Whoo boy, I can almost see you recoiling now. Why would I waste my time reading such drivel? Nay rather, drivel is one thing – horror an entirely other pointless pursuit. I’m inclined to agree. Nevertheless I rarely partake in fictional works mostly because they are drivel. Classics however might be different. I’m not exactly prone to read recent fiction (though I have) but seeing how many adaptations in both script and screen have stemmed from Bram Stoker’s vampire story I thought it might be worth investing some time trying to figure out what made it stick.
Mark this, I would never suggest reading this book but at the same time I’ll say that for my part it was not entirely without merit. Modern fiction doesn’t have much room for God but classic fiction does. Even though the author (or the characters in the book) may or may not have or espouse a Biblical worldview – it is remarkable to see the way that basic Christian precepts bleed through the pages sometimes quite by accident. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is no exception.
Many of the vampire legends which you may be familiar with are located in Stoker’s novel. There is, admittedly some dispute as to how much of it began with Stoker, it’s clear to see by doing some other reading that he was influenced by some other horror writers but for the purposes of cinematic history Stoker’s Dracula forms the basis of most of our Vampire mythology.
Johnathan Harker is the first of several characters who transcribe a series of strange events and happenings in their daily journals which are placed for us in roughly chronological order laced together with various newspaper clippings and the occasional narrative. It is in these journals that we find much more of God than we might expect. Let me quote a few of them:
Early in the second chapter after beginning to get a glimpse of what he may be up against Harker writes what is in effect a silent prayer,
“God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me!”
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 2
As his situation grows even more desperate Harker again writes another such prayer:
“Great God! Merciful God, let me be calm, for out of that way lies madness indeed.”
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 3
With many more quick prayers laced through his journal in the third and fourth chapters he closes the fourth chapter prepared to step out onto a precipice in hopes of gaining freedom from Count Dracula’s clutches and makes a stunning note regarding God’s mercy:
“At least God’s mercy is better than that of those monsters, and the precipice is steep and high. At its foot a man may sleep, as a man.”
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 4
Back at home Johnathan’s devoted fiance writes in her own journal as she waits for Johnathan:
“I must only pray to God for patience.”
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 6
Reaching beyond the many scattered and simplistic prayers scattered throughout the book there are also flashes of sound theology (interspersed I must confess with many bits of faulty theology as well). One such moment arises as Dr. Seward journals regarding a patient in his mental asylum:
“The real God taketh heed lest a sparrow fall. But the God created from human vanity sees no difference between an eagle and a sparrow. Oh, if men only knew!”
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 8
Moving on through the book we are introduced to Dr. Van Helsing (recognize the name?) who labors tirelessly to save the Ill fated Lucy from falling under the vampire’s curse. After many chapter’s worth of prayers and ministrations for God’s help and deliverance he acknowleges that no matter how bad the situation is, God still cares for his own:
“the devil may work against us for all he’s worth, but God sends us men when we want them.””
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 12
Even when dear Mina is bitten and enslaved to the dreaded count she maintains her faith while she fades – trusting that God will be with them to the end.
“Poor Mina told me just now, with the tears running down her dear cheeks, that it is in trouble and trial that our faith is tested. That we must keep on trusting, and that God will aid us up to the end. The end! Oh my God! What end?”…God can, if He wishes it, guard me as well alone as with any one present.
–Dracula by Bram Stoker: Chapter 22
Enough with the quotations to note that there is laced in Stokers novel at least a brute concept of Grace. As the book wears on and Mina draws nearer to succumbing to the vampire her now husband Johnathan Harker vows to kill the vampire by staking it through the heart declaring that he will gladly send him to hell. Mina in a heartbroken plea cries out that he must in whatever way possible slay first the vampire so that the count may himself find redemption in the end. It’s not very good theology of course but it does at least point to Stoker’s concept of redemption not being impossible for anyone.
In the final chapter one of the men dies trying to rescue Mina from the vampire’s clutches and his dying statement is to give glory to the God who has mercifully delivered her for the mark of the vampire is suddenly gone.
At the last a brief prologue serves to indicate what a marvelous woman Mina is because of the men who loved her enough to risk everything to save her. In that vain there is much to be said for demonstrating the value of every person for the Son of God himself did more than risk everything to save us, he gave everything to save us.
We therefore are more special than even Mina Harker – for God gave everything that we might be his.
There, I thought nothing of tossing in some spoilers because I don’t think you should have to read the book. If you’re inclined to buy it, go right ahead, but you may well be better off reading it for free.