Vampires: The untold story
The tales of vampires, wolves and creatures of the night have been told from one generation to another. They are thrilling and interesting to listen to and they beg the question of whether or not these creatures do exist after all. One can easily dismiss their existence due to the fact that they might not have encountered one and that these creatures seem to exist in films and books only. One would be right to think this way; to have an opinion that is logical and based on the experience they have had in their lives, after all, if they were real, what would be the chances of meeting one anyway? This paper looks at one of the most interesting vampire stories in the book Penguin Book of Vampire Stories by Alan Ryan called Dracula’s Guest. The reason behind choosing this book for my paper is the fact that I would like to explore the nature of vampires and clearly bring out their seductive ways of luring in their victims as seen through the eyes of the protagonist; Jonathan Harker. I will also go ahead and explore the impacts of a vampire in a given society, how they influence people around them either positively or negatively. In addition, I will ensure that the reader of this paper understands not only the context of the story itself but also the style utilized by the author of the story in order to bring out the characters, theme and build ideas around power, sex, family and love.
Dracula’s Guest is one of a kind story that is well written and interesting to read. In fact once you start reading it there is a chance that you will not put it down until you have completed it. It is vital for one to note that the story maintains a suspense that is attributed to the style of composition that the writer took. Like many other novels of the time (nineteenth century) this story is not straight forward, it entails collages of letters journal and diary entries that bring out the story (Stroker, 9). This complexity enables the reader to be encompassed in a new realm when reading, creating a novel and grand feeling of excitement.
The story begins with a May 3rd entry by Jonathan Harker, who was in Budapest travelling to Draculas’ estate in Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. Harker was a young London lawyer who had been sent by his firm to finalize on a real estate deal with Count Dracula. According to his entries he is very excited with his trip, noting that he can actually tell that he is leaving the Western world behind him and entering the East part of Europe whose people and culture will be peculiar and unfamiliar. The story starts off on a low key where Harker records almost all the details of his trip (Stroker, 10). In most instances he watches what he eats and is seen to record reminders to acquire certain recipes for Mina, his fiancée. However, as the story unfolds, Harker is seen to indulge in exotically spiced meals.
The train Harker is travelling on arrives at Bistriz on the eve of the twilight and he embarks on Golden Krone hotel when the Count had instructed him to stay. His arrival was coincidental since it was on the eve of St. Georges Day, night when evil things in the world have full sway. However, Harker seems not to be concerned about the local superstitions until an elderly woman is terrified on his mention of the world Dracula. The woman goes ahead to given him a rosary to protect him on his journey, a gesture that stirs him off. The following day, as he is leaving for Count Dracula’s castle, he finds a crowd gathered around his coach, which the count had organized for him. The crowd is remarking the name vampire and some other unclear words. However, the crowd wishes him a safe journey ahead by displaying the cross with their fingers. The journey continues and it is characterized by steep hills and forest, but finally after an adverse travel, he arrives at the Count’s castle.
While here strange things happen. They horrify him to the extent that Harker at some point is convinced that he is about to lose his mind. The first day he gets there, he and the count have a talk about how the count would be leaving for his new estate in London and this would be soon, however, the following day, the count takes backs his words by suggesting that he would be uncomfortable in a new land since he is used to being a Lord in his castle and he would lose this freedom in a new land (Stroker, 9). In addition, his English is not so good, which prompted him to suggest that Harker should stay a while before leaving so that the count would learn English from Harker.
This was a move to lure him in, which worked but after a few days, Harker came to realize that he was indeed a prisoner in the castle. As his stay progresses, Harker is coupled up with strange occurrences that happen in the castle, first, he realizes that the castle has not mirrors, which is quite strange. Secondly, there are no servants and the entire castle there are usually two people, him and the count. Third, the count allows him to go into all rooms except the ones that are locked. Fourth, he has never seen the count eat a meal. Fifth, the count’s bedroom seems like it is never been used, it is covered in dust all over.
At some point, which is not clearly brought out in the story on whether or not it really happened or it was a dream is the instance when Harker was in a room where three very attractive ladies walked in. Two of them were dark skinned while one was fair, but all of them seemed to have red eyes. Filled with sexual desire for them, Harker allowed them to come close to him and they touch him with their teeth on the neck, at this time Harker has closed his eyes in anticipation. Suddenly Count Dracula appears and orders the ladies to leave which they did carrying a bag that had a life like object in it. Sex is a main idea in the life of vampires. There is an Oscar Wilde quote that says that sex is not about anything else even sex itself, it is about Power. Given the true nature of Dracula’s Guest and even Dracula himself we see that he is power oriented, the reason why he had secretly imprisoned Harker without his knowledge at first under false pretence. Power in this scene come in two ways, by the three lady vampires using sex to lure Harker and secondly where Harker commanded them to leave. These lady vampires knew that men are weak to the beauty of women and therefore offering themselves sexually would lure Harker.
