“What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor’s clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner?” (Stoker 21)
Jonathan Harker, a solicitor, begins as the narrator of Dracula. So let’s talk about this guy. He keeps a pretty descriptive journal for your average traveling lawyer. His account of his travels into Transylvania begins as a straightforward travelogue; he’s doing his best to describe the countryside, people and customs as accurately as possible. Obviously, though, his bias is real strong in favor of English Protestants. I like how he is judging the locals for all their superstitions, eg the sign against the evil eye, but HE HIMSELF has lots of uncomfortable feelings about wearing the rosary he is given by a local (10). Dear old Jon has lots of superstitions of his own that he doesn’t even notice. Again, he’s judging the locals for being so ignorant and quaint, but clearly the locals know a lot that he doesn’t. Like, say, LOCAL COUNTRYSIDE VAMPIRISIM? Even more hilarious is when, after their previous efforts have failed, they try to keep Jon from meeting up with Dracula’s coachman by getting him to the meeting place ahead of time. “SORRY, ENGLISH GUY, NO ONE HERE, SORRY, WE TRIED EVERYTHING, NOW LET’S GO HOME” (15). No one can say they didn’t do their best for the English idiot running off into bat country.
In spite of his terrifying carriage ride, Jonathan tries to keep up with his travelogue, describing the Count, the castle, and the history and culture he learns from the Count. Even when Dracula doesn’t show up in mirrors (34), Jon tries to remain the stodgy English solicitor – his travelogue doesn’t really give up and die until Jonathan sees Dracula crawling across the castle like a giant scary spiderman (44). After that, we’re pretty solidly in horror-genre territory. Jon seems to give up on his cute little Memos, too: “Mem. This diary seems horribly like the beginning of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ for everything has to break off at cockcrow—or like the ghost of Hamlet’s father.)” (39). THAT’S NOT A RECIPE, JON.
On Twitter, @baubitt pointed out Jonathan’s weird sexism toward ladies in olden times. Further, it’s fascinating that Jon identifies more to a woman writing love-letters than to Wallachian warlords (46). Like, he doesn’t wander around the castle looking at tables and saying “in ages past some striking manly bloodthirsty warrior type made his ill-spelt plans UPON THIS VERY TABLE.” He’s also meeting basic requirements for the damsel in distress trope thus far: trapped in a castle, at the mercy of a masculine Gothic villain, wanders around at night against orders, is almost gang-kissed by lady vampires….Honestly, the scene with all the vampires fighting over Jon is the kind of quality content I’m here for. Although their discussion about Dracula’s ability to love is terrifying and strange: what do you make of it?
A few notes on our jolly old Count:
-the coachman is definitely him, right? Right?
-Dracula is not a sexy vampire so far (24-25). Where did the sexy vampire trope come from?
-he’s a smart dude. He knows that language is power – he wants to be seen as a master and knows he has to master the local language to do so (27-28). I like how many times he asks Jon how to really blend in with the natives, wink wink nudge nudge.
-“Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders” (29). BLOOD. BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.
Technology Sighting! I like Jonathan’s cutting-edge shorthand diary and how proud he is of it: “It is nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill” (46). You go, babe.