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Dracula

DRACULA



(Horror of Dracula)


UK, 1958


Director: Terence Fisher

Production: Hammer; Eastmancolor; running time: 82 minutes. Released May 1958.


Producer: Anthony Hinds; screenplay: Jimmy Sangster, from the novel by Bram Stoker; photography: Jack Asher; camera operator: Len Harris; editors: James Needs, Bill Lenny; sound: Jock May; art director: Bernard Robinson; music: James Bernard.

Cast: Peter Cushing (Dr. Van Helsing); Christopher Lee (Count Dracula); Michael Gough (Arthur); Melissa Stribling (Mina); Carol Marsh (Lucy); Olga Dickie (Gerda); John Van Eyssen (Jonathan); Valerie Gaunt (Vampire Woman).


Publications


Script:

Sangster, Jimmy, Dracula, in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), July-September 1975.

Books:

Pirie, David, Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema 1946–1972, London, 1973.

Eyles, Allen, Robert Adkinson, and Nicholas Fry, The House of Horror: The Story of Hammer Films, London, 1973; revised edition, 1981.

Glut, Donald F., The Dracula Book, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1975.

Rohle, Jr., Robert W., and Douglas C. Hart, The Films of Christopher Lee, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1983.


Articles:

Variety (New York), 7 May 1958.

Motion Picture Herald (New York), 10 May 1958.

Today's Cinema (London), 19 May 1958.

Kine Weekly (London), 22 May 1958.

Monthly Film Bulletin (London), July 1958.

Huss, Roy, "Vampire's Progress: Dracula from Novel to Film via Broadway," in Focus on the Horror Film, edited by Huss and T. J. Ross, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1972.

Photon, no. 27, 1976.

Schneider, M., "Hammer Horrors: The Dracula Films of Christopher Lee," in Monsterscene (Lombard), no. 3, Fall 1994.

Ray, F.O., "The Hammer Factory," in Midnight Marquee (Baltimore), no. 47, Summer 1994.

Brunas, M., in Midnight Marquee (Baltimore), no. 49, Summer 1995.

Fischer, D., "Colossus/Silent Running," in Cinefantastique (Forest Park), no. 8, 1997.

Thornton, S., "Barbara Shelley," in Midnight Marquee (Baltimore), no. 54, Summer 1997.


* * *

Many consider Terence Fisher's Dracula to be the director's finest film. It is certainly Fisher's most visible work, but it is unfortunate that its fame obscures the many other excellent films which he created in his lifetime. It does seem that in reviving the Gothic tradition in Britain, Fisher found a comfortable niche for himself with both the public and Hammer. Dracula (1958) is just one of a series of excellent Gothic romances Fisher made during Hammer's "Golden Age" (roughly 1957–65). As late as 1967, Fisher showed that he was capable of first-rate work with The Devil Rides Out. There is no question that he was the finest director working for Hammer during this period, but there is also no question that his current high critical reputation has been long in coming. The reason for this is simple: horror films have always been considered on the fringe of respectable cinematic discourse, because they push the limits of graphic representation.

When Dracula first appeared, the reviews in the popular press were almost uniformly negative, despite the great popular acclaim the film received. Hammer, for their part, did little to discourage any sort of publicity, and took the bad reviews in stride. As long as the film made money, Hammer was satisfied. Fisher's earlier films for Rank were simply ignored, and he was considered by most to be simply a commercial director with no personal investment in the films he created. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dracula is more than a stylish, rapidly paced redaction of Bram Stoker's novel; it is a film which explores and explodes the surface of Victorian society, using Dracula as a metaphor for the release of sexual urges which had long been repressed or sublimated. Dracula is also seen by Fisher as a parable of righteousness against the attraction of evil; although Dracula enslaves his victims, Fisher shows that there is considerable allure in the life of the undead. Those who fall under Dracula's spell are addicted to vampirism, as one is addicted to drugs; the power of free will alone cannot save the newly recruited vampires. If Dracula is "evil incarnate," as Fisher insisted he was on several occasions, the scholar/scientist represented by Cushing's Van Helsing is at once a redemptive figure who combines in equal parts faith and knowledge, with respect for the separate powers inherent in each. Lee's Dracula is a radical departure from the role as interpreted by Bela Lugosi; for the first time, Dracula is seen as a figure of sexual magnetism, rather than a rapacious animal slavering for blood alone. Fisher's Dracula is an aristocrat first, who hides his rupture with society beneath precisely clipped speech and elegant manners. It is only the night which liberates Dracula's other personality, based entirely on need, addiction, and the use and abandonment of others as mere vessels of momentary satisfaction.

What makes Dracula all the more remarkable is the precise assurance with which Fisher handles his camera. The opening of the film, detailing Jonathan Harker's abortive trip to rid the world of Dracula, is framed within the confines of a diary narrative. Yet the device of the diary notebook is never allowed to slow down the film; rather, Harker comes face to face with castle Dracula in the first seven shots of the film, placing him in immediate jeopardy. Fisher stages Harker's entry into the castle in smooth, contemplative tracking shots, mirroring the ease with which Dracula moves about his domain. When Dracula himself does appear, in a shot which has become justly famous, he is framed in silhouette at the top of a long staircase, which he noiselessly descends. Demonstrating his characteristic economy, Fisher holds on the shot until Dracula walks directly to the camera and addresses it in the first person (the shot is from Harker's point-of-view), dominating the frame. One must remember that, after early work as a clapper boy, magazine loader, and third assistant director, Fisher spent most of his time in the cutting room, working on many of the most important British films of the early 1940s. This precision in editorial construction thus comes from a thorough understanding of the uses and abuses of camera coverage, and it comes as no surprise to learn that Fisher shot very little more than he needed, although he never story-boarded a film in the Hitchcock manner. Jack Asher's cinematography creates a world of blues, reds, and greens, which punctuate rather than dominate Fisher's compositions.

In addition, Asher's lighting locates the actors within the confines of the set as figures fixed in stygian gloom, illuminated by shafts of light from above or from the side, but never bathed in light. This makes the final sequence in the library all the more effective, as Van Hesling runs down the refectory table, rips the curtains from the window, grabs two candlesticks to form a hastily improvised cross, and, with a combination of light and faith, sends Dracula to his doom. We realize during this climactic scene that we have been living in a world of night, or twilight, a world entirely under the control of Dracula, for most of the film. It is the light we all share, and the light of faith: these forces alone will account for our salvation. Asher's gloomy, moody lighting during the main body of the film reinforces this, and works in perfect harmony with the over-dressed, claustrophobic sets of Bernard Robinson.

The role of Dracula made Christopher Lee a star, and Peter Cushing made an indelible mark as Van Helsing, but both continued to work outside the horror genre. Fisher, however, was typecast as a horror director, and a Hammer director, and made few attempts to break away from this public perception of his work. In part this was because Fisher enjoyed making Gothics; he believed in the films he made, and spent a great deal of time and care with them, within the confines of the time and budgetary constraints imposed by Hammer.

Nevertheless, Fisher's work there, using the services of Hammer's excellent technical staff and superlative stable of character and lead actors, revitalized, transformed, and re-created the horror film for an entire new generation of viewers, who enthusiastically enjoyed Fisher's work while their elders denigrated it in favor of the Universal expressionist Gothics of the 1930s and 1940s. It is now clear that Fisher was simply ahead of his time, and the degree of graphic violence which pervades his horror films was simply a response to the needs of the viewing audience for greater generic realism. Fisher's work stands as one of the signal achievements of the British cinema, and paved the way for the next cycle of horror films, which would start with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, a film shot through with a pessimistic spirit Fisher would never have allowed to inhabit his films. Though the battle may be vigorous and hazardous in Fisher's films, good, being infinite, will inevitably triumph over the finite evil of Dracula and his minions. Some see this as a structural weakness in Fisher's vision; if so, it is a weakness shared by Britain's two greatest Gothic writers, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.

—Wheeler Winston Dixon

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Dracula

DRACULA



USA, 1931


Director: Tod Browning

Production: Universal Pictures; black and white, 35mm; running time: 84 minutes, some sources list 76 minutes; length: 6978 feet. Released Valentine's Day, 1931. Re-released 1938. Filmed in Universal studios.


Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr.; screenplay: Garrett Fort, dialogue by Dudley Murphy, from Hamilton Deane's and John L. Balderston's stage adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker; photography: Karl Freund; editor: Milton Carruth; editing supervisor: Maurice Pivar; sound: C. Roy Hunter; production designer: Charles Hall; music director: David Broekman; makeup: Jack P. Pierce.

Cast: Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula); Helen Chandler (Mina); David Manners (Jonathan Harker); Dwight Frye (Renfield); Edward Van Sloan (Professor Van Helsing); Herbert Bunston (Dr. Seward); Frances Dade (Lucy Weston); Joan Standing (Briggs); Charles Gerrard (Martin); Moon Carroll (Maid); Josephine Velez (Nurse); Donald Murphy (Man in coach); Michael Visaroff (Innkeeper).


Publications


Script:

Fort, Garrett, and others, Dracula: The Original 1931 Shooting Script, Absecon, New Jersey, 1990.


Books:

Butler, Ivan, The Horror Film, New York, 1967.

McBride, Joseph, editor, Persistence of Vision: A Collection of Film Criticism, Madison, Wisconsin, 1968.

Huss, Roy, and T. J. Ross, Focus on the Horror Film, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1972.

Edelson, Edward, Great Monsters of the Movies, New York, 1973.

Everson, William K., Classics of the Horror Film, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.

Frank, Alan G., Horror Movies, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.

Lamberti, Mark, Transylvanian Catalogue, Mount Vernon, New York, 1974.

Lenning, Arthur, The Count—The Life and Films of Bela "Dracula" Lugosi, New York, 1974.

Annan, David, Beyond the Dream Machine, New York, 1975.

Pattison, Barrie, The Seal of Dracula, New York, 1975.

Gifford, Denis, Monsters of the Movies, London, 1977.

