Great White Snark: Dracula, Part I: When in Transylvania...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dracula, Part I: When in Transylvania...

So, I finished my last novel EVER required for my B.A. I'm pretty excited, but I'm also a little sad, because now I don't know what to read. I've been told what to read for the last four and a half years...I'm afraid I don't really know what I like to read anymore. I have a general idea, but it'll take me a while to get into a reading niche now that it's not obscure novels from the 1700's.

Anyway, the very last book I had to read was Dracula, which is so perfect and I think it's a great ending to the journey of getting my lit degree. Anyway, I absolutely love this book. I read it for the first time in high school and was enamored with it then, but reading it with four years of lit crit under my belt made it THAT much better.

And there is no good movie version of this to watch. I've seen the BBC version from like, 1979, and it is heinously corny. I also attempted to watch the 1992 version with Gary Oldman, which was, admittedly, extremely accurate to the book. However, it was also extremely gory, so I only ended up being able to watch about an hour total of it (I jumped around a lot). But what I saw was good. They got the tone right, and actually, Gary Oldman totally looks like Dracula in the least in the beginning with the white bun hair and hairy palms.

This part? NOT SO MUCH. Creative license, ftw.

Actually, there was a lot of creative license taken. Which is frustrating, because the storyline and whatnot was pretty accurate. Curse you, Hollywood and Coppola.

Also, it's hard to watch Dracula when you're thinking of Sirius Black the entire time. I digress.

Anyway, omg, if you haven't ever read Dracula, wtf are you doing. Get off my blog, go to the library, and read it over Christmas. There's snow in it. So it's a Christmas story now.

I know none of you will actually do this, so I'm going to summarize the story. There are a lot of characters, so it helps to visualize them. Here's my dream cast of who I pictured in my head when reading Dracula.

Okay, so these are the people I pictured almost exactly. I think if Keauea Reeves and Adrien Brody had a lovechild, he could play Jonathan Harker (well done, casting dept. of the '92 Dracula movie). Also, I try not to picture Renfield because he's totally gross, but someone like Crispin Glover or Robert Carlyle would do well with the alternating between manic and civilized. And there is no one on earth creepy enough to play Dracula. So just picture whoever you want. As long as it's not R-Patz.

OKAY. Enough of that.

So. The story starts with Jonathan Harker going to Transylvania to help finalize the sale of some property in England to one Count Dracula. On his way over, all the Romanian gypsies keep throwing crucifixes at him and telling him to wear them. He's just like, "whatever, supersitious peasants, for I am a Protestant and have no need for such iconography." But he keeps one anyway. GOOD THING, TOO.

So, at night (because why on earth would any sane Englishman travel during the day?), a carriage comes to pick him up and take him to Castle Dracula. The driver doesn't speak, but he can control wolves, so that's kind of creepy. Oh, and the carriage drives through pillars of blue flame. And he drives like a maniac. So Jonathan is creeped out but remains incredibly stoic and English through the whole thing.

Then the carriage stops at the castle door, lets him out, then goes driving off. Then, a few minutes later, the door opens and it's Count Dracula. Now, Dracula in the book does not look like Bela Lugosi. He's like, old, with a white moustache and white hair and hairy palms and no complexion and super white teeth. He does sound like Bela Lugosi, though, so that's cool.

Anyway, he's all like, polite and old aristocracy and invites Harker in and feeds him this super fantastic meal. But he begs off eating because he ate earlier. Ah ah ah. Then he shows Harker to his room and goes to bed. It's like 5 in the morning at this point.

So over the next couple of days, Harker and the Count finalize the purchase of the Count's English property and they study English together and all that. Then the Count is like, "Write to everyone you love and tell them you'll be here a month. I need to brush up on my English." And Harker's like, "Wtf, bro, your English is perfect." And the Count insists. So Dracula forces him to write these letters, and he does.

Then, when he's shaving, Harker cuts himself and Dracula flips a biscuit and locks him in his bedroom. Jonathan now realizes this isn't your normal stay at a Transylvanian B&B. He understands he's a prisoner now. He looks out the window and sees the Count sidling down the wall like a lizard.

And the stiff upper lip goes out the window.

So does his condemnation of crucifixes. He starts wearing his and hanging it over his bed.

Everyone in this book keeps magnificent diaries, btw. It's an epistolary novel, which is cool, because it's told through letters, diaries and newspaper articles.

So after his little Spiderman stunt, the Count comes back to feed Jonathan, and then tells him not to fall asleep anywhere in the castle except for his room, because otherwise he might have a bad dream. Deciding a bad dream isn't so bad, Harker goes exploring and finds a dusty old girls' room and falls asleep. And there, he's accosted by Dracula's three vampire brides. This scene gets over-sexualized a lot in movies, but it really is a very smutty scene...for the 1800's and all. So they come and writhe around and want to bite him and come like *this* close to doing so when the Count comes back and banishes them. Oh, he does feed them an infant though. Which is gross. Harker awakens in his room and bemoans the fact that he'll probably die there. He writes sad letters to his fiancee, Mina Murray, in shorthand. And the Count, even though he intercepts all of Harker's letters, can't read the shorthand. Baller.

So like, a month passes and Harker's going insane being locked up and realizing that Dracula and his three sexy brides are eating up all the village's children. So he breaks out of his room one day and goes to the church's chapel, where he finds Dracula's coffin. He opens it, and inside is the Count and he's like, GORGED with blood. Stoker describes it so wickedly:
"The cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath. The mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran down over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood. He lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion."

So then some more unimportant but sufficiently creepy stuff happens and Harker decides he's getting the hell out of dodge, or he's gonna die trying.

I'm going to finish this in 3 parts, because no one's actually going to sit here and read the whole thing. BUT IT'S GOOD and worth summarizing. So look for parts 2 (Meanwhile, in Merry Old England) and 3 (Hang on to Your Crosses, Boys!) within the next couple of days. :)

{Part II.}
{Part III.}

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