The theme of religion Essay
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In both Frankenstein and Dracula, religion is mentioned, whether that is directly or indirectly. In Dracula, it is much more overtly referred to, because of the other main characters’ religion, and the fact that the Count goes against the very foundation of their beliefs. On the other hand, in Frankenstein, the characters believe in the power and truth of science, which is not entirely Gothic, but the creature still goes against their beliefs.
They explore the theme in a sort of two pronged attack; they both question the very nature of religion, compared to the two brothers and in more general terms of the Gothic, and in the contexts in which they present religion as a whole.
By doing this, both of the books are able to have their own ways in which how religion is used varies, although how much by is left solely to personal opinion. In Dracula, the principle characters aside from the Count have some sort of religion, as is evidenced by their manner of speech, their habits or behaviour, and even by the way they fend off the creature.
Most obviously, they refer to God a great deal: ‘God sends us men when we need them’ or ‘In God’s name’. This shows that their belief is strong, and will play a key part in their defeating the Count; if it was not such a necessary part of the novel, then references to their god would not be so often, despite the time that it was written. In Frankenstein, alternatively, it is not religion that controls Victor, but by contrast, it is ‘natural philosophy that regulates [his] fate’.
The religion, or lack of, by these key characters is crucial to how the novels develop, and also to how the creatures are therefore perceived. In Frankenstein, the scientific view of Victor means that the reader is not as swift to unequivocally condemn the creature, because it was created in a scientific way, by a man of a sort of science, and although it is going against the rules of science, those same rules are constantly destroyed, changed or otherwise expanded in order for research to be accepted; otherwise, what scientific facts do exist would soon stagnate and become outdated.
Conversely in Dracula, the Christian religion of the other main characters emphasises the evil that the Count has the ability to wield, and shows that there is no choice but to oppose the Count and be mentally encouraging the others to defeat him. This method of defeating evil with good, which is used to differing extents in the two novels, echoes certain legends that exist in religion. Throughout the novels, you have the good human man, struggling to defeat the evil unnatural beast who is threatening the life of his beloved, weak yet cherished ‘maid in distress’.
In Dracula more so, this is an accurate description, and reiterates the snake tempting Eve, the Devil tempting Jesus in the desert, Joseph against his brothers, Moses against the Egyptians, and so forth. The entire storyline can be seen as being directly related to, or even simulating these stories of religion, in order to create both familiarity for the reader when reading the novel, and also to rework a tried and tested formula, which has already been proved to be effective in capturing the reader’s imagination, and by changing the story the reader can be both surprised and shocked.
In Dracula, even the characters seem shocked by the fact that they are having to defeat the Devil, the Count who is ‘a blot on the face of God’s sunshine’ and even having to defend their religion into the bargain. In Frankenstein on the other hand, there is not so much shock, as a sense of just pure ‘disgust’. There does not seem to be the need to defend ‘science’, but only to protect that which science is said to have created, and stop the creature’s ‘wickedness’ from ‘desolat[ing] the world’.
This fear of having the world become desolate is due to the fact that both of these inhuman creatures are going against whatever the main characters of the respective books believe in. They are in opposition to either religion or science, although they do not do this as if it was their main aim, but purely as a way of achieving their goals.