Halliwell, Leslie, The Dead That Walk: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and Other Favorite Movie Monsters, New York, 1988.

Marrero, Robert, Dracula: The Vampire Legend on Film, Key West, Florida, 1992.

Prüssmann, Karsten, Die Dracula-Filme von Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau bis Francis Ford Coppola, Munich, 1993.

Skal, David J., Dark Carnival: The Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood's Master of the Macabre, New York, 1995.


Articles:

New York Times, 13 February 1931.

Variety (New York), 18 February 1931.

Addams, Charles, "Movie Monster Rally," in New York Times Magazine, 9 August 1953.

Geltzer, George, "Tod Browning," in Films in Review (New York), October 1953.

Everson, William K., "A Family Tree of Monsters," in Film Culture (New York), no. 1, 1955.

Gur, Roy, "The Browning Version," in Cinema (Beverly Hills), June-July 1963.

Halliwell, Leslie, "The Baron, the Count, and Their Ghoul Friends," in Films and Filming (London), June 1969.

Evans, W., "Monster Movies: A Sexual Theory," in Journal of Popular Film (Washington, D.C.), Fall 1973.

Rosenthal, Stuart, "Tod Browning," in The Hollywood Professionals 4, London, 1975.

Garsault, A., "Tod Browning: A la recherche de la réalité," in Positif (Paris), July-August 1978.

Huxner, V. I., in Magill's Survey of Cinema 1, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1980.

Turner, George, "The Two Faces of Dracula," in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), May 1988.

McBride, W. T., "Dracula and Mephistopheles: Shyster Vampires," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 2, 1990.

Thomson, David, "Really a Part of Me," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1995.

Haas, R., "The Monster Boomer: An Interview with David J. Skal," in Post Script (Commerce), no. 3, 1996.

Holt, Wesley G., "Dracula," in Filmfax (Evanston), August-September 1996.

Ford, J.E., "Dracula," in Films of the Golden Age (Muscatine), Fall 1997.

"Dracula Revived (Restoration that Features a New Score Composed by Philip Glass)," in Stereo Review's Sound & Vision, vol. 64, no. 8, October 1999.


* * *

Like other horror films of the period (e.g., Frankenstein, 1931, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1932, Island of Lost Souls, 1933), Dracula is about sex—perverse and passionate—and, like those other pictures, it has a short running time for an "A" film because it suffers from self- and outside censorship; material was excised from the screenplay or the finished film because of its "questionable" aspects. This and other deficiencies dilute the movie's effectiveness for contemporary audiences.

For example, the heroine, Mina, tells Professor Van Helsing that she's seen her dead friend Lucy walking about "alive." The Professor promises that he will put Lucy to rest forever. In the novel, this leads to a harrowing scene wherein Van Helsing and Lucy's fiancé stake and behead the recently undead woman. Arthur Lennig says that Lucy "actually was dispatched by Van Helsing, but this episode, along with the others, was not in the release prints."

Later, after Mina's tearful confession, almost thrown away on the soundtrack, that Dracula opened a vein in his arm (a phallic metaphor) and made her drink, the count again visits her in her bedroom. (There's a discreet fade-out as he bends over to bite her neck; actual penetration is never shown in Dracula.) Then everybody converges upon Carfax Abbey for the finale. How they get there (and why they go there) is not shown.

After a half-dozen remakes of Dracula (none of which completely captures the excitement of the book or gets the plot right), and hundreds of other vampire films, where the sexual nature of vampirism is more explicit, it's difficult for contemporary viewers to understand the filmmakers' reticence or to feel the impact the movie had when it first opened. Universal advertised the film (released, appropriately perversely, on Valentine's Day, 1931) as "the strangest love story ever told" (partly because there was no established horror genre to exploit), and it certainly was that.

The attraction of the foreign lover is present in the vampire Count's power over women, but the sexual liberation (wantonness) vampirism inspires in his female victims is absent. His three "brides" are not the quick, alluring, dangerous creatures of the novel but staid, staring zombies. So is Lucy, in the one shot we see of her as a vampire. Only Mina is allowed a brief glimmer of desire when she eyes her fiancé's neck, but her—off-screen—coitus is interrupted by ever-vigilant Van Helsing.

The lack of a score hampers the film. It has to work harder to create mood, and often images alone aren't enough to accomplish this. The filmmakers, still laboring under the delusion that all onscreen music must spring from a "realistic" physical source, dispensed with it altogether, except over the opening and closing credits and during the famous scene in the theatre, where the lights go down as the music comes up, and Dracula makes his tragi-romantic assertion, "To die, to be really dead—that must be glorious."

Frankenstein suffers from the same deficiencies as Dracula (censorship, scorelessness) but it remains a more thrilling, fluid film. That's because Frankenstein was directed by the eccentric James Whale, whereas Dracula was directed by Tod Browning, a pedestrian director with a taste for the grotesque (no doubt because of his circus background) but no feeling for the supernatural. Except for Dracula, his films are all solidly, stolidly grounded in reality.

Given Browning's limitations and his particular cinematic bent, he really couldn't bring much to a subject like Dracula. The beginning at the Count's castle and the ending on the seemingly endless stairs of Carfax Abbey are impressive because Browning and the cinematographer Karl Freund had good sets to shoot, but neither knew what to do with the long, stagey middle section of Dracula, taken from the Balderston-Dean play. (Significantly, the effective Transylvanian opening and the theatre scene were written by the uncredited scenarist Louis Bromfield). So all that the viewer is left with is a lot of static shots, almost a series of still photos instead of a moving picture, animated only by some mellow performances and ripe language. For, despite its lack of background music, Dracula is very much a sound movie, full of memorable dialogue memorably delivered, especially by Bela Lugosi with his mellifluous accent, Edward Van Sloan with his pompous pronouncements, and Dwight Frye with his maniacal cackling. In contemporary jargon, it's a film about competing discourses, and on that rests its continuing appeal.

—Anthony Ambrogio

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Dracula

Dracula

Fictional vampire in a book of that name by Irish author Bram Stoker (1847-1912). The Count Dracula character has become an archetype for scores of books, films, and plays on the vampire theme since first appearing in Stoker's version of May 1897.

Stoker's character was supposedly based in part on the real-life Prince Dracula (Vlad V) in fifteenth-century Wallachia, but the historical original was reportedly a sadist rather than a vampire. According to legend, during his rule one of his punishments was to impale his victims on stakes and gloat over their sufferings. Stoker wedded the image of the literary vampire developed in the stories of John Polidori and Sheridan Le Fanu with information about the medieval Romanian ruler.

Stoker possibly became aware of the real Dracula through conversations with the Hungarian scholar Arminius Vambéry and supplemented his stories with research in Whitby, York-shire, and at the British Museum Library, London. There is thus considerable authenticity in much of the background detail of Stoker's book, including vampire folklore and actual locations in Transylvania (now Romania).

Dracula was first performed as a play on May 18, 1897, at the Lyceum Theatre, London (where Stoker was manager to the actor Henry Irving), but this first production was an adapted reading for copyright purposes, lasting four hours.

In 1923 permission for a dramatization of Dracula was given by Stoker's widow to Irish actor Hamilton Deane, and this version was first produced in June 1924 at the Grand Theatre, Derby, opening in London at the Little Theatre, John Street, Adelphi, February 14, 1924.

It is believed that the first screen versions were a Russian and then a Hungarian silent film, but copies of neither have survived. However, the 1922 German film, Nosferatu, oder Eine Symphonie des Grauens (a slightly disguised Dracula made by the famous silent film director F. W. Murnau), did survive in spite of Florence Stoker's attempt to squelch it. The role of the vampire was played by Max Schreck and the film achieved a doom-laden atmosphere, chiefly through the photography of cameraman Fritz Arno Wagner. After Florence Stoker's successful prosecution for infringement of copyright, the production company went into bankruptcy, but some prints survived and have been made available for public showings.

The Movies

The first official Dracula movie was made in Hollywood in 1930, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi in the title role. Lugosi became the most famous Dracula, appearing in many plays and films in this role. In 1972 a California court upheld the copyright of the heirs of Bela Lugosi in his own characterization of the part of Dracula. Over the years, the Dracula vampire theme has proliferated in movies all over the world, Christopher Lee and John Carradine playing the part most often. Dracula, the novel, has been brought to the screen more than a dozen times, and several hundred movies have featured the main character. In 1992, film director Francis Ford Coppola released his version of the classic entitled Bram Stroker's Dracula, with Gary Oldman in the title role supported by Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. The film won Academy Awards for best costume design, makeup, sound effects, and editing.

In March 1968 the magazine Fate published an interview with Count Alexander Cepesi, who claimed to be a descendant of Vlad Dracula. Cepesi was a Romanian, living in Istanbul since 1947. He operated a blood bank and collected plasma for Turkish hospitals.

The traditional tomb of Dracula is in a monastery at Snagov, Romania. It was opened in 1931 but was found to contain only animal bones. A second grave in the same church contained a casket with a skeleton in a purple shroud embroidered with gold. However, the Weird Museum in Hollywood, California, exhibited what is claimed to be the authentic skeleton of Vlad Dracula, believed to have been removed from Bucharest.

In Britain, the Dracula Society exists to promote the study and appreciation of the work of Bram Stoker and Gothic themes in literature, theater, and film. In the Republic of Ireland, a Bram Stoker Society was formed with similar aims and fraternal association with the British Dracula Society. In the United States both the Count Dracula Fan Club and the Count Dracula Society carry on the appreciation of Dracula and his vampire cousins. Most recently, the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, headquartered in Bucharest, has brought together a worldwide network of Dracula enthusiasts.

