Dracula (1897) – by Bram Stoker

Dracula (1897) is a Novel by Bram Stoker featuring the most famous fictional vampire of all, Count Dracula. Dracula was a modest success for Stoker, but after his death in 1912 the novel went on to inspire a huge and enduring body of literature, film, art, drama and other performing arts, scholarly study, and popular interest in the subject of vampires. Dracula has been dissected over and over since the 1960s.

The first biography of Stoker, written by Harry Ludlam, was published in 1962, lifting Stoker himself out of obscurity. In 1972 the first of several works purporting to link the fictional Dracula with the historical figure of VLAD TEPES was published by the team of RAYMOND T. MCNALLY and RADU R. FLORESCU: In Search of Dracula: a true history of Dracula and vampire legends.

In 1977 a fortuitous discovery was made by McNally and Florescu—the research notes and working papers of Stoker. The two had gone to the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia to see an original woodcut of Vlad. There they were offered a look at the papers, which had vanished from scholarly sight in 1913, when Stoker’s widow, Florence, had sold them at auction at Sotheby’s in London. The papers had been acquired by the Rosenbach Museum in 1970.

In 1977 Stoker’s original finished manuscript of Dracula, also missing for decades, surfaced in Pennsylvania and was acquired by a private collector in California. With the discovery of Stoker’s notes on Dracula, including his outlines—now publicly accessible to researchers—a new flood of scholarly and popular commentary on Dracula was unleashed, increasing around the 100th anniversary of publication of the novel in 1997.

The desire to know precisely where Stoker derived every minute comment on vampires, the places on which he based his settings, and the people on which he based his characters has driven some commentators to the thinnest of speculations. Stoker’s notes revealed a great deal of what went into Dracula, but they are not comprehensive. It is not known how much of his working papers may even be missing, as Stoker was wont to jot down ideas on scraps of paper.

Many of his pages are not numbered or dated, which invites more speculation as to the order of ideas for the novel, or the order in which he read his sources. Some of his handwriting is illegible. The old Watergate question, “What did he know and when did he know it?” can be rephrased for Stoker, “What was he thinking, when did he think it, and what made him think it?” The questions have been asked repeatedly about the evolution of the world’s most famous vampire novel.

There are few certain answers. Many commentators seem to lose sight of the fact that Dracula is a work of fiction. Every writer of fiction draws upon research of real places, people, history, lore, and so forth, but mixes in generous amounts of imagination. Fact and fiction are blended together. Trying to separate fact from fiction in Dracula has proved to be an uncertain undertaking.

There has been a tendency among commentators to assume that Stoker’s use of someone’s name for a character meant that the character was “modeled” on that person, or that the real person somehow had been influential to the novel. These and other pitfalls are Demonstrated in Dracula: Sense and Nonsense (2000) by ELIZABETH MILLER, which discusses many of the errors and speculations that are reiterated in books about Stoker, Dracula, and vampires. Much speculation get repeated as facts, thus entering a twilight of “truths” about Stoker and Dracula. Stepping through the Dracula literature is like walking through a minefield.

The Genesis and Development of Dracula

Stoker’s notes do not reveal the exact inspiration for his vampire novel, but they do show that he began work on Dracula in March 1890. In the summer of that year, Stoker visited WHITBY, ENGLAND, for a holiday, and later used the village as the setting for three chapters in Dracula. His research in Whitby also led him to the discovery of the name “Dracula,” which he adopted as the name for his vampire. (At some point—it is not known when—he had the name as “Count Wampyr.”)

He also found bits of Wallachian lore and history that he later incorporated into his novel. (See VLAD TEPES.) In 1893 he took the first of several vacations to Cruden Bay, a fishing village on the northeast coast of Scotland. How much work was done on the novel there is not known; some researches have asserted that he completed it there in 1896. Florence Stoker later wrote in what was probably an embellished recollection of Cruden Bay:

When he was at work on Dracula we were all frightened of him. It was up on a lonely part of the east coast of Scotland, and he seemed to get obsessed by the spirit of the thing. There he would sit for hours, like a great bat, perched on the rocks of the shore or wander alone up and down the sandhills, thinking it out.

Stoker was thorough in his research. His notes show that he consulted at least 32 sources for information about geography, history, and folklore. He originally set his story in Styria, Austria, but moved it to Transylvania. Of the misconceptions about the origins of the novel, these are some of the most common:

Dracula was inspired by a bad dream following a dinner of dressed crab. Stoker did tell this, but it seems to have been more of a joke than fact. His notes do not support it.

