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Thoughts on Dracula

October 9, 2009

draculaIt’s been a week since I started reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and so far I’ve been pretty excited about the book. It took several chapters for me to get involved in the narrative, because the first narrator, Jonathon Harker, was immensely unlikeable and a terrible writer. At first, I thought that the terrible writing  was Stoker’s fault, but after reading other parts of the book, I’m pretty sure that it was an intentional characterization of Harker. My favorite character so far is Mina Murray, Harker’s fiance. She’s bizarrely modern and independent, and her thoughts and concerns seem so much more human than Harker’s do.

So far, my hopes that Dracula would be similar to Collins’ writing has not been true. I find that the tone and voice of the different narratives in the novel are relatively similar. The different writing styles don’t always fit perfectly with each character, as they did in The Moonstone. For example, I don’t perceive any distinct differences in the tone/voice/style of Harkin’s chapters as compared to Dr. Seward’s. However, with the introduction of Van Helsing, Stoker begins to write in dialect, which helps. (He also did this with some old men who spoke in Whitby dialect.)

One of the things that I love about the novel is the constant hint-dropping. As I read the novel, I’m constantly aware of tiny hints that Stoker drops that will later be worked into the story–like how Dracula can’t be seen in a mirror, or how Lucy seems to lose blood at night when there are bats around. Some of this just works so well because I’m so familiar with the basics of vampire lore that despite the fact that this is my first reading of the book, I already know some of the “surprises.”

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