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Published: 04-12-2019

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The Symbolism of Blood in the Novel "Dracula"

The rise of British Imperialism during the 1800’s produced a new sense empowerment amongst English citizens and redefined British culture in the Victorian Era. For the duration of this time, British imperialists valued private lineage and emphasized the significance of safeguarding one’s ancestral purity via rigid social customs and boundaries. These ideals created a distinct class division which valued the wealthy, civilized Victorians more than the impoverished reduced class. Upper class Victorians feared the idea of class integration due to the fact it was seen as a threat to their life-style and culture. In order to make certain this separation, Victorians utilised one’s blood as a measure of their social worth as nicely as a representation of their family’s lineage. Several Victorian authors, like Bram Stoker, recognized this anxiety over class separation and utilized the significance of blood to enhance worry in novels such as Dracula.

The transferal of blood in Stoker’s, Dracula, symbolizes this worry of border crossing in between unequal social classes and is represented via how the major characters negatively react the vampirism of victims like Reinfield, Lucy, and Mina. In contrast to most of his situations, Reinfield’s mysterious actions are strange enough to pierce Seward’s stern, controlled disposition. Instead of showing interest and concern towards Reinfield’s mental situation, Dr. Seward continuously demonstrates a clear disgust with his patient’s actions. Seward dehumanizes Reinfield by labeling him a “Zoophagous patient” (127) due to his interest in eating animals like spiders and flies. Since Reinfield has shared blood with the Count, this classification implies that he is now significantly less than human and no longer regarded as a respected Victorian gentleman. When Reinfield cleans his space in preparation for Mina’s go to, Seward notes that Reinfield performs the “disgusting task” (248) of eating all of his pets at once. Instead of being intrigued by Reinfield’s attempt to be polite, Seward is appalled and dismisses the motives of his patient. As an knowledgeable mental wellness specialist, it is odd that Seward shows much more disgust with his patient than genuine scientific interest. Reinfield’s actions intimidate Dr. Seward not only simply because they transgress Victorian etiquette but also since they represent an impurity of blood inside a social class.

As Reinfield’s condition worsens all through the novel, Seward becomes increasingly intolerant of his patient and begins criticizing the “madman’s” actions in his diary. For example, when Reinfield infiltrates Seward’s workplace and attacks the doctor, Seward admits his full repulsion with Reinfield’s episode. As he describes Reinfield’s obsessive attraction to the puddle of blood on the floor, he compares Reinfield to a dog and confides that “[Reinfield’s] employment positively sickened [him].” (154)This vivid scene should be an excellent insight for the doctor’s study of Reinfield, but instead Seward is discomforted due to the fact his personal blood is becoming fed on by an individual of a decrease social class. The significance of blood is also referenced when the medical professional notes that he “cannot afford to lose blood just at the present,” (154) since it will affect his “physical great.” (154) Such a modest cut on the wrist should not hinder the doctor’s all round health, but his concern with blood loss hints that blood is much more considerable than just a bodily fluid. Seward’s uncharacteristic discomfort as properly as his private concern in this scene reflects the overarching Victorian worry of class mixing as even the hardened, British doctor is rattled by this transferal of blood. Right after Seward’s blood transfusion with Reinfield, there is a clear alter in the partnership amongst the doctor and the patient. Seward seems to be intimidated by his patient following his blood is mixed with the lunatic. When the doctor approaches Reinfield about his repulse of Van Helsing, Seward is shocked by his patient’s new identified intellect. As Reinfield compared his life to Enoch, Seward knows he was not familiar with the reference, but does not admit it to Reinfield due to the fact he “felt that by performing so [he] was lowering [himself] in the eyes of the lunatic.”(287) Rather of trying to develop on this improvement, Seward’s intimidation pushes him to try and break his patient down in order to keep control. Reinfield’s sudden burst of intelligence as effectively as Seward’s concern with establishing the dominant part of the connection demonstrates the energy of upper class blood. After Reinfield drinks the doctor’s blood, he not only becomes civilized, but he is also as intelligent as the medical professional. This peculiar interaction shows how the pure blood of an upper class Victorian, like Seward, can empower these of a reduced social standing while weakening the strength donor.

