Deconstructing Dracula

Deconstructing Dracula

Choose one literary text and show how a feminist or deconstructionist or psychoanalytic or structuralist reading can enhance our understanding of it

Deconstruction, a branch of critical theory extending out of post-structuralism and championed by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, is one of the most fascinating aspects of critical theory. The aim of this essay is to highlight the key characteristics associated with a deconstructionist reading of a literary text, in this case Bram Stokers Dracula, and how this way of reading can enhance our understanding of the text. Deconstruction aims to unravel the text itself in search of no one universal meaning, but a multitude of possible interpretations. Dracula reigns in uncertainty, with deconstruction thriving on the texts every contradiction. This essay will sample a few of the points in the text that characterise a deconstructive reading.

Dracula, written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, remains one of the true classics among texts, and a staple within the genre of gothic fiction. This essay aims to demonstrate that a deconstructive reading of Dracula reveals a multitude of interpretations and does not take away from the aim of understanding the text, but helps to shed light on what previously dwelled in darkness.

Deconstruction, a radical strand of post-structuralism, analyses a text in search of gaps and omissions. This hallmark of deconstructive reading shows itself almost immediately within the text. On his way to Castle Dracula, Jonathan Harker observes a point about the castle itself, “I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula” (1993, p.3) Almost immediately it becomes clear that what Jonathan is encountering is not of the norm. The fact that the castle’s location is absent or omitted from the maps Harker is examining shows the elusiveness of the Count from the very beginning of the text and presents itself as an immediate gap within the text. This harmless...

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