Today I will take a look at a classic: Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
On the second reading I realized that this book contains a lot more than a crafty horror story. While the first half of the story was still in my mind, beautifully underlaid with the images from Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, I had completely forgotten the second half and therefore could really enjoy the suspense that was lacking to me in the first half.
I like the way the story is a compilation of diary entries written by the various characters, which somehow added to the mystery. Bram Stoker also uses different dialects for different characters, which in itself is a neat idea but unfortunately made the reading rather difficult.
I didn’t mind so much with side characters, but Dr. Van Helsing was a trial and has cost Stoker a star in my rating (not that he cares…). Being German and having a solid grasp of the Dutch language as well, the accent Stoker invented for Van Helsing completely threw me. It had nothing of German or Dutch sentence structure or grammar.
It was just plain, wrong English and often forced me to read a sentence two or three times to get the meaning. Apart from that I wondered how Van Helsing managed repeated Channel crossings within a day or two, but I’m willing to ignore that.
Two things impressed me.
1. The description of Lucy Westenra showed me a highly sensitive person, which surprised me as such. What surprised me even more was the considerate respect Stoker expressed for such a character.
In today’s society, highly sensitive persons are often regarded as weak performers, or maybe a bit unstable and weird. Many people suffer from their high sensitivity because it is not valued anymore. The strength of sensitive persons seems only to bear sigificance if someone needs to pour his/her heart out. That sensitivity might also be named emotional wisdom and could give guidance to many less sensitive persons is almost unheard of today.
2. Bram Stoker keeps pounding on the honorable, good, pure, noble, loving etc. etc. characters of his heros (and heroine) while at the same time painting a strong role model for both men and women. Being only 46 years old and not over 100 I cannot say if it was his wishful thinking that people should be like that or if people were like that 120 years ago.
What appealed to me – again – was the respect expressed in the various descriptions. Stoker obviously had clear ideas about how men and women should act in their respective roles and what benefit the other sex would gain from it. He makes clear that men and women are different and that they need each other in their differences.
This idea blatantly spits in the face of gender mainstreaming and therefore deserves an applause from me. I believe he is absolutely right.
What he is also right about is that there are things you need to do, whether you like them or not, if God commands you to. The deep faith that carries his heroes through the roughest trials is admirable. And even if the story of this personified evil named Dracula is purely fictional, Christians all over the world face harsh trials every day and need to have their faith strengthened over and over again, just as described in this book.
If it weren’t for the tendency to have the characters, especially Dr. van Helsing, go on and on about the same thing I would have given this book 4 stars. But it does have its lengths that keep the story from flowing. Nevertheless, I recommend the read – especially if you don’t know the story, yet. (Who doesn’t?)