Tag Archives: Vampires

Dracula


“You couldn’t (doubt yourself) with eyebrows like yours”

–Jonathan Harker to Van Helsing

I wrote sometime back about this online course I took last year, ‘Fantasy and Science Fiction’. You can find my post here. Each week, we were supposed to read a book and write a 270-320 word essay which would “enrich the reading of a fellow intelligent student”. The essay shouldn’t read like a review, but should be somewhat analytic and definitely informative. So today I present to you my essay on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, assuming there are very few book-lovers who haven’t read it. I started with the quote I’ve placed at the beginning of this post.

Physiognomy is the art of judging an individual’s character by studying their facial features. Though considered a pseudoscience now, it was widely popular in the author’s time. In the novel too, it plays an especially important role. Not only does the description of a character’s facial features paint a vivid picture of the character in our minds, it also tells us from the outset whether that particular character is good or evil, which is of paramount importance in this novel.

Thus, the driver who transported Jonathan to Castle Dracula has red eyes; the devil has red eyes, and so as soon as we read this description we know that the driver is somehow dangerous. The Count has “a very strong, aquiline, [..] thin nose [..] lofty domed forehead”, signifying his strength of body and character, and his pride. But more noteworthy are his “fixed and rather cruel-looking” mouth and his “peculiarly sharp white teeth”. Even his coarse, broad, hairy hands with the long, sharp fingernails further the impression that the Count is more beast-like than human. Although during the first few hours of Jonathan’s visit we have no concrete reason to doubt the Count, his physical description is enough for us to beware of him. Similarly, Dr. Seward’s “strong jaw and the good forehead” tell us of his courage and intelligence. Van Helsing is a “kindly, strong-faced old man”, which tells us that he is mature and experienced, brave and forceful. 

Physiognomy is also a valuable literary device in signifying the change in the characters’ personalities. Jonathan’s gray hair not only symbolize his shock and terrible ordeal, but also emphasize the fact that he is an old soul; he has experience and knowledge way beyond his years. Similarly, the startling change in Lucy’s features (eyes that were “dull and hard at once”, “voluptuous lips”) warn the reader of her conversion into an Undead. Mina too, bears the scar on her forehead as a reminder of her “unclean” status. 

Thus, although much criticized now, the art of Physiognomy proves to be a most advantageous tool in the hands of the author; it helps us in identifying the undercurrent of the novel–the basic theme of the story–the triumph of good over evil.

Have you read the book? If you have, what do you think of my critique? And if you haven’t, do you want a link where you can download it legally from?

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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter


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I’d been meaning to watch this movie ever since I read Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name, but managed to do so only yesterday. And was completely floored all over again!

The movie deviates from the novel at many places as all adapted screenplays are wont to, and usually I dislike when that happens. But in this movie it all turns out for the better. The concept of slavery-meets-vampires is brilliant, and the actors do enough justice to their characters. But the thing that really stands apart in this film is the cinematography and the action sequences. The climactic scene atop a moving train is not only a great plot twist, but a visual treat as well. I only wish I could have seen it on a huge screen in a theater rather than at home. The ending of the movie is also quite different from the book; I actually liked this one better, since I thought the novel’s ending couldn’t really be justified.

All in all, I can’t imagine why it didn’t sit well with audiences.

(Disclaimer: I’ve been known to have a really bad taste in movies. eg. I even liked Maid in Manhattan when I saw it for the first time. Well, it had Ralph Fiennes, end of story. I couldn’t have tolerated Steven Segal though. So anyway, if you watch this movie on my recommendation and don’t like it, I can’t be held responsible.)

(PS. Another example–I loved Red Riding Hood (2011) but was disappointed by Snow White (2012) (Charlize Theron is a Goddess and I adored her in the movie, who wouldn’t, but why does Kristin Stewart have just three expressions in her repertoire? And what’s with the heaving?! Heroines haven’t done that since the 1890’s) although it was the other way round for critics and Rotten Tomatoes.)

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