Essay Liminality in Dracula

1369 Words Apr 21st, 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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The shoreline is the crossing between two very opposing natural states of the chaotic sea and the stable land. It also is liminal in nature because of the tidal zone. From high tide to low tide, the shoreline is never continual and is present in a constant state of change and in-between. Liminality is also apparent in the case of the threshold at entering a home. “The door is the boundary between the foreign and domestic worlds in the case of an ordinary dwelling, between the profane and sacred worlds in the case of a temple. Therefore to cross the threshold is to unite oneself with a new world.” (Van Gennepp 20). As Van Gennepp explains, the door is liminal in acting as the boundary between opposing factors and states of being. It can separate home from the outside or the pure from the impure. There can also be ritualistic occurrences when crossing the threshold into one’s home such as Jonathan’s initial meeting of the count. “‘Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will.’ He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward.” (Stoker 15). Harker cannot cross the evil threshold of the Count’s unless he is invited and goes willingly. The exact opposite exists for the Count, which Van Helsing explains, as he cannot

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