Drácula - análise do livro

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Dracula’s Plot

Major conflict - A vampire with diabolical ambitions preys upon a group of English and American do_gooders, threatening the foundations of their society until they dedicate themselves to ridding the Earth of his evil.

Rising action - Jonathan Harker learns of Dracula’s evil while visiting his castle to complete a real estate transaction; Lucy Westenra becomes increasingly ill under Dracula’s spell. Lucy is transformed into a vampire; Van Helsing and his comrades mercifully destroy her.

Climax - Van Helsing and company chase Dracula across Eastern Europe, where they eventually destroy him.

Dracula’s story

Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, travels to Dracula’s castle in the Eastern European country of Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with a nobleman named Count Dracula. As Harker wends his way through the picturesque countryside, the local peasants warn him about his destination, giving him crucifixes and other charms against evil and uttering strange words that Harker later translates into “vampire.” Frightened but no less determined, Harker meets the Count’s carriage as planned. The journey to the castle is harrowing, and the carriage is nearly attacked by angry wolves along the way. Upon arriving at the crumbling old castle, Harker finds that the elderly Dracula is a well educated and hospitable gentleman. After only a few days, however, Harker realizes that he is effectively a prisoner in the castle.

The more Harker investigates the nature of his confinement, the more uneasy he becomes. He realizes that the Count possesses supernatural powers and diabolical ambitions. One evening, Harker is nearly attacked by three beautiful and seductive female vampires, but the Count staves them off. Fearing for his life, Harker attempts to escape from the castle by climbing down the walls. Meanwhile, in England, Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray, corresponds with her friend Lucy Westenra, who had received marriage proposals from three men - Dr. John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and an American named Quincey Morris. Though saddened by the fact that she must reject two of these suitors, Lucy accepts Holmwood’s proposal.

Lucy suddenly begins sleepwalking. One night, Mina finds Lucy in the town cemetery and believes she sees a dark form with glowing red eyes bending over Lucy. After that, Lucy becomes pale and ill, and she bears two tiny red marks at her throat, for which neither Dr. Seward nor Mina can account. Unable to arrive at a satisfactory diagnosis, Dr. Seward sends a letter for his old mentor, Professor Van Helsing. Suffering from brain fever, Harker reappears in the city of Buda-Pest. Mina goes to join him. Van Helsing arrives in Whitby, and, after his initial examination of Lucy, orders that her chambers be covered with garlic - a traditional charm against vampires. For a time, this effort seems to stave off Lucy’s illness. She begins to recover, but her mother, unaware of the garlic’s power, unwittingly removes the odiferous plants from the room, leaving Lucy vulnerable to further attack.

After Lucy’s death, Van Helsing leads Holmwood, Seward, and Quincey Morris to her tomb. Van Helsing convinces the other men that Lucy belongs to the “Un-Dead” - in other words, she has been transformed into a vampire like Dracula. The men remain unconvinced until they see Lucy preying on a defenseless child, which convinces them that she must be destroyed. They agree to follow the ritual of vampire slaying to ensure that Lucy’s soul will return to eternal rest. While the undead Lucy sleeps, Holmwood plunges a stake through her heart. The men then cut off her head and stuff her mouth with garlic. After this deed is done, they pledge to destroy Dracula himself.

Now married, Mina and Jonathan return to England and join forces with the others. Mina helps Van Helsing collect the various diary and journal entries that Harker, Seward, and the others have written, attempting to piece together a narrative that will lead them to the count. Learning all they can of Dracula’s affairs, Van Helsing and his band track down the boxes of earth that the count uses as a sanctuary during the night from Dracula’s castle. Their efforts seem to be going well, but then one of Dr. Seward’s mental patients, Renfield, lets Dracula into the asylum where the others are staying, allowing the count to prey upon Mina. As Mina begins the slow change into a vampire, the men sterilize the boxes of earth, forcing Dracula to flee to the safety of his native Transylvania. The men pursue the count, dividing their forces and tracking him across land and sea. Van Helsing takes Mina with him, and they cleanse Castle Dracula by killing the three female vampires and sealing the entrances with sacred objects. The others catch up with the Count just as he is about to reach his castle, and Jonathan and Quincey use knives to destroy him.