Stoker did extensive research at the British Museum. There is no evidence to back this up. Stoker did do extensive research, including at the Whitby library. More likely, an extrapolation has been made from the novel. In the opening scene, Jonathan Harker relates that he went to the British Museum to learn as much as he could about Transylvania before setting out on his journey to meet with the count.

Stoker traveled to Transylvania. Stoker never went farther east than Vienna. His descriptions of Transylvania are derived from some of his sources and his writer’s imagination.

Stoker learned about vampires from Hungarian scholar Arminius Vambery. Stoker did meet with the man. Vambery never wrote on vampires or was known as an expert on the subject. He was, however, knowledgeable about Eastern European folklore. Stoker used his name for a character in the novel.

Count Dracula is based on Vlad Tepes. Stoker borrowed only part of his name, Dracula. Vlad was a voivode of Wallachia, not Transylvania.

Like any novelist, Stoker embellished on his research. He uses the term un-dead as a synonym for vampires, which is not found in lore. He borrows the erroneous term Nosferatu from one of his sources as another term for vampires. Stoker’s vampires must sleep in their native earth no matter where they are.

This evidently was Stoker’s invention, for it appears nowhere in recorded folklore. In folklore accounts, vampires reside in their graves and always return to them after they have been out on their prowls. Stoker’s count keeps boxes of earth in his chapel crypt for his resting places. When he moves to England, he must transport the boxes, too. Stoker’s vampires do not sleep in coffinS—that was a later invention by others. Another invention concerns Mirrors: Stoker’s vampires cast no reflection in them.

There is quite a bit of folklore about mirrors and the dead, such as turning mirrors in a house when someone dies so that they do not see themselves, which dooms them to become a restless ghost. However, there is nothing in vampire folklore about vampires casting no reflections in mirrors.

This invention may have served to illustrate Dracula’s soullessness, that he is no longer completely human. At the least, it is a good theatrical device, one that translated well to the stage and screen. Stoker says the vampire cannot cast a shadow. Vampire folklore does discuss shadows, but the inability of a vampire to cast a shadow is an invention of Stoker’s. This is another device with theatrical assets, used to great effect in films. Stoker’s vampires cannot cross running WATER except at slack or flood tides—another invention.

Folklore holds that witches and evil spirits cannot cross running water, but vampire lore does not feature this disadvantage. For story structure, Stoker used the style of author Wilkie Collins: telling the tale in the first-person from the mouths of several characters. This method worked well to give the different perspectives of the principal characters and their views on Count Dracula.

But the reader is never privy to the viewpoint of the count himself. Dracula went through numerous changes as Stoker worked on it right up to submission, judging from his handwritten changes and corrections to the typewritten manuscript he submitted to his publisher. While he was working on it, he also wrote and published two other novels, The Watter’s Mou’ and Shoulder of Shasta, both of which came out in 1895.

When Stoker turned his vampire manuscript in, it bore the handwritten title The Un-Dead. Somewhere between submission and publication the title was changed to the name of his vampire, Dracula. Whether it was Stoker’s idea or the idea of his editor is not known. But contemporary critics generally agree that the change was fortuitous, for Dracula captures the attention and imagination far more strongly than The Un-Dead. Dracula is the only one of Stoker’s books to bear the principal character’s name as the title.

Dracula was published in May 1897. Critical reviews were mixed, but many saw it as the best and the most horrible of English horror fiction. Stoker’s mother, Charlotte, found the book to be his finest work, though it was not a great financial success. Nonetheless, it stayed in print and was in its ninth printing at the time of his death in 1912. Prior to the book publication, Stoker staged a single performance of Dracula at the Lyceum Theater in May 1897. The dramatization fell between a reading and a fullscale production.

Principal Characters

In addition to Count Dracula, the central characters are:

Jonathan Harker: Solicitor’s clerk in London who is sent to Transylvania with contracts finalizing Count Dracula’s purchase of Carfax Abbey in London

Mina Harker: A schoolmistress and fiancée and then wife of Jonathan, who falls under the spell of Dracula

Lucy Westenra: Nineteen-year-old friend of Mina’s. Beautiful, desirable, and flirtatious, with multiple suitors. Vampirized to death by Count Dracula

Dr. John Seward: The director of an insane asylum outside London next door to Carfax Abbey, a partially ruined place. A failed suitor of Lucy

R. M. RENFIELD: Lunatic at Seward’s asylum who is turned into a slave by Dracula

Arthur Holmwood: Suitor of Lucy who wins her hand and becomes her fiancé. After his father dies partway through the novel, he becomes Lord Godalming

Professor Abraham van Helsing: Friend of Dr. Seward’s who lives in Amsterdam and is summoned by Seward to help with the mysterious illness of Lucy. Knowledgeable about vampires and the occult, he becomes the chief vampire hunter

Quincey Morris: Texan who is among the failed suitors of Lucy

( See also : Dracula Characters )


Dracula opens with Jonathan Harker traveling to the count’s castle, bearing contracts for the count’s purchase of Carfax Abbey, a ruined place, in London. Harker finds the count to be odd but hospitable—however, he soon finds himself a prisoner in the castle. Horrible things happen: He is nearly vampirized by three female vampires, and he learns the awful truth about the count’s true nature.