Dracula on the other hand however is more of the traditional and quite reserved vampire, his way of ensuring he has power over his victim is by using his wits, which Harker had clearly put across that he possessed. In addition, his whole demeanor spoke of dominance; his huge estate, his castle, his possession of gold in his bedroom and so forth. One of the major things that Harker noticed about the count was the fact that he had a pale skin. His eyes face was strong, his eyebrows bushy and his mount was thick and white covered in sharp white teeth that were protruding very his lips. He spoke in perfect English when he was welcoming Harker, this is despite his claim to have been rusty at the language. It is quite notable that the count was a well-read man, given that the castle had this huge library that Harker had once stumbled upon while making rounds in it (Leatherdale, 123). One major thing about vampires is their Victorian aura that they bring forth, this is evident in Dracula, he was well spoken, wealthy, well read and very calm even in and they are well educated and have this gentleman flair about them.. The reason behind the controlled aura that these vampires have can be attributed to the fact that they have lived for a long time, they have interacted with many people and hence are very comfortable in their own skin. In addition, they cannot lose grip of their emotions lest they risk revealing their true identity which would compromise them a lot. This is seen in the book, where Harker was startled while shaving and he ended up cutting himself on the neck. This drove the count in a bizarre, his eyes were lit from the sight of the blood and he quickly almost pounced on Harker in order to suck his blood. The only thing that saved Harker was the fact that he had held on the rosary that he was given at the hotel by the elderly woman. Such loss of control is something that cannot be condoned since in public it would compromise the identity of the vampires (Stroker, 12).
While the story unfolds, one learns that the count was a secretive person who had held Harker as a prisoner. In some vampire stories, in film, some vampires are seen to hold prisoners for their own pleasure. In this instance however, the true intention behind this is not clear. Which begs my assumption for the fact that Count Dracula might have just kept him for the sheer enjoyment of feeling in power. Since he was powerful and possessed the ability to influence people around him a kind of hypnotic power the count exercised his will on the people he encountered, Harker being one of them. In the movie sequel Underworld, we get to experience vampires that are power oriented. Their main motive is to hold power and do away with anyone who objects their reign. This is somewhat different from what we encounter in other dramatizations since in Underworld the theme of power and domination has been widely explored while other themes such as love are kept on the minimum. In our main source here, Dracula’s Guest, the author has explored a number of themes. These include: love, family, hope and redemption just to mention a few.
Family comes in the context in that Lucy, a friend to Mina who was Harker’s girlfriend is depicted to have come from a very wealthy family. Her family members were key contributors on her journey to recover after she was attacked by Count Dracula. This was brought about by the fact that they had put garlic all around her room leading to her progressive recovery. However, her family – mother, was the reason behind her falling back into the illness when she removed the garlic in order to rid the room off the smell. She later converted into a vampire and they had to drive a stake through her heart.
The theme of love and family is intertwined and this comes about when you look at the life of Harker. Throughout the story he keeps recording events in order for him to have a vivid description of what he experienced while on the trip to Count Dracula’s castle. His intention is to remember everything while he narrates it his fiancée, Mina. This clearly shows how he holds her dear to his heart and his intention to marry her and bring up a family with her cements this theme. His hopelessness in the castle seems to threaten this ambition and it is for his union with his loved ones that motivated him to want to escape. In his journal entry before he left he “goodbye all! Mina” (Stroker, 14)
Aside from the theses of sex and power that Dracula’s Guest explores widely, there is another theme/idea that comes out clearly as you read through the story. This idea revolves around family and love (Netzley, 92). In this story however, the vampires are seen to have a nature that objects the two things. First, this is evident in the fact that Dracula does not have a companion in his life, he is alone most of the time in the castle and we can gather this from the fact that Harker quite put it that most of the time they were just the two of them in the house. He later pointed out that the castle was a den for all evils in the world.
Vampires as popularly written are creatures of the night, who shy away from sunlight and they sleep in coffins. Therefore even if they were to have a normal conventional (Griffiths, 57) relationship built on love it would be difficult since that kind of relationship would require them to spend time with their kids, take them to school during the day of course, take them to malls and sleep in bed at night with their spouses. This would go against everything that is their nature. The other factor that shows that vampires are against the whole concept of family and love is that their actions seem to bring bloodshed, pain and destroy all kinds of relationships that love has founded. Take for instance the mother who was knocking at the castle asking for her child, this was the same child that the three lady vampires had so to say, consumed “they carried a bag that had a life like being in it…. the following day, there was a woman on the door of the castle that was knocking hard asking for her child.” In addition, the people of the town where Harker had stopped, were terrified of vampires this is because they knew that the vampires had the habit of consuming their children and loved ones.
This paper has looked at the various vampires stories with the main source being Dracula’s Guest, a story in The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories. It has looked at how Dracula behaved with his encounter with Harker and related this to other vampire sources showing the differences and similarities in each case. The paper has gone ahead to clearly demonstrate that vampire stories possess certain similarities and differ in others depending on the themes the author chooses to focus on. Dracula’s Guest is the first stories of the stories explored here, having been written in the late 1800s while the other books are recent.
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