Dracula: Group 4: The Unknown

How does the vampire—i.e. both the Count specifically and vampires more generally—manifest as a figure of the unknown? What power does obfuscation lend the vampire? Why is this a power at all (i.e. what is this lack of clarity’s relationship to knowledge)?
Examples you might examine (you may choose others, of course): 
—Vampires as non-corporeal 
—Dracula appearing to Mina as a mist
—Dracula destroys the manuscripts, sets fire to the archive

4 Replies to “Dracula: Group 4: The Unknown”

  1. Throughout the entire book, vampires are what society is trying to come to grips with and grasp what they really are and how they function in everyday life. Considering that society has not come into prior contact with vampiric creatures, it seems as an alternate reality and a figment of peoples imaginations. As the novel progresses, believe begin to believe in their presence because it no longer becomes an unusual interaction with them, but it is now no longer a coincidence. People are not prepared to deal with them which is why their obfuscation becomes all that more powerful. To think of something that you’ve never experienced is a scary and unwanted thought but several occurrences caused the main characters to take proactive action in defeating the count.

  2. The vampires obfuscation is a power because the humans have no knowledge or any idea of how to face these strange creatures. In the beginning they didn’t even know that such creatures existed or connected many deaths. The fear of the unknown infests the people and also the fear of what these strange unknown creatures can do is terrifying. The creatures also make the humans afraid of themselves because of what they don’t know and the unknown desires inside themselves that vampires somehow bring out. So even though the humans and society don’t really discover the Count until later on in the book the fear of what he can do and how he can effect them is unknown and therefore terrifying.

  3. The image of the vampire throughout the novel represents a power that comes with being an unknown entity. The vampire displays characteristics that should not exist according to the knowledge the characters have within the story, yet they still exist. The fact that vampires are creatures that have supernatural abilities adds to the fear that the characters have, as they are dealing with something that they have no understanding of in any sense. The powers that Dracula has make him a formidable and terrifying being because of the lack of knowledge about said powers. Even without his presence, the fear that the characters have about the events that take place in the novel serves to show Dracula’s power over them because he is an unknown. The characters do not understand what they are up against, so the baseline fear of not knowing is Dracula’s greatest strength.

  4. Throughout the novel, vampires, specifically the Count, use the unknown to their advantage. In the beginning, no one knows what a vampire is or what the “rules” of vampirism are, so the Count is able to get away with trapping Jonathan and repeatedly biting Lucy. Dracula is most successful when he is a figure of the unknown; as the vampire hunter squad learns more about him, they are to stop him and protect people from him. In order to try to remain a figure of the unknown, Dracula destroys the manuscripts and burns the archive of information about him. Dracula destroys the information they have about him, because he is able to work best when no one knows anything about him, “All the manuscripts had been burned, and the blue flames were flickering amongst the white ashes” (249). Dracula wants to ensure that the crew loses substantial amounts of information about him so that there is no longer proof or information for other people to learn about him. If Dr. Seward and the Professor had known about vampirism before Lucy’s death, they likely would have killed the Count himself before Lucy died, as they did after Mina was bitten. Dracula was only able to get away with continuously biting Lucy because the Professor, Dr. Seward, and Arthur could not figure out why Lucy was sick. The Professor had an inclination there were vampires involved but he was unaware that the Count was the “Vampire King.” It was not until Jonathan, Mina, Dr. Seward, the Professor, Arthur, and Quincey Morris compiled all of their stories together that they were able to devise a plan to stop Dracula. Dracula learns that the crew is on to him, so he destroys all of their stories and data about him in an effort to remain mysterious and unknown. The more they know about him the more likely they are to stop his takeover.

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