Dracula Precursors

For this first blog post response, go back through the three literary texts we read for class (by Polidori, Le Fanu, and Stoker).  Select a short favorite passage from a story of your choice, copy it onto your blog response, and then post a 100-word commentary on why you made that particular choice.  Pay close attention to the tone and language.

22 thoughts on “Dracula Precursors

  1. “I was then mounted behind a trooper, and we rode on into the suburbs of Munich. Here we came across a stray carriage, into which I was lifted, and it was driven off to the Quatre Saisons – the young officer accompanying me, whilst a trooper followed with his horse, and the others rode off to their barracks.”
    The reason I like the literary text, Dracula`s Guest by Bram Stoker is because there are multiple enemies coming at the Englishman which he must react quickly to survive from them like that of the soldiers who saved him from the wolf. That`s why I like the passage about the soldiers saving him, founding his carriage and founding all his horse he misplaced that were all left behind in the chaos. That is very impressive for the soldiers to find all the horses or that they are nice enough to do that for him while the accompanied the Englishman to his carriage that they must have fixed up for him, because he got there.

    • “I felt a warm rasping at my throat, then came a consciousness of the awful truth, which chilled me to the heart and sent the blood surging up through my brain. Some great animal was lying on me and now licking my throat. I feared to stir, for some instinct of prudence bade me lie still; but the brute seemed to realize that there was now some change in me, for it raised its head. Through my eyelashes I saw above me the two great flaming eyes of a gigantic wolf. Its sharp teeth gleaming in the gaping red mouth, and I could feel its hot breath fierce and acrid upon me”.

      The reason I like this passage from Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker was because of the visual content and how detailed he was when he talked about his fear even though he vaguely remembers what was going on around him. The fact that he goes into much detail about how gigantic the “wolf” was even though it did not turn out to be an actual wolf was very strange to me. I believe that this passage gives the reader a sense of involvement within the plot that is developing. I think Bram Stocker wants the reader to feel the tone of fear when they are reading this passage.

  2. “Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards the beautiful stranger. I did feel, as she said, “drawn towards her,” but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambiguous feeling, however, the sense of attraction immensely prevailed. She interested and won me; she was so beautiful and so indescribably engaging.”
    (Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Carmilla 1972) Page 25

    I chose this passage because it seemed to have the most intense feelings in it. It starts out with Laura being unable to describe her feelings toward Carmilla but she is still drawn to her. The sense of repulsion is important because it could hint that deep down, Laura felt something off about her. Yet, through all of her conflicting sensations, she feels the immense attraction and love towards Carmilla the most. That is Carmilla’s most known skill, making her prey feel important and loved. The passage finishes by Laura saying how beautiful Carmilla is. That is repeated throughout the novel that Carmilla is found to be extremely beautiful by anyone who sees her.

  3. “Be careful of my guest — his safety is most precious to me. Should aught happen to him, or if he be missed, spare nothing to find him and ensure his safety. He is English and therefore adventurous. There are often dangers from snow and wolves and night. Lose not a moment if you suspect harm to him. I answer your zeal with my fortune. –Dracula.”
    This is my favorite passage from “Dracula’s Guest” because it adds the final layer of mystery to the story. It gives so many questions as to what the true intentions of Dracula are, and why this Englishman is so important to him. He has somehow planned everything out so that the Englishman would survive and be rescued in time by the soldiers. This letter gives a great sense of urgency to saving the Englishman, saying that the Englishman is “precious” to Dracula, and even puts some of Dracula’s fortune on the line to make certain that no harm comes to the Englishman. Dracula has sunk a lot of time and resources into saving this one man, and we have no idea why. If this were the beginning to a grander story, it is a great way of hooking the reader with the mystery of who Dracula is and what he ultimately intends to do with this Englishman.

