Liminality in Dracula Essay

1356 Words Apr 4th, 2013 6 Pages
Liminality in Dracula
“Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial” (Turner, The Ritual Process 95). Arnold van Gennep’s original concept of liminality is a central theme to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It provides depth and understanding behind many of the superstitious beliefs and occurrences throughout the novel. Liminality is the threshold and the presence of an in between state occurring within rituals, natural events, and supernatural beings among a variety of other happenings. Many of these are touched upon in Dracula including, but not limited to, the half-being, physical boundaries, and the nature of the vampire. The half-being
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“I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall…move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.” (Stoker 34). He also shows wolfish characteristics as he acts at night without making any sound and flawlessly stalks his prey such as in his nighttime pursuit of a sleepwalking Lucy as observed by Mina (Stoker 90). Lucy also shows predatory instincts in her role as “The Bloofer Lady” (Stoker 178). As an undead, she stalks and hunts the children of the town at night to deliver a fatal bite to their necks. In Dracula, the half-being expresses instincts and characteristics of both a predatory beast and the common man exhibiting liminal behaviour. A boundary acts as a transition phase from one state of being or location to another, or otherwise defined as liminality. Throughout the novel, boundaries act as the line between opposite states, presences, and ideas. This is seen when Jonathan Harker is entering Transylvania. He describes the area as “the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool” and a “frontier that has had a very stormy existence” (Stoker 2, 3). As Harker crosses from the West to the East over the Danube, he is leaving the lands of constitution and security for those of danger, turmoil, and superstition. The shoreline is liminal through acting as a boundary between the openness and chaotic nature of the ocean and

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