Victorian Anxieties Bram Stokers Dracula English Literature Essay

Bram Stokers Dracula, in the thick of its Gothic atmosphere, creates a infinite for inadvertent and nonvoluntary motives, minutess, and symbolic characteristics, that non merely give rise to psychological involvement, but besides produce gaps for revolution ( Houston 11 ) . Written in the thick of the late nineteenth- century, Dracula emerges, as what Houston calls, “ a novel of Victorian psychical mental unsoundnesss ” , lucubrating on the anxiousnesss produced by the assorted scientific discourses that questioned the conventional thoughts of the Human.1 The significance of the relationship between scientific discipline and novel prevarications in the representation of the person as a microcosm of the societal kingdom.

The importance of the scientific mentality is realized in the secrets of the psychological and societal life amid the enigma of a universe, unseeable to the untrained oculus. Victorian novelists and scientists were rather interested in deconstructing this enigma of the human universe that questioned the physical being of adult male as a societal being. As a consequence, harmonizing to Shuttleworth, they assumed the human organic structure and mind as the containers of the cultural anxiousnesss.

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Consequently, there was an addition in the sum of the novels that pathologized “ organic structure as a unsafe metropolis, where passion and offense lurk in concealed alley- ways, of all time ready to jump out and disturb ” the delicate life.2 Following the Gothic tendency of late Victorian fiction, Stoker characterized his universe as a ‘nebula ‘ of the Darwinian and psychological province, that non merely revealed the concealed personality of the person but besides “ the groundss of the human continuity with the carnal universe ” .

