Dracula and the Importance of Three


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.


Vampires And Zombies – Marriage

Vampire bride

We know what Frank Sinatra sang. Marriage and love go together like a horse and carriage.   Marriage is the alternative to mere appetite. Vampires, preoccupied with their appetites, are compelled to feed. They have a hunger that makes them drain the blood from each other. Humans restrict themselves to vegetables and other breeds of animal.   Zombies resemble humans before Christianity. Badly dressed and with terrible breath, the zombies offer a not especially tempting pagan orgy.

Marriage assumes a specific love for someone else that will not be shared although it extends love to children and parents.   But that is the extent of love for the married. The rest, which is for those outside the family, is affection, compassion, responsibility and courtesy.

Vampires are inspired by prey. Nobody believes Dracula loved Mina. She was important to Dracula because she was essential to his needs. She would satiate hunger not yearning. In his film of the Stoker novel, Coppola reinvents Dracula as someone like himself, the romantic outsider who needs the woman that will connect his history and destiny.   The connection between history and destiny defines marriage between humans quite well. Of course, the appetites do not disappear, and if you are Frank Sinatra or Francis Ford Coppola you will be able to indulge them. This can mean seeking others outside the sanctity of the home or sometimes being crushed inside the home. Neither option is impressive. Initially, Frank Sinatra may have wanted to be faithful to beautiful Ava Gardner but once he realised he had met his match the temptation of appetites was irresistible. Coppola presented a transcendental destiny for Dracula and Mina, emotional yearning satisfied and exclusive remote bonding. But, like Sinatra, Coppola always had options. He wanted Lucy to be played in his film by his favourite porn star who was his lover.

Vampires suffer immortality because they do not have a destiny. They have appetites and these, like the appetites of Coppola and Sinatra, will inevitably become jaded and will need restoring through novelty.   Despite what capitalists say about the virtue of change, novelty, unlike growth, denies destiny. The vampire will change because that is what his dull appetites, unlike commitment and ritual, will demand. Stoker was a conservative writer, an Irish gentleman and chauvinist who insisted woman should be honoured, and rescued, with love and that the best families do not forget compassion, responsibility and courtesy. For this to prevail, not only will effort be required from the married couple but help. The Circle of Light consisted of the married couple and the supportive neighbours who soon realised they needed to procure an expert.

Destiny has a price that cannot be predicted which is why the Circle of Light has a fatal casualty. In the Coppola film, the ending suggests that destiny and appetite are compatible. Stoker said definitely no to the three vamps in the castle and Coppola said well all right, then. The inevitable happened for want it all Coppola, he forfeited destiny and settled for success.


Howard Jackson has had three books published by Red Rattle Books. He has written three stories for Zombie Bites, the next book to be published by Red Rattle Books. His own collection of horror stories Nightmares Ahead will be published by Red Rattle Books in 2015. If you want to read more horror click