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Dr. Seward’s blind rationalism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)

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  1. Abstract.
  2. Introduction.
  3. Evidence paragraphs.
    1. Seward as the radically modern scientist.
    2. Irony in Seward's portrayal.
    3. Van Helsing's Criticism of Seward's Blind Materialism.
    4. Seward's rejection of Van Helsing's theories.
    5. Consequences of Seward's blind rationalism.
    6. Stoker's overall message about science.
  4. Refutation of Blinderman's 'Vampurella: Darwin and Count Dracula' (1980).
  5. Results.
  6. Works cited.

Seward, young British physician and unreliable narrator, embodies late-Victorian scientism and rationalism in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Irony in Seward's portrayal reveals much of the author's criticism of the late-Victorian scientific establishment. Although Seward sees himself as radically modern, Stoker highlights his conventional conception of science which prevents him to understand Dracula as a vampire. Through the British physician's relationship with both his former professor Van Helsing and his lunatic patient Renfield, Stoker derides his character's arrogance and inability to understand the supernatural. The novel denounces Seward's blind rationalism but celebrates Van Helsing's good use of both modern and old knowledge. Dracula is therefore a severe criticism of late-Victorian scientists' reductionist materialism and disdain for religion and occultism but the novel does not reject modern science and technology per se.

[...] - Seward rejects the professor's theory and questions Van Helsing's sanity - Dramatic irony = the reader knows that Van Helsing is right Consequences of Seward's blind rationalism - Very end of chapter XVIII. Renfield has asked for the young doctor. - Renfield warns Seward of the terrible consequences of his refusal of letting him go. - Unlike Seward, Renfield understands Dracula's threat. Seward has not learned from experience. Terrible consequences = Dracula is able to prey on Mina. Arrogance of Seward toward his patient. [...]


[...] Unlike Seward, the reader is already aware of the existence of Dracula and vampirism; Stoker therefore suggests to us that Seward's stubborn rationalism prevents him to see the truth. Again, the author blames not only his character but also most of his contemporaries for being blinded by an excessive and exclusive faith in modern science. It should also be noticed that Seward is obsessed by insanity; the next paragraph will best demonstrate the importance of this observation by directly addressing the relationship between Seward and his patient Renfield. [...]


[...] Seward's blind rationalism is central to the novel because Bram Stocker interestingly unfolds a large part of the plot through Seward's records of his thoughts while Dr. Van Helsing produces only few notes, memoranda and phonograph records. Seward's exclusive faith in modern science is the cause of his failure to understand Lucy's strange disease and his former professor's atypical methods. Seward is the last of the characters who accepts and understands Dracula as a vampire. This essay will demonstrate that Bram Stoker emphasizes Seward's scientist prejudices to denounce late-Victorian youth's blind rationalism and disdain for superstitions, religion, and old knowledge. [...]

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