Welcome to another episode of Book Reviews. This is episode #8. On this episode I want to briefly review Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. I began reading this in book form, but when I discovered it was available for free download on kindle I switched half way. I confess it took me almost 3 months to complete the novel. Somehow Stoker’s narrative detailing every significant and often unnecessary detail through an infinite amount of journal entries did not keep me glued to its pages.
In summary, the story begins with Jonathan Harker. Jonathan is an English solicitor who travels to Transylvania to meet Count Dracula. His purpose is to explain “particulars of his London real estate purchase.” But what is intriguing is actually what happens before he arrives at Count Dracula’s castle. The area residents seem particularly frightened by the mere mention of the name Dracula. Jonathan, of course, oblivious pays no attention to their fears. One of the residents hands Jonathan a crucifix, which in many ways symbolizes good. When Jonathan arrives at the last checkpoint, a coach arrives to take him to Count Dracula, but the mysterious strong man driving is actually Dracula himself. From thereon, Jonathan’s encounters with Dracula take on an entirely different purpose than he imagined. The remaining of the story is truly a wealth of journal entries detailing the Count’s activities and what others are planning to do to terminate this dead, but Un-dead creature.
Let me conclude by offering a few thoughts on this classic novel:
a) The first thing I want to observe is that Dracula is a picture of tyranny. Tyrants want to make duplicates of themselves. They don’t want to create equally powerful duplicates, but image-bearers who will spread their evil agenda. Dracula is a satan-like figure. He gives and takes blood as a sort of demonic covenant between he and his newly created disciples.
b) Secondly, while there may be evil, while there are those who truly seek to devour, there will always be a committed group who seek the good of the city; who are seeking the shalom of the city. They will be covenantally bound and their goal and mission is to see evil eradicated. They are protectors of the community; ordinary shepherds who will take on evil through the means provided to them. There are a lot of Anglo-Catholic themes in the book: crosses, consecrated wafers are just a few items chosen to protect this group from the evil forces; meaning, at the very least, these protectors acknowledge that you do not fight evil with common tools, but spiritual tools.
c) There is also a strong sense of protection in this novel. Jonathan Harker desires to protect his wife from all evil. He is devastated by the affects of evil on her and he does not want her to become what they are: purposeless and non-human night roamers. Jonathan wants a life with meaning and love. And what propels him to carry on this quest is precisely this longing for meaning and normalcy.
d) Fourthly, Dracula illustrates another important principle: sacrifice. In seeking to defeat evil, there will always be those who must give up their lives for the sake of others.
e) Finally, one common theme that so clearly illustrates the evil vs. good motif is the contrast between darkness and light. Evil works and roams the earth at night, because it flourishes in the night. The darkness reflects the secrecy and conspiratorial nature of evil. Whereas, those who live in the light have a conspiracy of their own, but this conspiracy is not hidden; their plans are not secretive.
As a final note, I would not recommend any of the modern adaptations of Dracula. I would go to the original 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi. Thanks and until next time.