Archive for October 2011

The Finale of Dracula   Leave a comment

We finished Dracula this week in class.  It was a very simple ending.  This disappointed several students in my class, but I liked it.  I liked the fact that it was pretty easy to defeat evil.  That’s the way it should be.  Once you know how to kill the evil person, it should be a pretty simple task.

In my last post, I mentioned some of the fears that Dracula could possibly represent.  I am a little skeptical to some of these ideas, but if you take them into account, the ending makes perfect sense.  To recap, some of the fears mentioned in class were: religion, science, media, the new woman, economy, and a few others.  Most of these things are not very scary.  Once you force yourself to accept the changes in society, they really aren’t scary at all.  Maybe that’s why it was pretty easy to defeat Dracula.  They weren’t afraid of those fears that he represents anymore.  Once you aren’t afraid of something, it loses all it’s power over you.  There are several examples of this in books or in movies.  One example is Monsters Inc.  The monsters use the energy they get from scaring children to power their world.  Once the little girl, Boo, loses her fear of the monsters, they become unable to scare her.  Randall, her assigned monster, lost his ability to scare her at the end of the movie.

Another example is Shrek.  Shrek is a huge ogre who scares almost everyone at the beginning of the movie, except Donkey.  Shrek tries to scare him so that he will leave him alone, but it doesn’t work.  He also tries to scare the fairy tale creatures when they show up on his door step, but they don’t leave.

Dracula could possibly be an addition to this category.  The world gained control over these irrational societal fears, thus, making the fears disappear.

Posted October 30, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized

Vampiric Typewriting   3 comments

For class this week, my partner and I did a presentation on an article called Vampiric Typewriting.  The article discussed the different types of media found the Dracula, and it discussed the significance of each type.  For example, it said that the newspaper was used to tell stories that we not witnessed first hand by the characters.  The newspaper was also used to give a mediated response.  Another example the article mentioned was the phonograph.  It said the phonograph is a reproduction of a voice that can be played without the physical body of the voice present.  This compares to Dracula talking to his victims in their head.  He can talk to Mina without actually being with her.  It also said that the reason Dracula was written was to warn people about the dangers of over consumption of the media.

I thought the article was interesting.  It gave several unique ideas, but it also seemed a little far-fetched.  For example, Lucy becomes a sexy vampire because she wears make-up.  She is becoming the new woman and is experimenting with “paint.”  I’m not sure if the make-up is what made her become beautiful.

There were a lot of different presentations, and each one had a different idea as to why Dracula was written.  Dracula embodied several fears: the new woman, economy, media, religion, science, management, etc.  In English classes, we always discuss the different meanings of books and the reasons for why the author wrote it the way he or she did, and I can’t help but wonder if we are reading too far into things.  Do books have double meanings, or are the authors just writing a straight forward book to entertain people?  It would be so much easier to figure out the answer to this question if we could just ask the author, but many of them have died.  I would just love to ask one of the authors: Why did you write this book, and what symbolism, if any, is in the book?  I’m not positive, but I think most teachers and analysts would be surprised by the answer.  I think that literature can be whatever you want it to be.  You get out of it what you want.  You can look for deep meanings, or you can just read it for entertainment.

What do you see in the pictures?

Posted October 30, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized

Metaphors in Dracula   2 comments

In our reading of Dracula this week,  we got to the part where Van Helsing suggests that Lucy is the reason that kids are disappearing during the night.  I think that this is really interesting because Lucy has become the opposite of a mother.  She is stealing blood and nutrients from children rather than providing those things for them.  She is also becoming more beautiful which is directly related to stealing blood from children.  Parents always say they get their gray hair from dealing with their children.  Lucy is doing the opposite of parenthood, so her age is also going in reverse.

I think the fact that she preys on children also enhances our fear of her.  Child molesters and child murderers are considered the scariest and most terrible people in the world.  Lucy isn’t killing them, but this book uses the stealing as blood as a possible metaphor for sex.  If that is the metaphor the author is going for, then Lucy is a child molester.

Another interesting scene of the book was when Lucy’s husband, Holmwood, kills Lucy.  This is a clear metaphor for sex.  The book said that Holmwood plunged into Lucy’s body, and her body shook.  This gave Holmwood power of Lucy, and she was defeated.  I think it is significant that it is Holmwood that has to regain power over his wife.  This book was written in the time period of the new woman.  This new woman was looking to play more of a prominent role in society.  The fact that Holmwood had to defeat is wife is saying that husbands had to regain control over their wives.

There are a lot of sex references in books.  I don’t know if that is because people read into books too much, or if the authors are actually thinking about making metaphors in their books.  I think it might be a combination of both.  Sometimes the author means to have metaphors in their books, but other times people just get a little carried away with their reviews.

