Bram Stoker's Dracula vs. Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke

Bram Stoker's Dracula vs. Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke

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Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, as well as, Hayao Miyazaki’s animated feature, Princess Mononoke, deal with the prevalent theme of good verses evil. On the surface, both stories seem like typical hero verses villain tales, but once their plots are more closely analyzed it is evident that there is not a bold line between the two extremes. Both pieces explore the idea of evil being in the eye of the beholder and being interpreted completely differently from contrasting perspectives.
Princess Mononoke is the tale of a young prince, Ashitaka, who battles a demon bore, only to become possessed with its evil spirit. Ashitaka then travels to Irontown, seeking to find the reason for the bore’s anger and thus, a cure for himself. When he arrives, he finds that the citizens of the town, under the rule of Lady Eboshi, have been mining iron from nearby mountains and, in turn, disturbing the animal Gods of the forest. The animals and the humans have been in a constant battle over who has the right to the land and both have been lead to believe that the other species is purely evil. Ashitaka believes that the humans and the animals can get along peacefully through compromise and finds himself in the middle of their conflict. From each side’s perspective, the other seems inherently evil, but from Ashitaka’s perspective, and the perspective of the audience, neither side is truly corrupt and they are both just feeding off of each other’s anger. Although the animals seem evil and barbaric to the humans, they are just being protective over their land and are acting off of their fear of the humans. On the other hand, the humans are seen as evil by the animals because of their selfish use of resources, but they are just trying to financially support their community. For example, Lady Eboshi, the leader of Irontown, is seen as evil for orchestrating this exploitation of resources from the animals, but the humans see her as a compassionate, God-like figure. She does many positive and kind things for the human community, such as taking in women from the streets and brothels and giving them a place to live and work. Even though she is, in essence, destroying the animal’s habitats, she is saving the lives of many humans while doing it. The animal characters are also portrayed as compassionate in many respects. For example, when the leader of the wolves finds an abandoned baby, she takes her in and raises her as if she were her own daughter.

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Therefore, although both groups are seen as blatantly evil from the other’s point of view, they audience can see that this is not really the case, and they are both just trying to do what is best for their respective communities.
Although it is less evident on the surface, Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, deals with a very similar theme. Throughout the novel, Dracula is seen as an evil, demonic force, destined to shatter the peacefulness and uniformity of Europe. The underlying reason why he is seen as evil by the other characters in the novel is because of his neglect to adhere to the traditional, religious ideals of the time. For example, he contradicts the typical gender roles that Victorian society valued by sexualizing women, such as the vampire girls and Lucy, while they are under his power. The other characters in the novel are seen as traditional and heroic and are ordained to destroy Dracula by any means necessary in order to protect Europe’s peacefulness. From the perspective of the men countering Dracula, he is completely evil and a threat to the helpless people of their society. When their quest to destroy him begins, Jonathan Harker states, “This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batter on the helpless. The very thought drove me mad. A terrible desire came upon me to rid the world of such a monster.” (Dracula, page 50). This quotation represents the public’s general feeling towards Dracula, but what they neglect to realize is that he too was once a helpless human being infected with the vampire disease. Dracula was once infected with the overwhelming and controlling desire to drink the blood of other’s and to take over their minds, and he really has no choice but to fulfill these impulses. When the men finally kill him, he turns back to the beautiful, peaceful being he was before he was infected, which proves that he once was a normal member of society like the rest of them.
Although these two tales are completely different in their settings and plots, they are very similar in the themes that they represent. They both illustrate that one can never truly know what is evil unless they are able to see things from the other side’s perspective.
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