Vampire legends have been a part of popular folklore in many parts of the world since ancient times. Throughout the Middle Ages and even into the modern era, reports of corpses rising from the death with supernatural powers achieved widespread credence. According to some sites, the Dracula family, which Stoker’s count describes with pride, is based on a real fifteenth-century family. Its most famous member, Vlad Dracula - or Vlad the Impaler, as he was commonly known - enjoyed a bloody career that rivaled that of his fictional counterpart. The Prince of Wallachia, Vlad was a brilliant and notoriously savage general who impaled his enemies on long spikes. The prince also had a reputation for murdering beggars, forcing women to eat their babies, and nailing the turbans of disrespectful ambassadors to their heads.

While Stoker’s Count Dracula is supposed to be a descendant of Vlad, and not the prince himself, Stoker clearly makes the count resemble his fearsome ancestor. This historical allusion gives Dracula a semblance of truth, and Stoker wants to suggest that the documents assembled in the novel are real. Stoker also relies heavily on the conventions of Gothic fiction, a genre that was extremely popular in the early nineteenth century. Gothic fiction traditionally includes elements such as gloomy castles, sublime landscapes, and innocent maidens threatened by ineffable evil. Stoker modernizes this tradition in his novel, however, moving from the conventional setting of Dracula’s ruined castle into the bustle of modern England. As Stoker portrays the collision of two disparate worlds - the count’s ancient Transylvania and the protagonist’s modern London - he lays bare many of the anxieties that characterized his age: the repercussions of scientific advancement, the consequences of abandoning traditional beliefs, and the dangers of female sexuality.

Character Profiles

Count Dracula: a vampire, several hundred years old, who lives in a castle in Transylvania. Count Dracula is a member of an old, noble and once-powerful family, he has a civilized and cultivated manner overlaying an evil soul. Like all vampires, he is immortal unless he is destroyed in the traditional manner, by having a stake hammered through his heart and his head cut off. He lives off blood, which he sucks from his female victims, who themselves become vampires and must suck the blood of others, creating a new race of vampires. He can control the elements and certain animals, including bats and wolves, and can change shape and size. Count Dracula is bound by certain limitations. He is nocturnal, losing his power in daytime; he cannot cross water unless he is carried; he cannot approach any place or person protected with Christian Communion wafers, crucifixes, or garlic; and he can only go where he is first invited. He symbolizes evil and sexuality. He represents primitivism and mysticism.

The Hon. Arthur Holmwood: fiancé of Lucy Westenra. After Lucy is bitten by Count Dracula, Holmwood is one of the men who gives his blood in transfusions to try to save her life. After she dies, Holmwood is persuaded by Van Helsing that as her bridegroom-to-be, he must destroy the vampire Lucy. With Van Helsing and the rest of the group of men, Holmwood goes to the churchyard where she is buried and drives a stake through her heart. Holmwood is one of Van Helsing's band of friends who hunt and destroy the Count. He is unable to save his love and represents the patriarch’s inability to protect the innocent from the lure of evil.

Quincey Morris: a rich American from Texas, Morris is one of Lucy Westenra's three suitors and is a friend of the other two. He is one of the men who gives his blood in transfusions to try to save her life. Morris is a man of action and organizes the ambush of the Count in his Piccadilly home. He is one of Van Helsing's band of friends but is killed by one of the gypsies who are transporting the Count back to his castle. He is the modern warrior, and martyr to the cause. He represents the new world and their straightforward perspective helps those who need help. He is the anti-intellectual who acts instead analyses.

Jonathan Harker: the fiancé, later husband, of Wilhelmina Murray and a young lawyer who is sent by his employer to Count Dracula's castle to help him buy a property in London. Harker, the archetypal rational Englishman, simply cannot cope with or comprehend the alternative reality of ancient beliefs and occult powers represented by the Count. Harker recovers his confidence after meeting Van Helsing. He becomes a determined and courageous opponent of the Count and in the final battle, cuts off the vampire's head. He develops from the naive boy to the righteous man. He represents the patriarch’s ability to overcome his fear and save his love.

