Comparing Shock In Dracula And The Great God Pan

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan both have one overlapping troupe in common: shock. Shock is one of the most prevalent themes throughout Gothic literature; it can be seen in most stories where some type of trauma plays a central part in the story. Stoker’s description of shock seems to be the exact type of shock that is seen all throughout The Great God Pan. When Helen, the daughter of Pan and Mary, begins to wreak havoc throughout the town around her it is described that most of her victims are either mentally paralyzed or physically killed by shock. Stoker describes shock at several instances, one of them being through Jonathan who says he’s “feeling as though” his “brain had become unhinged”(Stoker 55). Other Stoker …show more content…

Both Stoker and Machen write about shock being a cause of death. In Stoker, no one actually dies of shock; however, there are several mentions of shock being the sole cause of death for people who are particularly weak or not able to handle sudden fright. To start, when Mina discusses Lucy’s deteriorating state in a letter to Jonathan, she states: “her doctor told her that within a few months, at most, she must die, for her heart is weakening. At any time, even now, a sudden shock would be almost sure to kill her”(Stoker 114). This one of many instances to which shock is referred to as the straw that could break the camel's back, so to speak. Another instance of shock being referred to as a killer was when John was writing letters to Mina from the Count’s castle early on in the story. When John was contemplating telling Mina about his terrible situation of being trapped in the Count’s castle, he states: “It would shock and frighten her to death were I to expose my heart to her. Should the letters not carry, then the Count shall not yet know my secret or the extent of my knowledge…”(Stoker 61). John’s concern for the perfectly healthy Mina seems overprotective; however, it was common belief that a simple shock of the nerves could kill anyone, especially a woman. This kind of death by shock was actually realized in Machen, when we look at the case of Herbert, Helen’s ex-husband. In Herbert’s case, he was already broken by his wife in “body and soul”, but who hasn’t said that after a bad marriage, right?(Machen 20). In all seriousness though, Herbert was actually drained by his evil wives ways. When Villiers, a protagonist in The Great God Pan, inquired to a doctor about his old friend's death the doctor was blunt and honest. He said, “[he] died of fright, of sheer, awful terror” he goes on to describe Herbert’s

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