Theatre of the Damned Blog

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dracula and Disease

“Unclean! Unclean!” Cries Mina Harker as the newly seared scar cools on her forehead. “Even the Almighty shuns my polluted flesh!” (Stoker, p.231) She is not yet a Vampire, not yet entirely a creature of darkness, but her flesh is unholy and her blood has been infiltrated. As she weeps on the floor, desperately tugging her hair down over her face “as the leper of old his mantle”, she is diseased-she is infected. The words she uses emphasise her separation from society, she is shunned by God and takes on the appearance of the ultimate social outcast. The mark on her brow is as shaming as a body of suppurating leprous flesh. Her malady is supernatural, but its effects are not always far removed from those that conventionally afflicted the heroines of Victorian sensation literature. The Ventnor landlady of M.E Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret gives us the paradigm, “how she [Mrs. Talboys’] had come to Ventnor...and how day by day she had gradually but surely sunk under the fateful malady.” (Braddon, p.41) There is no elaboration on the cause of her death, there was never a chance of recovery. These women rarely die of a specific disease; they far more often die for a reason.