  4. “In spite of the deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint, either from the blush of modesty, or from the strong emotion of passion, though its form and outline were beautiful, many of the female hunters after notoriety attempted to win his affections, and gain, at least, some marks of what they might term affection”
    The quote I chose is from the literary text, The Vampyre, written by John Polidori. My reasoning behind choosing this quote is due to the fact that it heavily intrigues me. In the quote it states that the color of his face has a “deadly hue” to it, and that the only color it seemed to show was that of passion. Yet despite this, the women still fancy him, which is what fascinates me the most. This quote seems to be implying that he still looks dead even though he is very much still alive, and somehow the woman don’t notice this. However, it does state that the women are after notoriety, which refers to the fact that the women want to be known for something bad, or some kind of deed. I also find it fascinating that the woman who seek him are referred to as “female hunters”, which is ironic considering that Lord Ruthven is the one who is doing the actual hunting. The quote as a whole is very thought provoking.

  5. “Gradually there came a sort of vague beginning of consciousness; then a sense of weariness that was dreadful. For a time I remembered nothing; but slowly my senses returned. My feel seemed positively racked with pain, yet I could not move them. They seemed to be numbed. There was an icy feeling at the back f my neck and all the way down my spine, and my ears, like my feet, were dead, yet in torment; but there was in my breast a sense of warmth which was, by comparison, delicious. It was as a nightmare — a physical nightmare, if one may use such an expression; for some heavy weight on my chest made it difficult for me to breathe.”
    The reason I like this literary text in Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker is because he is describing a pain that most people have not felt but know about. This pain which he describes is hypothermia, hypothermia can be very dangerous. The way he talks about it almost seems to be in a calm tone which could be just from shock. He also mentions how his body feels dead but in torment, “dead” would refer to no feeling where as the word “torment” suggests that he is physically suffering in those places. The words almost contradict each other, he could have possibly used them together to suggest the immense pain he was in but to keep the text in a calmer voice. He also talks about the “heavy weight” on his chest suggesting there is something or someone on top of him, this can intrigue the reader to wonder what it could be and why he first described the warmth of it “delicious” then backtracks to state how it felt like a nightmare.

  6. “Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardor of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips traveled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.” Then she had thrown herself back in her chair, with her small hands over her eyes, leaving me trembling.”

    Carmilla is my favorite story out of the three stories because it is more personal since it is told in first person. None of the other stories makes you feel for the characters and Professor Barrenechea is right no story out of the three stuck with you like Carmilla does. I also thought it was more imaginative than the other stories. One of my favorite parts strangely enough is where it describes the imitate passion between Carmilla and Laura and how it can be loving but hateful. The idea of Carmilla weaponize sex and passion to control Laura is actually quite interesting. I also enjoys the dramatic irony of the phrase: “you are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever.” because you would not really think of that as a controlling phrase but a passionate phrase if used in different situations. Carmilla has no real passion for Laura she just wants control which can be shown because it says sometimes, they would have sex after Carmilla had lost interest in Laura for about an hour. Furthermore, I think the reason she says the phrase about being her`s then stops being passionate is that she leaves Laura trembling because her goal to make Laura weak and languid but compliant and happy, but she does not actually love her and just wants to get it over with. She covers her eyes afterwards because she is ashamed of what she has done but cannot help the hunger she feels inside. She wants to control Laura because she has no control over her own life and to get Laura to have sex with her. Also, Laura is innocent and Carmilla wants to feed on innocence. Sex is not innocent it is seen as dirty and the act of making a woman not a virgin has been said to take away innocence. Moreover, Carmilla was a normal girl but became a vampire which make her lost her innocence and it made her languid, so now Carmilla is trying to do the same thing with Laura and the other girls. If Carmilla was able to kill Laura like the other girls, then Laura would be a vampire like the other girls and just like Carmilla would feeding on of young girls repeating the cycle of controlling love, the loss of innocence, and being a slave to the hunger of innocence.