Mina Harker: fiancée and later wife of Jonathan Harker (before her marriage, she is called Wilhelmina or Mina Murray). Mina is a practical and courageous young woman and a loyal and loving companion to Jonathan Harker. When she becomes convinced of the threat posed by Count Dracula, she puts her skills to good use by transcribing and keeping the records of Van Helsing's band of friends in their fight against the Count. Mina is the closest friend of the Count's first victim, Lucy Westenra, and later, she herself becomes his victim. She embodies the highest virtues of Christian womanhood and of Victorian society, being pure of heart, innocent, and truthful, retaining these values even after she has been bitten by the Count. Van Helsing pays her the compliment of having a "man's brain," and she is able to maintain an objective viewpoint even at times of suffering.

Vampire women: the three beautiful vampire women, called by some critics "the weird sisters," try to seduce Jonathan Harker and suck his lifeblood at Count Dracula's castle. They represent the reverse of the ideal of the Victorian lady, being sexually aggressive and insatiable, and anti-maternal. They are simultaneously the nightmare and the fantasy figure of the 'respectable' Victorian man; consequently, Harker both fears them and longs for them.

Mr. Swales: an old man whom Mina and Lucy meet at Whitby. He professes to have no time for religious beliefs or the supernatural and therefore at first seems to typify the modern English rationalist viewpoint. But as he feels his own death approaching, he admits to Mina that he had only mocked the supernatural to overcome his fear of death. Swales is found dead with his neck broken, seemingly at the hand of Count Dracula.

Renfield: a patient in Dr John Seward's insane asylum. Renfield is diagnosed as a zoophagous homicidal maniac: he eats living creatures like flies and spiders as he feels that their life force is nourishing to him; and he makes the occasional violent attack on people. In these respects, Renfield mirrors the Count, whom he calls his "master." Renfield develops a liking for Mina Harker and is furious when he learns that the Count is draining her lifeblood. He rebels against the Count and is killed by him. He is the almost lost soul who was seduced by evil. He represents our delicate belief in evil and the fine line between sanity and insanity, fostering society’s unwillingness to truly believe in evil’s tangibility.

Dr John Seward: a doctor, director of the insane asylum and one of the two unsuccessful suitors for the hand of Lucy Westenra. He donates blood to Lucy after she becomes the Count's victim. Seward is a former pupil of Van Helsing, who taught him medical science, but he lacks Van Helsing's understanding of metaphysics and the occult. This lack leaves him baffled and powerless in the face of the growing evidence of the Count's vampiric activities. He is also reduced by his limitations to the status of an impotent observer in the case of his insane patient, Renfield. Van Helsing rebukes him for his narrow-minded scientific prejudice: "You are clever man, friend John; you reason well, and your wit is bold; but you are too prejudiced. You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain. (p. 229)" A sign of Seward's bent towards the scientific and technological side of life is the fact that he uses a phonograph, then a modern instrument, to keep his diary. Significantly, although Seward believes he is governed by objective science, he occasionally becomes ambushed by emotion in that he cannot put it to one side. Once Seward is led by Van Helsing to overcome his scientific prejudices and accept the reality of the Count's existence, he joins Van Helsing's band of friends in destroying the Count, and proves a brave opponent. He represents science and modernism. But, he also represents compassion and a non-violent approach to fighting evil.

Van Helsing: a Dutch professor of medicine and a lawyer, and the former teacher of Dr John Seward. Seward calls him "a philosopher and metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day." Seward calls on him to treat Lucy Westenra as she declines as a result of being drained of blood by the Count. Van Helsing is a master of Western science and uses advanced medical methods such as blood transfusions to help Lucy, but he is not restricted to rational and scientific approaches. His knowledge of metaphysics, folk medicine and the occult enable him to deduce that she is the victim of a vampire and to protect her to some extent. However, he has to keep his knowledge to himself for some time due to the prejudices of those around him. He slowly and patiently leads them towards a broader understanding of the world around them. A compassionate as well as a wise man, he becomes the guide, teacher and leader of the band of friends who join together to destroy the Count.