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3 The narrative fragments of Dracula embody the emphasis of the degenrated facet of the human life that joins it with the carnal universe as Darwin suggests, and uncover the characters under unnatural psychological provinces, raising the psychological involvement in the novel. The comment by Van Helsing, “ Why non progress scientific discipline in its most hard and critical aspect- the cognition of the encephalon? Had I even the secret of one such mind- did I keep the key to the illusion of even one madman… ” ( Dracula 80 ) ; incites one to oppugn Stoker ‘s usage of Vampirism as a medical- mental phenomenon to dig into a witting scientific enquiry of the Victorian head, foregrounding its cultural anxiousnesss. I propose that this inquiry can be answered by following the historical and scientific background of the novel, its word picture and its narrative scheme. As Foucault has argued, “ the nineteenth- century witnessed the outgrowth of a new economic system of the person and societal life, centered on the ordinance of the forces of the organic structure and controlled through surveillance ” .4 The human organic structure became the outstanding beginning for the novelists and the scientists to unknot the procedure of the human head. Supported by the scientific attempts in the signifier of modern psychology- including countenance and phrenology- the interior secrets of the head were decoded by analyzing the external marks of the organic structure. Phrenology was the cardinal theory of the encephalon and scientific discipline that involved character reading. It was believed that by analyzing the form and variability of skull or caput, one could perforate the interior secrets of this concealed sphere. Stoker was chiefly interested in the scientific discipline that preceded phrenology, i.e. , countenance. The term closely related with phrenology, countenance surveies the internal character from the external appearances- most notably the face. Dracula is filled with the cases where physiognomy Acts of the Apostless as a main component in decrypting the concealed sphere of Vampirism. For case, the transmutation of Lucy is confirmed by analyzing the physical features such as “ crisp dentition ” and “ juicy blood ruddy lips ” that instills the work forces to accept the new individuality of Lucy as a female vampire- “ the sugariness was turned to adamantine, heartless inhuman treatment, and the pureness to juicy abandon ” ( Dracula 225 ) . Indeed nineteenth- century physiology and psychopathology broke down before absolute divides between the normal and pathological, take a firm standing that disease arose simply from an extra or lack of elements built-in to normal functioning.5 In Dracula, Stoker broke this divide by utilizing blood as an built-in component of Vampirism, foregrounding the subliminal cultural anxiousness that Victorians associated with the blood system. The motive of blood in Dracula, “ evokes an full composite of cultural frights about the transmissibility of character through the organic structure fluids ” ( Law 148 ) . It induces the stopping point relationship between blood and gender into that of Vampirism by researching the Victorian belief that blood is sperm, hence, feeding on blood and interchanging it can be related to intercourse. This belief was defined as Spermous Economy- a popular nineteenth- century quasi- medical discourse in which seeds is regarded as a merchandise of the blood.6 This belief non merely generated “ the quasi- metaphysical fright of cross- species blending ” , but besides the fright of blood- borne diseases like Syphilis ( Law 157 ) . The Vampirism in the novel incites both these frights eminently. The transmutation of Lucy into a female lamia is through the procedure of cross- species blending that involves the exchange of blood- a semen- giving rise to Vampirism, as a sort of Syphilis.7 However, blood besides acts as a footing for “ intangible telepathic connexion between Mina Harker and Count Dracula, overwriting the tantamount channels in both hypnotism and mesmerism ” .8 In this instance the infective blood becomes a psychic tool for the Count to follow the motions of the Van Helsing and the crew. In the 1880 ‘s “ enormous alteration in the Fieldss of medical specialty and microbiology ” non merely provided Stoker a medium to construct his myth of Vampirism on the impression of “ infective diseases ” , but besides to foreground “ the fearful worldview of the late 1800 ‘s with regard to the diseases ” like Cholera and Rabies.9 The myth of Vampirism allows Stoker to perforate into the argument affecting the spread of the diseases and the process of “ medical research that closely affected the mentality of the Victorian England ” .10 Vampirism is illustrated as an infective disease that is “ straight transmitted from an septic person to a non- septic single via a bite ” .11 It has the character of that of Cholera, a disease whose ‘eastern ‘ beginning intricate the image of an encroacher from “ the East ” , conveying decease and infection. This image of the encroacher is eminently related with Vampirism as a mental phenomenon, whose dangers are realized by the characters, but the cause is unknown. Their anxiousness to decrypt this phenomenon is parallel with the state of affairs of the nineteenth-century doctors who were seeking to understand the cause of Cholera. Another disease that is more accurately related to Vampirism is Rabies- a disease affecting the transmittal of infection by the bite of an septic animate being. The similarity between Vampirism and Rabies involve the medium of infective animate being conveying the disease through bodily