Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for Dracula by Bram Stoker that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in the text and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of Dracula in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Dracula by Bram Stoker at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Dracula as a Gothic Novel
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has all of the classic elements of a Gothic novel. The setting of the novel is a dark crumbling castle, the tone is mysterious, there is a villainous character, and there is the sense that the hero is struggling against an inescapable fate. Write an essay in which you identify these and other Gothic characteristics and examine their significance. Argue that Dracula is a particularly excellent example of the Gothic genre by relying heavily upon textual support. You may wish to incorporate an intertextual analysis into this essay, in which you compare and contrast Dracula with other Gothic novels.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Sexuality
One of the many taboos that is explored in Dracula is related to sexuality. Stoker seems to be contesting Victorian sensibilities and ideas about the solely procreative function of sex. Consider, for example, the fourth quote in the section below and examine whether sexuality in Dracula is transgressive. Explain why the novel presents such an exaggerated kind of sexual energy—with one being literally devouring another—in order to develop a response to traditional Victorian sexuality.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of Religion in Dracula
Another idea/institution that is important in Dracula is that of religion. Note that the symbols of religion—crucifixes, rosaries, and the like—become the tools that are used to ward off the evil and danger the vampire intends to perpetrate. Considering these and other latent symbols and references to religion in Dracula, write an essay in which you develop an argument about Stoker’s religious position. Alternately, you may wish to develop an argumentative essay in which you defend or contest the idea that religion in Dracula is diametrically opposed to the conventions and content of the Gothic genre.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Use Secondary Sources in Dracula by Bram Stoker
The narrator develops the story of Dracula by relying upon secondary sources: journal entries, letters, newspaper articles. Explain how these secondary sources either enhance or challenge the narrator’s credibility and reliability. Consider, for instance, that in this otherwise fantastic, Gothic story with a wholly unbelievable character—a vampire—the use of secondary sources, especially multiple sources, can be utilized for the purpose of convincing the reader of the veracity, or at least the possibility, of the events as he tells them.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Role of Science in the Gothic Novel
The Gothic genre was reaching its height during the age of scientific reasoning, and it was no coincidence that many seminal Gothic texts, including Dracula, include active, direct references to the scientific zeitgeist of the age. Consider quote #7 below and write an essay in which you explain Stoker’s position on the scientific enterprise. In this argumentative essay on Dracula, be sure to address whether the characters in the novel support or challenge the position that the author ultimately wants to convey.
* For an excellent freely accessible essay on Dracula as well as others on similar literary topics, visit the Literature Archives at Article Myriad *
This list of important quotations from Dracula by Bram Stoker will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Dracula listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of Dracula they are referring to.
“I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting.” (8)
“As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me… a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal.” (27)
“When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demonaic fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.” (36)
“The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal… I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there.” (51)
“…[T]here, on our favourite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half-reclining figure, snowy white… [S]omething dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.” (112)
“No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the woman he loves.” (156)
“The blood is the life!” (171)
“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain. But yet we see around us every day the growth of new beliefs, which think themselves new; and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be young. . . .” (229)
“My revenge has just begun! I spread it over centuries and time is on my side.” (366)
“I on my part give up the certainty of eternal rest and go out into the dark where may be the blackest things that the world or the nether world holds!” (394)
Reference: Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Pocket Books, 2003.
Dracula (Stoker) - Discussion Questions
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1. Dracula relies on journal fragments, letters, and newspaper clippings to tell its story. Why might Stoker have chosen to narrate the story in this way? Do letters and journal entries make the story seem more authentic or believable to you? Likewise, discuss the significance that many of the male protagonists are doctors (Dr. Seward) or men of science (Dr. Van Helsing). Why is this important to the story?
2. How does the novel invert Christian mythology in its description of Count Dracula's reign of terror? For instance, what specific elements of Stoker's story parallel scenes or images from the New Testament? Why might this subversion of Christian myth be significant?
3. Discuss the roles of Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker in the novel. How are the two women similar? Different? What accounts for their differences? To what extent does the novel depend on both of these women to propel the narrative forward?
4. Discuss the role of sexuality in Dracula. Would you say that Dracula attempts to reproduce himself sexually or by some other means? In what ways does the figure of Dracula subvert conventional notions of heterosexuality? Consider, for instance, his predilection for drinking blood and his habit of making his victims feed from his chest.
5. What are the elements of vampire folklore? For example, what, according to the novel, attracts or repels a vampire? How do you kill a vampire for good? Although Stoker did not invent the mythology of the vampire, his novel firmly established the conventions of vampire fiction. Choose another novel that deals with vampires and compare it with Dracula. (Consider, for example, one of Anne Rice's vampirebooks or Stepanie Meyer's Twilight series.) In what ways are the novels similar? Different?
6. Consider Freud's essay "The Uncanny" in relation to Stoker's Dracula. How would Freud describe the world that Stoker evokes in the novel? Is this a world of common reality? Or is it a world governed by supernatural belief? Or both? Discuss Freud's claim that the writer of gothic fiction is "betraying to us the superstitiousness which we have ostensibly surmounted; he deceives us by promising to give us the sober truth, and then after all overstepping it." In what ways does Stoker's narrative strategy of employing newspaper clippings and journal entries promise the "sober truth"? To what extent do you think Dracula achieves a sense of the uncanny?
(Questions issued by Random House.)
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