  7. “When he heard of Aubrey’s ill health, he readily understood himself to be the cause of it:
    but when he learned that he was deemed insane, his exultation and pleasure could hardly be concealed from those among whom he had gained this information.”
    This excerpt is from Vampyre by John Polidori. I like this excerpt because it displays how evil and manipulative Lord Ruthven truly was.
    Lord Ruthven’s evilness is shown when he is described to have exultation and pleasure from hearing of Aubrey’s insanity.
    Aubrey’s insanity is caused by the manipulation and power Lord Ruthven has over Aubrey’s mind.
    Additionally, this excerpt shows how powerful Vampire’s control over human’s minds are even without physically harming them.
    The use of the word exultation shows that madness of Aubrey was a victory for Lord Ruthven.
    The language used in this excerpt displays the pleasure Lord Ruthven gets from harming his victims.

  8. “His English was quite gone now. In his anxiety he had forgotten that his only means of making me understand was to talk my language, so he jabbered away in his native German. It began to be a little tedious.”
    I like this part in “Dracula’s Guest” because I can see the similarities to the original 1931 “Dracula” movie. I don’t know how closely the movie and Bram Stoker’s novel relate but I still enjoyed that movie. Johann trying to warn the traveler not to continue on his journey is very similar to the village folk warning Renfield about going out at night. Also the way that Johann speaks in German despite the Englishman’s lack of understanding is exactly how the villagers react when warning Renfield the same. Even the carriage ride is very similar to the one in the film version.

  9. Thus fortified I might take my rest in peace. But dreams come through
    stone walls, light up dark rooms or darken light ones, and their persons make their exits and their entrances as they please, and laugh at locksmiths.
    (Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Carmilla 1972) Page 46

    This passage is from “Carmilla” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. I chose this excerpt because Le Fanu is describing how dreams or nightmares can steal your sleep from you. He personifies the dreams making them even more terrifying which I believe is truly interesting. Instead of describing night terrors and how they affect you when you awake or how they steal you of sleep, he talks about how they can “light up dark rooms,” as in make you feel a sort of joy if its a dream or “darken light ones,” as in make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe if its a nightmare. Not only does he describe what they can make you feel, but he also creates a sort of darkness within the passage by ending it with “their persons make their exits and entrances as they please,” this for me made it seem really dark because it is true. dreams can come and go whenever you least expect it and the fact that you can not stop them makes the passage seem even more unnerving.

  10. “With knowing it, I was now in a pretty advanced stage of the strangest illness under which mortal ever suffered. There was an unaccountable fascination in its earlier symptoms that more than reconciled me to the incapacitating effect of that stage of the malady. This fascination increased for a time, until it reached a certain point, when gradually a sense of the horrible mingled itself with it, deepening, as you shall hear, until it discolored and perverted the whole state of my life, (Carmilla, page 51).”

    I like this passage because it emphasizes the oddity of the sensations Laura feels. I find it interesting how the author compares Carmilla’s negative effect on Laura to an illness because we think of illnesses as lingering, exhausting, and potentially fatal. I’m also intrigued by the way Laura is magnetically drawn to the symptoms she has acquired through Carmilla’s power, even though these symptoms end up nearly killing her. What I love most about this passage is how it summarizes Laura’s overall attraction for Carmilla becoming overpowered by a sense of disgust and fear.

  11. “She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ears, “Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die– die, sweetly die– into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit.”

    This passage from Le Fanu’s Carmilla was the one that caught my interest. It allows us to see how Carmilla acts with Laura early on, yet it brings foreshadowing. “You shall die– die, sweetly die– into mine”, shows how Carmilla is certain of how far her bond with Laura will go, to the point where their lives could be interchangeable, being one. It also hints at Carmilla’s true intentions with Laura, willing to give her a “sweet” death. The passage also shows Carmilla’s manipulation, with her saying that she will be with Laura even through pain, as long as she does not continue to ask about her past.

