Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dracula Vs. Frankenstein

Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are two of the most well known and widely recognized fictional stories ever written. They were also some of the first science fiction and horror novels.   After reading the two books, I was struck by the grotesqueness of both monsters in the stories.  Count Dracula was a far more terrifying antagonist, however, because of his choice to be evil, his actions against humanity, and his manipulative characteristics.

The legend states that Count Dracula was known as Vlad III, “The Impaler.”  He was a brutal man from the region of Transylvania, in Hungary, who had a reputation for impaling his enemies on wooden stakes.  When his father Dracul summoned him to war against the Ottoman Turks, Vlad could not refuse. Leaving his beloved wife behind, he rode to war. While Vlad was away, false letters of his death reached his wife. In her bitter sadness of losing her beloved, she threw herself from the castle walls and into the river.  Vlad returned victorious from the battle only to find his wife had taken her own life.  In his mad rage, he swore everlasting vengeance on humanity for its cruelty.  He made the choice to consume human blood and, in doing so, became something other than a man, a vampire with an everlasting life filled with death and murder, forever spent in the shadow.  Dracula chose and sealed his fate without a second thought. The monster created by Victor Frankenstein, however, was different.  Essentially, the monster was a victim; a victim of the carelessness shown by his creator.  Victors only aim was to create life, he cared nothing for “the life” he created.  Almost as soon as he had created life, Victor rejected it, by shunning the monster and abandoning it to a world that would never accept him. Society too, judged the monster by his gruesome appearance and not by his actions, for the monster was by no means evil by nature.  In the beginning the monster was kind and did what he could to help people.  He even saved a girl from drowning in a river, but still people were too blind to see him for who he was. When the monster discovered that a family of peasants was poor and in need he gathered food and firewood for them. Sadly his kindness was only repaid with words of disgust and looks of fear from the family. At one point, the monster befriended an old blind man, until the man’s family returned and chased the monster away.  The monster never meant to be a killer, he tried his very best to befriend and help those he met.  Dracula would only be kind to you if he needed you to do something for him, or he was about to drain you of all blood.  

Dracula was a killer, every death he caused brought him one step closer to his sinister goal of world domination.  Dracula wanted a vampire dominant world and he was willing to drain the blood of a countless victims to get it.  Everyday, Dracula needed the blood of a newborn baby, just to keep him looking healthy.  Dracula enjoyed it, he enjoyed sucking the blood from his victims, every look of pain or fear he made appear on someones face, he relished.  It was a lust to him, something he longed for and enjoyed.  When Dracula turned the young lady Lucy into a vampire, he did it with such tenderness and care, but afterwards he threw Lucy aside without a second thought.  Frankenstein's monster, killed out of desperation.  The monster was lost and alone in a world that didn't want him.  The monster did murder Victor's younger brother, but it was so Victor would feel the same pain and loneliness that the monster felt and to force Victor to evaluate the monsters existence. Later, the monster killed a young girl whom Victor had grown close to.  All of this was because Victor abandoned the monster in a world that wasnt ready to and probably never would accept him. On top of that, he demanded Victor create him a mate,  so that the he would no longer be alone.  In hopes of ending the killings,  Victor began doing just that, but midway through, he began to have fears of an entire race of monsters being born.  So, Victor took the half-made monster and dumped it into the ocean.  When the monster saw this, he retaliated out of pain and anger and murdered Victor's wife, not out of anger, just so that Victor would know how it felt to lose someone he cared for.

Count Dracula loved to treat everything as if it were simply a game.  He relished toying with his victims minds. Watching them slowly fall under his spell, gave him a rush of exhilaration and seeing them lose their minds made him smile.  for example, when John Harker visits Count Dracula at his estate in Transylvania, his entire castle was set up to drive Harker mad.  Harker is picked up from the town by a carriage with a driver that never utters a word.  That’s an odd way to greet someone. The driver takes him up into the mountains by a snow covered and overgrown road.  Once reaching their destination, in the middle of nowhere, Harker notices the castle. It casts an ominous presence instilling fear, with ivy covered walls and stone gargoyles looming in the shadows. Dracula tells Harker he is welcome to go anywhere in the castle, yet more than half the doors he finds are locked. Harker immediately questions what is behind those doors, adding an element of anxiety to his already fearful mind.  Harker discovered a dark dusty room full of coffins, he investigates further and finds that none other than his host, the count, is sleeping in one. Not being able to take anymore, Harker tells the count that he needs to leave.  Dracula bids him farewell, but when the door is opened for Harker, the entire courtyard is full of massive snarling wolves.  Harker runs back inside and for the remainder of his stay the howl of the beasts never ceased.  The castle that welcomed him, had now become a prison.  Later in the story, in London, Harker has organized a group to hunt down and ultimately kill Dracula.  But Dracula shows his cunning manipulation once again by turning the fiance of one of the group members into a vampire, in hopes of demoralizing his adversaries and scaring them off his trail.  The behavior shown by Frankenstein’s monster was all a reaction to the hostility he faced when encountering others and especially his maker.  If anything, Victor was the one instigating and manipulating the monster.

Both monsters are extremely scary, Im not trying to make Frankensteins monster seem meek, but as you can see Dracula was a far more terrifying antagonist, with his cunning brutality and the horrible crimes he committed.  He manipulated and killed to get his way without a second thought. Frankensteins monster was pushed into the things he did and was never evil by nature.  For these reasons, Dracula was the most memorable and captivating.        

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