“Only a Sufficient Cause:" Bram Stoker's Dracula as a Tale of Mad Science and Faustian Redemption
Date of Award
Master of Arts in English
While present Dracula scholarship has made an extensive examination of the ways in which the novel reflects apprehensions about late Victorian scientific advances, little work to date has been done to link these anxieties to fin de siecle fiction involving mad scientists or to Bram Stoker’s lifelong interest in the story of Dr. Faustus. In this work, I argue that the primary menace within Dracula is not actually the threat posed by the novel’s vampires but rather the threat posed by the biologically determined, materialist, and potentially “mad” science practiced by the characters of Dr. John Seward and his patient, R. M. Renfield, who may both be read as Faust figures. I further assert that the existence of vampires, which demonstrates the reality of bodies without souls, also affirms the reality of bodies with souls, repudiating the viewpoint represented by Seward and Renfield, and in the course of the novel, both characters may be understood as moving from a dogmatic, aspiritual model of scientific inquiry that allows for callous and unethical experimentation to a compassionate, empiricist model of scientific inquiry as modelled by the characters of Jonathan and Mina Harker.
Davydov, Leah Christiana, "“Only a Sufficient Cause:" Bram Stoker's Dracula as a Tale of Mad Science and Faustian Redemption" (2017). ETD Archive. 953.