fluids, i.e. , saliva incorporating in the Rabies and the infective blood in Vampirism. The societal panic involved in these fatal diseases besides link them elaborately with the fright associated with an image of the unmanageable animate being, elaborated in the myth of Vampire. The of import historical and scientific facet of Vampirism is theory of evolution. The cardinal component of Darwin ‘s theory embodied into the Vampirism is the correlativity between advancement and devolution. Harmonizing to Glendening, Victorians ‘ interlingual rendition of Darwin ‘s thoughts from the biological to societal kingdom led to varied and conflicted applications.12 For case, some people taking into history the thought of advancement propogated by Darwin ‘s theory, related it to social advancement ; whereas some termed it as a gradual procedure of devolution of human head into pandemonium. Most of the ulterior theories reflected these anxiousnesss about the society formed on the footing of “ endurance of the fittest ” . The elements of opportunity, competition, predation, decease and extinction, embedded in Darwin ‘s theory of “ natural choice ” , attributed to the menace of physical, societal, and moral pandemonium doing societal devolution. The modern universe of Dracula, retains the progressive facet of theory of evolution until the reaching of Count Dracula that unveils the crudeness skulking beneath the civilised universe of Victorian England. The best illustration of this retrograde descent is Harker ‘s journey from modern England to the chartless, crude Transylvania. His journey acts as a Darwinian discourse of the human lineage ; charting the “ evolutionary time- line ” into the crude yesteryear that reveals the degenerated beastly side of adult male. Harker ‘s transmutation from a sensible, educated modern adult male into the hysteric counter portion of crude Count Dracula further seals the retrograde motion of the modern scientific society. Another illustration of devolution is the formation of the female vampires- “ the natation atoms of dust ” notes Harker “ gathered boulder clay they seemed to take [ on the ] dim apparition forms ” of the adult females who “ bit by bit materialized ” into the atoms “ whirled unit of ammunition and gathered in bunchs in cloudy kind of manner ” ( Dracula 62- 63 ) . Here the “ materialisation ” of the female lamias from the dust metaphorically alludes to the development from the dust and pandemonium into the human/ carnal signifier. The of import thing to observe amid this “ evolutionary theory ” is the end merchandise of the whole procedure, which is the development of female vampires- the semi- human life. This reveals the lower evolutionary position of the human criterion which is psychologically and morally retrograde. Dracula, confronts this degeneration in the signifier of Vampirism, that non merely highlights the rotten moral values but besides the province of a degenerated society where the “ physical and mental enervation suffered in one coevals ” ought to show itself in the next.13 The more basic fright among Victorian people, nevertheless, was that modernness could ne’er get away the appreciation of its ain crude origins.14 Before analyzing the characters in the psychological visible radiation, the controversial argument between Spiritualism and Science demands to be referred in order to explicate the high position of the nineteenth- century doctors. Dracula as a scientific novel opens up the controversial argument sing Spiritualism and Science, that harmonizing to Noakes related Victorian scientific discipline as “ enlightenment ” and Spiritualism as a “ marginalized, bottomless deep ” .15 In this controversial argument was added “ the doctor ‘s peculiar and delicate placement between scientific norms and societal moresaˆ¦pressurizing the doctors to take the frights and phantasies of their patronages by accounting the economic system of bodily fluids. Time after clip, medical professionals found themselves at the centre of upseting societal contentions over the ordinance of bodily fluids: Spermatorrhoea in the 1850 ‘s, 1860 ‘s and 1870 ‘s ; the Contagious Diseases acts in the 1860 ‘s, 1870 ‘s and 1880 ‘s ; and the compulsory inoculation in the 1870 ‘s, 1880 ‘s, and 1890 ‘s ” ( Law 155- 156 ) . Harmonizing to Law, the contention over mandatory inoculation hit peculiarly difficult and was popularly described as a sort of “ blood- toxic condition ” , with physicians as the vampiric enemy. It is peculiarly because of this impression that the blood- transfusion was regarded as a unsafe process that was non good understood. In the figures of Van Helsing and Jack Seward, Stoker provides a glance into the controversial argument. Van Helsing, the universe celebrated scientist victory over the combination of the religious and scientific expertness ; whereas Seward- a mental wellness specialist- is of a rational scientific character that requires rational accounts for supernatural phenomena like Vampirism- “ You are a cagey adult male, friend John ( says Van Helsing ) ; you ground good, and your humor is bold ; but you are excessively prejudiced. . . . Ah, it is the mistake of our scientific discipline that it wants to explicate all ; and if it explain non, so it says there is nil to explicate. But yet we see around us every twenty-four hours the growing of new beliefs, which think themselves new ; and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be immature. ” ( Dracula 134 ) . However, Stoker seems to prefer the psychological accounts of Van Helsing instead than Seward, who subsequently succumbs to the theory of Helsing. The research of Helsing paves manner for the modern sciences- including psychopathology, countenance