Relatable Monstrosities: Dracula and The Purple Cloud College

In the novels Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, the conscious efforts by characters to preserve their humanity and align themselves with others act as barriers to their pursuit of personal fulfillment. Indeed, our lives as humans are defined almost solely by the obligations we owe to society and its structure. Both of these works revolve around individuals who seem human by appearance, but whose actions are quite singular and contradicting to that of those around them. In this way, we are naturally invited to consider what makes the characters of Adam Jeffson and the Count disjoint from ourselves, and the rest of humanity. That is, how do they go about advancing their will in a way that defies human nature, and what is the result of this?

It is a lofty goal to pinpoint the universal set of morals and qualities that deem a being or an action worthy of being identified as ‘human’. Fortunately, this is not necessary because these novels establish a manageable context in which to contemplate the qualities that Man holds most dear and uses in his self-definition. By permitting civilized members of society (or rather the remnants of civilized society, as in The Purple Cloud) to interact with the likes of an...

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