The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Reading Dracula as Twisted Victorian Detective Fiction: Van Helsing and Seward vs. Homes and Watson College

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” — Conan Doyle

The fin de siècle was an era wrought with anxieties brought about by emerging modernity — vast technological innovation paired with new scientific knowledge. New enlightenment understandings prompted an existential crisis as to what extent the scientific method and modernity can result in empirical “certainty” and “truth” — a classic question we still grapple with to this day. The emergence of Victorian detective fiction in the 19th century has been attributed to this “Victorian desire for social and epistemological order.” (Pittard 1). In “We Must Have Certainty” J. K. Van Dover writes “The detective story implies, as part of its essential generic contract with the reader, that in the world of the narrative there will be baffling appearances, and that, in the end, these bafflements will be exorcized.” (Dover 2). In essence, the detective story is supposed to alleviate gothic fears. A detective restores justice and order using modern empirical scientific understanding as a positive good, creating optimism for a modern future and eschewing ignorance and uncertainty.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula contains many elements of Victorian detective fiction in the context of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1367 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10059 literature essays, 2558 sample college application essays, 491 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in