  12. “As I leaned against the door, it moved slightly and opened inward. The shelter of even a tomb was welcome in that pitiless tempest, and I was about to enter it when there came a flash of forked-lighting that lit up the whole expanse of the heavens. In the instant, as I am a living man, I saw, as my eyes were turned into the darkness of the tomb, a beautiful woman, with rounded cheeks and red lips, seemingly sleeping on a bier, (Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories, Stoker, 12).”

    The reason why I chose this particular passage from Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories is due to how descriptive this scene is. More specifically I especially enjoyed how descriptive Stoker was when describing the environment of the scene and the tone he used to show the fear of the character. This helped paint a mental portrait of how terrifying this moment was for him. The wording of this passage gives off a very dark tone by using words and phrases such as “pitiless tempest” or “darkness”, this alludes to the inner turmoil of the character. Overall this story was my favorite because of the dark tone.

  13. “As I looked there came a cold shiver in the air, and the snow began to fall. I thought of the miles and miles of bleak country I had passed, and then hurried on to seek the shelter of the wood in front. Darker and darker grew the sky, and faster and heavier fell the snow, till the earth before and around me was a glistening white carpet the further edge of which was lost in misty vagueness.” (Bram Stoker, “Dracula’s Guest”) Pg.9
    I chose this excerpt from Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker because of its emphasis on imagery. Stoker’s elements of danger and isolation depict an eerie setting and dark tone which assists him in the telling of this story. The narrator’s trek through the forest creates a feeling of uneasiness. The darkening of the forest and his repetition of the word “miles”, shows you he has been traveling for quite some time. His use of “misty vagueness” enhances the unsettling feeling this passage conveys. The descriptive aspects of this passage in Dracula’s Guest are why I chose it as my favorite.

  14. “Those who felt this sensation of awe, could not explain whence it arose; His peculiarities caused him to be invited to every house, and all wished to see him, and those who had been accustomed to violent excitement, and now felt the weight of ennui, were pleased at having something in their presence capable of engaging their attention.” – “The Vampyre”

    I chose this paragraph from “The Vampyre” because it shows the basic traits of what a vampire was at the time. “The Vampyre” was one of the first vampire stories and it created the character of the “vampire”. A few qualities of the vampire that are displayed in the story are being: rich, magnetic, mysterious, seductive, and attractive. Most of these qualities can also be seen in other vampire stories. This paragraph also shows how the vampire attracts everyone and how he can manipulate the emotions of his victims. This romantic theme can also be seen in vampire stories today.

  15. “Aubrey’s mind, by this shock, was much weakened, and that elasticity of spirit which had once so distinguished him now seemed to have fled for ever.”- “The Vampyre”
    This sentence is one of my favorites in all the precursors we have read thus far. Most importantly, to me this sentence is the essence of all vampire stories. At this point Aubrey’s world has been shaken, and he barely knows why. Furthermore, he barely suspects the actual reason why his life has gone awry at this moment, that being Ruthven. In addition to this, the word choice is so careful here, like in other vampire stories, that the reader can tell solely by this sentence something is amiss. This sentence, to me, is the quintessential vampire story sentence in terms of the main character, from message to word choice to delivery.

  16. “On top of the tomb, seemingly driven through the solid marble – for the structure was composed of a few vast blocks of stone – was a great iron spike or stake.”
    I chose the description of the vampire’s tomb from Dracula’s guest not only because I thought no one else would choose it but because it shows how much thought was put into every detail of the story to make Dracula seem all the more horrifying and evil. This simple metal spike can show us a lot about vampires–it first shows, by jutting out of the top of the tomb, that the tomb is definitely abnormal. Second, marble is nice and white, used to build monuments and other good things. Spikes are bad. The spike was forced into the marble, as vampires force their corruption upon those around them. They enjoy damaging things that are good. Third, the spike shows the power of vampires. They drove this massive metal spike through even more massive stone blocks. Without destroying the blocks. An impressive feat, and one that would require a great amount of effort for a normal human. Either the vampires REALLY wanted that spike there, which seems unlikely, or they didn’t go through nearly as much trouble putting it there as we would have, allowing them to act on a whim.

