Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What makes a hero?

“What do you think of Robert Neville as our 'hero'? Is he a hero at all?”
At first when I read this question, the answer that came to me immediately was no, Robert Neville is not a hero. I thought, who has he protected/saved other than himself? I guess I could say that he was his own hero but not anybody elses. But then I started to think about what it is that makes a hero. To me, a hero is someone who is brave in the face of imminent danger. A hero is someone who is strong and never gives up. And lastly, although not always successful, a hero is someone who tries to protect others. And when I thought about what it takes to be a hero, I decided that Robert Neville is in fact one of them.
Robert Neville is brave. Day after day, Neville goes “from house to house... us[ing] up all his stakes” by killing all the vampires he can find before sunset (Matheson 28). There were times when he would “ha[ve] to go to the burning pit everyday for weeks at a time” to dispose of the ones that died in front of his house (Matheson 26). He has even had to face those that needed his blood; those who's “need was their only motivation” (Matheson 23). Even when “a sound of helpless terror filled his throat” at the sight of the vampires “in front of his house, waiting,” he fought through them and made it into his house alive (Matheson 42). Which is why I consider him to be a man who never gives up.
Robert Neville is strong. Because of this germ, or bacteria that infected the town, Neville lost his wife and daughter. And while he often questioned “why not go out” and give himself up to the vampires to end his suffereing and “to be free of them,” he refused to give up. He knew “be[ing] one of them” would have ended the pain for him but it wasn't an option (Matheson 29). He vowed to “kill every mother's son of [the vampires] before [he would] give in” (Matheson 30). He also hoped that there were “others like him [that] existed somewhere” (Matheson 30).
Robert Neville is a protector. While his wife and daughter, Kathy were still alive, he tried his best to take care of them. With dust everywhere from the storms, Neville built “a tent over Kathy's bed to keep the dust from her face” (Matheson 53). When his wife first got sick, he would order her to “'go back to bed'” so that she could get her rest and get better (Matheson 54). After they died, he searched fro answers to his questions about vampires so that one day he would be able “to cure those still living” (Matheson 87).
At first glance, I did not think that Neville was a hero. However, with everything that I believe to be characteristics of a hero, Robert Neville, in my opinion is one after all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dracula Meets Wanda

The online artifact that I chose was a video I found on YouTube called Jim Carrey – Dracula meets Wanda. All I did was type in Dracula and this was one of the videos that came up. I chose to do a video for my online artifact because I am a visual person and being a film student, I enjoy watching other peoples work. I chose this video in particular because I often tend to lead towards humor and comedy. What I've read of Bram Stoker's Dracula so far isn't funny at all, its serious so I thought this video would be a nice contrast.

In this sketch from the show In Living Color, Jim Carrey portrays Dracula, while Jamie Foxx plays Dracula's victim. The video starts out with dramatic music in the background which misleads the viewer. But as soon as the blanket is pulled off of Wanda, the comedy aspect is revealed. The whole time the two of them are talking, Wanda does not react as though she is in the midst of a blood sucking vampire that could kill her at any moment. She's actually concerned and maybe even a little embarrassed that her 'face' isn't on. But even though she is aware of what he is, she is willing to be his eternal partner.

More comedy ensues when Wanda turns the lights in the room on and Dracula sees who he has been pining for. He is then very anxious to get away from the situation he put himself in. Here the roles have almost been reversed; the vampire wants to leave, while the 'victim' is trying to convince the monster to stay. Dracula then tries to kill himself with a stake to the heart so he can avoid a life with Wanda. Wanda stops this and tells him to kill her instead. Dracula sees this as his chance to get away and lets the sunlight in so he ultimately burns up. Still oblivious, Wanda assumes she was just too hot for Dracula who in turn burned up at the sight of her.

Jonathan Harker, the victim from Stoker's Dracula reacts very differently to the situation he is put in, being trapped with some kind of evil creature. Where Wanda may have acted embarrassed and concerned about her appearance, Jonathan “think[s he] must have been mad” because “[he] behaved much as a rat does in a trap” (Stoker 32).