The modern revival of interest in the undead vampire of Bram Stoker's famous novel has continued to grow through the twentieth century but has increased since the 1972 publication of a biography of the real Dracula by historians Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu. In May 1977, during ceremonies held in Bucharest to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Romanian independence, President Nicolae Ceausescu solemnly honored fifteenth-century warrior-prince Vlad Dracula (proto-type of Stoker's thriller) by inclusion in the nation's Hall of Fame. Prince Vlad is a tourist attraction in Romania for hundreds of foreign visitors who join the tours of sites related to both Prince Vlad and the novel's Transylvanian count. The real Dracula, Vlad Tepes or "Vlad the Impaler," killed his enemies by impaling them on sharply pointed wooden stakes. This is an inversion of the traditional method of setting a vampire to rest, as told in Dracula.

Vlad the Impaler was captured by Turks in 1476, and after decapitation his head was exhibited in Constantinople, on a stake. His status as a national hero stems from his opposition to the Turks and "love for the fatherland" as an authoritarian.

The centennial of the novel Dracula was celebrated in 1997 and Vlad Tepes is still a well-known historical figure to contemporary audiences, while the literary Dracula has become an immediately recognizable figure in popular culture. The image of Dracula regularly appears on products from greeting cards to mass media advertisements. Dracula books, comic books, movies, jewelry, dramas, candy, and toys appeal to an ever increasing audience.

Sources:

Bisang, Robert Eighteen-Bisang. Dracula: A Century of Editions, Adaptations and Translations. Part One: English Language Edition. Santa Barbara: Transylvanian Society of Dracula, 1978.

Florescu, Radu & Raymond T. McNally. Dracula: A Biography of Vlad the Impaler 1391-1476. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973.

Glut, Donald. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1975.

McNally, Raymond T. & Radu Florescu. In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends. New York: New York Graphic Society, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.

Miller, Elizabeth. Dracula: Sense and Nonsense. Westcliff-on-Sea, UK: Desert Island Books, 1998.

. Reflection on Dracula: Ten Essays, White Rock, BC: Transylvanian Press, 1997.

Shepard, Leslie, and Albert Powers, eds. Dracula: Celebrating 100 Years. Dublin, Ireland: Mentor Press, 1997.

Summers, Montague. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. Reprint, London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1928. Re-print, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1960.

. The Vampire in Europe. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1966.

Wolf, Leonard. The Annotated Dracula. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1975.

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Dracula

Dracula

In the history and legend of eastern Europe, Dracula was the popular name of Vlad the Impaler, a merciless Romanian tyrant of the 1400s. Dracula means "heir of the Order of the Dragon," dedicated to fighting the Turks. However, in the worlds of fiction and film, the name Dracula has been associated with Count Dracula, the vampire. He was the main character in an 1897 novel by the British author Bram Stoker.


Vlad the Impaler. The historical Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Tepeş, was prince of Walachia (near Transylvania) and lived from 1431 to 1476. The tales told about him were filled with horror and cruelty Fond of dining outdoors, Vlad would have his enemies impaled on stakes around the dinner table so that he could listen to them scream as he ate. Once a group of Turkish envoys who came before him refused to remove their turbans. Vlad ordered that the turbans be nailed to their heads. In another story, Vlad told some guests that if they wished, he could put an end to their troubles. They said yes, whereupon he had them locked in a room and burned alive.


Bram Stoker's Dracula. The legends of Vlad the Impaler's inhuman behavior may have contributed to an association of Dracula with vampires, corpses that rise from the grave during the night to drink the blood of humans. However, it was Stoker's novel that forever linked the name Dracula with the "undead" bloodsucking creatures of the grave.

In Stoker's book, Count Dracula is a centuries-old vampire of Transylvania, a region in central Romania. During the day, he rests in his coffin, but at night, he rises to feast on human blood. The people he bites turn into vampires themselves. Dracula continues to claim victims until his pursuers succeed in driving a stake through his heart, finally ending his reign of terror.

Stoker's novel became the best-known vampire tale of all time. Produced as a play in 1927, the story was the basis of many movies, starting with the famous 1922 silent film Nosferatu. The classic motion picture version of Stoker's story, made in 1931, won international fame for the actor Bela Lugosi, who starred as the black-cloaked Count Dracula. This film established a pattern for vampire-based horror movies that continues to this day.

See also Vampires.

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Dracula

Dracula the Transylvanian vampire in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897). The name is a variant of Drakula, Dragwlya, names given to Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler), a 15th-century prince of Wallachia renowned for his cruelty.

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Dracula

Dracula: see Stoker, Bram; Vlad IV.

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Dracula

Draculaampulla, bulla, fuller, Müller, pula, puller •titular • Weissmuller • wirepuller •incunabula, tabular •preambular • glandular • coagula •angular, quadrangular, rectangular, triangular •Dracula, facula, oracular, spectacular, vernacular •cardiovascular, vascular •annular, granular •scapula • capsular • spatula •tarantula • nebula • scheduler •calendula •irregular, regular •Benbecula, molecular, secular, specular •cellular • fibula • Caligula • singular •auricular, curricula, curricular, diverticula, funicular, lenticular, navicular, particular, perpendicular, testicular, vehicular, vermicular •primula •insular, peninsula •fistula, Vistula •globular •modular, nodular •binocular, jocular, ocular •oscular •copula, popular •consular • formula • tubular • uvula •jugular •avuncular, carbuncular •crepuscular, majuscular, minuscular, muscular •pustular •circular, semicircular, tubercular •Ursula

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Dracula

Dracula

by Bram Stoker

THE LITERARY WORK

A novel set in the Balkans and England in the late 1890s; first published in London in 1897.

SYNOPSIS

From his home in the Balkans the vampire Count Dracula journeys to England, where he uses supernatural powers to enthrall his victims, who become vampires themselves after he sucks their blood. Led by the Dutch scientist Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, a group of young friends combats Dracula.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The Novel in Focus

For More Information

Anglo-Irish author Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was born in Dublin, Ireland, where he spent a decade as a civil servant before moving to London in 1878. The move w prompted by Stoker’s becoming the business manager of the era’s best known actor, Henry Irving (1838-1905), who had just taken over London’s Lyceum Theater. For the next 27 years, until living’s death, Stoker helped run the theater, managing and promoting living’s career, writing letters in his name, and accompanying the actor on tours to various parts of the world (including the United States, which Stoker avidly admired). Stoker began a supplementary career as a novelist when he published The Snake’s Pass in 1890; his later novels include The Mystery of the Sea (1902), The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Like Dracula, these works combine elements of Gothic horror and often grotesque fantasy. None, however, has enjoyed Dracula’s lasting success. Written in a period of national anxiety in Britain, the novel reflects a society that fears its own vitality may somehow be draining away.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

Certainty and doubt in late Victorian Britain

The late Victorian period (c. 1875-1901) was an age of contrasting certainties and doubts for the British. On one hand, national confidence was high as Britain’s worldwide empire expanded rapidly in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. By 1897, when the nation marked Quee Victoria’s sixtieth year of rule with an exuberant public celebration called the Diamond Jubilee, Britain held sway over about a fourth of the world’s population and landmass. Of that territory, 2.5 million square miles—an area the size of the entire Roman Empire at its peak—had come under British rule in the previous twelve years alone, from 1884 to 1896. From Ireland t India, from the Americas to Asia and Africa, Britain seemed destined to rule.

Yet even as British world power reached its apogee, some believed they saw signs of vulnerability, portents of a feared and inevitable decline. Subject peoples in Ireland, India, Africa, and elsewhere had resisted British rule, at times violently. In addition, other Western nations, particularly Germany and the United States, seemed to possess energy and ambition that threatened to undo Britain’s global leadership should the British grow soft or degenerate. Such apprehensions, while pushed into the background in the grandly imperial 1890s, nonetheless reflected nagging concerns about Britain’s future.

Much more overtly worrisome to most cultural observers at the time was a deep religious crisis that was seen as undermining society’s very foundations. Fueled by the impersonal harshness of an industrial revolution that resulted in urban poverty, and by scientific developments such as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859; also Literature and Its Times), religious skepticism flourished on an unprecedented scale in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Though this crisis of faith had its best known expression in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poem In Memoriam (1850), a number of novelists addressed the issue too toward the end of the century. One of them, a then popular but now forgotten writer named Hall Caine (1853-1931), sold 50,000 copies of his novel The Christian in the first month of publication. Published (like Dracula) in 1897, the book tells the story of a clergyman, torn between his faith and his love for a woman, who revolts against organized religion and devotes himself to aiding the poor in crowded cities. Caine was a good friend of Stoker’s, and Dracula is dedicated to him (under the nickname “Hommy-Beg”). While it does not invoke Caine’s type of realism, Dracula does portray its protagonist as planning to prey on London’s “teeming millions” (Stoker, Dracula, p. 51).

By the end of the nineteenth century, science and industrialization had combined to produce a newly secular outlook in contrast to the longstanding religious one. This new outlook was “conducive to demystification,” not an altogether welcome development (Harrison, p. 130). Many Victorians felt the loss of mystery keenly, and the void it left created an often ambivalent reaction to the new secularism. Stoker’s novel reflects this ambivalence clearly. For example, the band of friends that opposes Dracula includes two scientists and enthusiastically relies on rational, modern scientific methods to demystify the alien threat represented by the vampire Count. In the end, however, they are forced to fall back on religious symbols as well, such as the crucifix and the Host (communion wafer). One of them, Jonathan Harker, a British lawyer imprisoned in Dracula’s castle in the novel’s early pages, acknowledges fearfully in his “up-to-date” shorthand diary that “the old centuries … have powers of their own that mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill” (Dracula, p. 36).

Modern technology and “the New Woman.”

Along with shorthand (which had actually been around for some two centuries but was coming into wider business and personal use), the modern weapons in the vampire hunters’ arsenal include such high-tech communications and information processing tools as the telegraph, the phonograph, and the typewriter. (The telephone had been invented and would come into commercial use just a few years after the novel is set.) Dr. Seward, one of the vampire hunters in the novel, keeps his journal on an early phonograph that records his voice on wax cylinders. The typewriter had been invented in the 1860s by American Christopher Sholes, who contracted with the arms manufacturer Remington and Sons to mass produce the machines in the 1870s. Remington opened a British dealership in 1886, and by the 1890s typewriters had come into widespread use in British businesses. In Dracula, Mina Murray (who marries Jonathan Harker midway through the novel) plays a key role in the hunt for Dracula by efficiently collecting and transcribing relevant but scattered documents on her typewriter, including various telegrams, her husband’s shorthand diary, and Dr. Seward’s phonograph journal.