Harker realizes Dracula intends to vampirize and kill him. He tries to kill Dracula and fails. He manages to escape, and he next appears in a Budapest hospital, ill with “brain fever.” Meanwhile, Lucy Westenra has had three marriage proposals in one day, from John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood. She accepts Holmwood’s proposal.

Seward is somewhat preoccupied with one of his patients, an insect-eating lunatic, R. M. Renfield. Lucy and Mina meet for a holiday in Whitby. Mina is worried because she has not heard from Jonathan in a month. While the young women are in Whitby, the count comes to England aboard the ship Demeter, bringing 50 boxes of earth with him. Along the way he has killed the entire crew. The derelict ship crashes into the harbor at Whitby, and Dracula jumps off in the form of a wolf.

The dead captain is tied to the wheel with a crucifix. The ship’s log reveals something monstrous stalked the crew. Lucy is restless at night and sleepwalks. One night Mina awakens to find her gone, and goes out looking for her. She sees her in the ruins of the abbey on the opposite cliff at Whitby, with a figure bending over her.

Mina dashes to the abbey and sees a long, dark form, white face and RED eyes. The figure vanishes. The women do not know that Dracula has found a new victim. A mysterious BAT comes at night, and Lucy mutters in her sleep about “red eyes.” She sleepwalks. Her health declines. Renfield exhibits strange and more excitable behavior. He manages to get out, and he is found on the grounds of Carfax. He rants about “Master.” Mina receives a letter from the hospital about Jonathan and departs for Europe to meet him. He gives her his diary, which tells his ordeal. She does not read it but puts it away.

Lucy’s health declines to the point where Holmwood appeals to Seward for help. Lucy notes that at night there is a strange flapping or scratching at her bedroom window. Seward sees something is obviously wrong with her, and she seems to have lost blood. He communicates with his friend Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who knows about “obscure diseases.”

Van Helsing is concerned. Lucy’s condition deteriorates drastically, and Van Helsing orders a blood transfusion. Seward volunteers, but Holmwood arrives and gives his blood, which restores some color to Lucy. The effect does not last, and she worsens with each passing night. Seward gives blood. Van Helsing places wreaths of GARLIC around Lucy’s room and around her neck.

He latches the windows and rubs the sashes with the bulbs. He explains only that they are “medicinal.” Seward is mystified and speculates on whether or not the flowers are to keep out an evil spirit. Van Helsing, cryptic, says maybe so. During the night, Lucy’s mother removes the garlic because of the stuffiness in the room. Lucy’s condition worsens. Van Helsing is upset.

For the first time he makes remarks about fighting “the devil.” The garlic is restored, and at night Lucy hears an “angry flapping” at her window. Her window is broken by BERSICKER, a wolf at the London Zoo that Dracula commands. The invisible count comes in on the heels of the wolf, kills Lucy’s mother, who is keeping her company in her room, and vampirizes Lucy. Mina and Jonathan return to England and settle in Exeter. Lucy dies, her teeth now fanglike. Van Helsing warns she is not at peace—the worst is yet to come.

Lucy and her mother are buried together. Jonathan is unnerved when he spies the count—now looking very youthful—in London. Lucy, now a vampire, rises from her tomb at night and attacks children, who call her the “bloofer lady,” probably meaning “beautiful lady.” Van Helsing visits the Harkers and reads Jonathan’s diary of his experiences in Transylvania.

Van Helsing hints more as to the cause of Lucy’s death, telling Seward about Vampire bats. He takes Seward to Lucy’s tomb at night, where they find her coffin empty. Seward sees a white figure flitting among the trees, carrying a small child. The figure disappears, and they rescue the child. The two men return to Lucy’s tomb in the day. They find her in her coffin, her skin in the bloom of life, as though she were only sleeping.

Van Helsing explains that she was bitten by the vampire while she was in the trance of sleepwalking, and in trance she died and become an undead herself. He proposes to cut off her head and stuff her mouth with garlic. Arthur—who is now Lord Godalming after the death of his father—angrily refuses this desecration. Van Helsing takes him, Seward, and Morris to the tombs at night. He seals its door with a crumbled Eucharist in the crevices.

