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Dracula: A Marxist Reading
Transcript of Dracula: A Marxist Reading
What does Marxism mean?
Marxism is "The system of economic and political though developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the Capitalist system, containing from the first seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society"
Dracula, By Bram Stoker
Now, we will look at the novel, Dracula, By Bram Stoker, and observe the Marxist elements present within the Novel.
Dracula: A representation of the Capital
Early in the century, Marx himself had used the vampire metaphor to discuss the workings of the capital:
"Capital is dead labour which, vampire like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks."
The Count is, as Karl Marx desribes, a form of capital which sucks the life from the working proletariat class. Dracula has no life himself, but maintains himself by living off the life of others. For this reason, the Count Dracula can be observed as the representation of the capital which Marx describes.
A Marxist reading is one which interprets history as a series of class struggles. Marxists believe that, within society, people think and behave according to basic economic factors. Those factors are derived from the dominant class imposing their beliefs on the lower classes in order to make them conform to the standards and beliefs of the more dominant class.
The novel, Dracula, represents a class struggle between the capitalist bourgeois (middle class) and the character of Dracula as a monopolist ( a person, who's business controls a large portion of the market, they hold the power) Dracula worked in relation to the bourgeois fears of domination from above- from a monopolistic Dracula.
The categories of society
Moving from One region to another
The Counts movements from his region/ area of Pennsylvania, to Carfax, demonstrates the Marxist ideal of moving from one region to capitalize on the other, hence the requirement for Harkers involvement for such a transaction.
The 1970's saw a revival of interest in Dracula, and critical views began to be published from many new literary schools. Marxists, psychoanalytical, feminist and psycho sexual approaches all found the text open grounds for a variety of readings.
After the death (and re-death) of Lucy, Seward, Van Helsing, Quincey and Arthur all seem to have less of a purpose, although they still have this desire to avenge Lucy, the matter seems to have been put aside, and not of any great urgency. Mina also has a diminished role at this point, as the men had "released" her from their circle, not wanting her participation in the hunt anymore.
This general course of events sets up the class standings of the characters. Marx writes that
"the entire society must fall into two classes: those with property, and those property-less souls who labor".
The men for this instance, may represent the souls that labor category. Over time, the men have accumulated all this knowledge about the Count, yet they seem less and less capable to take action against him, and don't seem to be getting any closer to killing him.
"The laborer becomes poorer the more wealth he produces, indeed the more powerful and wide ranging his production becomes. The laborer becomes a cheap commodity, the more commodities he creates."
The men travel around trying to find the resting place of the Count, gaining more and more knowledge (wealth). Again, the more knowledge they gain, the less important/necessary they become. They become so cheap, that they fail to see that Mina is turning and becoming a vampire.
Mina, on the other hand, has the property; she is not accumulating wealth from knowledge, but from privilege. She also does not have to labor for this knowledge, it is bestowed upon her- she knows what is going on, without having to participate and run around with the men.