As Mina’s central part in the story suggests, the advent of the typewriter and other technologies created a revolutionary new role for women in British society. Suddenly, women were offered avenues of employment far different from any available to them before. One Englishman, returning to England in 1904 after a 30-year absence, was shocked to find women pursuing jobs that had either been reserved for men or had not even existed when he left:

So far as I remember in days gone by the only lines of employment open to girls or women were: teaching, assisting in a shop, dressmaking, or barkeeping. In these days there is hardly an occupation … into which a girl may not aspire to enter. Typewriting provides a living for many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. There are women newspaper reporters almost as numerous as men. Accountants and bookkeepers crowd the trains morning and evening … while many branches of postal, telegraph and telephone work are entirely managed by women.

(Harrison, p. 168)

The typewriter led the way in this revolution in the 1890s, as girls and young women skilled in shorthand and typing found work as secretaries in otherwise all-male offices. Wages, however, were too low for such employees to live independently, and they were expected to leave when they married. If they did not leave by their mid-twenties, they were generally replaced by younger, newly trained girls or women. Those women who did work nevertheless had a significant impact on late Victorian society; their jobs gave them a degree of financial independence, which contributed greatly to the formation of an assertive female identity.

Limited independence was more than women had enjoyed before, and in 1894 feminist novelist Sarah Grand coined the phrase “the New Woman” to describe the phenomenon. The New Woman was neither a prostitute nor a confirmed homebody; in fact, she did not consider the home her exclusive sphere. While Grand introduced the phrase “the New Woman,” the writer Ouida (pen name for Marie Louise de la Ramée) popularized it. She replied to Grand that this variety of female was a bore, and controversy ensued. Novelists meanwhile helped define the image. Middle-class and educated, as portrayed in popular novels by Grant Allen, Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, and others, the typical New Woman sought greater sexual freedom, smoked cigarettes, and drank in public. She also supported the growing women’s suffrage movement, which aimed to secure the vote for British women (a goal that would not be achieved until 1918 for women over the age of 30, until 1929 for women 21 and older, and until 1969 for those 18 and older). As Sally Ledger notes, the New Woman was an invented persona too, a characterization in reaction to this growing movement.

The New Woman of the fin de siécle had a multiple identity. She was, variously, a feminist activist, a social reformer, a popular novelist, a suffragette playwright, a woman poet; she was also often a fictional construct, a discursive response to the activities of the late nineteenth-century women’s movement.

(Ledger, p. 1)

In Dracula, Mina, an assistant schoolmistress at a girls’ school, rejects the New Woman’s radical values but seems to appreciate her abilities, having acquired typing and other secretarial skills in order to assist her husband’s career as a lawyer. Mina’s ambivalence regarding the New Woman reflects a genuine widespread cultural anxiety of the day. Many feared that new opportunities would lead women to neglect their civic responsibility to become mothers. The New Woman was perceived as an internal threat to national strength and security—a threat every bit as grave as the threat of colonial resistance. There was also a fear that if other nations did a better job of re-producing than Britain, they would grow stronger and the two threats would combine to dislodge the preeminence of the British. In view of this fear, what happens to Mina in the novel is doubly reassuring. She bears a British baby and is also prevented from helping to reproduce threatening outsiders, in this case, vampires.

Occultism and psychology

The late Victorians’ questioning of previous scientific, religious, and social certainties may help explain a surge of interest in the occult as the century drew to a close. Certainly many of the same people doing the questioning were drawn to the occult, which perhaps served to restore a sense of mystery to lives increasingly illuminated by the glaring spotlight of Victorian rationalism. Séances, clairvoyance, mesmerism (hypnosis), astrology, palmistry, crystal-gazing, faith healing, alchemy, witchcraft, astral projection—these and other mysterious practices and entertainments flourished, both in public spaces such as theaters and in private homes. Clubs and societies pursued occult ideas with avid curiosity, their members often sporting

THE “CRIMINAL TYPE”

One discipline that blended science and the occult was phrenology, which held that character traits and mental qualities can be discerned by the shape of the head or the dimensions of the brow. The discipline, now thoroughly discredited, played a part in late Victorian criminology. Society boasted “scientific” criminologists, men who based their study of criminals on dissection and anatomy, as well as on observation of the head. In Dracula, Mina Harker names one such criminologist, Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909), when she describes Count Dracula as “a criminal type,” and elsewhere the novel echoes very closely Lombroso’s description of the typical criminal when it describes Count Dracula (Dracula, p. 342):

Stoker Describes DraculaLombroso Describes the Criminal Type
• “[Count Dracula’s] face was … aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils.”• “[The criminal’s] nose … is often aquiline, like the beak of a bird of prey.”
• “His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose.”• “The eyebrows are bushy and tend to meet across the nose.”
• “His ears were pale and at the tops extremely pointed.…”• “A relic of the pointed ear….”

(Adapted from Wolf, p. 300)

an attitude of scientific detachment. Many believed that occult phenomena could be scientifically explained.

For example, the Society for Psychical Research attempted to inquire scientifically into curiosities such as thought reading and haunted houses. The society also hosted a talk that Stoker may have attended on the groundbreaking work of Sigmund Freud, the Viennese doctor who was laying the foundations of modern psychology. Stoker incorporates contemporary ideas about mental illness into Dracula, citing Jean Martin Charcot, a French neurologist who worked with Freud in Paris in 1885 and who demonstrate the usefulness of hypnosis in treating mental illness. In the novel Dr. Seward runs a “lunatic asy lum” (institution for the mentally ill) in whic one of the patients, Renfield, is depicted as being psychically linked with Count Dracula, though Renfield is never properly bitten. Like Dracula’s female victims, Renfield is controlled through his psychic link with the vampire, who possesses supernaturally hypnotic powers of mind control.

The most influential of the many occult groups was the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by the eccentric Russian immigrant Helena Petrova Blavatsky (1831-91), who is also credited with popularizing the term “occultism.” Madame Blavatsky (as she was known) promoted both mysticism and science as paths toward enlightenment, and the Theosophical Society attracted a wide range of Victorian nonconformists, including feminists, socialists, and vegetarians. Though not a “Theosophist” himself, Stoker belonged to a social set that included Theosophical Society members. One was Constance Wilde, wife of the celebrated writer and wit Oscar Wilde, a friend, fellow-Dubliner, and one-time rival of Stoker’s. (Before marrying Constance, Wilde had unsuccessfully wooed Florence Balcombe, who became Stoker’s wife in 1878.)

Oscar Wilde’s own occult novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1890, features a sexually ambiguous central character who (like Dracula) acquires eternal youth from the powers of darkness.

The Novel in Focus

Plot summary

The story is told through the journal entries, letters, newspaper articles, notes, and telegrams that Mina Marker assembles and transcribes during the course of the developing campaign against the vampire. The longest continuous narrative is the first, from the journal of Jonathan Marker. The young British lawyer has traveled to the Balkans at the request of his firm’s client, a certain Count Dracula, who wishes to purchase a house in London. Jonathan writes the first entry as he arrives in Transylvania (today the center and northwest of Romania), the region of the Balkans where the Count lives in his castle. As he awaits a coach that will take him closer to Castle Dracula, he is perturbed when an innkeeper’s wife implores him not to go and then gives him a crucifix, which she says will protect him. The coach is met later by another, smaller coach, driven by a tall man who hides his features but who has eyes that seem to gleam red in the lamplight. Dogs howl as the coach passes farms along the way, and, as it approaches the castle, wolves join in, forming a chorus of howling animals.

At the castle Jonathan is welcomed by Dracula, “a tall old man, clean-shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere” (Dracula, p. 15). At first, Dracula’s friendly welcome allays Jonathan’s growing sense of foreboding, but after a few days his nervousness returns. Several strange incidents add to his fears: the Count does not seem to cast a reflection in mirrors, for example, and reacts violently to the sight of blood when Jonathan cuts himself. Then from a window one night he sees the Count crawling headfirst, like a lizard, down the outside of the castle wall. Furthermore, Dracula only seems to be around at night; Jonathan never sees him during the day, when the castl doors are all locked. Gradually Jonathan realizes that he is a prisoner in the castle.

Against his host’s orders Jonathan explores the castle. In one of the rooms he experiences what seems to be a nightmare: he is menaced by three voluptuous women who excite in him a “deadly fear” yet also “a wicked burning desire” to be kissed with their red lips (Dracula, p. 37). One of the women is about to touch her sharp teeth to his neck when Dracula suddenly appears. His eyes glowing red with rage, the Count pushes them away with a furious warning: “This man belongs to me!” (Dracula, p. 39). The women seem to vanish, and Jonathan awakens in his room. Yet he feels certain the experience was real and dreads that the women still wish to suck his blood. He also sees and hears evidence that Dracula and the women are preying on young children. Another time, while exploring in the basement, he discovers 50 large wooden crates of earth, in one of which rests the Count himself, seemingly dead. In growing panic Jonathan decides to flee the castle, and his last entry is written as he plans to climb down the steep outer stone wall. Better, he resolves, to die in the attempt than to suffer whatever fate the Count and the ghoulish women have in store for him.

