Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Dracula and The Woman in White

Dracula makes me think of The Woman in White
Both are novels-as-documents. How many novels of this type have I read lately? Frankenstein is slightly different- the book is a series of letter from Walton to his sister, but embedded in this narrative is Frankenstein's narrative, which in turn frames the creature's narrative (reminiscent of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- the whole novel is 1 letter from Gilbert Markham to a friend, and within this letter is Helen's diary). Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde isn't strictly an epistolary novel, though there are 2 chapters at the end that are letters. Only The Moonstone is another novel composed of a series of documents: reports, letters, diary excerpts, articles, etc. Like Dracula and The Woman in White
It can be felt that in Dracula, the various writings are not put together by Bram Stoker for the benefit of the reader (multiple viewpoints) like A Hero of Our Time for instance, but collected and organised by the people in the book, as in the 2 novels by Wilkie Collins. 
Another thing that unites Dracula and The Woman in White on the surface is the terror, or rather, the mystery and suspense. There are more similarities. Jonathan Harker coming to a strange house and becoming imprisoned in it is reminiscent of Marian and Laura being imprisoned in Percival Clyde's house. If Harker is Bram Stoker's Marian, his Count Fosco is Count Dracula. Fortunately our Jonathan Harker isn't as dim-witted and slow to understand as Marian Halcombe. He observes and notices everything and understands things quickly, which a few times makes me wonder if it's plausible- I mean, if any intelligent person under such circumstances would come to such conclusions, or it's only Bram Stoker answering questions he previously raised and making it easier for us. No, it's probably logical- I can't say because I have something akin to hindsight, I know what Dracula is.
Anyway, I must write again, Harker's smarter than Marian. Look at chapter 3, entry for 15/5: 
"When I had written in my diary and had fortunately replaced the book and pen in my pocket, I felt sleepy." 
That's the way to do it, Marian. Hide your writing away before you may doze off. Why leave everything there for the Count to see

1 comment:

  1. Di, your discussion of the narrative strategies in the various books underscore the craft and genius of certain 19th century writers, especially as they were striving to solve limitations and exploit opportunities inherent in their choices of narrators. Just think about the possibilities: 1st person with one or more narrators; 2nd person (hardly ever used because of obvious problems); 3rd person; and hybrids of the various POVs. Then consider who different each novel becomes if crafted using a different POV. When the reader considers those possibilities, I think the reader then becomes a better critical analyst of the POV being offered by an author in a particular book. Does this make sense? I think I am rambling and babbling. So I will stop.


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