bram stokers “dracula”Amanda R. WrightReligion 10112/12/04Prof. NicholsFinal PaperMany people are familiar with the novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker.
It is typically referred to as a horror story sure to give a good scare. However, Bram Stoker was not merely out to give his Victorian audience a thrill ride. Many symbols and themes, particularly those of the main antagonist Dracula, were brought into the novel to teach a lesson. Oddly enough, Dracula resembles other forces of evil in other religions as well.
A strong comparison exists between Dracula, Satan, and Hindu demons. Of course these parallels are not fully drawn across the entire novel. Some differences do exist, but the parallels that are apparent bring attention to a cultures idea of a monster or threatening force to order.
Dracula is the perfect symbol of otherness for the Victorian age. He comes from Transylvania in the East, an area full of superstitions and strange beliefs. Although the Romanians are based in Christianity, the Christians of the Victorian era do not view this as a modern form of the religion, but rather, as a more primitive structure. In the novel, Dracula’s English is not perfect, and Dracula himself admits to this flaw and fears being recognized as a stranger. Even the character’s physical features are far from the accepted form in England. This symbolism of otherness is a threat of change, and therefore a threat of order. This symbol of otherness can also be applied to the characters of Satan and Ravana.
Ravana, although not a symbol of religious otherness, is an odd combination of forces. His mother a demon and father a saint, Ravana was born a monster with ten heads and twenty arms. He is different in comparison to others around him, but his being symbolizes a threat to order, like Dracula. Many depictions of Satan suggest otherness, in how Satan resembles figures such as Pan and Jews.As a threat to order, the characters Dracula, Ravana, and Satan must desire to create chaos. Dracula’s quest puts at risk the established religion of London and the purity of their women. Dracula’s plan in the novel is to set up base in London, take as many women to the undead side as possible, and once he has the women, the men will then too be conquered.
This is a representation of an invasion on humanity. He serves not only as a threat to the local community, but also to the entire world. The demonization of Satan also suggests all of Satan’s intentions are aimed at destructing the order of religion and the followers of Christ in the New Testament. Satan’s entire mission seems to be focused of obstructing the path of Jesus to his fate and Jesus’ followers to their enlightment.
This, like Stoker’s evil character, also may affect all of humanity.It is questionable to label Ravana as a chaos monster, although he does create a good amount of local chaos among his community. Ravana has an established kingdom where all his people are happy. Ravana also participates in the sanction of marriage.
The character Dracula hits to marriage of Mina being his bride, but this example is more of a perversion of the sanctity of marriage rather than a sincere commitment. Ravana’s wives in the story are happy and fulfilled unlike the undead companions that Dracula enslaves.By taking the women of London, Dracula is also taking their purity, a highly regarded trait of the time. This situation is very similar to the situation between Ravana and Sita, the wife of Rama who Ravana kidnaps as his own. Throughout Stoker’s novel, Mina is the symbol of the perfect Victorian woman who is pure, monogamous and supporting of her husband as she offers advice when necessary.
Sita is also excellent example purity and a devoted wife as she refuses to succumb to Ravana due to her everlasting love and loyalty for her husband Rama. Once Dracula has taken the women in the novel, they slowly morph into lustful vampires themselves. Lust, in Stoker’s time was a horrible trait representing evil. Sex was viewed as sin. Notice how the characters that follow Dracula, the three sisters are highly sexual and refer to their deathly bites as kisses. Lucy, Dracula’s first target in London is chosen for a reason.
She is by nature more flirtatious and therefore more susceptible to Dracula’s advances. Clearly stoker is demonizing sex and lust through this antagonist. Satan also tries to tempt humanity to act in adultery and other lustful acts which are considered sinful.Hindu mythology also condemns lustful action. After Rama recaptures his wife, he desires to have nothing to do with her because she is unclean. They reunite after the Gods tell Rama he is actually Vishnu. Mina, after being bitten by Dracula and sucking of his blood in return she is contaminated and unclean.
Her state of purity is only recovered once the men kill Dracula. Dracula also represents the past. He is unfamiliar with the modern developments of the time, as he cannot read Jonathan’s shorthand. This represents a flaw in Dracula’s invincibility, and foreshadows his downfall in the end of the novel. Satan and Ravana’s fates were foreshadowed but neither of them represents the past. These characters are just as technologically advanced as their opposing forces.Symbols of evil are present in all three of these characters. Dracula preys of his victims during the night; he is nocturnal; the darkness is his cover and comfort.
During Ravana’s birth, wolves cried and evil filled the air. Satan is evil because he is the opposing force to God.A major theme in the novel is good conquering evil as is the case in the New Testament against Satan and in many myths involving Hindu demons. The good always triumphs. In Dracula, the Count is conquered by a band of men who are loyal to themselves and their women. Throughout the entire book, very few quarrels arise between these men, symbolizing the power of friendship and love. In the New Testament, Satan is ultimately put in his place as Jesus sacrifices himself out of love for his people.
By doing so, he freed the souls of man. Hindu demons are always beat by the gods. In the case of the story of Ravana, he is destroyed by the love of Rama for his wife (much like Jonathan Harker) along with Ravana’s unquenchable desire for want and pride.The weapons used by these chaos monsters and against them all differ. In Dracula, the tools of destruction against Dracula are a central theme of modern weapons, science and rational thought versus older weapons from the church.
In the beginning, these men believe they can defeat Dracula by their modern weapons, but it is not until Van Helsing steps in with weapons from the east. These weapons mainly derived from the Catholic Church end up being more powerful than those of modern times. A gun may not stop this evil force, but a symbol of God, a crucifix will surely do the trick. These ancient weapons are the only things that will stop the invincible Dracula. Ravana is practically invincible.
Through proper penance, Ravana acquired indestructibility from Brahma. Ravana failed, however, to guard himself against humans. His heart was left vulnerable and in the end, a human destructs him by means of the heart. Satan does not die in the New Testament, although he is defeated.
However, the only way to ward Satan off was by symbols of Christianity and ignoring Satan’s temptations, which according to the culture were sinful and wrong. Satan’s fate is only described in Revelations where he will be placed in the lake of fire to suffer for eternity.Dracula gets a better ending than that. A theme of the novel is Christian redemption. So, as the vampires are ritualistically killed in their undead state, they are set free spiritually to God. Even Dracula, the character that almost led to complete destruction of the order of the world was saved in the end. The chapter mentions a smile of peace across his face before he turned to dust.
In conclusion, Dracula, Satan, and Ravana along with other Hindu demons are more than just stories. The similarities between Dracula and these other characters are an excellent example of how cultures manifest their demons and monsters on what is unacceptable for the time. These characters symbolize the threat of destruction the present state of order and therefore are demonized by nature.