The frightful fiend is not the
Monster, whom we have just seen with its hands outstretched to its creator,
but Victor himself and his realization of the failure of his Promethean
dream. Victor tells Walton that immediately after his completion and
rejection of the Monster, as he walked to ease the load that weighed
upon his mind, he was in dread of the frightful fiend treading
close behind him. One can argue here that Victor has killed his albatross
twice: not only in his act of creation, but in his act of rejection.
Like Coleridges Mariner, he must suffer the consequences of isolation
Two more references to the albatross occur in Shelleys text. The
first is this comment by Walton to his sister:
|I am going to unexplored regions, to
the land of mist and snow, but I shall kill no albatross,
therefore do not be alarmed for my safety, or if I should come back
to you as worn and woeful as the Ancient Mariner? (30)
Ironically, Walton does not realize that
he resembles the Mariner: his persistence in continuing his journey
threatens his ship and alienates him from the crew; the albatross around
his neck is his self-absorption and solipsism, qualities that foreshadow
Victors story; and his encounter with Victor and his horrific
tale will be his Nightmare, Life-in-Death. The other allusion
occurs in Victors narrative when he expresses his concern about
marrying Elizabeth with this deadly weight yet hanging round my
neck and bowing me to the ground (130). This weight is the result
of his refusal to reveal to others what he has done. He promises Elizabeth
that he will share his secret with her the day after they are married.
However, she does not live to hear it. Unlike Coleridges Mariner,
Victor Frankenstein never rids himself of his albatross; he travels
towards (rather than away from) the land of ice and snow, and dies amidst
a landscape of failure and sterility.
Although the text of Dracula reverberates with resonances of
Coleridges poem, the only direct allusion appears in the newspaper
account of the calm before the storm that drove the Demeter (carrying
Dracula) into Whitby: As idle as a painted ship upon a painted
ocean (78). Draculas means of entering England is presented
at several removes. While Frankensteins echoes are often
seen as reinforcement of the texts indictment of androcentric
Romanticism, in Dracula the motifs of journey and Promethean
quest are part of the exclusion of the vampire as Other. In addition
to posing a sexual threat, Dracula is also the supernatural Other, the
undesirable challenge to educated, rational Englishmen who privilege
science over medieval, pre-Enlightenment irrationality. Dracula is a
destroyer rather than a preserver of text; unlike Shelleys Monster
who keeps Victors notebook, Dracula destroys any records he finds.
This reinforces his image as the antithesis of civilized Western European
culture -- the cultural, social, racial, and biological Other.
Several other resonances can be noted. Both monsters attempt to invade
the intellectual space of the civilized world. The Monster
in Frankenstein reads Western literary texts (Plutarch, Goethe
and Milton) in order to gain acceptance, while Count Dracula studies
English magazines to assist in the process of assimilation. Both texts
use geographically identifiable landscapes for symbolic purposes. Shelleys
land of ice and snow is a counterpart to the iciness of abandonment
and rejection; Stokers Transylvania represents a threat to everything
that is English. Other parallels come to mind. Pointing to the act of
writing as a crucial element in Dracula, Jim Collins notes that
the writings themselves do not acquire any force until they are
collated and read (88); it is in the reading of texts that understanding
emerges. While this is obviously true of Dracula, it can also
be applied to Frankenstein. The Monsters discovery of Victor's
notes about his creation leads him on the road to self-discovery and
self- destruction. Whereas Count Dracula destroys all of the papers
that he reads, the Monster in Shelleys novel is destroyed by what
he reads, and sets his course for revenge. Secondly, the stock Gothic
motif of the death of a bride on her wedding night can be found in both
texts. In Stoker, Lucys final destruction (on the day after her
intended wedding night) is an echo of two scenes from Frankenstein:
Victors violation of the partially completed mate for his Monster,
and the murder of Elizabeth in her nuptual bed.
Science plays a significant role in each novel. In Frankenstein
it creates a monster; in Dracula it helps to defeat one. Furthermore,
as a scientist, Seward is reminiscent of that archetypal would-be scientist,
Victor Frankenstein, whose ambition had disastrous consequences. When
reflecting on the fascination that Renfield's case has for him, he remarks,
It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It
might be done if there were only a sufficient cause ... I must not think
too much of this, or I may be tempted (73). In contrast, Victor
yields to temptation, and his realization of what he had done leads
him to make this reference to vampires:
|I considered the being whom I had cast
among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes
of horror, such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in the
light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave,
and forced to destroy all that was dear to me (73).
Radu Florescu draws attention to a fortuitous
historical connection between Frankenstein and Dracula.
The burial ground of the Evangelical Church in the Transylvanian city
of Sibiu contains a number of ancient crypts, including that of Vlad
Tepesson Mihnea, who was assassinated in 1510. Not too far away,
he states, lies the crypt of a Saxon nobleman whose name was Baron
Frank von Frankenstein (In Search of Frankenstein, 16).
This leads Florescu to raise an intriguing possibility. Given the political
and economic conflict that existed between Wallachians and Saxons over
trading privileges in Transylvania, is it possible that, in some minor
skirmish almost five hundred years ago, long before Frankenstein
and Dracula were created, a Frankenstein actually fought a Dracula?
Cantor, Paul. Creature and Creator: Mythmaking and English Romanticism.
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984.
Collins, Jim. Uncommon Cultures: Popular Culture and Post-Modernism.
New York: Routledge, 1989.
Florescu, Radu. In Search of Frankenstein. Boston: NY Graphic
Glut, Donald. The Frankenstein Legend. Metuchen NJ: Scarecrow
Mellor, Anne. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters.
New York: Routledge, 1989.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. Ed Johanna Smith. Boston:
Bedford Books, 1992.
Skal, David J. Hollywood Gothic. New York: Norton, 1990.
Skal, David J. The Monster Show. New York: Norton, 1993.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New Westminster: Constable, 1897.
Weissman, Judith. Women and Vampires: Dracula as a Victorian Novel.
In Margaret L. Carter, ed. Dracula: The Vampire and the Critics.
Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1988.
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