The Making of She Lives Again
Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers for the story “She Lives Again”. I recommend that you read the full story before proceeding.
I had to make her a villain, just once. Or, at least, write her into a villain’s story. How could someone this old, and this incapable of minding her own business for more than a century or so at a time, not end up on the wrong side of the history books once in a while?
I found the ending of Dracula anti-climactic. The execution of the monster takes almost no time at all, scarcely satisfying the reader’s vicarious thirst for revenge after such a string of horrific acts. (Typically of Gothic literature, the story concerns itself more with reveling in the macabre nature and exotically horrifying circumstances surrounding the conflict than with the actions of the characters to resolve it.) The whole scene is so short on the kind of details an audience might demand from the narrator of such a singular tale that a skeptical reader may perhaps be excused for wondering if the heroes ever actually confronted Dracula and defeated him.
When I considered how the story of Dracula would unfold if one supposed that the narrators of Bram Stoker’s book were, in fact, the villains, I fixated on the protracted illness and death of Lucy. This seemed to me to be the chief cause of grievance on the part of the male protagonists, and the emotional core of the story. Without Lucy’s illness, most of the characters never meet Dracula. He has no cause to attack Mina, and the chase back to Transylvania—with its implausibly brief depiction of Dracula’s death—never occurs.
I had already determined that the Unnamed Heroine is bisexual. Given the frequent portrayal of LGBTQ people in older literature (and, alas, still occasionally in current media) as monsters or occult villains—see Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla for a strikingly appropriate example—her sexuality might well explain the protagonists’ animosity. What if Dracula’s only crime was forbidden love? In an age when literally dying of shock or sorrow seemed believable, a consumptive woman’s friends and fiancé might quite readily blame her illness and death on the supposedly unwanted attentions of a sexual deviant. Superstition and bigotry would do the rest of the work, transforming a grieving woman—rumored to be immortal—into a soulless, undead fiend.
I imagine that this story would have increased in sensationalism and occult significance with repeated tellings—which the more likely conclusion I have here related would, of course, require. If the characters who narrate Stoker’s book had, in fact, never returned from their quest to destroy Dracula, only rumors and half-truths would eventually have made their way back to England. Transforming Lucy’s friends into the heroes of the tale would require constructing a confrontation between them and Dracula which would end with his death, not theirs. This, then, explains the unsatisfying denouement of the book, which I have at last corrected.
Disclaimer: I am only a writer, not a historian, even an amateur one. If any of my readers can tell that I have mangled the facts and wish to point me toward better research, I encourage you to contact me.