Soon a figure approaches—it is Lucy with another child. She looks Demonic and unholy. When she sees Arthur, she implores him to join her. Van Helsing repels her with a crucifix. Denied entry into her tomb, she flies into a fury. Van Helsing removes some of the wafer, and she slips through the cracks into the tomb. Broken, Arthur agrees that Lucy must be stopped. Van Helsing tells the men more about vampires. The men return to the tomb the next day.

Arthur takes a hammer and drives a STAKE through the heart of Lucy while the others offer a prayer for the dead. Lucy is freed of the vampire’s curse. The Harkers put together information for Van Helsing on the count’s move to England and the derelict ship at Whitby. Jonathan’s journal is shared. They realize Renfield is under the vampire’s influence. The group—the Harkers, Morris, Godalming, Seward, and Van Helsing—assembles at the asylum and takes up residence in the living quarters.

The professor delivers a long speech on the existence and powers of vampires, and how Dracula, when he was alive, studied at the devil’s school, the SCHOLOMANCE. The men go to Carfax Abbey, where they find only 29 boxes of earth left. While they are there, Dracula attacks Mina in her sleep. He steals in as a mist. She weakens. The others discover that the count is moving his boxes to other locations in the London area—Picadilly, Bermondsey, and Mile End. Jonathan notices Mina’s pallor.

Renfield is found in his room in a pool of blood, seriously beaten and injured. He is dying, but he rallies enough to relate that Dracula came to him and offered him all the blood life he wanted in exchange for worshiping him. Renfield was shown a vision of thousands of RATS that would replace the insects Dracula has sent him for sustenance. Renfield fell down and worshiped him. But the next day he received no rats, not even flies, which made him angry. Then he saw Mina and became angry that the count was taking her blood.

When Dracula returned that night, Renfield attempted to attack the mist. He was fatally beaten. (Renfield evidently dies, but offstage.) The men rush to the Harkers’ room at the asylum, where they find Jonathan unconscious and Mina in the grip of the count. He is forcing her to drink blood trickling from a wound in his chest. Dracula throws her aside and attacks the men, but Van Helsing pulls out a Eucharist, which sends the vampire into a cower. He vanishes in a vapor.

Mina is horrified when she rouses, crying, “Unclean, unclean!” Van Helsing secures her room against further attack and touches a Eucharist to her forehead. It burns the flesh. The men go to ruin Dracula’s boxes in all his locations by placing sacred wafers in them. A furious count confronts them all at Seward’s asylum. Harker tries to slash him with a knife, but he only cuts the vampire’s coat, and money and gold fall out. Seward repells him with a crucifix and holy wafer.

The vampire grabs some of the money and throws himself through a glass window. He turns and vows revenge. He has already claimed their women and will make more vampires to be his jackals when he wants to feed. They are uncertain what to do next, but Mina comes up with the solution. At her suggestion, Van Helsing hypnotizes her. She has a sympathetic connection now to Dracula, and she is able to relate that he is aboard a ship. Dracula has taken his last earth box and fled back to Transylvania.

While Mina becomes more vampirelike in appearance, the men organize themselves for pursuit of Dracula. They all depart for Transylvania. Via hypnosis, Mina relays information on the count’s changing locations. The count’s three vampire women materialize and try to attack Mina, but she is protected within a holy circle cast by Van Helsing.

The women call to her as a sister to join them. The pursuers reach Dracula’s castle. Van Helsing finds the tombs of the vampire women and resists their beauty and allure even as they lie in their boxes. He stakes them and cuts off their heads as they shriek. Dracula’s tomb is empty, and Van Helsing ruins it with a holy water.

Upon leaving, he seals the entrances to the castle so that Dracula will be unable to enter it. Morris, Seward, and Harker chase down a band of Gypsies who are transporting Dracula in his last box of earth. It is nearly sunset and snow is falling. They fight, and Morris is seriously wounded by a knife. The Gypsies are overcome, and the men tear open the box.

For a moment, it appears the count is going to be victorious, for he sees the setting sun. But Harker slashes his throat with a kukri knife, and Morris plunges his bowie knife into the vampire’s heart. Dracula instantly crumbles to dust and vanishes. The Gypsies flee. Morris dies. Seven years later, the Harkers return to Transylvania to revisit the scene. They have a son whom they have named Quincey, who was born on the same day of the month that Morris died. Seward and Godalming have gotten married. The curse is over.

