Fiction

Dracula and the Importance of Three

Dracula

Before football and mass media it was different.  Joseph Dietzgen was a working class autodidact.  In 1867, he invented the term dialectic materialism and the rest, as they say, is history.  Marxism found a revolutionary format and other autodidacts were tempted.   Progress towards utopia needed thesis, antithesis and then synthesis.  Karl Popper refuted Marxism but he retained the notion of knowledge as the consequence of a three way process of argument, counter argument and conclusion.    We live our lives according to a process contained with a single quite modest number.  The fanciful go further and note the similarity between the words ‘three’ and ‘free’ as if one, two and three symbolise the struggle that dominates all lives before the final step to freedom.  Well, Hegel and Marx had to start somewhere.

In ‘Dracula’, three female vampires attempt to seduce Jonathan Harker in the castle of Dracula and Lucy Westenra has three suitors.  In two key sexual scenes, the number three represents a surrender that contains defiance.  Lucy complains that she should have the freedom to take all suitors, and Harker insists on his desire for his three seducers.  That those who surrender are more defiant than those who conform perhaps explains why Stoker and Wilde were good friends.  This is classic end of the century decadence.  The narrative is also dominated by three locations – Transylvania, London and Whitby.

But Marxist critics argue that ‘Dracula’ is a reactionary novel against sexuality and independent women, although they admit that the practical and courageous Mina is not a typical 19th century heroine.  In her article, ‘A Wilde Desire Took Me – The Homoerotic History of Dracula’, Talia Schaffer claimed that the novel proved Stoker was a closeted Gay.  He had a distant relationship with his wife, Florence Balcombe, but that could have been due to the circumstances of his theatrical career.  Rock stars, and Rod Stewart in particular, make the same excuses.   The most loyal partner in ‘Dracula’ is, of course, Renfield.  He is addicted to his vampire master until the end.  True, he warns Mina but Renfield understands his nature and, like Oscar Wilde, he is obliged to suffer in his cell. The numbers, though, are important.   Stoker reassures his reader with a happy ending for Harker, Mina and their son.  They fall short of a nuclear family and settle for three members. Three is permissible in a relationship providing it includes children.  The Crew Of Light contains a core of three but their friendship is only exalted when they fight Dracula.  When sex unites them, as in the pursuit of Lucy, tragedy follows. The unsuitability of one man sharing three women is made clear in the most powerful and erotic scene in horror fiction.  Men should avoid women in a group and vice versa. The novel neither condemns nor approves of promiscuity between men.  We know that the male group is acceptable but would Stoker have tolerated sex between them?  Well, he was one of the few to visit Wilde in Paris.

Howard Jackson has written 3 books that have been published by Red Rattle Books.  His next book, Nightmares Ahead, will be published in spring 2014.  He has written 3 stories for Zombie Bites.  If you want to read more about zombies and vampires click here.

Advertisements

Guest Blog Anne L Hogue-Boucher Vampires And Zombies – Speed.

 

-the_Woman_Eater-

 

 

All horror writers have obligations. All acknowledge the difference between creepy and terrifying monsters. Zombies are both.

Zombies have history. Lovers of Hammer Films relish The Plague of the Zombie, a film underrated by critics. Decades passed before low budget horror was taken seriously. None of the actors became stars but Michael Ripper appeared in several Hammer movies, and, with the name Ripper, he had to. Before The Plague Of The Zombies, the 1958 movie The Woman Eater featured a plant that ate women, and in 1951, John Wyndham wrote The Day Of The Triffids. In the 50s, scientists, rather than neighbours returning from death, were the threat to nature and existence. Then the nuclear arms race stoked paranoia, and, by 1966, when The Plague Of The Zombies was made, audiences were ready for dodgy Cornish neighbours. The Plague of the Zombies influenced many other zombie movies that followed on both sides of the Atlantic. Neighbours transformed into zombies had actually appeared two years earlier in The Earth Dies Screaming. The paranoia in that film, though, is more concerned with external threats. The group cooperates and survives. But the movie was unequivocal, the dead that live on create danger. Zombies are creepy.

Slow zombies shuffle and swarm together. They walk with an imbalanced gait towards their food source, the healthy upstanding citizen. Living flesh is their snack of choice.

Relentless and shambling hordes of once-people are unpleasant to ponder. Shaun Of The Dead is hilarious but also eerie. Zombies cause nightmares and appear in both poorly done B-movies and the masterpieces of horror cinema. Slow zombies disturb because they are dull and relentless. Their overwhelming numbers challenge notions of superiority.

Super-speed turbo zombies, the once-people that can move as fast as Linford Christie, are different.

After the creepy hordes, the zombies in 28 Days Later not only swarmed and had an insatiable hunger for living human flesh, they appeared and devoured in seconds. Both fast and slow zombies only need one bite. But fast zombies do not allow the victim to think and act.

The apocalypse created by fast zombies is darker. Decency, loyalty and common sense skills are no longer enough for the humans. The group will not prevail, only the gifted and lucky survive. This is why the group, when it is met in 28 Days Later, consists of military fascists in retreat.

Slow zombies, shambling their way to their next living snack, provide an ominous mood. But for the marriage of the macabre and disturbing with the heart-pounding fear factor, nothing beats fast zombies. They have acceleration and can tear apart sweet little old ladies at the end of the street in seconds.

Slow zombies are fine for the 100% creep factor that keeps a reader or viewer locked in their flat for the night. Slow zombies make us doubt our decisions on how to escape. Fast zombies, though, seal off the escape route, and make a reader dig through the attic for that old hunting rifle.

 

Anne often wonders why the zombie in her hamper keeps telling her ‘the stars are right’. She once earned 2nd place in hopping at the Pre Kindergarten Olympics at her school and ever since she has vowed to improve those skills. Anne has hopped her way into the Zombie Bites anthology on a story called The Journalist. Zombie Bites will be published by Red Rattle Books on 30 10 2014. Zombie Bites and Mortal Shuffle will be launched at the Betsey Trotwood in London on 30 10 14. If you would like to learn more about Ann and her mix of the silly and horrific, you can follow her on Twitter. If you want to know more about Zombie Bites click http://www.redrattlebooks.co.uk