  17. “Yes, very– a cruel love — a strange love, that would have taken my life. Love will have its sacrifices. No sacrifice without blood. Let us go to sleep now; I feel so lazy, How can I get up just now and lock my door?” (Le Fanu 45)

    I chose this excerpt from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” because I felt that it summarized the relationship between Carmilla and the narrator. Although she may not be talking about the two of them directly, they are the “cruel” and “strange” love that Carmilla herself describes within this quote. Their story had to end in the narrator dying at the hands of Carmilla or vise versa. Carmilla’s definitive statements also highlight the intensity and mystery of her character. She recounts her first ball and then claims that there are no sacrifices without blood. After saying something so violent, she deflects.

  18. “The ground I passed over was now much more picturesque. There were no striking objects that the eye might single out; but in all there was charm of beauty. I took little heed of time and it was when the deepening twilight forced itself upon me that I began to think of how I should find my way home”.

    This passage from Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker, stands out to me because it paints a visual idea of what the scenery looks like. It describes how not every beautiful view needs a special attraction or object to make it unique. He admires every part of it and is drawn to site it. It seems that he captured its nature and was mesmerized by it. It is like the simple things that can make something very notable without the effort. It also shows how he was intrigued by it and how it could make a person lose track of time.

  19. “I took her hand as I spoke. I was a little shy, as lonely people are, but the situation made me eloquent, and even bold…I don’t know which should be most afraid of the other,” Carmilla, pgs 23-24
    One of my favorite parts of Carmilla is the first meeting between Carmilla and Laura. In this passage we can see the true allure and power that Carmilla has, even upon just meeting Laura. Even though our heroine is anxious to see Carmilla, the moment when she first sees her face she is taken aback for it is the same face she saw in her nightmare as a child. Carmilla effortlessly soothes her, reassuring her that there is nothing Laura should fear. Her speech shows the elocution of the vampire, and how sneaky and deceptive this creature could truly be. The way the vampires in two of the stories we have read so far engage and lure their victims is really interesting, and craves to be examined further.

  20. “‘And you asked for the picture you think like me, to hang in your room,’ she murmured with a sigh, as she drew her arm closer about my waist, and let her pretty head sink upon my shoulder. ‘How romantic you are, Carmilla,’ I said. ‘Whenever you tell me your story, it will be made up chiefly of some one great romance.’”
    This passage is from the book “Carmilla” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Throughout this book I found Laura and Carmilla’s relationship interesting. Le Fanu really romanticizes their relationship. Carmilla ‘drew her arm closer’ about Laura’s waist. Carmilla shows physical attraction to Laura in this passage. She lays her head on Laura’s shoulder, almost like she feels safe with Laura. Laura also shows attraction towards Carmilla because she asks for a picture of Carmilla to hang in her room. She even says, ‘How romantic are you Carmilla’. This passage is showing the reader how romantic Laura and Carmilla’s relationship was and how they acted towards one another.

  21. “It had been discovered that his contempt for the adultress had not originated in hatred of her character; but that he had required, to enhance his gratification, that his victim, the partner of his guilt, should be hurled from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation.”

    This short excerpt is a quote from John Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” one of the more interesting excerpts from the short novel. Lord Ruthven is portrayed contrary to popular characteristics given to vampires in literature or cinema. In most portrayals of the vampire, per example “Carmilla” by Joseph Le Fanu, the vampires’ main victims of choice often are the purest of blood, purest of sin and without a sense of “unsullied virtue.” In “Carmilla,” Carmilla’s victim is not one of immorality but an isolated young girl who lives with her father on her family’s estate, kept away from the horrors of the world in a sense. Polidori throws out the idea per the vampire’s need for unsullied prey and pushes the idea that his victim should be an extension of his own guilt and his own existence to the world, being his “partner” in his infamy. In a sense, this is portrayed as a way for him to deal with his own grief, performing onto others what he only wished would come for him.

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