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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 Coleridge’s Mariner, he must suffer the consequences of isolation and guilt.

Two more references to the albatross occur in Shelley’s 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 Victor’s story; and his encounter with Victor and his horrific tale will be his “Nightmare, Life-in-Death.” The other allusion occurs in Victor’s 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 Coleridge’s 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 Coleridge’s 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). Dracula’s means of entering England is presented at several removes. While Frankenstein’s echoes are often seen as reinforcement of the text’s 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 Shelley’s Monster who keeps Victor’s 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. Shelley’s land of ice and snow is a counterpart to the iciness of abandonment and rejection; Stoker’s 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 Monster’s 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 Shelley’s 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, Lucy’s final destruction (on the day after her intended wedding night) is an echo of two scenes from Frankenstein: Victor’s 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 Tepes’son 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 Society, 1975.
Glut, Donald. The Frankenstein Legend. Metuchen NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1973.
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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© Copyright 1995 by Elizabeth Miller, Newfoundland, Canada

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