Thursday, October 20, 2011

Discussion Highlights - "Dracula"

I should really take notes, because I'm terrible at remembering the details of our discussions. Please leave a comment if you can remember anything that I forgot.

Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not?

I think most of us enjoyed the book, even though we didn't expect to.
Did the book surprise you in any way?

I think most of us were surprised that we liked the book. We were also surprise to find the book wasn't as gory as we expected.

I personally was surprised by how modern the writing seemed despite the age of the book.

Dracula is considered "gothic romance." What do you think that means? Can you think of any other books that meet that description too?

We thought this term refers to the book being dark. Another book our club read a few years ago that could be considered a "gothic romance" is "The Shadow of the Wind"

What personality traits to you think an author must possess in order to create characters and scenarios such as Stoker did in Dracula?

Stoker must have a wild imagination to come up this this story line and perhaps a dark side to his personality!

Why do you think Stoker wrote the novel as a collection of journal entries, a ship's log, letters and newspaper clippings rather than in a straighforward fashion? What effect does this format have on how the novel reads?

We thought the book was written this way to make it more suspenseful. This was particularly effective when the story jumped from Jonathan's journal entries when he's in the castle to Mina's journal entries when she's in Whitby. The reader doesn't know whether Jonathan made it out of the castle and Mina hasn't heard from him in months.

What is the historical significance of Dracula's many references to Christianity?

I'm not sure I was in the room when we discussed this...can someone fill in the blank?

Why did Stoker make Dracula a member of the aristocracy? What if Dracula were just a common man?

Dracula's blue blood gave him the means to travel the world and access to society that a common man wouldn't. He also had a spooky castle that a common man wouldn't be able to afford!

Why do you think Dracula seems to prey only on women?

We thought that the sensual nature of Dracula biting necks and drawing his victims to him would have had a homosexual feel if he'd been preying on men.

What scenic elements add to the eeriness of the novel? Would it be as scary if it were set in modern times?

The isolated castle in Transylvania, the cemetery in Whitby, the abandoned house next to the lunatic asylum...Stoker definitely created creepy settings for this story to take place.

What is the significance of Renfield's character?

I know we discussed how Renfield's character was a sort of "animal vampire" but I can't remember what else we discussed.
Why didn't Jonathan Harker become a vampire even though he was locked in Dracula's castle? Why was he spared?

We're not really sure why he was spared, other than the fact that he was a man. Dracula did almost go for him when he cut himself shaving, but Jonathan was saved by his crucifix. Dracula also seemed to be protecting Jonathan from the women vampires in the castle - we assumed this was so that Jonathan could help Dracula with his business in London. I believe someone mentioned that Dracula may have spared Jonathan so he could get to Mina and Lucy.

Name as many contemporary references to Dracula as you can. Why do you think this book has remained so popular? (It has never been out of print!)

The Count from Sesame Street
Count Chocula (cereal)
Twilight (novels and movies)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie and TV series)

We discussed how people seem to be fascinated with evil and that this could be behind the longstanding appeal of Dracula.

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