Stylistic Analysis of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, Farazeh Nayyar

Text

There lay the Count, but looking as if his youth had been half-renewed, for the whole hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole, awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion.

(Stoker 1998 [1897]: 51)

Context

Count Dracula is the main antagonist of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror gothic novel Dracula. He is considered to be both the archetypal and prototypical vampire in the works of fiction. In the novel, he is depicted to be originated from the werewolf legends. Some qualities of the character were inspired by the 15th century, Prince Vlad III the Impaler, who was also known as Dracula. Stoker’s novel takes the form of an epistolary tale, in which the characteristics, abilities, weakness and powers of the Count Dracula are narrated by multiple narrators from different perspectives. The count is an undead vampire and a Transylvanian nobleman who is believed to be a Szekely descended from Attila the Hun. He lives in a decaying castle in the Carpathian Mountains near the Borgo Pass. In Eastern European folklore, the vampires were depicted as corpse like repulsive creatures; Dracula exudes a veneer of aristocracy.

Analysis

The extract can be explored phonologically because it is has lot of examples in it. In the first line, the word “Count” has a plosive sound, where two articulators are released with forceful explosion. The first sentence is long with a lot of other plosive sounds other than the word “Count”, such as “dark, cheeks, skin, trickled, corners and neck”. The count is the subject with a capital ‘C’ which puts an emphasis. The “ou and oa” are diphthongs. “His youth”, his is a pronoun; “ou” is again a repeated diphthong along with the words “mouth, gout, pouches and bloated”. “Half-renewed”, “iron-grey” and “ruby-red” are compound words. The word “cheeks” has a long vowel which can be found in the word “seemed” and “underneath”. Words like “lay, lips and fuller” are lateral approximants as well as consonance, where there is a complete block of air between the tongue and the alveolar. Fricatives are also found in this paragraph in words such as “fuller and fresh”. Also there is a constant repetition of ‘r’, post alveolar sound in words such as “redder, corners, renewed and ruby-red”. The ‘b’ sound in the words “burning and bloated” are bilabial plosives. The third line has elongated vowels in words such as “awful, lay, exhausted etc.” Words such as “cheeks, change, pouches and chin” are affricate sounds. Lateral approximants can be found in the words “simply and repletion”. Two onomatopoeia are used in the extract “trickled”, the sound of drops falling which has been used for blood and “bloated” used for the pouches under the eyes. Furthermore, ruby-red is an alliteration found in the extract.

The language is very formal yet descriptive in the nature. It is full of grammatical examples as well. The tone of the speaker is exclamatory. It is full of clauses, discourse markers, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, nouns, conjunctions, prepositions and compound markers etc. The paragraph as complex-compound structure with only three sentences. Discourse markers such as “which” and “seemed” are obvious. A lot of adjectives are used to describe the character which include filthy leeches, fuller, half-renewed, ruby-red, deep etc. The ‘er’ is the words “redder and fuller” represent suffixes. “Lay, burning, bloated, exhausted and repletion” are verbs. Prepositions such as “underneath, than, from, like and amongst etc.” are used. “But, if and are” are conjunctions. Both “ruby-red and iron-grey” are compound words.

A figurative interpretation can also be made of this extract. A simile has been used which shows the Count’s identity; “he lay like a filthy leech”. Metaphors are also used in the passage e.g. “moustache were changes to dark iron-grey”, “white skin seemed ruby-red”. To personify the negative and brutal image of the count, words and sentences such as “filthy leech, gorged with blood, lids and pouches were bloated, swollen flesh, burning eyes, blood trickled from the gouts” have been employed. This is also a reflective discourse as it gives a very negative impression of the subject. Interpreting the passage on semantic level adds more to the analysis. The physiognomy of the count depicts pursuing of fathomless evil. Physiognomy is the pseudo-science that sought to describe features of head and face, “hair, moustache, cheeks were fuller, white skin, mouth was red, lips were gouts of fresh blood, corners of mouth, chin and neck, eyes and lids”.

Conclusion

To conclude, this analysis proves that the author has made use of a number of diverse stylistic devices to make his text richer and adorned with much metaphorical value. Moreover, it also establishes that stylistic analysis generally helps to better a reader’s understanding and decoding of language in literary text, making its thematic concerns clearer.

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