Dracula: Chapters 21-End

After our class discussion, I began thinking more about the format of the narrative and how it relates to genre. We’ve talked about realism before, and in this case, the novel as a whole isn’t exactly “realistic,” yet the narrative format seems to suggest a sort of realism of its own. After all, the novel is written in a piece-mail format of letters and journal entries, so it appears realistic in one sense (as though it is a real collection of people’s experiences). But at the same time, the format also makes the narrative seem less “realistic” because it’s narrated in first person (rather than by an omniscient narrator), which makes it more subjective. On the last page of the novel, Harker says that “We could hardly ask any one, even did we wish to, to accept these as proofs of so wild a story” (326). Essentially, because the narrative isn’t presented by an outside narrator, it is far more open to interpretation. Technically, the story could be interpreted as being wholly untrue (just the mad ravings of a few select people). So the format makes it more realistic in some ways and less realistic in others.

Also on the final page, Van Helsing says that “We want no proofs; we ask none to believe us!” (326). What I find most interesting about this is that it’s in opposition to the “rational” thinking of the time. Rather than needing actual “proof” about their Dracula story, they are content with just their subjective journal entries and letters. This reminded me of our discussion on Orientalism, as we talked about how certain groups of people were stereotyped without any actual “proof” during the time (and still today). So no real proof is necessary to substantiate their Dracula story, just as no real proof was necessary to substantiate people’s claims about other groups in the Victorian era.

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