Dracula Incarnations

Dracula received mixed reviews upon its publication, but it stayed in print. The novel might have fallen into obscurity with Stoker and the rest of his works if it had not been adapted for the stage and film. Stoker was well aware of his novel’s dramatic potential, and his years of training in the theater working for Henry Irving undoubtedly influenced the structure of the book. Stoker created an abridged version of the novel, Dracula: Or the Un-Dead, cut and pasted from printer’s proofs, which was read onstage at the Lyceum on May 18, 1897.

Stoker’s official reason for doing so was to protect his copyright. But he harbored the desire that Irving would play Dracula in a full stage production, and the reading may really have been for Irving’s benefit. Irving had played the devil Mephistopheles in Faust for five years, and Stoker envisioned him as the vampire count. The reading of Stoker’s adaptation lasted for five hours. Irving is said to have thought it “dreadful.”

HAMILTON DEANE’s stage production in 1924 substantially romanticized Count Dracula, giving him fine clothing— and a red-lined black cape—and lessening his Demonic, wolfish characteristics. Dracula becomes a suave fellow who gets himself involved with the other characters by feigning an interest in Mina’s “anemia.” The high collar of the cape now so familiar as part of Dracula’s wardrobe actually had a stage function, to hide the back of the actor’s head as he slipped through doors and panels and left others holding an empty cape.

For the American stage, Deane’s version was rewritten to make it less stiff. BELA LUGOSI took the role for the Broadway production, and then was chosen for TOD BROWNING’s 1931 film adaptation of the movie. Florence Stoker also commissioned Charles Morrell to write another adaptation; it included some of Stoker’s long monologues verbatim.

From Stoker’s own adaptation to 1994, there were 11 major stage adaptations of Dracula, plus countless more comedy and amateur productions. Browning’s film adaptation, Dracula, was a huge success for Universal Pictures and made a star out of Lugosi. But the monster Dracula reached his film peak in the HAMMER FILMS productions starring CHRISTOPHER LEE as the aristocratic count. Dracula has inspired numerous adaptations of the novel and also vampires by other names for radio, film, and television.

The role of Dracula has attracted major stars, among them Vincent Price, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Jack Palance, and Gary Oldman. Dracula has been reinvented in characters such as Blacula (1972) and COUNT YORGA (1970) and has been parodied, such as in Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), Mel Brooks’s production starring Leslie Nielsen.

In fiction, Dracula has continued on as a character in numerous novels, adapting himself to changing times and the modern world, and even engaging in introspection. Dracula is the root inspiration of many vampire characters in various genres: horror, fantasy, science fiction, and even romance. Dracula is in comics, such as THE TOMB OF Dracula and Ghost of Dracula, and in musicals, dance productions, ballet and opera, as well as commercials, advertising, and greeting cards.

Dracula is of ongoing interest to scholars of literature, the performing arts, folklore, and pop culture, and is the subject of commentaries, analyses, and critiques. Of particular interest is the sexuality expressed in Dracula: the overt sexuality of women, in the vampire brides and Lucy; the sexuality of vampirism itself and the eroticism of blood; and the homoerotic undercurrents, in Dracula’s claiming of Jonathan Harker and the vampire brides’ invitation to Mina.

It is also significant that Dracula is brought down in the end largely through the intervention of a woman, Mina, through her own inspiration and Dracula 107 determination. Mina emerges from her ordeal significantly strengthened and possessing an independence that cannot be diminished or controlled by men despite her return to a traditional domestic life with Jonathan as wife and mother.

Further Reading:

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Auerbach, Nina, and David J. Skal, eds. Dracula. New York: W. W. Norton Co., 1997.
Glut, Donald. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1975.
Leatherdale, Clive, ed. Bram Stoker’s Dracula Unearthed. Weston-on-Sea, Essex, England: Desert Island Books, 1998.
Miller, Elizabeth. Reflections on Dracula: Ten Essays. White Rock, B.C.: Transylvania Press, 1997.
Miller, Elizabeth, ed. Dracula: The Shade and the Shadow. Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England: Desert Island Books, 1998.
Miller, Elizabeth. Dracula: Sense & Nonsense.Westcliff-on-Sea, England: Desert Island Books, 2000.
Skal, David J. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen. New York: W. W. Norton, 1990.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1931.

[author image=”https://occult-world.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/roseMary-guiley.jpg” ]Rosemary Guiley works full-time in the paranormal and metaphysical fields. She has written more than 50 books, including single-volume encyclopedias, on a variety of topics, A-Z, angels to zombies and everything in between. Source Amazon.[/author]
Taken from : The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

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