Monday, September 16, 2013

Stereotypes

              In "Vampires and Why We Love Them" by Eric Camarillo, he classify's the different idea's people get in their heads when they think of vampires and vampire stories. He discusses his interest of vampires of the Victorian time, and mentions the fact that the plot in the story of Dracula mirrors the thoughts and lives of people who existed in real life at that time. He mentioned that by reading Dracula, you can see "the fears and prejudices that the English held at that time". There are two kinds of stereotypes that come to mind when reading Camarillo's theory. The stereotype of vampires, and the stereotypes of everyday men and women from the Victorian time. Take a look at a Victorian man: He's educated, hardworking, usually has a family, wears a top hat with a three-piece suit and carries a cane on one wrist. He looks poised; wise. Looking at his eyes, no one dares to question his perspective of anything, especially, his wife. Take a look at the Victorian woman. She is also poised, stands upright wearing a laced dress down to her ankles with a corset underneath which forces her to stand upright. Over her hair held up by numerous pins that took hours, a large hat shields her powdered face from the sun. She calmly waits for her husband while he discusses politics with his maits without giving anyone the idea that she is hot or tired. This is an example of the stereotype that enters our minds when we think of a Victorian man or woman. Many times, men and women of that era fit this stereotype based on how society was at the time. Women were to subside to their husbands, the husbands were to be hardworking and stable, and the husband was allowed to "physically discipline" the wife when she "got out of line". Now imagine these same Victorian people reading Dracula. A story that contains a man who slowly discovers that he's a vampire, and three women vampires who are very seductive. Compare these women vampires to the ideal Victorian woman (as described above). You can see how the author rebelled against the customs and ideas of society in his time by creating characters who were the complete opposite of the people he associated with in everyday life.This is what made the story Dracula very popular in its day. The fact that, as Eric Camarillo described, the characters in the story went against the views of society in that time. The author also broke the stereotype of monsters of that time. When you imagine a monster, you see a shadowy figure creeping slowly towards you in the dark, or running behind you in a dark corrider, desperatly reaching its long, horrifying arms to lock you in a deadly embrace while roaring with anticipation. The author created Dracula to be quite the gentleman compared to the typical monsters we imagine or feared in our childhood. Because of this, even today, vampires are looked at as some of the classiest, poised monsters in time. People craved the book because they wanted to see something different. They liked the fact that the characters weren't people that they knew about in everyday life. We all enjoy a little mystery.

4 comments:

  1. Hi! My name's Eric and I wrote the article you're writing about. The imagery your bring up about the Englishman and his wife is really interesting. There's an interesting point that I'd like to bring up, though. You mention that Stoker "rebelled" against the societal norms of his time. Despite the erotic undertones that pervade Dracula, Stoker was a staunch anti-feminist. I'm not sure how far along you are in the novel (I'll try not to ruin anything for you), but his anti-feminism is most clearly seen in the character of Lucy Westenra. As a human, she expressed the desire to be polygamous (remember when she wished she could marry all three of her suitors?), and then Stoker punishes her by making her become a vampire. It's true that she's freer this way, but she is eventually staked--but her fiance no less. In this way, Stoker sends a clear message that men should control their wives, that it's their duty.

    Second, you bring up a fascinating idea about Stoker breaking the stereotypes of monsters. He wasn't the first to do this, but you're absolutely correct. People are afraid of things like werewolves and zombies, but these threats are obvious. Vampires infiltrate (the way Dracula invades England) and are less obvious threats. It's important to remember that before Dracula killed Lucy, she invited him in.

    Anyway, I loved your post. Good luck with the rest of the semester.

    --Eric

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  2. I agree in the fact that men and women in the Victorian era carry and reflect the life of the aristocracy. But not of people of this time dress in similar way. For example, Harker, a character in Dracula, describes a vast differences in clothing of the period. Beside, Camarillo not just delete the miss-concept of monsters, but rather he gives the link to hindsight why one may find this unusual characters important.

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    1. I'm not sure I quite understand your comment, victor. Can you explain further?

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  3. Good post, p994able. You make some good observations. Just be sure to completely summarize an author BEFORE offering your own perspective, in the future ;-)

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