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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Sociopolitical Philosophy In The Works Of Stoker And Yeats - 1235 words
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Sociopolitical Philosophy in the Works of Stoker and Yeats Around the turn of this century there was widespread fear throughoutEurope, and especially Ireland, of the consequences of the race mixing that wasoccurring and the rise of the lower classes over the aristocracies in control.In Ireland, the Protestants who were in control of the country began to fear therise of the Catholics, which threatened their land and political power. TwoIrish authors of the period, Bram Stoker and William Butler Yeats, offer theirviews on this "problem" in their works of fiction. These include Stoker'sDracula and Yeats' On Baile's Strand and The Only Jealousy of Emer, and theseworks show the authors' differences in ideas on how to deal with this threat tocivilization. Stoker feels that triumph over this threat can only be achievedby the defeat of these "demonic" forces through modernity, while Yeats believesthat only by facing the violent and demonic forces and emerging from them couldIreland return to its ancient and traditional roots and find its place insociety. The vampire was a common metaphor used by many authors in an attempt toportray the rising lower class and foreign influence as evil and harmful tomodern civilization.
The Irish Protestant author Sheridan Le Fanu uses vampiresto represent the Catholic uprising in Ireland in his story Carmilla. Like muchof gothic fiction, Carmilla is about the mixing of blood and the harm thatresults from it. When vampires strike, they are tainting the blood of the pureand innocent, causing them to degenerate into undead savages who will take overand colonize until their race makes up the condition of the whole world. Thiswas the fear the Protestants had of the rising Catholic class. They were seenas a lowly people and the fear was that they too would colonize and degenerateIreland, and perhaps the rest of Europe, back into a primitive land of savages.This fear of the breakdown of civilization by dark forces is also what Draculais about. In Dracula, Stoker sets up the heroes and victors of the novel ascivilized people, while the foreign villain is ancient and demonic
The bookbegins with the journal of Jonathan Harker, a stenographer from London who issent to Transylvania to close a land deal with the mysterious Count Dracula. From what is written in the journal, it is clear that Jonathan is verycivilized, logical and organized. His journal is written in shorthand, which isa sign of modernity and efficiency. He is a stenographer, which means he iswell versed in the legal system, also a sign of a civilized person. Harker alsomentions that he had visited the British Museum and library in preparation forhis trip to this strange land, once again showing that he is well-organizedresourceful.
Stoker makes sure to give the reader this impression of hisprotagonist as a rational individual because it is he who will later combat thesavage forces with common sense and logic. Harker's detailed account of his journey into Transylvania shows thecontrast between the West and the East. As he travels farther east, the landbecomes more primitive and wild. As he writes in his journal, "I had to sit inthe carriage for more than an hour before we began to move. It seems to me thatthe further East you go the more unpunctual are the trains.
What ought they tobe in China?" (9). Here the reader sees that as Jonathan goes east, technologybegins to break down a bit and things are a lot less orderly. Jonathan alsofinds that he is beginning to lose command over the language, as he writes, "They were evidently talking of me, and some of the people who were sitting onthe bench outside the door. . .
came and listened, and then looked at me, mostof them pityingly. I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, forthere were many nationalities in the crowd" (13). Harker's inability tounderstand the language is one of the ways in which he loses control as hetravels east. Back in the modern world of the West, even in foreign countries,Jonathan can understand what is being spoken and therefore has a sense ofcontrol over his situation. In the East, however, he has lost this control. Ifhe were able to understand what the people are saying, he might realize thedanger that lay ahead of him in Transylvania before it is too late, but becauseof the Eastern dialect, he is oblivious to the warnings.
When Jonathan reaches his eastern most destination, Count Dracula'scastle, he soon realizes that he has lost all control of his situation. Hewrites, "I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view Iexplored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. Inno place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!" (39). As the readercan see, the farther he travels east, the more broken down civilization becomesand the more control he loses over his situation. This idea that theuncontrolled savagery of mankind lies in the East is all part of the philosophythat was shared by many Western Europeans at the time.
Stoker makes it clear to the reader that the vampire, or the practice ofmixing races, is demonic and anti-Christian. He does this by offeringperversions of Christianity in the novel. The first of these occurs with thecharacter of Renfield, a fifty-nine year old madman who comes under theinfluence of Dracula. The character of Renfield foreshadows the socialdisruption and insanity which will accompany Dracula's descent upon England, or,in other words, modern civilization. Before most of the characters experiencethe wrath of Dracula, Renfield begins to act wild and speaks of the arrival ofhis lord. This is one of the perversions of Christianity that Stoker employs toshow the demonic nature of the vampire. Dr.
Seward notes in his diary, "Allhe would say was:- 'I don't want to talk to you: you don't count now; the Masteris at hand.' The attendant thinks it is some sudden form sudden form ofreligious mania which has seized him." (132). It is here that Renfield acts asa demonic form of John the Baptist. Just as John the Baptist prepared peoplefor the coming of Christ, Renfield prepares people for the coming of his lordand master, Dracula. Another example of a perversion of Christianity is Lucy Westenra. Afterher blood has been drained several times by the Count, she finally dies onSeptember 20th.
An article in the Westminster Gazette dated September 25threads:During the past two or three days several cases have occurred of young childrenstraying from home or neglecting to return from their playing on the Heath. Inall these cases the children were too young to give any properly intelligibleaccount of themselves, but the consensus of their excuses is that they had beenwith a 'bloofer lady.'. . Some of the children, indeed all who have been missedat night, have been slightly torn or wounded in the throat (229).The newspaper article indicates that the first cases of missing children werereported around September 22nd or 23rd. The reader can infer that the 'blooferlady' is Lucy Westenra, and this would mean that she rose three days after death.This is a perversion of the Christian Resurrection, and it reminds the readerof the evil from the East that is spreading westward into modern civilization.
The modern, civilized group of people are the only ones who can stopDracula from infecting their society. They all have qualities that show theyare participants in the enlightened modern ...
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