I finally have my very own copy of Dracula as opposed to the ebook version I have, and this particular copy came with some discussion questions in the back. A couple of the questions I thought were actually fairly good, but there were also some that I thought were just plain stupid. In the enterprising spirit of blogging, I decided to answer three of the questions found in the back of my book. There will be sarcasm.
- Dracula has never been out of print, and more movies have been derived from Dracula than from any other novel. To what do you contribute this continuous popularity? The story, in one form or another, has been popular in many countries for a long period of time. Does that suggest that it answers some need that is simply human rather than social or historical?
The reason Dracula remains so popular, I believe, is that at its core it is a tale of good vs. evil. These days, moral relativism is a big deal to most people; it’s nice to believe there’s no such thing as an objective, absolute truth because then we have to be answerable for our own actions. If there’s no such thing as absolute good, then evil doesn’t exist, either. It’s a popular theory nowadays, but I think deep down in the soul, people do long for clear cut, black and white scenarios. At our core, we do know that some things are inherently good and some are inherently evil, and Dracula illustrates that point.
- Lucy seems more susceptible to Dracula than Mina. What is it in Lucy that makes her more susceptible; what in Mina makes her more resistant?
Lucy was a daydreamer and a romantic whereas Mina was more practical and more grounded in reality. Lucy’s daydreaming tendencies disconnected her from reality somewhat, and by having less of a grasp on the real world, she was more susceptible to Dracula’s influence. Mina, on the other hand, was firmly grounded in her life; I would even venture to say that having detailed plans (being a teacher, getting married, studying shorthand so she could help Jonathan with his work after they were married) were instrumental in helping her to resist Dracula for so long. She had goals; she had plans for her life that she didn’t want to let go, and people tend to be more determined to resist temptations or overcome obstacles when they have a goal that they want to accomplish.Moral of the story, kids–daydreaming and not having plans for your life can turn you into a vampire. Don’t be a daydreamer like Lucy. Be a doer like Mina.
- Could the end of the novel be fairly described as the triumph of scientific teamwork over superstition, the rational over the irrational, the light of modern Western European civilization over Eastern medieval darkness?
Did whoever write this question not bother to read the book? Because science takes a pretty good beating by the end. Lucy died because science, rationality, and Western European civilization said that vampires weren’t real. Those so-called superstitions, however, that insisted that vampires were real–and they were right. Those so-called superstitions were what saved Mina’s life after Dracula attacked. Van Helsing realized that modern science was powerless against the ancient evil of the vampire, so he resorted to the ancient stories of how to defeat vampires. So, no, I do not think the end of the novel can be described as the triumph of scientific teamwork over superstition, the rational over the irrational, or the light of modern Western European civilization over Eastern medieval darkness. I think it can be described as a lesson in caution, namely that modern civilization can be so rational that it can fail to acknowledge the truth it has deemed too fantastic or impossible to be true.
There you have it, folks, my answers to the questions in the back of my copy of Dracula. I don’t think it was quite as sarcastic as I had anticipated, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway.