Dracula : literary analysis, criticism, and cultural importance

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White, Hilary
Issue Date
BA in English Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study is to, through four chapters of discussion provide a reference to the novel Dracula that will benefit literary enthusiasts who 'wish to understand the depth and vitality of the literary story, which are lost in most of the filmic adaptations. The first part of the study will look at Stoker's background and the people and events that influenced the writing of the novel. The effects of his socio-economic background will be examined along with the influence of both his feminist mother and the charismatic actor, Sir Henry Irving, both of whom provided inspiration in a subtle manner. This background section would be incomplete without mentioning the novel's place in the Gothic tradition of literature, as well as the disputed relevance of the notorious Romanian ruler, Vlad Dracula, termed affectionately as "Vlad the Impaler", who ruled in the middle ages. The second section will be literary based, and will explore through two chapters, psychoanalytic and feminist criticisms of the story and its characters. Issues of sexuality, repressed fears, Victorianism and gender roles are addressed by Stoker with varying degrees of subtlety. Links will be drawn between these and both the cultural context of the time and Stoker's own social commentary. The main purpose of this analysis is to highlight to the metanarrative of the novel which has been all but lost since the story took its place in mainstream culture. It is my opinion that a grasp of the intricacies of the literary text heightens the impact of Dracula. The novel's role in popular culture is more relevant than is often credited. In the third and final section, his place in culture will be discussed, along with the inspiration that the story has provided. The appeal of the myth will be considered, and thus this final chapter will tie in the importance of the literary vampire.