Honors English 11
Critical Analysis on Dracula
With several illicit subjects listed throughout Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the book becomes a playground for psychoanalysts. Whether it be to see a subjects as simple as the conscious take over a character, or a character’s surroundings corrupting its victims, Dracula intrigues in more ways than just its vampiristic features. The following is a psychoanalytic study with a focus on vampirism imitating sexual practice and drug usage today while shining a light on the complex psychology of characters, and how even the author can influence the course of its story. Key Principle #1: Human activity is not reducible to conscious intent.
The complexity of the human mind has always befuddled the common man. One doesn’t know how the mind functions and therefore it becomes complicated for one without training to state how or why an action is taken. In a court of law, there is the possibility that an inexplicable crime such as murder can be forgiven with such an explanation as mentally insanity. And it is at that point that there is a clear example in our world of human activity not being able to be reduced to conscious intent. How is this principle applied in Bram Stoker’s Dracula? The character of Jonathan Harker is faced with the situation of being a prisoner in Count Dracula’s castle. “The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!” (Stoker 27). Harker enters a desperation that makes him look for any exit throughout the castle that will allow him to escape. Having seen Dracula climb the walls of the castle earlier, he attempts to do the same thing and reaches Dracula’s room where he discovers the boxes full of dirt. While his intent was not to discover such a thing, he is driven by his desire to want to escape Dracula’s castle.
Another character, that can be argued as struggling with psychological turmoil, is Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing is one that believes in a fantastic world “where vampires crawl down castle walls and purchase lands in foreign countries” (Jódar 31). What seems out of place here though is that Van Helsing is described in the story as a sane man of medicine; a rational man and a genius as well. Where he differs from all other men in the book is that he understands that there are things in this world that must be fought against using something other than logic and reason. Dr. Van Helsing believes that one of these things that must be fought against is vampires, thus correlating him to Count Dracula. With such a mentality, Van Helsing became victim of hysterical fits caused by the disbelief that others had in him and his wicked theories. Dr. John Seward describes many of these fits after Lucy’s funeral. Van Helsing attempts to cover up these fits by claiming that he is only trying to amuse himself. As Dr. Seward states, “He has denied to me since that it was hysterics, and insisted that it was only his sense of humour asserting itself under very terrible conditions”. Seward attempts to be stern towards Van Helsing “as one is to a woman under the circumstances”, but “it had no effect” (Stoker 174). It did not matter how one-sided Seward’s telling of Van Helsing’s behavior was, it came to show how much of a wreck a man like Van Helsing could be. Key Principle #2: While biology may have some part to play in the development of human psychology, environment also has an important role.
A character that strays from his upbringing throughout the story is Jonathan Harker. He is presented to us as a young lawyer, and an “English Churchman”. He also states that he keeps his journal entries in shorthand, a difficult thing to learn and perform even in today’s day and age. So, as such an upright man, how did he become corrupted? An example of his change in personality is the three female vampires he meets towards the end of chapter three. Upon meeting them, Harker is overcome with this “deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling...
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