Just in time for Halloween….
Dracula by Bram Stoker was a book that I started with apprehension. First off, if you’ve followed my blog from the beginning you know just how much I hated the novel From Dracula with Love, which was a spinoff of Dracula that was told entirely from the perspective of dear Mina, the thoroughly innocent and brainless wife of Jonathan Parker, who is bitten by Dracula and thus is slowly poisoned and gradually changes into a vampire in a very sexually explicit and embarrassingly helpless way; falling in love with the Count, who she discovers has been her lover for hundreds of years as she is constantly reincarnated through different women.
In my humble opinion, it was almost as bad as Twilight.
But anyhow, having hated that book so much as an insult to independent and strong-minded women everywhere, as well as making a joke of women’s illnesses and treatments in the Victorian era, it was with deep apprehension that I read the original book, Dracula.
And Stoker, you managed to disappoint my feeble hopes that the original was better than all the sequels/spinoffs. Because Dracula is a confusing, pompous tale of victorian morals and confusing, wordy prose written in the epistles of more characters than I care to count; all of whom are in love with either Lucy or Mina, as is custom for all literary heroes; but in reality are bumbling idiots who aren’t good enough to lick the dirt off the feet of Dracula, and yet in some confounded way end up being able to kill him anyways.
Because while Bram Stoker would love us to believe that Dracula is vile, evil, and monstrous in every way, he is in all reality the most interesting character of all of them, and I was disappointed when he met his demise. To steal a line from the novel itself, that faith is “the faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue,” I was so bored by this novel that by the end, whilst the author wants to draw Dracula in the worst light possible, I believed in him as a semi-interesting, and thus heroic, character.
Because in that sick twisted way, while we love our heroes to have black and white moral codes (never kill unless absolutely necessary, use your powers only for the good of mankind, save both the damsel in distress AND the bus full of school children, etc. etc) we also demand that they are interesting; we want them to have back stories and sob stories, we want them to be heroes not only for saving people, but for overcoming obstacles in their own life stories. We want them to be literary, and fictionalized.
And so, while I know that the deadpan and completely unexceptional characters of Jonathan, the doctor, and the rest of the uninteresting cast of this novel are supposed to be the heroes; I must admit that the one that kept my attention is the metaphorical bad boy of this drama, Count Dracula himself.
And so I have to ask myself; what is more important in a story: a one dimensional good guy or an interesting bad guy? Are my morals so shallow that I would root for the villain because his story is more tragic? Like dear Severus Snape, can I excuse a lifetime of bad choices and wrongdoing if only because Dracula is to be pitied for his sob story, or admired for his intelligence?