and hypnosis- into the fabulous kingdom of Vampirism. Vampirism as a mental phenomenon is best illustrated through the medical finds in the Victorian England that embody the cultural anxiousnesss about disease, insanity and gender buildings. The major pathological instances in the novel are that of Lucy, the three female lamias, Mina and Reinfield. It is the descent of female characters into the Vampirism that provides a medical chance to uncover the gender buildings of Victorian England. In Dracula, the vampiric transmutation of adult females is expressed through the countenance of their organic structure. The issues reflected are related with that of hungriness and the displacement between the anorectic emancipation and “ juicy flesh ” foregrounding the distorted muliebrity. If studied under psychological feeling, the overdone representation of anorexia embodies the male frights about the ‘New Woman ‘ and her unrestrained sexual appetency typified by hungriness. If studied under the light psychological science, the representation of distorted muliebrity, with “ juicy ” sexual appetency, embodies male frights about the ‘New Woman ‘ and her unrestrained sexual appetency typified by hungriness. The fright of the so- called ‘New Woman ‘ and the reversal of the sexual functions imply the societal concept of the venereal disease called Syphilis, associated with the sexual appetency of uncontrolled adult females. Showalter in her critical work Sexual Anarchy, claims that in the fictions of 1890 ‘s, Syphilis, played a symbolic function in specifying the gender concepts of the male dominated Victorian society. The disease was chiefly regarded as the eruption of a pent-up desire that surfaced a secret life. Lucy and Mina, the two heroines of the novel unconsciously harbor the secret desires of following the way of ‘New Woman’- whether it is the defeated desire of Lucy to get married her three suers or Mina ‘s captivation about the independency of the ‘New Woman ‘ . Dracula, who acts as a syphilitic adult male infecting first Lucy and so Mina. The victimization of Lucy and Mina illustrate the dangers of pox through the physical and moral devolution. In the women’s rightist position the syphilitic insanity “ was the merchandise of adult male ‘s ferociousness and represented guiltless adult female ‘s entrapment and victimization ” .16 They used the Darwinian theory against the misogynist work forces and termed poxs as a key to their barbarian beginning. In the novel, Dracula, in the feminist position can be seen as a woman hater barbarian adult male infecting adult females with the fatal disease. Another pathological character that embodies the symptoms of Vampirism is Renfield. However, the beginning of his symptoms remains unknown, however, his disease is characterized as a psychiatrically and/or neurological.17 Through the instance of Renfield, Stoker emphasizes on the nature and status of the moonstruck refuge in 19th century. The instance survey of Renfield illustrates the growing of scientific engineering of 19th century, when the record player were used to enter the observations of the moonstruck patient.18 The status of Renfield works upon the psychic component of Vampirism, where the septic organic structure exerts telepathic connexion with his maestro Dracula. This connexion non merely embodies the symptoms of craze but besides the clinical status of Vampirism as a disease. In the 1980 ‘s Herschel Prins developed the thought of Vampirism as a clinical status. In 1992, this status was associated with Renfield ‘s syndrome by psychologist Richard Noll.19 Noll defined three phases for Vampirism: “ Auto vampirism- by and large developed in the initial phases of childhood where the scrapings or cuts are inflicted by the individual to bring forth blood which is so ingested ; Zoophagia- is the feeding of life animals, but more specifically the imbibing of their blood ” , ( as observed in the instance of Renfield where he consumes the insects in the go uping order of the life signifier in order to catch the life force in the signifier of blood ) , this phase may develop prior to the first phase ; and “ the last phase is Vampirism, defined by the procuring and imbibing of the blood of populating human existences ” .20 These phases bit by bit define the province of Renfield from a “ Flesh-eating ” , as defined by Seward, to that of Vampirism where the blood acquires the mystical significance for him- “ The blood is life ” ( Dracula 152, 249 ) . His transmutation is sealed with his act of “ creaming the blood ” of Seward like a “ Canis familiaris ” ; therefore, taging his devolution from a moonstruck adult male to that of semi- human being. However, the one interesting thing to observe about Renfield ‘s syndrome is his battle with the experiment involved to follow the go uping life force in the nature, which would supply him the immortal power, as Seward observes- “ aˆ¦he keeps a small notebook in which he is ever jotting down something. Whole pages of it are filled with multitudes of figures, by and large individual Numberss added up in batches, and so the sums added in batches once more, as though he were ‘focusing ‘ some history… ” ( Dracula 78 ) . His avidity to equilibrate out the multitudes of figures in order to follow the life forces, reflects upon the societal, economic and political anxiousnesss of the Victorian adult male, who was profoundly entangled within the web of scientific and spiritual theories that explained the being of adult male. Vampirism as a mental phenomenon can be understood by analyzing craze as the cardinal component of the novel. To foster the statement one needs to decrypt the narrative technique of the epistolatory