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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


***** Dracula by Bram Stoker. Horror.

It's funny how you can know a story without ever reading it... and how it can surprise you once you do read it, even though you know what's going to happen. Thanks to Dagz for telling me I ought to read this one.

What I found most interesting was how much different it was from what I'd expected, and from the movies I've seen based on it over the years. Renfield, for example, was vastly more interesting than I've seen him in movies. He doesn't just sit there and moan for his Master. There's a method to his (literal) madness. And Van Helsing fails almost entirely to resemble Hugh Jackman in any way--a fact which I found terribly disappointing.

And those three brides? Barely in the book at all.

But the biggest, and most pleasant surprise was Mina, and to a lesser extent, Lucy. I'd expected them to be the TSTL women of the films. No, I'd expected them to be worse, since it's an old book, and Everyone Knows that women are viewed more equally nowadays, right? Not so. Lucy wasn't an idiot--she was seduced and controlled, yes, but it wasn't due to her flightiness, nor was she especially susceptible.

Mina, though... I love Mina. She's a strong, intelligent character, and the men learn their lesson about trying to keep things from her to protect her when keeping her out of the loop puts them all in danger. From then on, she's a fairly equal partner in the fight, and she comes up with her share of the plans, and risks herself as fully as any of the men.

So why was this strong, equal heroine acceptable in 1897, but not in 1931, 1958, 1979, or 1992? I know there are other versions--those are just the ones I'm sure I've seen.


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