The themes of several classic novels and plays
About Bram Stoker’s "Dracula", William Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", Oscar Wilde’s "The Importance of Being Earnest" etc.
Seminar Paper 2015 7 Pages
The Themes of Classics
This paper will analyze the different themes of several classic novels and plays. The examined works are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, and the two short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners, “Evelin” and “Counterparts”.
The Themes of Dracula
The novel Dracula was written in 1897 by Bram Stoker. The themes of religion, superstition, imprisonment and love are addressed.
The first theme is religion. Count Dracula, as a vampire, represents all the evil in a Christian world. He does not only drink blood but can communicate with wolves, is very strong, has no shadow or reflection in a mirror, can transform himself into a wolf, a bat, mist or the moonlight. The best way to protect oneself in Dracula is with either a crucifix, a communion wafer, or other Christian items but also ordinary objects like garlic or a wooden stake can help. Both, the figurative drinking of blood and resurrection are important themes in Christianity. Dracula, however, deforms these themes by drinking actual blood and being undead.
The second theme is superstition. While London is very advanced and progressive, the villages in the Carpathian Mountains are not. The people are still very superstitious, in fact "[…] every known superstition in the world is gathered […]" (Stoker 8) there. When Harker arrives in Bistritz, the people cross themselves when he asks for Count Dracula and the old lady of the inn gives him a crucifix to protect him against evil. It shows the contrast between the scientific and modern London and the primitive and superstitious Transylvania. Van Helsing can be seen as a bridge between those two places since he is a man of science, who fits into the world of London, but also a man with great knowledge of superstitions and the supernatural.
The next theme is imprisonment. After a few days Jonathan Harker realizes that he cannot leave the Count's castle. All the doors are locked so his only escape route are the windows. However, the castle is built on a cliff which makes this exit very dangerous. Once Jonathan realizes that he is a prisoner of the Count, he feels helpless. This helplessness enables him to take the risk of falling to his death and he escapes through a window. Another prisoner is Lucy Westenra. Even though she is not held captive in the Count's castle she is imprisoned in her own body, once Dracula starts drinking her blood. She has no control over her own movements and is often caught sleepwalking by Mina. Even after she dies, she is still imprisoned because she is a vampire. She is only liberated when Arthur kills her. Mina Harker is imprisoned by Dracula, like Lucy is, if not as severe. She still has control over her body, but not over her mind. Mina and Dracula are connected, so Van Helsing often hypnotizes her to find out information about the Count. She is freed when Dracula dies.
Another theme is love. There are two couples in Dracula, Jonathan and Mina and Arthur and Lucy. However, Arthur is not the only one who loves Lucy. She gets three different proposals from Arthur, Dr. Seward and Quincey Morris in one day. She chooses Arthur, even though she wants to marry all of them. Lucy is also loved by Mina, who is her best friend. If it were not for all the people who love her, Lucy would have turned into a vampire a lot earlier. Of course, she still dies in the end, even though her friends did everything they could. Mina, however, is saved by her friends. Like Lucy, she is loved by her husband and her friends. Quincey's last thoughts are about Mina before he dies and even Van Helsing loves her and wants to protect her. Love can be helpful in Dracula but it does not guarantee one's survival.
The Themes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (presumably 1595/1596) is a comedy written by William Shakespeare. The original date of its completion is unknown, but it is assumable that the earliest possible publication could be in 1594 and the latest in 1598 (Holland 110). The play consists of five acts, in which love, marriage, magic and performance are important themes.
A very prominent theme of the play is love. The main love interest shifts throughout the story. At first Hermia is the object of desire, but after Lysander and Demetrius are enchanted it is now Helena. In the end, a new balance is created when Lysander is in love with Hermia again. Hermia and Lysander are in love, while Demetrius is also in love with Hermia and Hermia’s friend Helena is in love with Demetrius. After Puck enchants Lysander and Demetrius, however, they are now both in love with Helena. This leads to a lot of jealousy, because suddenly both men who were previously in love with Hermia do not care for her at all, but are trying to win over Helena. The men are so in love that they want to fight over Helena and Lysander actually offers Helena to kill Hermia. In the end Lysander gets cured of the love spell and can be with Hermia, while Demetrius continues to love Helena, who is still in love with him.