The next documents in the narrative are letters between Mina Murray and her upper-class friend Lucy Westenra, a beautiful and stylish young woman. Mina looks forward to her fiancé Jonathan Harker’s return, and Lucy has recently received three proposals of marriage: one from the aristocratic Arthur Holmwood, Lord Godalming, and two others from his friends Dr. Jack Seward and Quincey Morris from Texas in the United States. She agrees to wed Arthur Holmwood, and the rejected suitors gallantly pledge their friendship and best wishes. Mina and Lucy have planned to meet in Whitby, a small coastal resort town in the northern English county of Yorkshire. By the time they do so, Mina has grown anxious about Jonathan, from whom she has not heard in over a month. Meanwhile, entries from Dr. Seward’s journal reveal that (despite sadness at Lucy’s rejection) he has grown interested in what he calls a “zoophagous” (life-eating) patient in his lunatic asylum (Dracula, p. 70). The man, whose name is Renfield, catches flies in his cell, first eating them, but then feeding them to spiders and eating the spiders; he soon progresses to feeding the spiders to sparrows and eating the birds himself. Renfield has asked for a kitten.

Entries from Mina’s journal reflect her growing concern about Jonathan, who still has not been heard from; Mina also mentions that Lucy has begun walking in her sleep. A newspaper cutting relates that a violent and sudden storm at sea off Whitby has resulted in the shipwreck of the Russian sailing vessel Demeter, driven aground in Whitby harbor. Oddly, the cargo vessel

BLOODTHIRSTY TYRANTS, VAMPIRE LEGENDS

The clearest historical model for Count Dracula was a notoriously bloodthirsty Balkan nobleman called Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler. after his preferred method of executing his enemies. The ruler of the Balkan principality of Wallachia from 1456 to 1462, he was also known as Vlad Dracula. Dracula means “Devil” or “Dragon” in Wallachian; Stoker makes clear in the novel that Dracula’s powers originate with the Devil. and hints that he may be the Devil himself. Another Central European historical figure, the sixteenth-century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, was infamous for killing young girls and bathing in their blood in order to rejuvenate herself. While vampires have been a staple of folklore in many cultures since ancient times, such behavior may have helped give rise to an epidemic of vampire sightings in the early eighteenth century in Central Europe.

was empty except for a huge dog that leaped off as the vessel came to rest, and the dead captain, who had lashed himself to the wheel. The captain’s log tells how the crew disappeared at night one by one during the voyage until only the captain was left; terrified, the man lashed himself to the wheel, and was found with a crucifix and rosary beads around his bound wrists. The vessel’s cargo includes 50 large boxes of earth, which are sent on to their destination.

As Mina records, Lucy’s sleepwalking worsens. Mina follows her friend one night to the ruins of a local abbey, where she seems to see a figure with gleaming red eyes bending over Lucy. When Mina approaches, the figure is gone, and Lucy is unconscious. She has two small pinpricks in her throat. Two nights later, Mina finds Lucy sitting up in bed, asleep, pointing to her bedroom window, around which Mina sees a large bat flying. Lucy grows languid and exhausted during the daytime, and she starts talking in her sleep. Instead of healing, the two wounds in her throat get larger. A document records the shipping of 50 crates to Carfax, the ruined manor house next to Dr. Seward’s asylum in London that Jonathan’s firm arranged for Dracula to purchase.

Mina finally receives word of Jonathan, who has been ill in a hospital in the Hungarian city of Budapest for some six weeks. She journeys to Budapest, where she and the now recovering Jonathan are married. Dr. Seward makes entries in his phonograph journal that chart the strange behavior of Renfield, who babbles excitedly about awaiting the commands of his approaching master. Holmwood, worried about Lucy, asks Dr. Seward to examine her. Seward can find nothing wrong, but writes to his old teacher, the renowned Dutch scientist Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Arriving from Amsterdam, Van Helsing transfuses blood from Holmwood to Lucy, then repeats the operation with blood from himself, Seward, and Quincey Morris at intervals of several days, as Lucy somehow keeps losing blood and growing paler and weaker. Despite Van Helsing’s efforts, Lucy dies; she is entombed in her family’s crypt in Hampstead, close to London.

Mina and Jonathan, who have returned to England, are in London where Jonathan, aghast, sees the Count on the street one day. Dracula has somehow grown younger, with black hair instead of gray. Meanwhile, newspaper cuttings report that several young children, missing after playing on Hampstead Heath, have returned with tales of a “bloofer lady” (beautiful lady) who lures them away (Dracula, p. 177). The children also came home with unexplained wounds on their throats. Mina, having read Jonathan’s journal, prepares herself for the struggle she senses coming against “that fearful Count” by typing up her husband’s record of his days as Dracula’s prisoner (Dracula, p. 179). The Dutch scientist Van Helsing contacts her to ask for Lucy’s diary, which Mina has also typed out; she gives him both documents. Van Helsing alarms Seward with talk of hypnotism and thought-reading, insisting that Seward keep an open mind while declaring that it was Lucy who attacked the children on Hampstead Heath. That night they go to the crypt, entering the cold dark chamber to find that Lucy’s coffin is empty. The next day, however, they find her again in the coffin.

Van Helsing tells the disbelieving Seward that Lucy has become a vampire, one of the “Un-Dead,” and that they must kill her by driving a stake through her heart and cutting off her head (Dracula, p. 201). They must do the same, he says, to Dracula, “the great Un-Dead,” who has made Lucy into a vampire by sucking her blood (Dracula, p. 203). After the vampire Lucy attacks them on a subsequent visit, Holmwood, Morris, and Seward believe Van Helsing. The night following the attack they return with him to the crypt, where Lucy’s fiancé, Holmwood, hammers a stake through her heart and Van Helsing and Seward cut off her head. Van Helsing says that only after this can her soul rest in peace.

Mina comes to Dr. Seward’s asylum, where she transcribes the doctor’s phonograph journal and gives him typescripts of her and Jonathan’s diaries to read. Seward realizes that Renfield’s odd behavior, alternately violent and peaceful, has been “a sort of index to the coming and going of the Count” (Dracula, p. 225). Van Hels ing’s occult research has taught him that Dracula’s powers are at their lowest by day, when the vampire must rest, and he can only do so on his native soil. They must find the boxes of earth and “sterilize” them by placing pieces of the Host (sanctified communion wafer) in them (Dracula, p. 242). Once they have done so, the vampire will be unable to rest. They can then find and attack him during his weakest hours, between noon and sunset.

While the men begin tracking the boxes, some of which Dracula has removed to other houses he has purchased, Dracula goes on the offensive against his hunters. Taking the form of mist, he enters Mina’s bedroom at night and begins to suck her blood as he sucked Lucy’s. Soon afterward, Renfield is found beaten in his cell; his back broken, he dies after revealing that Dracula, his assailant, has targeted Mina. Van Helsing and the others hurry to Mina’s room, where they find Jonathan in a trance-like stupor as Dracula, having drunk Mina’s blood, forces her to drink his own in turn. This, the vampire has told her, will place her mind under his command from any distance. Some hours later, as the men locate and sterilize the last of the boxes except for one, Dracula attacks them, but they drive him back with a crucifix, and he flees.

Mina suggests that Van Helsing hypnotize her. As she hopes, under hypnosis her mind-link with the vampire provides a vital clue to his whereabouts. She hears water lapping and sails creaking: Van Helsing assumes that Dracula has fled England in the remaining box and is returning to Transylvania. But the struggle is not over, for Van Helsing says they must pursue him—both for Mina’s sake, since she will remain under the vampire’s influence, and also “for the sake of humanity,” since he is immortal and will continue to make new vampires unless stopped (Dracula, p. 319). They travel to the Black Sea port of Varna, where they await Dracula’s arrival. Overcoming a number of obstacles, they finally intercept the band of gypsies that is transporting Dracula’s box from the ship to the castle. Just as the sun is about to set, the men fight their way through the gypsies to the box, where the mortally injured Quincy Morris plunges his bowie knife through Dracula’s heart as Jonathan Harker simultaneously cuts Dracula’s throat. The vam pire’s body immediately crumbles into dust.

Evolution and degeneration

Throughout Dracula Stoker portrays the Texan Quincey Morris as a man of action who outshines his British fellow vampire hunters in resourcefulness, initiative, and strength. At one point in the novel, Renfield flatters Morris by predicting that America will become a world power: he foresees a day when “the Pole and the Tropics may hold allegiance to the Stars and Stripes” (Dracula, p. 244). Dr. Seward the Victorian man of science, puts this potential in terms of breeding: “If America can go on breeding men like that, she will be a power in the world indeed” (Dracula, p. 173). In other words, imperial success results from breeding. And breeding, the Victorians had realized, is closely linked to the process of evolution.

The publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 had made evolution the most influential idea of the later nineteenth century. Whereas Darwin had limited himself to the area of biology, by the 1870s British thinkers such as Herbert Spencer had applied Darwin’s ideas, popularly summed up in the phrase “survival of the fittest,” to the social realm. In contrast to Darwin’s explanation of biological success, however, this “social Darwinism” was invoked not merely to explain but also to justify social or political success. Politically powerful nations and individuals, the argument went, were inherently superior to less powerful ones, and therefore justified in expanding their power. The imperial Victorians viewed evolution as a ladder of progress, a ladder at the top of which they themselves stood. From the top of a ladder, however, one can easily go down. Progress thus also entails an implicit threat, the danger of its opposite, degeneration, which was (like evolution) a widely discussed idea at the time of the novel.

This often unconscious recognition lay behind the vague fears of the imperial 1890s. Like other nineteenth-century Europeans, the Victorians viewed blood and bloodlines as closely linked to the idea of racial vitality, and saw both as subject to degeneration. Degeneration could come through moral laxness or indulgence, vices they believed had caused the earlier downfall of the Roman Empire, with which the Victorians were fond of comparing their own. Or degeneration

HOMOEROTIC UNDERTONES

In a sensational trial in 1895, two years before Dracula was published, Stokers friend Oscar Wilde was sentenced to prison for His part in a homosexual love affair. In general, Victorian society viewed homosexuality as an evil perversion. Stoker, who as a young man had idolized the homosexual American poet Walt Whitman, adopted an attitude of similar hero-worship toward his employer, the actor Henry Irving. Discerning homoerotic undertones in Dracula, modern critics have speculated about Stoker’s own sexual orientation. Stoker depicts the seductive and commanding Dracula as physically resembling Irving, and he attempted in vain to interest the actor in playing the vampire in ii stage version, Some critics have therefore argued that Stoker’s novel cloaks an attraction toward Irving that the author felt unable to show openly. Regardless of the truth, the dangers of such impulses in Victorian society were clearly demonstrated by the fate of Oscar Wilde, who emerged from prison a broken man in May 1897, the very month of Dracula’s publication.

could come simply with age. In Dracula, these imperial fears are symbolized by the foreign vampire’s draining of British blood in the very process through which he breeds vampires. Recounting medieval battles in his homeland, Dracula describes himself as belonging to “a conquering race” but one whose “blood” is old and needs to be revived (Dracula, p. 29). Drinking blood from his British victims physically rejuvenates him as it enervates them. The vampire thus demonstrates that a degenerate, parasitical fate potentially awaits those whose conquests lie in the past—as many feared was the case with Britain and her empire by the 1890s.

