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Writer's Review - Dracula: Bram Stoker

The critical-literary analyses offered by WriTribe are a thousand words long. Each has been compiled with the intention of providing writers not only with a general introduction to the works presented, but also to reveal the added value inherent in each of them.


1,000 words go far beyond mere criticism or superficial praise; they are intended to point you to one or more secret elements, showing you what narrative techniques are masterfully employed by the author of the work in question.


Written with the unique perspective of an author for authors, reviews aim to point out to you what added value you can glean from twenty literary classics. With this in mind, choosing the reading best suited to your need will prove much easier.


 

Cover of Dracula by Bram Stoker

 

Dracula

Bram Stoker


The work at a glance

First published in 1897, Bram Stoker's Dracula is a true classic of the Gothic horror genre and introduced the character of Count Dracula, the progenitor of vampires and the most iconic in literature and popular culture. The story begins with Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer who is sent to Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase property in England. As soon as Harker arrives at the count's castle he discovers that Dracula is actually a supernatural and evil being, a vampire who feeds on human blood to survive. Harker at this point is imprisoned in the castle while the count leaves for England.


Meanwhile in Whitby, England, something unusual happens: the ship Demeter docks with only the captain on board while all the other crew members are missing, possibly murdered. The town is struck by strange and supernatural events, such as one involving Lucy Westenra, a young woman who is rescued at night from a mysterious attack.


The girl begins to grow weaker and paler, and her behavior also changes. To her rescue comes Dr. John Seward, a family friend, who enlists the help of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, an expert in mysterious diseases, who suspects that Lucy has been bitten by a vampire and begins a fight against time to save her.


Jonathan Harker's own fiancée, Mina Harker, becomes involved in the affair, becoming an essential aid to Van Helsing in their fight against Dracula, who not only continues to bite more victims but also hides behind different identities. Through twists and chases, the story culminates in an epic battle between the group of vampire hunters and the villainous Count Dracula.


 

What you can learn from reading this work:


  1. Genre characteristics and the creation of an iconic character

  2. Use of a particular narrative structure

  3. Choice of setting and universal themes


 

Bram Stoker's Dracula not only helped to define the genre of the Gothic and horror novel but was its forerunner and innovator because, in addition to the dark settings, he introduced the character of the vampire who would become an icon and symbol in the field of horror and supernatural fiction, one of the most famous and recognizable protagonists in the history of literature, and for this reason increasingly taken as a model.


Stoker, however, did not limit himself to a precise characterization only of the vampire par excellence, Count Dracula, but was a master at creating other characters who were themselves complex and fascinating, including Professor Van Helsing, who, by sanctifying the struggle against the vampire, sets the stage for that between good and evil. Such well-developed and distinctive characters are an example of how it is possible to create figures that are charismatic, multifaceted and certainly engaging for every reader. A forerunner of the horror-gothic genre, real dark atmospheres are outlined in the novel in which narrative tension is always high, thanks to an evocative and evocative writing style full of suspense.


The structure, which is quite complex and in which several narrative lines are interwoven, also made Bram Stoker's work innovative and peculiar. Indeed, the novel is written using a variety of forms including letters, diaries and newspaper articles, and personal records of the protagonists. This original layout can be a stimulus for experimenting with different storytelling techniques on the basis of which a compelling story can be constructed.


Finally, like any great work of literature, Dracula deals with universal and profound themes that affect every individual and every society: the eternal struggle between good and evil, between reason and the irrational, but also repressed sexuality, human mortality and conversely the desire for immortality. Even in sketching the Victorian society in which the whole story unfolds, Bram Stoker stages an implicit social critique by reflecting on the values, fears, and contradictions of the era.


 

Conclusions

Bram Stoker's Dracula is thus one of the foundational texts of the horror genre and helped shape and define the vampire myth, as well as shaping what would become the modern novel and inspiring much subsequent genre literature (think also of contemporary fantasy-gothic sagas). The character of Dracula became a cultural icon and inspired numerous adaptations, reinterpretations, and subsequent works in diverse and numerous artistic fields. In particular, it will be the many cinematic representations that, by staging the vampire par excellence from time to time, will definitively consign him to the collective imagination.


One of the first cinematic representations of the character of Dracula is Nosferatu (1922), a silent film directed by F.W. Murnau, although the film was not officially authorized due to problems with respect to copyright (the character, in fact, is called Graf Orlok in the film). Nevertheless, Murnau's work has become a classic precursor of the horror-gothic genre in film and has influenced many subsequent portrayals of the character.


But it was especially in the 1931 Dracula played by Bela Lugosi, a Hungarian-born actor, that the famous vampire reached his most iconic form, which was to decree one of his most influential portrayals. Lugosi succeeded with his performance, with his distinctive European accent, and also through his elegant attire to imprint a precise image of Count Dracula that will remain in history (famous is the reference in Tim Burton's film Ed Wood, in which the protagonist - defined as the worst director of all time and played by Johnny Deep - will meet his very idol, Bela Lugosi, as the eternal vampire).


Finally, Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) with Gary Oldman, which offers a more romantic and dramatic portrayal of the character, exploring the human and tragic side of Dracula.


These numerous representations stand to signify, no more and no less, that when the success of a work transcends the narrow circle of its domain-the literary one-it means that one is faced with an event of exceptional magnitude. Dracula, then, first as a genre novel and then as an iconic representation is a true example of an innovative and original classic that has won over both readers and viewers, influencing literature as well as cinema.

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