Dracula and Cognitive Dissonance

In his novel Dracula, Bram Stoker’s characters are deeply disturbed by the existence of the vampire. The notion of a creature that is both living and dead challenges their sanity by forcing them to question those things which they had previously considered to be obvious truths. Typically, these members of Victorian society would believe that one must either be alive or dead, seductive or repulsive, masculine or feminine, sexual or maternal, or mentally stable or unstable. However, many of the characters in the story possess traits which cause them to embody the aforementioned impossibilities. The coexistence of these conflicting ideas causes an uncomfortable tension that is referred to as ‘cognitive dissonance’. When the characters experience this feeling of cognitive dissonance, rather than changing their worldviews, they resort to questioning their state of mind. An intense fear of insanity pervades this novel, therefore, those qualities that cause the characters to question their sanity must be reconciled before they can rest and the story can come to a close.

Count Dracula is the most obvious example of a character that exists as two separate conflicting ideas. The vampire is a creature who has passed from human life, but...

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