Sources and literary context

Aside from Central European vampire legends and the historical figures of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory, Stoker also drew on an already existing body of vampire tales in English. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1817; also in Literature and Its Times), they originated in the Romantic movement, which was dominated by such poets as Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary’s husband) and Lord Byron. Some of these Dracula predecessors include:

  • Lord Byron’s “The Giaour” (1813), an occult narrative poem that mentions a vampire emerging from its tomb to suck the blood of humans.
  • Dr. John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), featuring a seductive and aristocratic vampire modeled on Lord Byron himself. Polidori was Byron’s physician, and he was present when Byron and the Shelleys held a horror story contest one stormy night in June 1816. Polidori based The Vampyre on an idea Byron himself had that night; Mary Shelley’s contribution would become Frankenstein.
  • James Malcolm Rymer’s Vamey the Vampire (1847), a long (nearly 900 pages) and turgidly written potboiler that introduces features Stoker would borrow for Dracula: Central European origins; long, fanglike canine teeth; a black cloak; the abilities to climb down sheer castle walls and put female victims in a trancelike state; arriving in Britain in a shipwrecked vessel.
  • Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), in which a sensuous female vampire preys on female victims.

Reception

Published on May 26, 1897, Dracula received mixed reviews and enjoyed only moderate sales during Stoker’s lifetime. Seeing the novel as a straightforward Gothic adventure story in which good triumphs over evil, Victorian readers and reviewers alike ignored the sexual elements that have proven so alluring for modern literary critics.

In addition to the novel’s sexual aspects, critics have found the figure of Count Dracula himself a strikingly rich source of symbolism, most of which plays off taboos or alienation of one kind or another. As one critic writes in the introduction to a recent edition, Dracula has been seen as standing for “perversion, menstruation, venereal disease, female sexuality, male homosexuality, feudal aristocracy, monopoly capitalism, the proletariat, the Jew, the primal father, the Antichrist, and the typewriter” (Ellmann in Dracula, p. xxviii). Along with being perennially fashionable among literary critics, Dracula has proven immensely popular on both stage and screen, where (beginning with Bela Lugosi’s classic 1931 film portrayal) he has found his widest exposure in popular culture.

—Colin Wells

For More Information

Belford, Barbara. Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Man Who Wrote Dracula. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Glover, David. Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals: Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.

Harrison, J. F. C. Late Victorian Britain 1875-1901. London: Routledge, 1991.

Hughes, William, and Andrew Smith, eds. Bram Stoker: History, Psychoanalysis and the Gothic. London: Macmillan, 1998.

Jarret, Derek. The Sleep of Reason: Fantasy and Reality from the Victorian Age to the First World War. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1988.

Jenner, Michael. Victorian Britain. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1999.

Leatherdale, Clive. The Origins of Dracula. London: William Kimber, 1987.

Ledger, Sally. The New Woman: Fiction and Feminism at the Fin de Siècle. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996.

Rosenbach Museum. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Centennial Exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Museum, 1997.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Maud Ellmann. Oxford World’s Classics Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Wolf, Leonard. The Annotated Dracula. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1975.

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Dracula

Dracula

by Bram Stoker

THE LITERARY WORK

A novel set in the Batkans and England in the late 1890s; first published in London m 1897.

SYNOPSIS

From his home in the Balkans the vampire Count Dracula journeys to England, where he uses supernatural powers to enthrall his victims, who become vampires themselves after he sucks their blood Led by the Dutch scientist Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, a group of young friends combats Dracula.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The Novel in Focus

For More Information

Anglo-lrish author Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was born in Dublin, Ireland, where he spent a decade as a civil servant before moving to London in 1878. The move was prompted by Stoker’s becoming the business manager of the era’s best known actor, Henry Irving (1838-1905), who had just taken over London’s Lyceum Theater. For the next 27 years, until living’s death, Stoker helped run the theater, managing and promoting living’s career, writing letters in his name, and accompanying the actor on tours to various parts of the world (including the United States, which Stoker avidly admired). Stoker began a supplementary career as a novelist when he published The Snake’s Pass in 1890; his later novels include The Mystery of the Sea (1902), The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Like Dracula, these works combine elements of Gothic horror and often grotesque fantasy. None, however, has enjoyed Dracula’s lasting success. Written in a period of national anxiety in Britain, the novel reflects a society that fears its own vitality may somehow be draining away.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

Certainty and doubt in late Victorian Britain

The late Victorian period (c. 1875-1901) was an age of contrasting certainties and doubts for the British. On one hand, national confidence was high as Britain’s worldwide empire expanded rapidly in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. By 1897, when the nation marked Queen Victoria’s sixtieth year of rule with an exuberant public celebration called the Diamond Jubilee, Britain held sway over about a fourth of the world’s population and landmass. Of that territory, 2.5 million square miles—an area the size of the entire Roman Empire at its peak—had come under British rule in the previous twelve years alone, from 1884 to 1896. From Ireland to India, from the Americas to Asia and Africa, Britain seemed destined to rule.

Yet even as British world power reached its apogee, some believed they saw signs of vulnerability, portents of a feared and inevitable decline. Subject peoples in Ireland, India, Africa, and elsewhere had resisted British rule, at times violently. In addition, other Western nations, particularly Germany and the United States, seemed to possess energy and ambition that threatened to undo Britain’s global leadership should the British grow soft or degenerate. Such apprehensions, while pushed into the background in the grandly imperial 1890s, nonetheless reflected nagging concerns about Britain’s future.

Much more overtly worrisome to most cultural observers at the time was a deep religious crisis that was seen as undermining society’s very foundations. Fueled by the impersonal harshness of an industrial revolution that resulted in urban poverty, and by scientific developments such as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859; also in WLAIT 4: British and Irish Literature and Its Times), religious skepticism flourished on an unprecedented scale in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Though this crisis of faith had its best known expression in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poem In Memoriam (1850; also in WLAIT 4: British and Irish Literature and Its Times), a number of novelists addressed the issue too to ward the end of the century. One of them, a then-popular but now forgotten writer named Hall Caine (1853-1931), sold 50,000 copies of his novel The Christian in the first month of publication. Published (like Dracula) in 1897, the book tells the story of a clergyman, torn between his faith and his love for a woman, who revolts against organized religion and devotes himself to aiding the poor in crowded cities. Caine was a good friend of Stoker’s, and Dracula is dedicated to him (under the nickname “Hommy-Beg”). While it does not invoke Caine’s type of realism, Dracula does portray its protagonist as planning to prey on London’s “teeming millions” (Stoker, Dracula, p. 51).

By the end of the nineteenth century, science and industrialization had combined to produce a newly secular outlook in contrast to the longstanding religious one. This new outlook was “conducive to demystification,” not an altogether welcome development (Harrison, p. 130). Many Victorians felt the loss of mystery keenly, and the void it left created an often ambivalent reaction to the new secularism. Stoker’s novel reflects this ambivalence clearly. For example, the band of friends that opposes Dracula includes two scientists and enthusiastically relies on rational, modern scientific methods to demystify the alien threat represented by the vampire Count. In the end, however, they are forced to fall back on religious symbols as well, such as the crucifix and the Host (communion wafer). One of them, Jonathan Harker, a British lawyer imprisoned in Dracula’s castle in the novel’s early pages, acknowledges fearfully in his “up-to-date” shorthand diary that “the old centuries … have powers of their own that mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill” (Dracula, p. 36).

Modern technology and “the New Woman.”

Along with shorthand (which had actually been around for some two centuries but was coming into wider business and personal use), the modern weapons in the vampire hunters’ arsenal include such high-tech communications and information processing tools as the telegraph, the phonograph, and the typewriter. (The telephone had been invented and would come into commercial use just a few years after the novel is set.) Dr. Seward, one of the vampire hunters in the novel, keeps his journal on an early phonograph that records his voice on wax cylinders. The typewriter had been invented in the 1860s by American Christopher Sholes, who contracted with the arms manufacturer Remington and Sons to mass produce the machines in the 1870s. Remington opened a British dealership in 1886, and by the 1890s typewriters had come into widespread use in British businesses. In Dracula, Mina Murray (who marries Jonathan Harker midway through the novel) plays a key role in the hunt for Dracula by efficiently collecting and transcribing relevant but scattered documents on her typewriter, including various telegrams, her husband’s shorthand diary, and Dr. Seward’s phonograph journal.

As Mina’s central part in the story suggests, the advent of the typewriter and other technologies created a revolutionary new role for women in British society. Suddenly, women were offered avenues of employment far different from any available to them before. One Englishman, returning to England in 1904 after a 30-year absence, was shocked to find women pursuing jobs that had either been reserved for men or had not even existed when he left:

So far as I remember in days gone by the only lines of employment open to girls or women were: teaching, assisting in a shop, dressmaking, or bar-keeping. In these days there is hardly an occupation … into which a girl may not aspire to enter. Type-writing provides a living for many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. There are women newspaper reporters almost as numerous as men. Accountants and book-keepers crowd the trains morning and evening … while many branches of postal, telegraph and telephone work are entirely managed by women.