Lucy Westenra: a beautiful, lively and virtuous young woman, and the best friend of Mina Harker. Her sexual magnetism causes her to receive three marriage proposals in one day, from Seward, Morris and Holmwood. She accepts Holmwood and becomes his fiancée. Her lament that she cannot accept all three of her suitors is a sign of her fatal flaw: her openness to sexual desire. This leads to her becoming the first victim of the Count. Lucy becomes a damned soul and a voracious sexual predator who tries to prey upon her fiancé. She also lures innocent children away so that she can feed off their blood, reversing the nurturing, maternal Victorian ideal of womanhood. In a scene filled with violent sexual symbolism, Holmwood restores Lucy's soul to a state of peace by driving a stake through her heart and cutting off her head.

Mrs. Westenra: mother of Lucy Westenra. Mrs. Westenra has a heart condition which she keeps secret from her daughter, and Mrs. Westenra in turn is not told of Lucy's becoming a victim of Count Dracula. Thus Mrs. Westenra unwittingly sabotages the protections that Van Helsing places around Lucy, contributing to her daughter's death. Mrs. Westenra dies of fright when she sees a wolf, either controlled or possessed by Count Dracula, put his head through Lucy's bedroom window.

Dracula’s Setting

Stoker uses a circular structure for his novel, incorporating two settings. Transylvania is the setting for the beginning and end of the novel. The rest of the novel takes place in England, a setting familiar to Stoker.

The novel begins with Jonathan Harker’s journey to Transylvania on May 3 of an unspecified year. Transylvania is in southeastern Europe. It's part of modern-day Romania. Castle Dracula is located on the eastern side of Romania, close to the Black Sea. Harker’s initial enjoyment of a country filled with wonderful new sights, people, and food contrasts sharply with his apprehension as he approaches the Count’s castle and his terror when he finally realizes he is Dracula’s prisoner. This section, the first four chapters of the novel, has been highly praised for its accurate descriptions of the region and its use of those descriptions to create suspense and terror. In the novel’s final chapter, which begins on November 1, All Saints’ Day, the setting is again Count Dracula’s Transylvania.

Most of the novel’s events, however, take place in England, primarily in the northeastern coastal city of Whitby, itself a reminder of England’s island isolation and its vulnerability to attack. Whitby’s history also contributes to its effectiveness as a setting. It is the site of a seventh-century abbey, traces of which still remain, at which the Synod of Whitby, an important church meeting, was held in 664. The presence of abbey ruins is a typical element of the popular Gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries. Moreover, Whitby’s role in the history of English Christianity relates the setting to the thematic conflict of good and evil.

In 1897, London was the center of the British Empire, which still covered a huge portion of the globe. It was one of the biggest cities in the world. Its crowded, maze-like streets inspired a lot of writers at the time. The city was both an awe-inspiring place, and also a place of potential danger – after all, if the city is so crowded that you don't know your neighbors, who knows who might be living in the tiny apartment upstairs? It could be a mass murderer, like Jack the Ripper (who terrorized London in late 1888).

With castles, hidden streets, waterways, recurring rainy weather, interesting European architecture, and mystique, London is the perfect location for Bram Stoker's Dracula. The novel includes many daunting scenes, such as when Dracula heaves a sack withholding a deceased child before three female vampires. It is no surprise why he choose London to be the setting of his novel. London is "exotic" and unknown. Stoker is inspired by London's castles, streets, and church yards. Because of all of these points, London is the perfect gothic setting for Stoker's “Dracula.”

High small windows, arched ceilings, and solid stone walls are also typical for the gothic architecture. These characteristics make the building cold, dark, and forbidding. For example, the text says about the castle in Transylvania that "The Count halted, putting down my bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door, which led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sort" (p. 27) and "..a vast ruined castle, from those tall black windows came no ray of light and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlight sky" (p.24).

Dracula's style of narrative

Dracula is narrated by means of a series of diary entries, letters, newspaper cuttings and memoranda written and collected by the band of friends who oppose the Count. This narrative style is based on the "epistolary" (letter-based) style which became popular in the eighteenth century. This form of narrative lends an air of immediacy and authenticity to what is, as the characters frequently remind us, a fantastic and improbable story. Their determination to "keep the record," rather in the manner of a witness statement or other official report, tells us that they are simply writing down what happened, close to the time when it happened.

