How the Sublime Stands the Test of Time

In his video on the different aspects of Gothic literature, John Bowen outlines the presence of the sublime. He describes the sublime as something that is “terrifying and awesome,” and piques the attention of the reader through these means. This is laid out in great detail by Van Helsing in his note to Dr. Seward as they begin to understand Dracula’s true power. He describes Dracula as having a variety of super-human abilities, beginning with the fact that “he have always the strength in his hand of twenty men; even we four who gave our strength to Miss Lucy it also is all to him” (Ch. 15).  Not only is he un-dead, but his strength is unnatural. It makes him even more of a threat than the average criminal that British citizens encounter. On top of this, Van Helsing notes that Dracula can summon his wolf and I know not what. So if it be that he come thither on this night he shall find me; but none other shall—until it be too late. But it may be that he will not attempt the place. There is no reason why he should; his hunting ground is more full of game than the churchyard where the Un-Dead woman sleep, and the one old man watch” (Ch. 15). The Count himself is not all that the vampire hunters have to worry about. He is able to summon other beasts to support him in his hunt. While he resembles a man, Van Helsing compares him to an animal, as he has an established hunting ground in which his prey is plentiful. On top of his super strength and ability to control animals, The Count is also “cunning, as I know from Mr. Jonathan and from the way that all along he have fooled us when he played with us for Miss Lucy’s life, and we lost” (Ch. 15). His intelligence is what makes him truly terrifying to the reader, as he is not simply a beast that is carelessly using his power. This use of the sublime is reminiscent of the supervillains in our modern day. The supernatural abilities of villains paired with the potential for them to outwit the protagonist is what draws the viewer into movies. This displays how the sublime has stood the test of time as a literary tool. The combination of multiple superhuman abilities in villains leaves the readers in awe of their powers and prompts them to back the protagonists in their journey to stop the evil force before it is too late. 

Leave a Reply