Dracula: It is a Gothic novel by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. It was the most popular literary work derived from vampire legends and became the basis for a whole genre of literature and film.
Dracula is comprised of journal entries, letters, and telegrams written by the main characters. It begins with Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, while traveling to Transylvania. Harker plans to meet with Count Dracula, a client of his company, to finalize a property transaction.
When he arrives in Transylvania, the locals react with terror after he reveals his destination: Dracula’s Castle. Although this worries him a little, he continues onward. The sinister howl of the wolves echoes through the air as it reaches the castle.
When Harker meets Dracula, he recognizes that the man is pale, gaunt, and strange. Harker becomes even more concerned when, after Harker cuts himself while shaving, Dracula pounces on his throat.
Shortly after, he is seduced by three vampires, from whom he barely escapes. Then he discovers Dracula’s secret: that he is a vampire and survives by drinking human blood. Harker correctly assumes that he will be the earl’s next victim.
He attacks the earl, but his efforts are unsuccessful. Dracula leaves Harker trapped in the castle and then, along with 50 boxes of earth, leaves for England.
Meanwhile, in England, Harker’s fiancé, Mina, is visiting a friend named Lucy Westenra, who recently got engaged after rejecting several suitors. One night, Mina must search for Lucy, as she has returned to her old sleepwalking habit.
When Mina finds her outside near a cemetery, there appears to be a shape floating above her for a fraction of a second. Mina notices two small red marks on Lucy’s neck and assumes that it must have been inadvertently punctured with a pin.
During the following days, Lucy becomes ill and is sometimes seen through a window next to a bat. Mina is worried, but they call her once she receives the correspondence from Jonathan.
Lucy is taken over by Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing, who, after several failed blood transfusions, decide that further action is needed. They then cover Lucy and her room with garlic, a strategy used to ward off vampires. Lucy, however, soon dies.
After his death, many report the appearance of a creature that is attacking children in the area. When Jonathan (who was able to escape Count Dracula’s castle) and Mina returned to England, now as a married couple, Jonathan’s accounts of Dracula led Van Helsing to believe that Lucy contracted the Count’s vampirism and that it is he who torments the children.
To prevent him from continuing to kill, they unearth his corpse, pierce his heart, cut off his head and fill his mouth with garlic.
Now that they are dealing with Lucy, the group decides to locate Count Dracula and the 50 boxes of earth that he brought with him. According to tradition, Dracula needs the land of his home country to stay healthy. The group tries to destroy the boxes so that Dracula has no means to regenerate.
One night, amid uneasy feelings about Mina’s recent behavior, Van Helsing and Seward enter their room to find Jonathan unconscious and Mina drinking blood from a wound on Dracula’s chest.
The vampire disappears and returns to Transylvania only to be followed by the determined group. They find him buried in the final box of earth and quickly cut off his head and stab him in the heart. Dracula crumbles into powder.
Genre: Fiction novel
There is a lot of action and a lot of risk taking, so we could call it adventure fiction. After all, Jonathan Harker slides down the side of a castle over a rocky abyss to escape bloodthirsty vampires.
It could also be called a fantasy novel, because vampires don’t really exist. But because it’s about vampires it’s not just about fantasy: it’s horror or gothic fiction. Some people even like to call Dracula an early science fiction play, due to Stoker’s obsession with super modern (for the time being) technologies like blood transfusions and phonographs.
- Count Dracula: A centuries-old and noble vampire from Transylvania, Count Dracula lives in a ruined castle in the Carpathian Mountains. Beneath a cloak of aristocratic charm, the count possesses a dark and evil soul. It can take the form of an animal, control the weather, and is stronger than twenty men.
- Van Helsing: A Dutch professor, described by his former student, Dr. Seward, as “a philosopher and metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his time.”
- Jonathan Harker: An attorney whose firm sends him to Transylvania to conclude a real estate transaction with Dracula. Young and naive, Harker quickly finds himself a prisoner in the castle and barely escapes with his life.
- Mina Murray: fiancée of Jonathan Harker. Mina is, in many ways, the heroine of the novel, embodying purity, innocence, and the Christian faith, virtues that she maintains despite her suffering at the hands of the vampire. She is intelligent and resourceful, and her research leads Van Helsing’s men to Dracula’s Castle.
- Lucy Westenra: Mina’s best friend and an attractive and vivacious young woman. Lucy, who is the first character in the novel to fall under the spell of Dracula, becomes a vampire, compromising her highly praised chastity and virtue, and moving her soul away from the promise of eternal rest.
- John Seward: A talented young doctor, a former student of Van Helsing. Seward is the manager of a madhouse not far from Dracula’s English home.
- Arthur Holmwood: Lucy’s fiancé and friend of her other suitors. Arthur is the son of Lord Godalming and inherits that title after the death of his father.
- Quincey Morris: a plain Texas American and another of Lucy’s suitors. Quincey proves himself to be a brave and kind-hearted man, he never regretted Holmwood’s success in winning Lucy’s hand. Quincey finally sacrifices his life to rid the world of Dracula’s influence.
- Renfield: A patient in Seward’s asylum. Renfield, a great giant and a refined knight, gets into the habit of consuming living creatures (flies, spiders, birds, etc.) that he believes provide him with strength, vitality, and life force.
- Mrs. Westenra: Lucy’s mother. A brittle, health-impaired woman, Mrs. Westenra inadvertently sabotages her daughter’s safety by interfering with Van Helsing’s home remedies. She dies of surprise when a wolf leaps out of Lucy’s bedroom window.
Dracula has been interpreted as an expression of anxiety by Eastern Europeans invading Western Europe, as depicted by a Transylvanian person who arrives in London and terrorizes its residents.
Others see Stoker’s novel as an exploration of repressed sexual desire and a reaction to patriarchal and conservative norms that were widely prevalent in Britain during the Victorian period.
Remarkably, it reverses the stereotypical gender roles of the era through the highly sexualized actions of vampires. However, Dracula can also be seen as the evil of temptation personified when he takes advantage of women who must then be protected by the men around them (although those men fail, particularly in the case of Lucy). The complexity of the novel, especially in its gender representation, allows for numerous, sometimes contradictory, interpretations.