This method of telling the story increases the suspense in the novel in two ways. First, if the narrative had been recalled some time after the event, we would know that the character survived. But during Harker's terrifying sojourn in the Count's castle, his daily diary entries give us no clue as to whether he survived. The sudden end to his diary entries leaves us, literally, with a cliff-hanger as he attempts an escape down the castle wall and precipice. Second, each character is limited in his or her understanding of what is going on. Their narrow scientifically-based viewpoints will not allow them to believe in vampires, so they cannot possibly draw any useful conclusions from the baffling events that befall them.

1. The Consequences of Modernity

The end of the nineteenth century brought drastic developments that forced English society to question the systems of belief that had governed it for centuries. The Industrial Revolution brought profound economic and social change to the previously agrarian England.

Though Stoker begins his novel in a ruined castle, he soon moves the action to Victorian London, where the advancements of modernity are largely responsible for the ease with which the count preys upon English society. When Lucy falls victim to Dracula’s spell, neither Mina nor Dr. Seward, both devotees of modern advancements, are equipped even to guess at the cause of Lucy’s predicament. Only Van Helsing, whose facility with modern medical techniques is tempered with open-mindedness about ancient legends and non-Western folk remedies, comes close to understanding Lucy’s affliction.

In Chapter XVII, when Van Helsing warns Seward that “to rid the earth of this terrible monster we must have all the knowledge and all the help which we can get,”(p.266) he literally means all the knowledge. Van Helsing works not only to understand modern Western methods, but to incorporate the ancient and foreign schools of thought that the modern West dismisses. “It is the fault of our science,” he says, “that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”(p.229) Here, Van Helsing points to the dire consequences of subscribing only to contemporary currents of thought. Without an understanding of history the world is left terribly vulnerable when history inevitably repeats itself.

We notice the stamp of modernity almost immediately when the focus of the novel shifts to England. Dr. Seward records his diary on a phonograph, Mina Murray practices typewriting on a newfangled machine, and so on. Indeed, the whole of England seems willing to walk into a future of progress and advancement. While the peasants of Transylvania busily bless one another against the evil eye at their roadside shrines, Mr. Swales, the poor Englishman whom Lucy and Mina meet in the Whitby cemetery, has no patience for such unfounded superstitions as ghosts and monsters. The threat Dracula poses to London hinges, in large part, on the advance of modernity. Advances in science have caused the English to dismiss the reality of the very superstitions, such as Dracula, that seek to undo their society. Van Helsing bridges this divide: equipped with the unique knowledge of both the East and the West, he represents the best hope of understanding the incomprehensible and ridding the world of evil.

2. The Sexuality

Most critics agree that Dracula is a novel that indulges the Victorian male imagination, particularly regarding the topic of female sexuality. In Victorian England, women’s sexual behavior was dictated by society’s extremely rigid expectations. A Victorian woman effectively had only two options: she was either a virgin, a model of purity and innocence, or she was a wife and mother. If she was neither of these, she was considered a prostitute, and thus of no consequence to society. Both Lucy and Mina are less like real people than two-dimensional embodiments of virtues that have, over the ages, been coded as female. Both women are chaste, pure, innocent of the world’s evils, and devoted to their men. But Dracula threatens to turn the two women into their opposites, into women noted for their voluptuousness and unapologetically open sexual desire.

After Lucy’s transformation, the men keep a careful eye on Mina, worried they will lose yet another model of Victorian womanhood to the dark side. The men are so intensely invested in the women’s sexual behavior because they are afraid of associating with the socially scorned. In fact, the men fear for nothing less than their own safety.

The novel draws an implied analogy between vampirism and sex. The Count can only go where he is first invited, meaning that his female victims desire him to penetrate them. This act of penetration draws blood, like the 'deflowering' of a virgin bride. The exchange of bodily fluids (blood in the case of vampiric attacks) is another similarity with sex. Once corrupted by the Count's attentions, the women (Lucy is an example) is transformed from pure and virtuous creature to a lascivious, bestial predator that is driven to lure men to their destruction. The Count, by draining the blood of women and indirectly of the men who are loved (and fed upon) by them, has power over both women and men. The only way to eradicate this threat was to destroy the vampire women via the remarkably sexually symbolic act of hammering a (phallic) stake through their heart. This is seen as a morally pure and altruistic act in the novel.

