Discourse in Dracula

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No work of literature is ever written without consideration of the context of the time period of which it was constructed. Dracula, by Bram Stoker, and the film adaptation of the same text by Francis Coppola, differ greatly in attitudes, values and beliefs despite the fact that the film is based on the text. Furthermore, the added embellishments which no doubt make the film more pleasing to the viewer such as increased gore drown out the symbols of values and beliefs conveyed through the individual text. For this reason, the transition of medium and the change in context has highly warped the values and meaning imbued within Dracula.

It is clear from analysis of the original text that it is very much built within the framework of the patriarchal and repressed 19th century context. In Victorian England, expression of female sexuality was very much frowned upon and only two polar opposite states of sexuality existed – that of the pure, chaste virgin, and of the somewhat soiled wife and mother. When considering the main female characters, the first discrepancy between the movie and the book appears. In the book it is quite apparent throughout that Dracula is attempting to turn the chaste Lucy and Mina into their opposites – into Nosferatu, vampires and embodiments of the suppressed sexuality that in many ways defines the original text. However, in the movie Lucy is almost shockingly sexually aware, and is very forward with Quincey in particular before she is under the influence of Dracula. Blatant sexual imagery is shown in the movie where Lucy attempts to seduce Quincey, as evident in her appraisal of his dagger. As she moans in sultry tones, “Oh please let me touch it, it’s so big” referring to the phallic symbol of his dagger we ...

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...ucy’s personalities in the second excerpt scratches the surface of this particular value. What the movie certainly does not lack is discourse on class structure. Mina and Lucy several times mention ideas based on their class, which ties in with the discourse in the original text on social values and class. Mina and Dracula are the first vampires in the series, and both are members of the aristocracy. Perhaps this is a direct reference to an underlying view in both the director and Stoker’s mind that the aristocracy is in fact a parasitic entity that “drinks the living blood of others to grow strong”. The fact that religion is a vampire’s only weakness, a point echoed both in the book and the play in the “purification” of Lucy could also be an indication that one political point has not changed throughout the ages – religion is the only check upon the aristocracy.
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