As I mentioned in my April Wrap Up post, Dracula by Bram Stoker is one of my boyfriend’s favourite books. He’s always said I should read it and here I am! I’m not naturally drawn to horror, but I am always willing to try new genres.
This is my first time reviewing a classic on here. I’ll try my very best not to revert to writing it like one of my uni assignments. Also, I normally avoid plot spoilers but people, you have had 123 years to read this one.
For those who are not familiar with the story, I’ll give it to you in a nutshell.
Dracula is a gothic horror, written in 1897. In it, Jonathan Harker, a British solicitor, travels to Transylvania to legally advise Count Dracula on buying property in London. During his stay at the Count’s castle, Jonathan realises the horrifying truth that his host is a vampire. Oh, and he’s got a couple of women vampires as housemates and he’s going to keep him prisoner. Dracula travels to England with the intention of spreading his curse further, setting his sights on Jonathan’s wife Mina and her friend Lucy. It is up to the Harkers and their friends Dr Seward and Dr Van Helsing (vampire hunter extraordinaire), to destroy the vampire once and for all.
Something that I picked up on whilst reading was the way in which women were portrayed. Firstly, there’s the comments throughout about women being hysterical (classic). Towards the end, the men all decide for Mina’s sake that it’s better if she doesn’t know the final plan. Way too much stress for a woman. That’s cool, it’s not like she pretty much singlehandedly retyped all of the correspondence and journals which allowed her to piece together what was going on with intelligence and clarity, but you’re right, she’ll probably collapse at any given moment…
That, combined with the overt sexuality of the book, where Dracula is completely irresistible to women, made me wonder what Stoker’s intentions were. I wonder if he was shining a light on the repressed nature of Victorian women and their treatment? Or is that feminist millenial Megan bringing her own slant to the story? Either way, it made me think about and laugh (wryly) at the characterisation of the female characters.
It’s probably worth pointing out that whilst Stoker didn’t invent vampires, he did have a huge hand in shaping our modern-day understanding of them. We are familiar with the concept of a vampire (you may have heard of this little series called Twilight?), but to readers at the time this would have been absolutely terrifying. So whilst I didn’t personally find Dracula to be frightening, I can appreciate that the audience at the time would have had a very different reaction to me.
Overall, I found Dracula to be an enjoyable read. It didn’t blow my mind, but I’m glad I read it as it’s such a longstanding piece of culture. Of course, there are so many different editions, but if you’re looking for a copy try here.