Technology? hmm idk…

Bram Stoker utilizes technology throughout Dracula to demonstrate fears of the Victorian era. Technology helps the group during their conquest. Stroker makes sure to demonstrate the helpfulness of technology throughout the novel, like when Mina walks into Dr. Seward recording his day in his phonograph. Mina, unable to contain her excitement, “blurts out” that it “beats even shorthand” (235). When introduced to a new piece of technology, Mina can hardly contain herself, as a lot of her duty within the team has been about transcribing, this new technology allows for an easier way of life. This small interaction serves as a way to calm the reader about technology, demonstrating ways that it can improve quality of life. 

Technology is also seen as a life saver to Mina once again. Mina mentions how grateful she is for her “Traveller’s’ typewriter…” and how she would have “felt quite astray doing the if I had to write with a pen” (372). Mina has gained such comfort through the new technology, that the old pen and paper method would leave her feeling “astray.” Technology has influenced the characters’ daily lives so much they are now lost without it. The phonograph and traveller’s typewriter allow for the group to have an easier time transcribing their findings better. This has positive externalities: their (more accurate) findings can be published for more to see, helping people learn about Dracula and the supernatural, giving them warning signs, and preventions. However, it also demonstrates the fears that plagued the Victorian era within technology: the loss of the old self. 

Stoker capitalizes on this fear of the loss of self through technology with the failure to save Lucy through blood transfusion. Stroker makes sure to be abundantly clear in the science of the “transfusion of blood” (132). The explicit nature of the description serves to show the advancement of technology in the new era, it also works to show how even with all this new medical technology Lucy still ended up “as a devil” and blazing “with unholy light” (225). Lucy lost herself and purity even with technology. She serves as a cautionary tale for the Victorian reader: technology can destroy you. Technology is used to support the group, helping them keep track of their findings and communicate, however it comes at the cost of the self; although technology may have the intent to help, it often does more harm as it destroys the peoples purity and past self.

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.  

The Puppet Show

“My lady’s face was so much in the shadow, that Sir Micheal Audley was unaware of the bright change that came over its sickly pallor as he made this very common-place observation. A triumphant simple illuminated Lucy Audley’s countenance, a smile that plainly said, ‘It is coming — it is coming; I can twist him which I like. I can put black before him, and if I say it is white, he will believe me” (279). 

Due to Lady Audley’s face being “…so much in the shadow…” Sir Micheal is unable to notice the “bright change” in her face. This juxtaposition between shadow and light (or bright) displays the differences in who Lady Audley is, and how she presents herself; she can only be her true self, show her true reactions, when she is in the shadows. Also, the secret smile occurs only after Sir Micheal agrees with her observation that Robert can be half-mad, which she was aiming to prove after her walk with Robert. She went into the parlor to talk with Sir Micheal with the goal of convincing this message about Robert to Sir Micheal, and she was never worried about that goal failing. As her smile describes, Lady Audley “can put black before him, and if [she] say[s] it is white, he will believe [her]” (279). Lady Audely knows her power: the ability to convince Sir Micheal of anything, even if it is irrefutably wrong. She also knows how to abuse this power to get whatever she desires. She can easily puppeteer Micheal,  breaking his and Robert’s bond, separating them to keep her secret, or completely eliminate Robert, and convince Sir Micheal it was his idea.  Mary Elizabeth Braddon is using Lady Audley to demonstrate power women with high status hold, and how prevalent their opinions are in the actions of their wealthy husbands. It also demonstrates how women will have to hide their true identities from their husbands, as Lady Audley had to hide her reaction in the shadow. Lady Audley can “twist him which [she] like”, making him believe in what she believes in, thus demonstrating the indirect and subtle power that women hold, and how they can use that power to become the puppet master.

A Dim World

“Lucy Graham was not looking at Sir Michael, but straight out into the misty twilight and the dim landscape far away beyond the little garden. The baronet tried to see her face, but her profile was turned to him and he could not discover the expression of her eyes. If he could have done so, he would have seen a yearning gaze which seemed as if it would have pierced the far obscurity and looked away — away into another world” (15). 

While Sir Micheal is confessing his love to Lucy, instead of looking at him she stares “straight out into the misty twilight and the dim landscape far away beyond the little garden” (15). Her “yearning gaze” implies she wants back what she has lost, and the use of the words “misty” and “dim” shows the lack of hope Lucy has for gaining that back as she now believes it is “far away beyond the little garden.” However, while she lacks hope, she still thinks about what her life could have been if she had kept the secret public, as her gaze “pierced the far obscurity.” Although it is unknown what life without secrecy would have been, she still feels regret about keeping it a secret, and leaving her past. While what she lost remains unknown, the reader quickly learns the hold it has over Lucy through the gaze.  Also, the contrast in size in the beginning and end of the passage, “little garden” and “another world”, shows that she believes she is further away from her secret than she actually is. As brought up in the class discussion, the dark secrets are closer to them than they believe (the garden is “scarcely twenty paces from the house” (9)). So, while she believes she must look out into another world to see her secret, she in reality only has to look in the “little garden.” Lucy continues to hold onto her secret, wondering what life would have been if nothing had changed, and with the marriage she believes she has officially lost her past life, as it is a world away, however she is now closer to it than ever.