While normal sexual reproduction - a hallowed function of the respectable Victorian family - involves love and creating new life, vampiric reproduction involves destructiveness and creates more vampires, that is, 'undead' people. The undead are not alive in the normal sense but are animated corpses that suck the life out of others. Thus, vampires reproduce death. This is another sense in which Dracula represents the reverse of Victorian respectability.

3. The Promise of Christian Salvation

Van Helsing suggest that the most effective weapons in combating supernatural evil are symbols of unearthly good. Indeed, in the fight against Dracula, these symbols of good take the form of the icons of Christian faith, such as the crucifix. The novel is so invested in the strength and power of these Christian symbols that it reads, at times, like a propagandistic Christian promise of salvation.

Dracula, practically as old as religion itself, stands as a satanic figure, most obviously in his appearance but also in his consumption of blood. According to some sites, the blood-sucking theme subverts the symbolism of the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Communion involves drinking consecrated wine that is thought to represent or actually become the blood of Christ. This wine which represent Christ's body, is believed to be a food that nourishes a person in the direction of immortality. Drinking the Count's blood confers a kind of immortality - the Un-dead cannot die in the normal way - but it is not eternal life, but a type of eternal damnation.

Van Helsing's description of the band of friends as "ministers of God's own wish" casts their plan to destroy the Count as a holy crusade. The highest ideal of womanhood was to express the innocence of a child. Her request to the men that they kill her if she becomes too vampiric shows the extreme lengths that were thought to be morally justifiable in order to preserve sexual purity in women and, by extension, their male partners. As Van Helsing's band draw closer to the Count's castle, the Count's powers begin to gain ascendancy over them. Van Helsing's scientific procedure of hypnotism ceases to work as Mina comes increasingly under the Count's influence. The final battle is not merely between Van Helsing's band and the Count. It is between the modern scientific world of Western Europe and the ancient beliefs of the East; between Christianity and demonic powers; between the state of grace (redemption) and the state of damnation; and between reason and untrammeled sexual and animal instinct. The sign that Van Helsing's band has triumphed is the disappearance of the scar on Mina's forehead. Further resolution is provided by the happy marriages of Holmwood and Seward, and the blessing of the Harkers' marriage with a child who is named after all their friends. For the Victorians, sexual desire was made holy via the institution of marriage and the procreation of children. Van Helsing ends up as a grandfather figure to little Quincey Harker, ready to pass on his wisdom to the new generation.

Van Helsing's band of friends represents the Christian tradition, whereas Count Dracula represents a type of anti-Christian tradition. The group of friends uses the paraphernalia of Christian ritual, such as Communion wafers and crucifixes, to ward off the vampires. Vampirism itself is portrayed as a demonic reversal of the Eucharist (Communion), in which the communicant drinks consecrated wine that represents Christ's blood. The wine is believed to nourish the communicant "unto immortality." The vampire, on the other hand, drinks the lifeblood of his victims in order to attain a perverted kind of immortality, the "Un-dead" state whereby he cannot die in the ordinary way but is eternally damned. Vampires try to preserve their fleshly existence at the expense of the eternal life of the soul, whereas Christian belief teaches that the fleshly existence is secondary to the state of the soul and its fate after death. The Un-dead, damned state lasts until the vampire is destroyed in the traditional way, by having a stake driven through his heart and his head cut off. While the method of destruction is drawn from pagan and folkloric traditions rather than Christian tradition, Stoker reverts to a very liberal form of Christianity for the resolution of the vampire-staking. The soul is restored to a state of grace, regardless of the extent of the sins committed by the vampire. The Christian theme in the novel points to a wider social anxiety.

The Victorian age was characterized by scientific and technological advancements that challenged the religious beliefs that gave society its moral structure. The characters in Dracula embrace the new science and technology but have left behind the spiritual and religious knowledge that would enable them to recognize and oppose the powers of evil. Only Van Helsing, with his mastery of both modern science and ancient wisdom, has the necessary knowledge to defeat the Count.


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