From the ability to change physical form to a blood-thirsty nature society has always been morbidly fascinated with the concept of Dracula. It has not only seduced literature such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula but also infected mainstream music and film industries. Many composers have expanded and appropriated much of the vampire genre such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula and Slayer’s Bloodline. The ideas surrounding vampires has been of good versus evil, the nature of religion and immortality.
It is due to these notions which allow us to assess the visual and literary techniques, and context of these texts where vampires have long grasped the general population’s interest. Bram Stoker’s Dracula deals with the concept of vampirism in a ‘black and white’ view. The main antagonist is seen as a demonic monster that defied the status quo and attacked the innocent. Stoker purposely uses the technique of writing the novel in first person of every character except for Dracula creating a sense of mystery and foreboding, as the characters and readers themself is uncertain about Dracula’s true nature.
However, the reader is hinted that Dracula is characterised as a sinister monster by small occurrences such as his feeding of a young child to the three vampires where Jonathan recounts, ‘there was a gasp and a low wail, as a half-smothered child… I was aghast’. This scene in the early chapters of the book highlights the inhumanity of Dracula where Stoker demonstrates that this character is not only evil but also void of any morals. However in later appropriations, the monster is no longer seen as pure evil, but in fact has the ability to be more humane.
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In Coppola’s Dracula the opening scenes showcase the creation of Dracula, demonstrating the transition from human to monster. Not only does this allow the audience to understand the existence of this monster but also empathise with this creature, blurring the lines between good and evil. However the audience is still reminded that Dracula is still an evil monster despite him being given the human capacity of love as he feeds the three vampires a baby and says ‘Yes, I too can love. And I shall love again. Despite this, Slayer’s Dracula sticks with the original characterisation of Stoker’s Dracula. The imagery that is used throughout Bloodline heavily coincides with the gothic motifs of vampirism such as ‘Blo11od fests’ and supernatural nocturnal manifestations such as ‘Night hides’ and ‘hunting packs. ’ Both Draculas are also void of human emotions and only seek to infect and destroy human lives. This is outlined when Stoker’s Dracula goes to England and attacks the innocent, where he forces Mina to become a vampire ‘flesh of my flesh’ by drinking his own blood as revenge to the slayers.
This inhumane nature of Dracula attacking the innocent is also portrayed throughout the chorus of Bloodline, ‘I'll kill you and your dreams tonight…Bleed your death upon me, Let your bloodline feed my youth. ’ Symbolism is a significant link between Stoker’s, Coppola’s and Slayer’s Dracula. Stoker and Slayer’s Dracula represents the anti-Christ, a forbidden entity which engaged readers from the repressed Victorian Era. It is through this symbolism that Dracula is portrayed as a supernatural evil where Stoker’s Dracula is repelled by any holy relics such as the crucifix.
The believed ulterior motives of Dracula is made apparent by Slayer’s Dracula as he feels “Betrayed eternally’ by God and seeks to inflict his pain onto others as he chants ‘‘I’ll rip inside your soul, contaminating the world, defying God and son. ’ This strong inclination demonstrates the extent of how evil Dracula is and that his chosen actions are done to be the twisted parallel of God’s. In addition, Dracula’s blood consumption in all three texts acts as a perverse parallel of the Holy Communion as it is gruesomely similar to Christian believers who re-enact the ‘drinking’ of Christ’s blood.
However Dracula’s strength comes from consuming people’s blood rather than giving it freely, as Renfield suggests, ‘The blood is the life! ’ in an epiphany whilst undertaking his sadistic experiments. This is evident as Stoker’s and Coppola’s Dracula grows stronger as Lucy’s health continues to deteriorate after his feeding on her. However society’s fascination is not based purely on the occult of the vampire but rather the more alluring attribute of being immortal. Stoker’s Dracula represents a creature that does not age nor fall ill, aspects which society today continues to strive to obtain.
Thus a time limit is of no great significance to Dracula as he continues his attacks on turning many innocent people into vampires and in turn, inflict the same curse onto them as he states ‘My revenge has just begun! I spread it over centuries and time is on my side. " Similarly, Slayer’s Dracula also deals with the concept of immortality where he also feels the desire to attack innocent people as he states ‘I will live forever… in my veins your eternity. ’ Both these characters are obsessed with turning masses of people into their own kind with the knowledge that immortality comes at a grave rice- a trade up for the soul. This price however is acknowledged by Coppola’s Dracula as he cannot bring himself to completely turn Mina due to his feelings for her. This decision allows the audience to empathise with Dracula as he is given a human emotion of compassion where he cannot bear to let Mina be cursed to live a life of being hated, feared and soulless. This is shown during the scenes when Dracula has cut open his vein for her to drink but stops her as he exclaims ‘You’ll be cursed as I am…I love you too much to condemn you. Thus the concept of immortality is an object of desire by Mina as she yearns to live eternally with Dracula but this resistance by him allows the audience to witness the little ‘good’ that he has and in turn, demonstrates that society’s fascination of immortality should be viewed as a curse rather than blessing. Throughout the analysis of these texts, it is apparent that the key elements of Dracula are good versus evil, the role of religion and immortality.
It is due to these elements which capture our interest in the concept of vampirism where we are continually enticed to delve into the darker realms of an occult and explore the concept of immortality. Stoker’s Dracula as well as its appropriations effectively portrays the possessive nature of this character where there is a dependency on people’s blood for life as well as the ease of manipulating victims into giving their life force which accounts for the obsessive fascination of Dracula.
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