Dracula: Gothic Elements is Lucy’s Death
Cari Gilkison, May 6, 1998 For Film Studies Spring 1998
The whole novel of Dracula Bram Stoker is filled with Gothic Elements created most strongly by the undercurrent of Eros and Thanatos. Once scene in particular sticks out—it is the extremely violent scene of Lucy’s death. It is more horrific than violent, but it does add to the overall Gothic feeling of the book.
The setting is in her tomb in the graveyard. Eerie settings are a key element to any Gothic novel. The tomb invokes an isolated, foreboding and morbid meeting. The darkness and Lucy appearing in the moonlight has shades of pathetic fallacy in it. In the tomb begins the confrontation with the supernatural. Lucy is supposed to be dead, but yet she walks. She is the Nosferatu, or the undead.
Lucy is not the sweet innocent girl of earlier passages. She is snarling beast. “What Lucy—I call the thing that was before me Lucy because it bore her shape—saw us, she drew back with an angry snarl, such as a cat gives when taken unaware; then her eyes ranged over us.” (98) This transformation from human to something that is not understood and feared as supernatural.
There is also a presence of Eros and Thanatos as Arthur prepares to end her life, the two intertwine. Lucy’s violent death is particularly disturbing considering that is parallel to a violent sexual encounter. The wife Arthur should have taken in his arms to love is the woman he must kill.
Van Helsing tells Arthur to drive a stake through her heart and cut off her head. At first it seems odd to have him complete this job, but it does make sense when the act of driving a stake through her heart is seen as a sort of consummation of their love. An orgasm, after all, in Victorian times was considered the “small” death. Love and death have been unmistakably intertwined.
It is this undercurrent of Eros and Thanatos that make the scene so vital to the Gothic Spirit of the novel.