novel as a scientific account of the mental upset, where the patient is compelled to compose his/her experiences so that he is able to track his mental aside. In all other societal phenomena, psychological facts play an of import function in Victorian society that compelled the professions to maintain painstaking histories of every facet of society, including mental.21 In this manner the novel is more or less seen as a psychological study, where the different journals by the characters create “ a testimony of their ain mental upset ” .22 Harmonizing to Dingley in his essay “ Count Dracula and the Martians ” , the characters of Dracula, are the “ guardians of civilisation, obsessional narratorsaˆ¦ entering their every move on the new fanged record player ” ( The Victorian Fantasies 22 ) . This obsessional irresistible impulse is seen in the instance of Harker who encapsulates this historiographical irresistible impulse to enter every item of his mental phenomena: “ I must maintain authorship at every opportunity, for I dare non halt to believe, all, large and small, must travel down.. ” ( Dracula 344 ) . Harker ‘s diary embodies the development of paranoia that traces the degeneration of a disbelieving rational head into a mental upset, where he tries to perpetrate self-destruction in an effort to get away his ain ( mental ) world. Another controversial thought to locate Vampirism as a medical status is to specify the characters in the visible radiation of hysteric state of affairss. Harmonizing to Helen King, people who are “ hysterical ” frequently lose self- control due to an overpowering fright. This fright can be centered on a organic structure portion or most normally, on an imagined job with that organic structure portion. The fright is so termed as “ Mass craze ” , when it is associated with the moving ridges of popular medical jobs, making a status of helplessness.23 In the instance of Dracula, the craze that is created is related to the Victorian anxiousness of interchanging bodily fluids and the infective diseases like Cholrea and Syphilis. Dracula symbolizes the infective disease that non merely exerts the fright of cross- commixture species, but besides the societal panic of a fatal disease in the signifier of Vampirism. This disease creates a paranoia that entangles the major characters of the novel into a hysterical web, Van Helsing being the centre of this web. It is foremost in the observation of Seward that we get the glance of Van Helsing as a hysteric- “ the minute we were entirely in the passenger car he gave manner to the regular tantrum of hysterics. He had denied to me since that it was hysterics, and insisted it was merely his sense of temper asseverating itself under really awful status ” ( Dracula 225 ) . He relates this hysteric attitude of the scientist in relation to the myth of the Vampire. Here it is of import to observe that throughout the novel the information about the Vampirism is merely known to Van Helsing. The characters come to cognize about Vampirism merely through Van Helsing ‘s myth of Vampirism. There is no written history by Count Dracula that could corroborate the intuitions of the scientist. Therefore, one seems to see Helsing as a mentally insane patient who is convinced by the world of his hallucinations. He imposes his false world over the remainder of characters who portion his false world. The appendage of this false world can be seen in the instance of Seward, a mental wellness doctor, who accepts this psychotic belief with small incredulity. The ambiance of the novel is so characterized as a phase of “ sensitive hallucination ” , where the characters are wholly convinced of the world of the state of affairs and their behaviour illustrate the credence of that ( mental ) reality.24 The demand to trust on this ( mental ) world urge the characters to portion their information, personal journals and notes, so that they feel safe against the menace of Vampirism. This act of sharing the cognition shapes their paranoiac into a world that spread inside their heads, sharing the lunacy. Hence, “ it is somehow appropriate that the run of Van Helsing to put to death Dracula has its central offices in a moonstruck refuge, the site of tidily contained but disordered heads ” ( Dracula xxxiii ) . Stoker ‘s Dracula, in utilizing Vampirism as a combination of Victorian cultural and scientific discipline, exemplify a mental phenomenon that unveils the darker side of cultural anxiousnesss in the signifier of supernatural. It uses medical and modern scientific disciplines to lucubrate upon the scientific arguments of 19th century that concentrated on the human organic structure and head. It addresses and moulds the Darwinian concerns of ‘progressive development ‘ into that of modern society, where devolution lurks beneath the surface of modernness. “ The implicit in evolutionary meanings of the novel are scaring because they endorse a mindless, mercenary Darwinian existence that adheres to the moral and societal decay, impacting the physical and psychological status of the adult male ” ( Glendening 124 ) . This mercenary Darwinian existence is “ studded with characters compulsively entering the febrilities, incubuss and unwellnesss ” , through which one can understand the historical and scientific development of Victorian universe ( Houston 121 ) . Therefore, by understanding the medical and psychological background of the novel, the Vampirism can be regarded as a mental/medical phenomenon that non merely makes a witting scientific enquiry of the Victorian head, but besides situates Dracula in the province of suppressed or tangible craze, that embodies the cultural anxiousnesss of 19th century Victorian England.