The reverse of this impact can be noticed by means of Lucy Westenra as she becomes weaker and much less civilized as she loses blood to Dracula. Even though Reinfield’s endeavors represents how a lower class person can benefit from upper class blood, Lucy’s vampirism shows how losing pure blood leads to the opposite impact. As Lucy becomes more entangled with the Count, Mina acknowledges Lucy’s increasing disobedience. For instance, Lucy constantly tries to break out of the property late at night and seems “to be a small impatient at discovering the door shut.” (105)Even soon after she is located unconscious from the Dracula attack, the really next day she tries to escape her bedroom. As Lucy is losing blood to Dracula, she is also losing her capacity to behave as a correct Victorian lady. An additional instance of this restlessness is when Lucy makes a surprising outburst whilst sitting in public with Mina. Mina admits she was startled and concern as Lucy unexpectedly shouted “His red eyes once more! They are just the same!” (106)These unexplained actions shows how the loss of pure blood is corrupting Lucy’s behavior and manage over her actions. As much more blood is lost to Dracula, Lucy becomes increasingly unruly until at some point she is completely overtaken by her toxic vampirism. Once Lucy completes her vampirism, there is a drastic alter in attitude towards her transformation. At first, Seward denies any possibility of Lucy’s transgression and even calls the professor mad for suggesting the concept, but once he sees Lucy in the churchyard returning to her resting spot, he and the others are enraged. Her impurity is particular as Seward sees that the stream of blood “had trickled more than her chin and stained the purity of her lawn death robe.” (226) He continues to say that her “eyes were unclean and complete of hell-fire” (226) and that her purity had turned “to voluptuous wantonness.” (226)Because Lucy is getting corrupted by Dracula’s impure blood, Seward’s comments directly show that blood represents social class since of how she is outcasted by the rest. Seward then dehumanizes her by comparing her to “a dog [growling] more than a bone,” (226) and denounces his adore for her quickly. He calls her a “thing” and declares that he could have killed her “with savage delight.”(226)This quick alter in attitude symbolizes the worry of class impurity as the guys instantly feel the require to destroy Lucy. Alternatively of displaying sympathy towards the lady they all as soon as loved, her corruption is so horrifying that she provokes them to attack her.

Right after Lucy is beheaded by the guys, Mina undergoes a equivalent vampirism which also queries her social purity. Once Reinfield is found maimed in his space, Seward and the others instantly return to the bedroom to locate Mina getting attacked by Count Dracula. What Seward saw “appalled him” (300) as Mina was becoming forced to drink Dracula’s blood straight from his chest. The Count produced an animalistic response to the intrusion as his “great nostrils of [his] white aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edge” (300) as he showed his bloodstained teeth. Dracula’s feeding and forced feeding of blood represents how he is draining Mina of her pure, Victorian blood even though injecting her with his foreign, toxic blood. When Mina finally raises her blood-smeared head, Seward is disgusted with her look rather than becoming sympathetic to her trauma. He describes Mina’s face in a similar fashion to Lucy’s vampirism by calling her ghastly and claiming that her “eyes have been mad with terror.” (301) Again, Seward’s concentrate on aesthetics suggests that he is much more concerned with the social impurity of Mina rather than her general effectively-getting. Jonathan Harker, Mina’s husband, is also primarily focused on Mina’s social standing as he too initially reacts frantically to Mina’s situation. When Jonathan awakens to the aftermath of Dracula’s attack on Mina, he right away goes into shock. Seward claimed that Jonathan had a face “of wild amazement” (301) as he saw his wife covered in Dracula’s blood. He particularly asks, “What does that blood mean?” (301) implying that Mina has been tainted in some way by Dracula’s blood. Given that Dracula’s blood is apparently foreign to Jonathan, his phrasing suggests that there is a physical difference amongst the two fluids. He then begs for the professor’s aid as if Mina’s fate had already been determined. This desperate reaction from Jonathan shows his worry that the transferal of foreign blood has corrupted his wife’s social status as a pure Victorian lady.

Though Jonathan was eventually in a position to use this traumatic event to motivate his manhunt, Mina however, was unable to shake her feeling of desperation soon after the attack. As she explains what occurred with the Count, Mina herself admits that she feels tainted by the Count’s blood and is a liability to the safety of other folks. Quickly following the attack, Mina extends her arms to embrace Jonathan, but all of a sudden retracts them and puts her hands more than her face in shame. Mina had realized that her social standing as a Victorian lady was now jeopardized since her blood had been infected by Dracula’s. She is so concerned about this border crossing that she fears her touch will even endanger the other individuals. Mina goes further and tells Jonathan that Dracula created wanted her to be the “flesh of [his] flesh, blood of [his] blood.” (306)This direct reference to blood demonstrates the fluid’s distinctive properties and shows how Dracula’s blood is distinctly diverse than the major characters’. Mina’s self-admission of her impurity shows there is a consistency among all of the principal characters concerning the importance of blood purity amongst the Victorian social class.

The transferring of blood in Dracula represents an exchange of power among two divided social classes. As Dracula and Reinfield get stronger from consuming the pure, Victorian blood, victims like Lucy and Mina are drained of their strength. Characters like Seward and Jonathan are discomforted by this transferring of blood due to the fact it symbolizes an impurity of Victorian social class that requirements to be destroyed. This widespread worry amongst the major characters demonstrates the deeper concern of reverse colonization. Comparable to how Dracula’s blood infects one’s social standing, British imperialists worried that an additional nation or culture could contaminate British culture by way of immigration or foreign occupation. By means of Dracula, Stoker is capable to use the recognizable symbol of blood to advocate his concern about a bigger threat to British imperialism.
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