Posted October 21, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized

Sex Talk   1 comment

At school this week, two professors of women studies and sexuality led a talk called “The Nuts and Bolts of Human Sexuality.”  It was a talk to inform students of the basics of sex and of the human body.

I thought that the talk was informative.  The women talking gave statistics on sexually transmitted diseases, and they also gave interesting facts about human body parts.  I knew some of the questions that they asked, but not all of them.  They never talked about abstinence.  I thought that this talk would be about abstaining from sex and the possible dangers of having multiple partners. It definitely was not about that.  The point was to make college students more knowledgeable about sex.  They told us how to have sex safely, and they also answered any questions that anyone had.  They said that they would answer to the best of their ability, and if they didn’t know the answer, they would look it up and get back to you.

I thought they did a really good job with their subject.  It isn’t easy to talk to teenagers about sex.  I think it helped that we are in college, but it was still very awkward at first.  They tried to make it as relaxed as possible in the room.  They told personal stories, and they didn’t act like what they were saying or showing was awkward.  They just said it like it is.  I think that you should be able to ask questions about sex without judgment.  Often schools just teach abstinence even if they think that kids will still have sex.

I think schools should teach safe sex, too.  Abstinence should be emphasized, but they should also realize that teenagers make mistakes.

 

The focus of schools should be keeping kids from getting diseases and from getting pregnant.  This talk was a great way to get all the information, and it helped to teach teenagers the safe sex option.

Posted October 21, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized

Dracula vs a Crucifix   Leave a comment

In chapter 1 of Dracula, Harker is given a crucifix from the innkeeper’s wife.  When she finds out when Harker is headed, she warns him of the evil of the place and then places a crucifix around his neck.  She reminds him that it is the day before Saint George’s day which is when “all the evil things in the world will have full sway.”  She knows that the crucifix will protect him from whatever evil may come his way.

(Legend has it that Saint George slayed a dragon, which symbolizes evil.  The day before he slayed the dragon though, evil was winning.  That is why the Eve of Saint George’s day is synonymous with evil, and the actual date is synonymous with peace.)

At first I thought that this just meant that good will protect you from evil, but I came to realize that it means much more than that.  My pastor was talking about the gateway to God in his sermon.  He said that the thing that separates us from God is sin.  Adam and Eve chose to commit sin in the Garden of Eden, and that act separated us from God.  As I thought more about the crucifix idea in Dracula, I realized that it is more than just good defeating evil.  It symbolizes our reconnection with God and our free will.

In my previous blog, I said that Harker chooses to enter Dracula’s lair, which reminds us of Adam and Eve choosing sin.  Since sin separates us from God, the reconnection occurs through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, which is symbolized by the crucifix.  When we are reconnected to God, that power is unbeatable.  This is why it can protect Harker from Dracula.  When Harker cuts himself shaving, Dracula’s vampire characteristics start to show.  He becomes enticed by Harker’s blood.  As he gets closer to Harker though, he sees the crucifix and stops.  This is because of the power that the crucifix symbolizes.

Posted October 17, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized

Entering Dracula’s Lair   2 comments

When I was reading Dracula this week, I noticed something interesting in the way Harker was invited into Dracula’s house.  Dracula said repeatedly, “Welcome to my home.  Enter freely and of your own free will.”  Harker said that Dracula never stepped toward him when he first came to the home.  Dracula kept telling Harker to “enter freely,” but he never motioned him in or greeted him.  Once Harker stepped into the house, however, Dracula instantly moved toward him and shook his hand.

Why would the author, Bram Stoker, make such a big deal out of this scene? And why was the fact that Dracula said “enter freely” emphasized?  If Harker had decided to not enter, would Dracula be able to follow him and chase him down?

I think that Dracula is a symbol of the devil.  This scene is similar to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  In that story, the serpent is the symbol of evil and the devil.  Adam and Eve through their own free will, disobey God, thereby allowing evil to start in the world.  The serpent didn’t attack them, but offered them the opportunity to come into sin.

Dracula is giving Harker the opportunity to step into an evil place, but by his own free will.  He is not forcing Harker to walk in the door, and it sounds to me like he can’t force him.  I think the author is trying to tell the readers that we can choose to walk down the evil path, but no one can force us to.  We have complete power over our own destinies.

This scene is also foreshadowing the evil that is to come.  Readers of Dracula today know the basic plot line and know who Dracula is, but when the book was first published, that wasn’t true.  When people read this chapter, they picked up on the fact that Harker is not forced to come into the house, and they can tell that something evil is happening in that house.

Posted October 17, 2011 by heffner14 in Uncategorized