Abracadabra: Language, Memory, Representation
Chapters 1-4: Jonathan Harker at the Castle.
What actually happens in the first four chapters? Jonathon arrives, eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps. Dracula crawls down the building.
There's not much action in the first part of the book, and yet all of the crucial elements are introduced.
Chapters 5-9: Mina, Lucy and Dracula's arrival in England
Our first introduction to Mina is a kind of technical foreshadowing. In the short letter we learn that she: knows shorthand (stenography), types well, writes diaries, seeks to imitiate the skills of the "lady journalists" (who can "remember all that goes on or is said in one day." What is the purpose of this kind of character introduction? Why do we not learn about?
Lucy on the other hand is introduced as a swooning, girlish and conspiratorial who--strangely-- writes in italics.
Lucy's three suitors
We are introduced to most of the remaining characters through lucy: they are all her suitors. This sets up a nice tension, not a love triangle, but a kind of multi-dimenional love-graph.
The three suitors seem to all know each other independently, or so Stoker suggests, through a letter form Quincey (p. 62, 25 May), through some kind of masculine imperialist drinking adventures. Though this is never made quite clear.
Dr. Seward's Studies
Seward's diary is kept in phonograph form, making him the most modern and up to date of the characters. Not only his method of diary keeping, but his psychiatric studies mark him as cutting edge: he is studying the "unconscious" mental life of Renfield just before Freud begins to explicate a theory of conscious and unconscious behavior.
Public and Private Spheres
In these chapters we have two kinds of sources: the private diaries and letters of the protagonists and the publicly circulated informations of the newspaper, which in turn publishes (makes public) a private (in the sense of business) Ship's log.
What difference does it make for some information to be public, or to make information public? What's the difference between a private letter, a ship's log, and a private diary?
How does the danger of miscommunication, or the reliability of a report change the nature of a situation? What trust and what suspicion are attributed to these different communications (by the reader and by the protagonists)?
More questions for today:
|Christopher M. Kelty Last modified: Wed Apr 9 09:46:12 CDT 2003|