castle to hammer out a real estate deal; while
there, he becomes a de facto prisoner,
discovers disquieting facets of the Count's daily life,
and is seduced by three female vampires. He eventually
escapes the castle and finds his way back to England.
Not long afterward, a
Russian ship runs aground in
Whitby. All passengers and crew are dead. A huge
wolf is seen running from the ship, which contains
nothing but boxes of dirt from Transylvania.
The Count reappears and is soon menacing Harker's
devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her
vivacious friend, Lucy Westernra. Lucy receives three
marriage proposals in one day, from Arthur, Lord
Godalming; an American called Quincy Morris who always
bowie knife; and an asylum psychiatrist, John
Seward. There is a notable encounter between Dracula and
Seward's patient Renfield, an insane man who means to
insects, rats, and
birds, and other creatures -- in ascending order of
size -- in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield
acts as a kind of motion sensor, detecting the proximity
of Dracula and releasing clues accordingly.
Lucy begins to waste suspiciously away. All her
suitors fret; Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor
Abraham Van Helsing from
Amsterdam. Van Helsing immediately determines the
cause of Lucy's condition, but refuses to disclose it,
knowing that Seward's faith in him will be shaken if he
starts spouting off about vampires. Van Helsing tries
multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing
ground. On a night when Van Helsing must return to
Amsterdam (and his message to Seward asking him to watch
the Westenra household is accidentally sent to the wrong
address), Lucy and her mother are attacked in the night
by a strange wolf. Mrs Westenra, who has a heart
condition, dies of fright, and Lucy herself apparently
dies soon after.
Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers
report a "bloofer lady" stalking children in the night.
Van Helsing, knowing that this means Lucy has become a
vampire, confides in Seward, Godalming, and Morris. The
suitors and Van Helsing form a coalition of the killing
and track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation
between her vampire self and Arthur, they stake her and
behead her. Around the same time, Jonathan Harker
arrives home from Transylvania, and he and Mina also
join the coalition, who now turn their attentions to
dealing with Dracula himself.
Then begins the longer drama of tracking Dracula's
London, spoiling his Transylvanian earth with holy
wafers, and dealing with his intensifying seduction of
Mina Harker. Dracula flees back to his castle in
Transylvania, followed by Van Helsing's gang, who
re-kill him and his three vampire women. Mina is freed,
and the survivors (Quincy Morris is killed in the final
battle) return to England.
The novel is narrated very effectively by multiple
voices -- Jonathan's journal of his trip to
Transylvania, Mina's diary, and Seward's recorded
journal, as well as letters and newspaper items.
Although somewhat crude and certainly sensational, the
novel also does have psychological power, and the s--ual
longings underlying the vampire attacks are manifest.
The pace is relaxed and atmospheric and the characters
richer than one might expect.
Despite its important contributions to the vampire
myth, several popular tropes are absent: for instance,
Count Dracula is killed by knives, not a wooden stake;
and the destruction of the vampire Lucy, though it does
involve a wooden stake, is not the simple
shove-the-stake-in-and-the-thing-is-done procedure often
found in later vampire stories. Dracula also has the
ability to travel as a mist and to scale the external
walls of his castle.
Many authors claim that Stoker loosely based his
character on the historic
Romania) ruler Vlad III, also known as
Vlad Ţepeş ("Vlad the Impaler"). In his six year
he is estimated to have killed 100,000 people, mainly by
using his favourite method of impaling them on a sharp
pole. However, it should be noted that the history of
Romania at this time was mainly recorded by
German immigrants, a group with which Vlad Ţepeş is
known to have clashed several times. Indeed, Vlad Ţepeş
is revered as a folk hero by native
Romanians for driving off invading Turks with his
brutal tactics. The attribution of Vlad Ţepeş as the
source of Stoker's Dracula is challenged by those who
have studied Stoker and claim that he had no knowledge
of Ţepeş before writing his book.
The name Dracula is derived from a secret
fraternal order of knights called the Order of the
Dragon, founded by
King Sigismund of Hungary (who became the
Holy Roman Emperor in
1410) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire
Ottoman Turks. Vlad III's father (Vlad II) was
admitted to the Order around
1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks.
From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order
and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the
dragon symbol. The word for "dragon" in
Romanian is drac (from
Latin draco) and ul is the
definite article. Vlad III's father thus came to be
known as Vlad Dracul, or "Vlad the Dragon". In
Romanian the ending ulea meant "the son of".
Under this interpretation, Vlad III thus became Vlad
Dracula, or "The Son of the Dragon." (The word '\'drac''
also means "devil" in Romanian, giving a double meaning
to the name for enemies of Vlad Ţepeş and his father.)
In writing Dracula, Stoker may also have
drawn upon stories about blood-drinking ghouls from his
Ireland, and the Dracula myth as he created it and
as it has been portrayed in films and television shows
ever since may be a compound of various influences; many
of Stoker's biographers and literary critics have found
strong similarities to
Sheridan le Fanu's earlier classic of the vampire
One of the first
movie adaptations of Stoker's story actually caused
Stoker's estate to sue for copyright infringement. In
silent film director
F.W. Murnau made a
horror film called
Nosferatu the Vampire, which took the story of
Dracula and set it in Germany. In the story, Dracula's
role was changed to that of Count Orlok, one of the most
hideous versions of the vampire to be created for a
movie. The Stoker estate won its lawsuit and all
existing prints of Nosferatu were ordered to be
destroyed. However, a number of pirated copies of the
movie survived to the present era, where they entered
the public domain. Nosferatu was also remade in
Shadow of the Vampire (2000) was about the
filming of Nosferatu, with the twist that Max
Schreck, the rarely-seen actor playing the vampire,
actually was a vampire.
John Malkovich plays Murnau and
Willem Dafoe plays Schreck.
The 1931 film starring
Bela Lugosi and directed by
Tod Browning is one of the more famous versions of
the story and is commonly considered a horror classic.
2000 the United States
Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally
significant" and selected it for preservation in the
National Film Registry.
Hammer Films produced a newer, more Gothic version
of the story with the title The Horror of Dracula.
This version of the story, starring
Christopher Lee as Dracula and
Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, is widely considered
to be the most faithful version of the story to be
adapted to film.
Francis Ford Coppola produced and directed a new
version of the movie, called
Bram Stoker's Dracula starring
Gary Oldman and
Winona Ryder. Coppola's story included a subplot in
which Mina Harker was revealed to be the
reincarnation of Dracula's greatest love. This story
was not part of the Stoker's original. The soundtrack
included 'Lovesong for a Vampire' by
Patrick Lussier took a stab at the legend with his
modern day Dracula 2000 (promoted as Wes
Craven Presents Dracula 2000;
Wes Craven was an executive producer). To discover
how to destroy Dracula, Van Helsing (portrayed by
Christopher Plummer) keeps himself alive with
injections of Dracula's blood. When thieves steal the
vampire and crash near New Orleans, Van Helsing and his
ward must track down the vampire and save Van Helsing's
Tributes and Parodies
Like Frankenstein, Dracula has
inspired many literary tributes or parodies, including
Interview with the Vampire,
Anno Dracula and
erotic parody Vamp.