by Andrea Elizabeth
I wish I’d jotted down my thoughts as I’d read because I don’t think I remember them all or their development. The first thing that struck me was that the first main character who goes to Dracula’s castle is a Protestant, and I thought his point of view would be the defended one. But it’s not. Harker criticizes the Romanian people, who were probably Orthodox, for being superstitious in their belief that a physical crucifix would protect him, but later it does.
She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me.
I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind.
She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck and said, “For your mother’s sake,” and went out of the room.
I am writing up this part of the diary whilst I am waiting for the coach, which is, of course, late; and the crucifix is still round my neck.
Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.
Van Helsing, the Dutch professor, is kind of what I expect from a Priest when a person comes to the Church for healing. He accurately diagnoses the problem, understands and respects spiritual and symbolic realities, will use appropriate physical weapons, and can converse with modern scientists and psychiatrists in an understanding way. Was Bram Stoker that smart?
Wikipedia’s history of his childhood: “Stoker was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. Of this time, Stoker wrote, “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.
After his recovery, he grew up without further serious illnesses, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours as a B.A. in Mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (the Hist) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.”
This is an interesting analysis regarding the book’s treatment of modernity vs ancient spirituality. But then it goes into too much of a feminist criticism of Victorian morality. I do think they have somewhat of a point in how all of the moral burden is put on women however. But purity itself is not an outdated contrivance.
This research paper goes into more depth about the use of Catholic sacred objects and prayers.
My last point is that the conversation about killing people, like Lucy and even Dracula in the end, points to their deaths being meant to set them free from further damning themselves through their actions. There is an Orthodox teaching that God sometimes mercifully kills people, even introducing mortality itself, to prevent them from going too far in ruining other people’s lives, and by that I mean to take the world too far towards the point of no return. Sure seems things are constantly on the brink though.