Dracula is an American movie following Bram Stoker’s novel. It was a well-received movie that hit box-office charts. Its extensive use of symbolism and imagery interested many people. In the movie, Viad Dracula returned victorious from Turkey and found that his wife, Elisabeta, had committed suicide after receiving false information. She had been told that her husband was dead. Dracula renounces God for non-acceptance of his wife’s suicide. He then swears to come back from the dead and avenge his wife using evil powers on his side. He then comes back years later in a non-human form to avenge his wife (Davison 294). This is just a short review of the plot of Bram Stoker’s novel. The novel clearly brings out the symbolism of blood, water, and religion.
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Christians believe in the Holy Communion ritual. This was the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples. In this meal, Jesus told the disciples to take the bread which symbolized his body. He also told them that wine represented his blood. Whenever the Christians take wine and bread, they remember the body and the blood of Jesus. The Roman Catholics believe in transubstantiation. They believe that once a person feeds on wine and bread, the wine becomes the blood of Jesus while the bread becomes his body. Van Helsing, a Roman Catholic, also believed in transubstantiation. When he showed up with the sacred water, he believed that it was the body of Jesus Christ. They believed that vampires were ungodly and could be attacked using religious means. Therefore, the sacred water worked effectively as a vampire repellant. Morris Stewart and Holm Wood help him kill Lucy who had transformed into a vampire (Karg 48).
When Dracula learnt that Mina would marry Jonathan, he turned Lucy, who was staying with Mina, into a vampire out of anger. This is because he believed her to be the reincarnation of Elisabeta. The more Dracula grew stronger and more handsome, the weaker Lucy got. This shows that when he fed on Lucy’s blood, he acquired her strength and power. When Elisabeta died, he pierced the cross and drank the blood that came out. This enabled him to come back and avenge her death. He represents the vampires which are the creatures that gain strength from feeding on other people’s blood. This is also a belief that is incorporated in religion (Hoppenstand 76). Christians believe that when they take the wine in the Holy Communion ritual, it strengthens them. This is because it represents the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, taking the blood of another person symbolizes acquiring of the powers that the victim possessed. Therefore, if all the blood is taken from an individual, he/she would die. It symbolizes gain of more strength by the individual feeding on the blood.
As we see in chapter eleven of the novel, Dr. Stewart tells of his confrontation with Renfield. Renfield attacks him and cuts him with a knife on the wrist. He then licks the blood and starts to shout that the blood is the life. This is a common phrase in movies which have vampires in them. It shows that vampires get physical and spiritual nourishment from the blood. The phrase symbolizes the importance of blood in everybody’s life. It is the blood that keeps every person alive (Leatherdale 54). All mammalian life forms can live due to the blood that runs through their veins. Blood can be used for sacrifice, revenge, to save a life or to take it. Therefore, blood cannot be separated from life, just as Bram Stoker tries to reveal in his novel. When Dracula urges Mina to send him off in peace, she kisses him and pierces him through his heart. Blood pours out, and in this way, Dracula’s life is taken. This shows that blood is symbolic of life within a human being, as well as any other animal (Karg 48).
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Christians believe that to convert to their religion, one has to be washed by the blood of Jesus. This shows their belief that change from one religion to the other needs or requires blood. When Dracula renounced God and swore to come back with all the forces of darkness, he used blood. He pierced the cross and drank the blood that came from it. This way, he had achieved a total change from his religion. This shows the many roles that blood can play in the lives of people. It shows that blood symbolizes a bond. The bond it symbolizes is a strong bond which affects the life of the person involved in a great way. Therefore, blood is a substance that is significant in human beings and other creatures which assume a non-human form (Beller 102). As the novel depicts, blood exists in all aspects of a human being’s life and can only be compared to life itself.
There is a lot of symbolism of blood, water, and religion in Bram Stoker’s novel. Most of it is brought out by Van Helsing who seems to be the most educated character about the vampires. He shows us the symbolism of blood and how the term can be used interchangeably with life. Religious illustrations have also been brought out. They have been used against the vampires showing the conflict of beliefs between vampires and Christians. Therefore, when it comes to symbolism of these three aspects, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an essential read.