A Dogs Prison

Bram Stoker uses the gothic tenant of power to question the Empire’s rule, and whether the power England holds is beneficial to the people. At the Captains funeral Mina describes a man and his dog that often watch the boats. Mina notices how “[t]hey are both quiet persons, and [she] never saw the man angry, nor heard the dog bark” (97). Establishing the man and the dog as being a quiet duo not only characterize them, but also shows the mood of the funeral: a quiet and dark place. However, “[d]uring the service the dog would not come to its master, who was on the seat with us, but kept a few yards off, barking and howling. Its master spoke to it gently, and then harshly, and then angrily. But it would neither come nor cease to make a noise” (97). This quick shift in the mans and dogs behavior creates an eerie mood within the reader. The man’s reaction to the dogs barking demonstrates his need for control. Him speaking to the dog first “gently” and then making his way up to “angrily” speaking to the dog shows how when things get out of the ordinary, he feels the need to yell to be in control. This want for power is also shown through the repetition of “master.” This shows that the man sees himself in a position of power; he is the dog’s master so, when the dog disobeys him he is unable to control himself. His uncontrollable nature rises to a peak when he kicks and drags the dog to the seat, the dog “did not try to get away, but crouched down, quivering and cowering…” (98). The dog is now too terrified of the man to leave or even disobey him. The man effectively locks the dog as a prisoner in order to maintain his power. This demonstrates the power tenant of the gothic, as there is such a want to maintain power that the man would rather make his dog a prisoner than lose any bit of power. This want to maintain power is similar to questions that were raging among England in the Victorian era. As the Empire was growing people began to question it, seeing the Empire not as the almighty they were brought up to believe it was. Stoker is using the man as a symbol for the Empire, and the dog as a symbol for the questioning people. This shows  that although the Empire might try to speak “gently” to the people, they will ultimately feel overpowered causing them to imprison and harm the people to maintain their master status.  

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