(Harrison, p. 168)

The typewriter led the way in this revolution in the 1890s, as girls and young women skilled in shorthand and typing found work as secretaries in otherwise all-male offices. Wages, however, were too low for such employees to live independently, and they were expected to leave when they married. If they did not leave by their mid-twenties, they were generally replaced by younger, newly trained girls or women. Those women who did work nevertheless had a significant impact on late Victorian society; their jobs gave them a degree of financial independence, which contributed greatly to the formation of an assertive female identity.

Limited independence was more than women had enjoyed before, and in 1894 feminist novelist Sarah Grand coined the phrase “the New Woman” to describe the phenomenon. The New Woman was neither a prostitute nor a confirmed homebody; in fact, she did not consider the home her exclusive sphere. While Grand introduced the phrase “the New Woman,” the writer Ouida (pen name for Marie Louise de la Ramee) popularized it. She replied to Grand that this variety of female was a bore, and controversy ensued. Novelists meanwhile helped define the image. Middle-class and educated, as portrayed in popular novels by Grant Allen, Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, and others, the typical New Woman sought greater sexual freedom, smoked cigarettes, and drank in public. She also supported the growing women’s suffrage movement, which aimed to secure the vote for British women (a goal that would not be achieved until 1918 for women over the age of 30, until 1929 for women 21 and older, and until 1969 for those 18 and older). As Sally Ledger notes, the New Woman was an invented persona too, a characterization in reaction to this growing movement.

The New Woman of the fin de siècle had a multiple identity. She was, variously, a feminist activist, a social reformer, a popular novelist, a suffragette playwright, a woman poet; she was also often a fictional construct, a discursive response to the activities of the late nineteenth-century women’s movement.

(Ledger, p. 1)

In Dracula, Mina, an assistant schoolmistress at a girls’ school, rejects the New Woman’s radical values but seems to appreciate her abilities, having acquired typing and other secretarial skills in order to assist her husband’s career as a lawyer. Mina’s ambivalence regarding the New Woman reflects a genuine widespread cultural anxiety of the day. Many feared that new opportunities would lead women to neglect their civic responsibility to become mothers. The New Woman was perceived as an internal threat to national strength and security—a threat every bit as grave as the threat of colonial resistance. There was also a fear that if other nations did a better job of reproducing than Britain, they would grow stronger and the two threats would combine to dislodge the preeminence of the British. In view of this fear, what happens to Mina in the novel is doubly reassuring. She bears a British baby and is also prevented from helping to reproduce threatening outsiders, in this case, vampires.

Occultism and psychology

The late Victorians’ questioning of previous scientific, religious, and social certainties may help explain a surge of interest in the occult as the century drew to a close. Certainly many of the same people doing the questioning were drawn to the occult, which perhaps served to restore a sense of mystery to lives increasingly illuminated by the glaring spotlight of Victorian rationalism. Seances, clairvoyance, mesmerism (hypnosis), astrology, palmistry, crystal-gazing, faith healing, alchemy, witchcraft, astral projection—these and other mysterious practices and entertainments flourished, both in public spaces such as theaters and in private homes. Clubs and societies pursued occult ideas with avid curiosity, their members often sporting

THE “CRIMINAL TYPE”

One discipline that Wended science and the occult was phrenology, which held that character traits and mental qualities can be discerned by the shape of the head or the dimensions of the brow. The discipline, now thoroughly discredited, played a part fn late Victorian criminology; Society boasted “scientific” criminologists, men who based their study of criminals on dissection and anatomy, as well as on observation of the head; In Dracula, Mina Harker names one such criminologist, Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) when she describes Count Dracula as “a criminal type’ and elsewhere the novel echoes very closely Lombroso’s description of the typical criminal when it describes Count Dracula (Dracula, p. 342):

Stoker Describes Dracula Lombroso Describes the Criminal Type
• “[Count Dracula’s] face was … aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils”• “[The criminal’s] nose … is often aquline, like the beak of a bird of prey’”
• “His eyebrows were very massive almost meeting over the nose”• “The eyebrows are bushy and tend to meet across the nose’”
• “His ears were pale and at the tops extremely pointed… .”• “A relic of the pointed ear …”

(Adapted from Wolf, p, 300)

an attitude of scientific detachment. Many believed that occult phenomena could be scientifically explained.

For example, the Society for Psychical Research attempted to inquire scientifically into curiosities such as thought reading and haunted houses. The society also hosted a talk that Stoker may have attended on the groundbreaking work of Sigmund Freud, the Viennese doctor who was laying the foundations of modern psychology. Stoker incorporates contemporary ideas about mental illness into Dracula, citing Jean Martin Charcot, a French neurologist who worked with Freud in Paris in 1885 and who demonstrated the usefulness of hypnosis in treating mental illness. In the novel Dr. Seward runs a “lunatic asylum” (institution for the mentally ill) in which one of the patients, Renfield, is depicted as being psychically linked with Count Dracula, though Renfield is never properly bitten. Like Dracula’s female victims, Renfield is controlled through his psychic link with the vampire, who possesses supernaturally hypnotic powers of mind control.

The most influential of the many occult groups was the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by the eccentric Russian immigrant Helena Petrova Blavatsky (1831-91), who is also credited with popularizing the term “occultism.” Madame Blavatsky (as she was known) promoted both mysticism and science as paths toward enlightenment, and the Theosophical Society attracted a wide range of Victorian nonconformists, including feminists, socialists, and vegetarians. Though not a “Theosophist” himself, Stoker belonged to a social set that included Theosophical Society members. One was Constance Wilde, wife of the celebrated writer and wit Oscar Wilde, a friend, fellow-Dubliner, and one-time rival of Stoker’s. (Before marrying Constance, Wilde had unsuccessfully wooed Florence Balcombe, who became Stoker’s wife in 1878.)

Oscar Wilde’s own occult novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1890, features a sexually ambiguous central character who (like Dracula) acquires eternal youth from the powers of darkness.

The Novel in Focus

Plot summary

The story is told through the journal entries, letters, newspaper articles, notes, and telegrams that Mina Marker assembles and transcribes during the course of the developing campaign against the vampire. The longest continuous narrative is the first, from the journal of Jonathan Barker. The young British lawyer has traveled to the Balkans at the request of his firm’s client, a certain Count Dracula, who wishes to purchase a house in London. Jonathan writes the first entry as he arrives in Transylvania (today the center and northwest of Romania), the region of the Balkans where the Count lives in his castle. As he awaits a coach that will take him closer to Castle Dracula, he is perturbed when an innkeeper’s wife implores him not to go and then gives him a crucifix, which she says will protect him. The coach is met later by another, smaller coach, driven by a tall man who hides his features but who has eyes that seem to gleam red in the lamplight. Dogs howl as the coach passes farms along the way, and, as it approaches the castle, wolves join in, forming a chorus of howling animals.

At the castle Jonathan is welcomed by Dracula, “a tall old man, clean-shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere” (Dracula, p. 15). At first, Dracula’s friendly welcome allays Jonathan’s growing sense of foreboding, but after a few days his nervousness returns. Several strange incidents add to his fears: the Count does not seem to cast a reflection in mirrors, for example, and reacts violently to the sight of blood when Jonathan cuts himself. Then from a window one night he sees the Count crawling headfirst, like a lizard, down the outside of the castle wall. Furthermore, Dracula only seems to be around at night; Jonathan never sees him during the day, when the castle doors are all locked. Gradually Jonathan realizes that he is a prisoner in the castle.

Against his host’s orders Jonathan explores the castle. In one of the rooms he experiences what seems to be a nightmare: he is menaced by three voluptuous women who excite in him a “deadly fear” yet also “a wicked burning desire” to be kissed with their red lips (Dracula, p. 37). One of the women is about to touch her sharp teeth to his neck when Dracula suddenly appears. His eyes glowing red with rage, the Count pushes them away with a furious warning: “This man belongs to me!” (Dracula, p. 39). The women seem to vanish, and Jonathan awakens in his room. Yet he feels certain the experience was real and dreads that the women still wish to suck his blood. He also sees and hears evidence that Dracula and the women are preying on young children. Another time, while exploring in the basement,

he discovers 50 large wooden crates of earth, in one of which rests the Count himself, seemingly dead. In growing panic Jonathan decides to flee the castle, and his last entry is written as he plans to climb down the steep outer stone wall. Better, he resolves, to die in the attempt than to suffer whatever fate the Count and the ghoulish women have in store for him.

The next documents in the narrative are letters between Mina Murray and her upper-class friend Lucy Westenra, a beautiful and stylish young woman. Mina looks forward to her fiance Jonathan Harker’s return, and Lucy has recently received three proposals of marriage: one from the aristocratic Arthur Holmwood, Lord Godalming, and two others from his friends Dr. Jack Seward and Quincey Morris from Texas in the United States. She agrees to wed Arthur Holm-wood, and the rejected suitors gallantly pledge their friendship and best wishes. Mina and Lucy have planned to meet in Whitby, a small coastal resort town in the northern English county of Yorkshire. By the time they do so, Mina has grown anxious about Jonathan, from whom she has not heard in over a month. Meanwhile, entries from Dr. Seward’s journal reveal that (despite sadness at Lucy’s rejection) he has grown interested in what he calls a “zoophagous” (life-eating) patient in his lunatic asylum (Dracula, p. 70). The man, whose name is Renfield, catches flies in his cell, first eating them, but then feeding them to spiders and eating the spiders; he soon progresses to feeding the spiders to sparrows and eating the birds himself. Renfield has asked for a kitten.

