I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula" for the first time when I was only eleven years old. That was five short years before I would enter the system that would try to drain my motherhood from my veins. Even then, I was struck by certain images and, while I know most folks wouldn't see the book as great literature, I returned to it, time and time again.
The story, the morality tale, the thinly-disguised sexual references, the stilted Victorian speech and morality, whatever it was, the book, the folklore that inspired it and the imagination that created it, all fascinated me. I have yet to see a visual media version that does the book justice. From "Nosferatu" on (Lugosi was a joke), they have switched the characters around, punched it up, Hollywood-style, and the real thrust of the deliciously creepy story gets lost. For those who thought the last movie rendition was accurate..sorry. The whole "Elizabethe reincarnated in Mina who then discovers her undying love for the tortured count Dracula" is another pile of Tinseltown hooey. Drat! If I had the money of a Bill Gates, I'd commission a true-to-the-book movie, just to see it done right.
But, I digress. I wanted to explore the analogies I have found in the symbolism of the story. For instance, Dracula counted on the unnatural conversion of people from human to vampire to keep his kind going. He and a lady vampire couldn't just reproduce and deliver little vampires to carry on the family curse. He had to raid the homes and lives of his victims to produce his "children." So, that puts our cursed count right into the middle of the human being-stealing business.
He worked on allure and unholy promises(lies, mostly) and a form of mental seduction to lure his victims to him. He paraded about in polite society (at night only, of course) with his cloak and his sashes and aristocratic mien, and no one saw the monster beneath...he was accepted and even courted as a desirable part of society. Those who saw something more, were hesitant to say anything lest they be deemed mad as a hatter and thrown into Dr. Seward's loony bin. Those that actually knew the truth about him, in his homeland in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, feared him and felt they could not prevail against him.
Yet there was the occasional hue and cry from those who fought him. Early in the book, Jonathan Harker hears a mournful cry from outside the castle walls. Dracula had gone a-hunting and had brought back a toddler to feed the unholy appetites of his "brides." Harker looks outside and sees a peasant woman, filled with anguish and despair, who has braved the terrors of Dracula's domain to reclaim her own. "Monster!" she screams, "Give me back my child!" Of course, the Vampire's response is to set his pack of wolves upon her and they savage and kill her.
We could stop right there and have a killer analogy between the story and the horrors of adoption separation. The woman, an exiled mother, appeals to the system to give back to her the child she bore, and the system sets the public media, the courts, and everything at their disposal to destroy her. I think of those wolves when I read the cutting apart of the natural mother and her rights at some of the forums and boards of late. Let's silence this bitch so that our master, Adoption, and his unnatural women can have their meal in peace. The wrong done in taking that child in the first place is never considered, their hunger being their primary focus.
There then emerges, in the story, a small band of heroes..Jonathan and his, now, wife Mina, the three loving suitors of Lucy Westerna who was lost to them by Dracula's hand, Lord Arthur Holmwood, Texan Quincy Morris, Dr. Jack Seward, and vampire expert Dr. Van Helsing...an old hand who had run up against this kind of bad boy before and becomes the leader of the group. They couldn't rely on an unbelieving public for help. They also had to contend with the Judas goat in their midst, "good bite-victim" Renfield, an insect-eating lunatic, who drew the monster to them only to be discarded when he was no longer of use and had begun to realize the depths to which he had descended.
This small group, then, sets out to destroy a powerful, supposedly immortal being who has held sway over those weaker than him with lies, cunning and brute power (legal, maybe?) for centuries. All they had on their side was virtue, the need to save Mina from Lucy's fate, and a bit of knowledge about the vampire's weakness. Holy water and crucifixes and communion wafers cripple it. A stake through the heart, exposing the demon to the light of the sun and cutting off of the head does the coup de grace..and boy, does that makes a lot of analogous sense, as well.
When the first rumblings of the exiled mother began to be heard, when we mothers and our adult children started braving the castle walls to call out the monster, the wolves gathered, but, unlike the book, they weren't able to destroy us. As George Hamilton spoofed in "Love at First Bite," "Children of the Night! Shut Up!!!" Now we are setting out to stake and behead a social experiment that has sucked the joy from many a new mother and given it to the baby-hungry to have his or her identity and heritage drained away.
The old boy's fangs are getting blunt and his cape is becoming ratty and that trick of turning into mists and other things is old hat and we can see right through it. We have spent a long time gathering our stakes and swords and holy water and crucifixes. The sun light is out there. It's time to turn him into dust. Monster! Give us back our children!