Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a classic tale of Gothicism. Traditionally, gothic tales only carried single theme of horror. Through Dracula, Stoker breaks this single theme barrier. The theme throughout Dracula is clearly displayed through the characters as they step from ignorance to realization in this tale of horror.
The theme of ignorance is vital for this story. It is woven throughout and evident in all the characters. It is first displayed through the protagonist, John Harker. It is his innate lack of knowing that puts him in a deadly situation: 'Do you know that to-night, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are doing?' ; (5) This was the protagonist, Jonathan Harker's second encounter with strangers, in a strange land, in which he was confronted in this manner. He had three such encounters, all of which he nonchalantly dismissed.
During his first encounter, the people simply refused to answer any of his questions. In his third encounter, strangers made the sign of a cross and pointed at him. During all of this, Jonathan had no clue why these people were acting in this strange way, nor did he have a notion to question why. Even though he is oblivious to the reasons for their behavior, he blindly continues on the path the strangers warned him not to go on. Another depiction of this ignorance is shown through Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing as they work on a patient, Lucy Western a. After the doctors diagnosed Lucy as being 'somewhat'; bloodless and the pricks on neck were discovered, they immediately dismissed the idea of the pricks being the cause of this loss of blood.
'It at once occurred to me that this wound, or whatever it was might be the means for this manifest loss of blood; but I abandoned the idea as soon as formed, for such a thing could not be. ' ; (131) These doctors had knowledge, but their own ignorance interfered even though all the signs of what was going on were clear. It is when Stoker allows his characters to step to realization that the story heightens. Jonathan is only enlightened to realization after his ignorance has completely thrust him into a life threatening situation: 'I started for it amazed me that I had not seen him, since the reflection of the glass covered the whole of the room behind me. I turned to the glass again to see how I had been mistaken. This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder.
But there was no reflection of him in the mirror!' ; (26) Jonathan's first realization was for who or what Dracula was. His second eye opener was that he was a prisoner: 'When I found that I was a prisoner... '; (28) it was these two facts that enabled Jonathan to see. Although Lucy could not come to a realization on her own, Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing came to one for her. From the beginning, they could see that she had lost blood. They could not pinpoint how the blood was taken from her, but they were aware enough to know that it happened when she was alone.
This fact led them to decide that she should not be left alone: 'You must remain here all the night, and must not let your sight pass from her. ' ; (131) Even though the doctors were not completely ignorant, Lucy had four times needed blood while in their care. The doctors tried in as many ways as they could to preserve Lucy's life, but all to no avail. It was only when the knowledge of Jonathan and the doctors was combined that tier realization was made into power: 'I suppose one ought to pity any thing so hinted as is The Count.
That is just it: this Thing is not human-not even beast. ' ; (241) Also recognizing that what they were dealing with was not human gave them extra ability to defeat Dracula. As a team, they had to learn all the intricate details about Dracula. They even sacrificed one of their own in order to gain the information that they needed: 'I can see the characteristics of the vampire coming in her face. ' ; (341) They almost lost Mina, but ended up being victorious. It was only the power that came from knowing that allowed them to defeat Dracula.
This gothic story not only played on the ignorance of the characters, in order to heighten the suspense, but it also used the technique of realization in order to make the story seem real. Their ignorance was well balanced when they finally came into realization of what was going on. The horror, ignorance and realization were the manifestation of Stoker's threefold theme. It was this threefold theme that made this gothic tale complete.