What Dracula Shows Us About Evil

What Dracula Shows Us About Evil

A classic horror film and what it shows us today
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Do villains always have to be lame? I wondered as the sun went down outside my dormitory window.

I had just finished an interesting conversation with another writer about evil.

More specifically, we talked about writing dark stories that still emphasized goodness.

We didn’t reach any conclusions, but at one point my friend commented one possible solution was to always make the villains pitiful, characters no one could admire.

I wasn’t sure that I liked that solution.

About three months later, the sun slowly went down outside a different window, at my home in Colorado.

Halloween was coming up, so I had decided to watch some of Universal’s classic monster movies in the weeks leading up to it.

Little did I know that watching “Dracula” would help answer my question.

People have written many things about the 1931 movie “Dracula.”

People have discussed its influence on later Universal horror films, described it as the first talking supernatural thriller ever, and mentioned how it defined Americans’ view of vampires.

What less people mention is how the movie shows evil can be very seductive.

Granted, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula doesn’t seem sexy by today’s standards (although he certainly did at the time).

It takes a while to watch him onscreen without thinking of the Sesame Street Count and other parodies.

But when you see his performance the way 1930’s audiences did, you discover something interesting: Lugosi’s Dracula actually has charm.

When he’s around would-be victims, he acts like an eccentric foreigner and genuinely seems harmless. If you hadn’t seen him kill several people, you’d think he’s the quirky older gentlemen common in many BBC productions.

Even when he shows his true colors, he carries himself confidently like a prince.

As Stephen D. Greydanus and other writers have noted, Dracula meshes creepiness and charisma much like Hannibal Lecter does. Both characters are evil, but apparently unfazed with who their actions have made them into.

Just like Lecter, Dracula forces us to ask a hard question: Can anyone defeat this kind of evil?

Clearly, no one can reason with this guy. He’s gone very far down the path of evil and doesn’t plan on going back. He enjoys what he’s become.

Evil doesn’t physically make him sick or weak. Therefore, he can keep doing evil without stopping.

No one can just say “Keep away, he’s dangerous,” because it won’t make any difference. He has this magnetic quality, a charisma that almost no one can resist.

“Almost” turns out to be the key word, though.

Just when you think “Dracula” is a movie about evil so powerful no one can destroy it, we discover there’s more to the story.

It turns out Dracula has some limits.

He can’t attack people wearing crucifixes or wolfsbane.

He loses his cool when someone shows him a mirror.

He confronts a man who’s discovered his plan and tries to stop him, but the man proves strong enough to defy Dracula.

That scene in particular – where the man starts to give into Dracula’s power and then just manages to stop himself and stand his ground – really illustrates how powerful evil can be, but also that good can be stronger. It’s one of the best illustrations of fighting temptation that I’ve ever seen on film.

Throughout the 1931 movie, Dracula is clearly evil and clearly attractive. He may seem corny by today’s standards, but he certainly isn’t lame.

And yet, paired with this description of charming and seductive evil, are little moments that show evil doesn’t have to win.

In the end – as the heroes drive a spike through Dracula’s chest and the hero leads his lady out of an abandoned abbey, church bells tolling in the background – that’s what the movie Dracula is really about:

Evil is strong, but good can win the day.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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9 Beautiful Words And Why They Matter

While pictures can give form to the world around us, it is words that give birth to raw imagination and distinction.

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Words bind the world together. Without them, we would be a rather humorous collection of grunting, sniveling idiots--maybe we already are. Anyways, it is words that inspire men, make women go weak at the knees and help children develop into adults. Words and their meanings are rooted deeply in our everyday lives and, sometimes, they are worthy of a closer look.

Petrichor 

We'll start with a beauty of a word, pronounced pet-ri-kor.

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The word means as the picture alludes, "The smell of earth after a rain." Whoopie, right? But there's something about the thought of the refreshing fall of a summer rain that comforts the soul. The parched earth is replenished by waves of life-giving essence, and we are gifted the soothing scent of a healing world. On an interesting side note, the etymology of petrichor is nearly as beautiful as the word itself. The word has its roots in the ancient Greek words "petra" (meaning stone) and "ichor" (the fluid that ran through the veins of the gods). When you stop and think, rain and the life that it brings are gifts from our Creator and we get to relish in it.

Rantipole 

Pronounced ran-ti-pole.

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No, it doesn't mean Madonna. But, suiting enough, used a noun, it does mean a wild and reckless person. Madonna comes to mind, no? The versatility of rantipole adds to it's attractiveness. It can be used as a noun, a verb and an adjective and they all revolve around untamed beauty and wild abandon. I doubt that you'll walk around town hearing people spout of rantipole in everyday conversation, but maybe that's alright. It's a unique word meant for unique people.

Orphic

Pronounced or-fik

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The word orphic actually comes from the noun Orphism which is a, "name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic world" according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary. The word orphic is an adjective which means mysterious and entrancing or beyond ordinary understanding. Why not replace three words with one, short, concise and beautiful word? Our understanding of the world is finite and ever-changing and a word such as orphic helps us to describe it just a little bit more.

Brontide 

Pronounced bron-tide.

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I must have an affinity for words describing weather because brontide means, "the low rumble of distant thunder." Like most of the words on this list, brontide has her roots in Ancient Greek. Bront meant thunder and ide came from the Greek word id which roughly means, "child of or descendant of." Think about it. Child of thunder. I got goosebumps typing that out.

Slubberdegullion 

Pronounced slubber-de-gul-e-on

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Every list has to have a class clown and this is it. The words roughly means a slovenly or unkempt person, a fool if you will. I have to admit that some words give away their meanings before you even know, which I suppose it the purpose of language. Many words are ethereal, transcendent, or just downright gorgeous whilst others are goofy--like slubberdegullion. It seems like a lot of effort to through after such a simple meaning word, seriously try saying it 3 times fast, but it's worth it because it's such an interesting word.

Zephyr 

Pronounced ze-feer.

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Awww, Beware, whilst other words sound like what they try to communicate, seems to be the dark sister. The zing of the "z" in the word misleads one to think it could possibly mean spirited, spry or energetic. However, the world itself means a gentle, mild breeze; it brings a pleasant sensation on a warm summer day. We all know the feeling. You're walking down a shaded grove on the river-walk when a gust of warm, eastern winds suddenly flow over you. You never know what you might stumble upon when you research words, let me tell you.

Virago 

Pronounced ve-rago.

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This word is like a double-edged sword. I found two meanings, both revolving around women with distinct connotations. The first meaning for virago that I found stated that it means a "strong, brave, or warlike woman," the second definition I found stated that it means a, "a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman." *Silence* I don't know about you but these meanings seem quite different in their tone, their reverence and their respect towards women. I wonder if the first meaning I found was a result of the feminist revolution of the 1980's whilst the second meaning I found was the original. Beware if someone calls you a virago, it's all about circumstance I suppose.

Brumal 

Pronounced broo-muhl

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Simply stated, brumal can be used in place of the word wintry. I love the simplicity of it. Weather has powerful, oftentimes intrinsic, meanings and I love the word brumal. Next time you get a heavy snow, take a quick look out your window and think to yourself, "What a beautiful, brumal day."

Metanoia 

Pronounced meta-noy-a

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Like it's better known cousin, paranoia, metanoia has everything to do with decisions, the mind and changing. The Ancient Greek word, meta, means after or beyond whilst noia stems from the suffix "nous" meaning mind. Metanoia altogether means to change one's mind, behavior, or way of seeing the world. There's value in change, no different than value in a word that denotes change.

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