Language in Braham Stoker's Dracula

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 The Importance of Language in Dracula   

Braham Stoker's Dracula exhibits a noticeable tie to other monster stories, in that the creature is hindered by language, and often defeated by it. In Beowulf, the monster Grendel is unable to speak, and is excluded from the community. Shakespeare's Caliban of The Tempest was taught speech, and used it to curse. In Shelly's Frankenstein, the creature was hindered by knowing nothing at his creation as an adult, and becomes a monster partly from the treatment he receives by the people he meets, but also from the books he reads, which leads to his education of hatred and eventual downfall.


Count Dracula's problem was not that he was unintelligent in the use of language. He understood the power of language very well, and uses Jonathan Harker in order to perfect his own English. The Count's problem is that the mortals he wishes to prey upon are able to communicate with each other very well and very efficiently. Because they are able to communicate so well, they are all able to join their stories of the count and discover, first, his existence, and second, his intentions.


This begins with Jonathan Harker's journal, in which he records his adventures in the Carpathians. This is important, because his journal is an important clue in finally determining what exactly is happening. His fiancé, and later wife, Mina transcribes the journal, and then shows it to Dr. Van Helsing, a noted physician, attorney, philosopher, and metaphysicist. Through the journal, Van Helsing is able to determine what exactly happened to Lucy, who earlier in the novel was a victim of The Count. The phonographic journal of Dr. Seward was useful in observing Mr. Renfield, also a victim of Dracula, who the protagonists used in order to locate The Count's London abode.


Another example of language defeating Dracula is Dr. Van Helsing himself. Van Helsing was educated through books and folklore, and was thus empowered with the knowledge of how to defeat the count and his minions. The doctor's knowledge of medicine allowed him to provide the transfusions to prolong Lucy's life. Through his knowledge of vampire lore, he knew to place garlic cloves to ward off the dæmon, how to use the holy wafers to "purify" that which was infected with the Vampire's curse, and the necessary ritual to destroy a vampire.

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These elements of language, as well as many others used in the novel, led to the downfall of Dracula. The various journals, diaries, ship's logs which pointed where the count was headed, and collected folklore all aided in the destruction of the count. Because the heroes were able to communicate so well together, to share the information that each one had, they were able to defeat Dracula.


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