This is my Blood: Dracula, Morality, and Religion

Dracula represents a complete inversion of the Victorian worldview. The Count’s impossible physiology turns science on its head -quite literally in the case of his “lizard” (41) crawl- and any vessel containing his powers moves with an unnatural, lurching awkwardness. Dracula’s physiognomy is equally alien: his glaring red eyes (151) are a complete departure from the limpid blues, stormy grays, and passionate violets of other contemporary texts. Similarly, his skeletal, bone-white face (143) is incapable of a Victorian protagonist’s perpetual flush. Despite these obvious physical reversals, the most telling inversions of Victorian thought lie in the spheres of Dracula’s moral character and the religion of Transylvania.

Dracula subtly upends ideas of Victorian morality. He is superficially polite, but unable to serve as an honest host. His active hours are inverted, and his physiology forbids the suppers and smokes so crucial to Victorian society (24). He contradicts the class system, acting as both master and servant (17, 23). The Count is immune to the Victorian fascination with technology and progress (30). He places no importance in hygiene, shaving, or toiletries, as he has no need for them (33). Dracula possesses a sense of honor, but his morals are perverted into a hunter’s code of predator and prey (37). Dracula respects his ancient Christian heritage and the conversion or else eradication of heathen Turkic peoples (36), but only as a sanguine history, not unlike Renfield’s account of consumed souls (80).

Religious expression in Transylvania is in direct opposition to the Anglican doctrine. The means of defeating Dracula, the customs of the Transylvanian people, are as bizarre to Johnathan as the monster himself. Johnathan is baffled by the strange gifts given to him in the carriage (15) and equally bewildered by the comfort he later takes in them (35, 50). As an Anglican, he sees the Catholic Rosary as an idolatrous adoration of Mary, but cannot help but feel comfort in some conduit of Christian belief in a world ruled only by the superstition of the boyar and his Szgany (49). However, Jonathan and others remain wary of Catholicism, and some of this fear can is made manifest in Dracula. Vampirism can be compared to the Catholic belief of transubstantiation: the literal belief that the bread and wine of the eucharist become flesh and blood. Protestants, including Anglicans, believe only in a symbolic transformation. While Anglicans drink wine as if it were blood, both Catholics and Dracula (very differently) practice the reverse: drinking blood as if it were wine.

One thought on “This is my Blood: Dracula, Morality, and Religion”

  1. The correlation between vampirism and Catholicism is one I find quite interesting; vampirism strikes me as an inversion of Catholicism rather than something similar to it. As you point out, Dracula makes a mockery of the Eucharist: Catholics drink the blood of Christ as a symbol of their faith, while Dracula drinks the blood of Catholics instead of eating a roast for Sunday dinner. Therefore, he’s somehow even worse than those darn Catholics that English Anglicans resent so much. Given the religious doubts of the nineteenth century, this is adds another layer of repulsion and the unnatural to Dracula’s character and what he represents.

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