In the late 1800 ‘s, the scientific discourses like theory of evolution, Lamarckism, mental physiology and sexology, dismantled the thought of the perfect human being in the modern society. This issue was revived by the Gothic literature of late nineteenth century. Dracula, written in 1897, intricately trades with these discourses in order to supply an empirical history of human head and organic structure.

Shuttleworth, Sally. Charlotte Bronte and Victorian Psychology. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 1996: 16.

Punter, David. The Literature of Panic: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the present twenty-four hours. London: Longman Group Ltd, 1980: 239.

Shuttleworth, Sally. Charlotte Bronte and Victorian Psychology ( 1996 ) : 3.

Ibid. , 12.

Hughes, William. Beyond Dracula. Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd, 2000: 140.

Vampire transformed Lucy into his ain sort by holding sexual intercourse with her. By seeing the act of blood- suction in sexual footings, the blood exchange can be seen as an act of interchanging fluids that happens in a sexual intercourse. Consequently, the blood of Vampire can be seen as a “ seeds ” that gave rise to a new sort. It ‘s black aftereffects can touch to the effects of Syphillis. The pandemonium of devastation brought by the act of Vampirism can be rellated to the Victorian anxities environing the disease of sexual abnormalities, i.e. , Syphillis.

Hughes, William. Beyond Dracula ( 2000 ) : 176.

Sutton, Jessica. “ Dracula and the Victorian Understanding of Disease ” . Web. 27 Feb. 2013.



Glendening, John. The Evolutionary Imagination in Late- Victorian Novels: An Entangled Bank. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 1988: 14.

Like Darwinism, Lamarckism besides provides a signifier of devolution. The theory asserts that animate beings, exercising will by doing natural pick that include physical and moral enervation. This enervation suffered in one coevals is passed onto the other one.

Glendening, John. The Evolutionary Imagination in Late- Victorian Novels: An Entangled Bank ( 1988 ) : 117.

Noakes, Richard. “ Spiritualism, Science and the Supernatural in mid- Victorian Britain. ” The Victorian Supernatural. Nicola Bown et Al explosive detection systems. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 2004: 24- 25.

Showalter, Elaine. “ Syphilis, Sexuality, and the Fiction of the Fin de Siecle. ” Sexual activity, Politics, and Science in the Nineteenth- Century Novel. Ed. Ruth Bernard Yeazell. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986: 94.

Regis Olry & A ; Duane E. Haines. “ Renfield ‘s Syndrome: A Psychiatric Illness drawn from Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula ” , Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: Basic and the Clinical Perspectives, 17th October 2011, p. 368.

In Dracula, Stoker make usage of modern engineerings like Phonographs, wire, typewriter, etc. to foreground the scientific advancement of nineteenth- century. In the novel, Dr Seward uses record player to enter his observations about the moonstruck behaviour of Renfield.

Regis Olry, and Duane E. Haines. “ Renfield ‘s Syndrome: A Psychiatric Illness drawn from Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula ” . Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: Basic and the Clinical Positions ( 17th October 2011 ) : 369.

Noll, Richard. Vampires, Werewolves, & A ; Devils: TwentiethCentury Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. New York: Brunner/ Mazel Publishing, Inc. , 1992: 366.

Houston, Turley Gail. From Dickens to Dracula: Gothic, Economics, and Victorian Fiction. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 2005: 123.

Andrer, Romero- Joder. “ Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula: A survey on the Human Mind and Paranoid Behavior ” , Atlantis 31.2 ( 2009 ) , 23- 39.

King, Helen. “ Once upon a text: Craze from Hippocrates. ” Hysteria beyond Freud. Ed. Gilman, Sander ; King ; Porter, Helen et Al. California: The University of California Press, 1993: 3- 90.

Mesa Cid defined three types of hallucinatory experiences: sensitive hallucination- where the patient is wholly convinced of the world of the state of affairs, and his behaviour reacts to that experience ; hallucinosis- where the individual ‘s reaction answers the experience, although the patient is non wholly convinced of the sensed world ( as in the instance of Dr Seward ) ; and pseudo hallucination- where the individual perceives the world more mistily, non through the senses, but experiencing it inside the head ( as in the instance of Mina who has a telepathic connexion with Dracula ) .

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