A night with the dead : Dracula and the Victorian’s fear of death.(late post#4 due to web reasons)

In Dracula by Bram Stokers, there is a heavy emphasis on death and mortality that happens throughout the whole novel but I believe there is also a fear of the mortality that the characters experiences and how it correlates to the Victorian’s attitude of the time. To be more specific, within the Mina’s journal when she wakes up and find her deceased mother, we get several motifs to indicate that death is around the corner.  ” Somewhere near, a passing bell was tolling; the dogs all round the neighborhood were howling; and in our shrubbery, seemingly just outside, a nightingale was singing”(Chapter 11).  It is interesting to see how Bram Stoker decided to structure this sentence to be similar to poetry with the rhythms “tolling” , “howling”, “singing”. As a matter of fact, all of the actions mentioned above indicate death. The passing bell, tolling to announce a death, symbolizes the closeness and inevitability of mortality. The howling dogs and the wind rushing through the broken window evoke a sense of suspense and the uncertainty that Mina’s feeling with her mother’s body and what’s to come. Even the nightingale’s song that brings her comfort is reminiscent of her deceased mother’s voice. “but the sound of the nightingale seemed like the voice of my dead mother come back to comfort me”(chapter11). All of these accumulate and accurately describes how distressed and vulnerable Mina is at the moment. Mina’s distress is further intensifies as she discovers her maids unconscious on the floor, having been drugged with laudanum. Laudanum being used here is interesting as it was a potent opiate commonly used during the Victorian era and it also  highlights the prevalent fear of pain, suffering, and the need for sedation in the face of illness or death. One quote from this ties up Mina’s dread of isolation and mortality that could be linked to how the Victorian’s attitude with mortality ” Alone with the dead!”(Chapter11).The fear of death is evident in this passage and can be connected to the Victorian era’s views and anxieties surrounding mortality. Death was a prevalent and looming aspect of Victorian life, with high mortality rates due to various diseases and the limited medical advancements of the time. In addition, the fear of death in the Victorian era was often intertwined with the fear of the unknown, the supernatural, and the loss of control. Mina’s refusal to leave her deceased mother’s side and her reluctance to remove the flowers from her body reflects how the Victorians also emphasize on taking care of the dead. Overall, the passage highlights the psychological impact that Mina’s goes through with her mother’s death and how it is linked to the sense of vulnerability and isolation that can accompany the contemplation of mortality.

One thought on “A night with the dead : Dracula and the Victorian’s fear of death.(late post#4 due to web reasons)”

  1. I agree that there is both an emphasis on death and mortality, but also of a fear of such things, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is on one hand, Dracula who is obsessed with immortality and turning people into the “Un-Dead”, and on the other hand there are characters like Lucy or Mina, among others, who fear death and do not want to die, even if they live on as “Un-Dead.” It is interesting that you compare it with the Victorian ideas about mortality, how they were scared of death as well.

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