. mysticism and insanity vs. sanity. There is a lot of reference to death and the afterlife with elements of redemption and hope. Even Mina herself has compassion for Dracula, even though the men think he’s past the point of redemption and redemption is one of those themes I love in stories.
Dracula was dark and suspenseful, captivating me with its beautiful detail and keeping me on edge with its chilling events. I gave this one a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Dracula will definitely go down as a favourite.