One of the most interesting things about Dracula is that the word “vampire” is not used in regard to humans–or what Dr. Van Helsing refers to as the Undead– until nearly the end of the book. The only mention of it until then is in reference to vampire bats. I found this most intriguing. It really added to the sense of mystery and dark dread surrounding the fearsome creature.
The entire story is told through letters, journal entries from the various points of view of the protagonists, and a few newspaper clippings. This was done very well; seamlessly, in fact. I sometimes have a difficult time reading the diary or journal entry portions of novels, but the prose Stoker created reads story-like throughout.
From the beginning, I was a very curious how this tale would play out. The first quarter of the book consists of Jonathan Harker’s travel to Castle Dracula on business and his slow discovery of who Count Dracula is and of his own imprisonment in the castle. His experiences are ghastly. When the story moves from Harker’s journal to his fiancee’s letters to a friend, I wondered where it was going, or how the letters and the fate of Jonathan Harker would tie together. One thing you never find out in the story is how Jonathan Harker escapes Count Dracula and his castle in the first place…I do wish that had been included. I thought he was a goner.
This gothic novel is scary as all get out! I have already admitted that I had to stop reading it before going to sleep at night–which is when I do most of my reading. I definitely had a few disturbing nights of rest, thanks to Stoker’s gruesome tale. The plot kept me breathless at moments with its intensity.
While its main theme is horror, I found that Dracula is also a love story. Woven into the plot are threads of love–both requited and un–sacrifice, and bereavement for what (and who) is lost. And no vampire is any match for those fighting for redemption and release of those they hold dearest.
So much has been written or made into film on the vampire theme since Dracula was released in 1897. Today’s vampire has been hugely romanticized. I have to say, there is nothing appealing, romantic, or sexy about Count Dracula.