In the YouTube clip, Jim Carrey's Dracula does not try to hid the fact that he is a vampire. Stoker's Dracula, on the other hand, tries very hard to keep this a secret and Jonathan is in the dark for quite some time, not realizing exactly who it is he's been staying with. He's still not sure why “all the people at Bistritz and on the coach had some terrible fear for [him]” (Stoker 32). He doesn't know why they gave him “the crucifix,... the garlic,... the wild rose,... and the mountain ash” (Stoker 32-33). He hasn't figured that out yet but he's scared.

The video clip and the book show very different interactions between the vampire and his 'victim'. In Jim Carrey – Dracula Meets Wanda, Dracula comes to Wanda because he loves her. He has traveled many many miles just to be with her forever. In the book Dracula, Dracula is just out for blood; he needs it to survive. But both Draculas want their 'victims' to themselves. When three young women attempt to 'kiss' Jonathan before Dracula gets to him, the vampire becomes angry and possessive of his guest. He shouts to the women, “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me!” (Stoker 43).

It is very soon after this incident that Jonathan is given a clue as to his future life. He was told to write three letters, “'the first should be June 12, the second June 19, and the third June 29.'” It was this that told him what “the span of [his] life” was going to be (Stoker 45). He feared for his life unlike Wanda who didn't seem to care what happened to hers.

I like the contrast between these to works; Jim Carrey – Dracula Meets Wanda is comedic while Dracula is dramatic and serious. The two are completely different from each other but display two different perceptions of a famous tale.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Norton & Company, 1996. Print.

"Jim Carrey - Dracula Meets Wanda." YouTube. Web. 10 Oct 2010. .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I very much enjoyed the reading of Carmilla this week. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down until I finished it. It was easy enough to understand and I liked learning about the mystery of Carmilla as the story went on. One thing that stuck out to me while I was reading, was the reaction of the victims after they had been bit my Carmilla, or Mircalla. Apart from the Twilight book series, I have never read any other Vampire novel. Because of this, the only picture I had in my head that would happen after someone was bitten was a body writhing in pain, screaming for help from the extreme burning sensation they were feeling. The way Le Fanu wrote it was very different. Before bitten by the vampire, the victim experiences things I would have thought would come after. It seems the mere presence of Carmilla also know as Mircalla effects the person she takes an interest in. First of all, the girl will “lose her looks and heath” but no source of the illness can be found (Le Fanu 304). Then they are “visited by appalling dreams; then... by a spectre, sometimes resembling Mircalla [Carmilla], sometimes in the shape of a beast, indistinctly seen, walking round the foot of [their] bed, from side to side” (Le Fanu 304). After this all has happened, the victim experiences sensations, “one, not unpleasant, but very peculiar” that “resembled the flow of an icy stream against her breast” (Le Fanu 305). I'm gonna throw out my opinion that this is from the cold body temperature of the vampire. This is when the bite actually takes place. The victim feels “something like a pair of large needles pierce [them], a little below the throat, with a very sharp pain. A few nights after, followed a gradual and convulsive sense of strangulation; then came unconsciousness” (Le Fanu 305). Both Laura and the General's daughter experienced the exact same occurrences, but Laura did not die from them like the General's daughter. I would have thought being bitten by a vampire would have come with a lot more pain and suffering than what was described in the book. Unlike the Twilight series, the girls were not in complete agony after they had been bitten nor did they feel a burning sensation. While it's quite terrible that the General's daughter died, what she and Laura both went through seemed somewhat peaceful. While reading, I did not get the sense that Laura was in a great deal of pain nor was she suffering. She seemed blissfully unaware of what Carmilla was and what she was doing to her. I think the love and the attraction blinded Laura and did not allow her to figure out what was happening to her until the General filled in the blanks. Overall it was surprising to read about the process one of Carmilla's victims goes through before and after being bitten by the vampire.