As a psych major, I found his journal very interesting. On May 25, he writes, "I questioned him more fully than I had ever done, with a view to making myself master of the facts of his hallucination. In my manner of doing it there was, I now see, something of cruelty." Psychology is a young science, and many early practitioners satisfied their curiosity by conducting experiments that are now considered unethical. Take, for instance, the Stanford Prison Experiment, where male college students were taken from their homes by police men in a faux arrest (that looked real to neighbors and affected the males' reputations). They were then randomly divided into prisoners and guards; the prisoners were kept in makeshift cells and the guards ended up resorting to often humiliating means of control.
Dr. Seward is no stranger to these desires, and doesn't yet have the framework of ethics in psychology (those didn't exist until about the middle of the last century). He is a personification of the psychologist who wonders what would happen if he or she could intentionally damage or alter a part of the brain, or to raise identical twins separately and in tightly controlled environments, to finally separate nurtu It could also be that Stoker is criticizing the unethical nature of many early psychologists, with which I couldn't disagree.
I am interested in the idea of how Harker's journal is working in Dracula. He clearly feels the need to verify the truth of his narration, as if he is writing for someone other then himself (and he does mention that Mina may one day read the text). This places the journal, as a text in Dracula, in the public rather than private sphere. By this I mean that the journal is not a site of personal reflection or psychological exploration as much as it is a record of events and a witness to what happens on this strange adventure. This dynamic plays into the details Harker chooses to include and the general sense of justification that permeates Harker's tone throughout his account. He is highly concerned with recording the strange things that he sees and does so in the tone of a man who expects to be judged (by. He defends himself even as he describes his experience. I wonder if this is a reflection of the professional Englishman who is concerned with efficient and accurate record-keeping or something else at work.
I think you pose an interesting idea, I especially like the comparison between Harkner and a paranoid--but free--Victorian Englander. That being said, I think there are a few things that, perhaps with further exploration of the similarities, could be fleshed out, but currently seem lacking to me. For example, Jack the Ripper only target women, didn't he? While the Count does have some sense of romantic victimization, clearly he does not solely target women. Also, more directly, as in any case with a serial killer, a great deal of the fear is grown in the soil of the imagination, with the seed of reality. Fear of the unknown, of the unseen, of the possibility that anyone you see walking down the street could have just last night murdered their most recent victim. Johnathan Harkner does not experience these things closely enough for me to feel like a direct comparison is accurate. Rather, his enemy is one that is hidden only through the thin veil of courtesy, of deeds unseen and unaware of in the night.
Judith Walkowitz piece works to address the class tensions that pulsated throughout the city as Jack the Ripper infused fear into the everyday air of Victorian London. When read prior to the opening chapters of Dracula, the reader can sense a theme of foreshadowing evoked through the connection between the two works. It becomes obvious that the areas surrounding the castle of Dracula will experience similar class tensions due to the fear of death and suffering that Dracula emits to the societal air around him. This fear and unknowingness can be found in the character of Harker who is kept in the castle similar to the way a free prisoner would in Victorian society.
I found an article that continues the conversation of the relationship between the person and the body. The author is discussing his own conscious change in his person while observing how his body is the same as the body of the person he was before his concussions mental metamorphosis. The title is also interesting once you read all the way through the article, while it obviously describes a boy sacrificed by his family due to their collective shame of him it could also refer to the author's sacrifice of his own boyhood self in order to survive.
Here's the article:
This page is a space of exploration, questioning, and the free sharing of ideas. If you loved a passage from the novel and are not sure why, quote it and ask. If you hated a chapter, tell us. If you don't know what a word or a historical reference means--ask! This blog will be a space for you to take notes in class, comment while you are reading, and generally engage with the text in an informal, yet written, format. You will need to comment in some way before every class meeting, but these comments need not be long. Please remember, in creating these comments and responding to others, what Mina Harker says upon hearing Van Helsing's vampire theory for the first time: ""I have learned not to think little of any one's belief no matter how strange it may be." You may choose to create your own topic or respond to another student's post, but remember, this is a space of engagement, not isolated thought.