Entries from Mina’s journal reflect her growing concern about Jonathan, who still has not been heard from; Mina also mentions that Lucy has begun walking in her sleep. A newspaper cutting relates that a violent and sudden storm at sea off Whitby has resulted in the shipwreck of the Russian sailing vessel Demeter, driven aground in Whitby harbor. Oddly, the cargo vessel

BLOODTHIRSTY TYRANTS, VAMPIRE LEGENDS

The clearest historical model for Count Dracula was a notoriously bloodthirsty Balkan nobleman called Vlad Tepes or Vlad the impaler, after his preferred nethod of executing Ms enemies. The ruler of the Balkan principality of Wallachia from 1456 to 1462, he was also known as Vlad Dracula. Dracula means “Devil or “Dragon’ in Wallachiari; Stoker makes clear in the novel that Draoila’s powers originate with the Devil, and hints that he may be the Devil himself, Another Central European historical figure, the sixteenfrcentury Hungarian countess Elizabeth Sathory, was infamous for killing young girls and bathing in their blood in order to rejuvenate herself While vampires have been a staple of folklore In many cultures since ancient times, such behavior may have helped give rise to an epidemic of vampire sightings in the eariy eighteenth century in Central Europe

was empty except for a huge dog that leaped off as the vessel came to rest, and the dead captain, who had lashed himself to the wheel. The captain’s log tells how the crew disappeared at night one by one during the voyage until only the captain was left; terrified, the man lashed himself to the wheel, and was found with a crucifix and rosary beads around his bound wrists. The vessel’s cargo includes 50 large boxes of earth, which are sent on to their destination.

As Mina records, Lucy’s sleepwalking worsens. Mina follows her friend one night to the ruins of a local abbey, where she seems to see a figure with gleaming red eyes bending over Lucy. When Mina approaches, the figure is gone, and Lucy is unconscious. She has two small pinpricks in her throat. Two nights later, Mina finds Lucy sitting up in bed, asleep, pointing to her bedroom window, around which Mina sees a large bat flying. Lucy grows languid and exhausted during the daytime, and she starts talking in her sleep. Instead of healing, the two wounds in her throat get larger. A document records the shipping of 50 crates to Carfax, the ruined manor house next to Dr. Seward’s asylum in London that Jonathan’s firm arranged for Dracuia to purchase.

Mina finally receives word of Jonathan, who has been ill in a hospital in the Hungarian city of Budapest for some six weeks. She journeys to Budapest, where she and the now recovering Jonathan are married. Dr. Seward makes entries in his phonograph journal that chart the strange behavior of Renfield, who babbles excitedly about awaiting the commands of his approaching master. Holmwood, worried about Lucy, asks Dr. Seward to examine her. Seward can find nothing wrong, but writes to his old teacher, the renowned Dutch scientist Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Arriving from Amsterdam, Van Helsing transfuses blood from Holmwood to Lucy, then repeats the operation with blood from himself, Seward, and Quincey Morris at intervals of several days, as Lucy somehow keeps losing blood and growing paler and weaker. Despite Van Helsing’s efforts, Lucy dies; she is entombed in her family’s crypt in Hampstead, close to London.

Mina and Jonathan, who have returned to England, are in London where Jonathan, aghast, sees the Count on the street one day. Dracuia has somehow grown younger, with black hair instead of gray. Meanwhile, newspaper cuttings report that several young children, missing after playing on Hampstead Heath, have returned with tales of a “bloofer lady” (beautiful lady) who lures them away (Dracuia, p. 177). The children also came home with unexplained wounds on their throats. Mina, having read Jonathan’s journal, prepares herself for the struggle she senses coming against “that fearful Count” by typing up her husband’s record of his days as Dracula’s prisoner (Dracuia, p. 179). The Dutch scientist Van Helsing contacts her to ask for Lucy’s diary, which Mina has also typed out; she gives him both documents. Van Helsing alarms Seward with talk of hypnotism and thought-reading, insisting that Seward keep an open mind while declaring that it was Lucy who attacked the children on Hampstead Heath. That night they go to the crypt, entering the cold dark chamber to find that Lucy’s coffin is empty. The next day, however, they find her again in the coffin.

Van Helsing tells the disbelieving Seward that Lucy has become a vampire, one of the “Un-Dead,” and that they must kill her by driving a stake through her heart and cutting off her head (Dracula, p. 201). They must do the same, he says, to Dracula, “the great Un-Dead,” who has made Lucy into a vampire by sucking her blood (Dracula, p. 203). After the vampire Lucy attacks them on a subsequent visit, Holmwood, Morris, and Seward believe Van Helsing. The night following the attack they return with him to the crypt, where Lucy’s fiance, Holmwood, hammers a stake through her heart and Van Helsing and Seward cut off her head. Van Helsing says that only after this can her soul rest in peace.

Mina comes to Dr. Seward’s asylum, where she transcribes the doctor’s phonograph journal and gives him typescripts of her and Jonathan’s diaries to read. Seward realizes that Renfield’s odd behavior, alternately violent and peaceful, has been “a sort of index to the coming and going of the Count” (Dracula, p. 225). Van Helsing’s occult research has taught him that Dracula’s powers are at their lowest by day, when the vampire must rest, and he can only do so on his native soil. They must find the boxes of earth and “sterilize” them by placing pieces of the Host (sanctified communion wafer) in them (Dracula, p. 242). Once they have done so, the vampire will be unable to rest. They can then find and attack him during his weakest hours, between noon and sunset.

While the men begin tracking the boxes, some of which Dracula has removed to other houses he has purchased, Dracula goes on the offensive against his hunters. Taking the form of mist, he enters Mina’s bedroom at night and begins to suck her blood as he sucked Lucy’s. Soon afterward, Renfield is found beaten in his cell; his back broken, he dies after revealing that Dracula, his assailant, has targeted Mina. Van Helsing and the others hurry to Mina’s room, where they find Jonathan in a trance-like stupor as Dracula, having drunk Mina’s blood, forces her to drink his own in turn. This, the vampire has told her, will place her mind under his command from any distance. Some hours later, as the men locate and sterilize the last of the boxes except for one, Dracula attacks them, but they drive him back with a crucifix, and he flees.

Mina suggests that Van Helsing hypnotize her. As she hopes, under hypnosis her mind-link with the vampire provides a vital clue to his whereabouts. She hears water lapping and sails creaking: Van Helsing assumes that Dracula has fled England in the remaining box and is returning to Transylvania. But the struggle is not over, for Van Helsing says they must pursue him—both for Mina’s sake, since she will remain under the vampire’s influence, and also “for the sake of humanity,” since he is immortal and will continue to make new vampires unless stopped (Dracula, p. 319). They travel to the Black Sea port of Varna, where they await Dracula’s arrival. Over-coming a number of obstacles, they finally intercept the band of gypsies that is transporting Dracula’s box from the ship to the castle. Just as the sun is about to set, the men fight their way through the gypsies to the box, where the mortally injured Quincy Morris plunges his bowie knife through Dracula’s heart as Jonathan Harker simultaneously cuts Dracula’s throat. The vampire’s body immediately crumbles into dust.

Evolution and degeneration

Throughout Dracula Stoker portrays the Texan Quincey Morris as a man of action who outshines his British fellow vampire hunters in resourcefulness, initiative, and strength. At one point in the novel, Renfield flatters Morris by predicting that America will become a world power: he foresees a day when “the Pole and the Tropics may hold allegiance to the Stars and Stripes” (Dracula, p. 244). Dr. Seward, the Victorian man of science, puts this potential in terms of breeding: “If America can go on breeding men like that, she will be a power in the world indeed” (Dracula, p. 173). In other words, imperial success results from breeding. And breeding, the Victorians had realized, is closely linked to the process of evolution.

The publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 had made evolution the most influential idea of the later nineteenth century. Whereas Darwin had limited himself to the area of biology, by the 1870s British thinkers such as Herbert Spencer had applied Darwin’s ideas, popularly summed up in the phrase “survival of the fittest,” to the social realm. In contrast to Darwin’s explanation of biological success, however, this “social Darwinism” was invoked not merely to explain but also to justify social or political success. Politically powerful nations and individuals, the argument went, were inherently superior to less powerful ones, and therefore justified in expanding their power. The imperial Victorians viewed evolution as a ladder of progress, a ladder at the top of which they themselves stood. From the top of a ladder, however, one can easily go down. Progress thus also entails an implicit threat, the danger of its opposite, degeneration, which was (like evolution) a widely discussed idea at the time of the novel. This often unconscious recognition lay behind the vague fears of the imperial 1890s. Like other nineteenth-century Europeans, the Victorians viewed blood and bloodlines as closely linked to the idea of racial vitality, and saw both as subject to degeneration. Degeneration could come through moral laxness or indulgence, vices they believed had caused the earlier downfall of the Roman Empire, with which the Victorians were fond of comparing their own. Or degeneration

HOMOEROTIC UNDERTONES

In a sensational trial in 1895, two years before Dracula was published, Stoker’s friend Oscar Wilde was sentenced to prison for his part in a homosexual love affair. In general, Victorian society viewed homosexualtty as an evil perversion. Stoker, who as a young man had idolized the homosexual American poet Wait Whitman, adopted an attitude of similar hero-worship toward Ws employer, the actor Henry Irving, Discerning homoerotic undertones in Dracula, modern critics have speculated about Stoker’s own sexual orientation. Stoker depicts the seductive and commanding Dracula as physically resembling Irving, and he attempted in vain to Interest the actor in playing the vampire in a stage version. Some critics have therefore argued that Stokefs novel cloaks an attraction toward Irving that the author felt unable to show openly. Regardless of the truth, the dangers of such impulses in Victortan society were clearly demonstrated by the fate of Oscar Wilde,, who emerged from prison a broken man in May 1897, the very month of Dracula’s publication.

could come simply with age. In Dracula, these imperial fears are symbolized by the foreign vampire’s draining of British blood in the very process through which he breeds vampires. Recounting medieval battles in his homeland, Dracula describes himself as belonging to “a conquering race” but one whose “blood” is old and needs to be revived (Dracula, p. 29). Drinking blood from his British victims physically rejuvenates him as it enervates them. The vampire thus demonstrates that a degenerate, parasitical fate potentially awaits those whose conquests lie in the past—as many feared was the case with Britain and her empire by the 1890s.

Sources and literary context

Aside from Central European vampire legends and the historical figures of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory, Stoker also drew on an already existing body of vampire tales in English. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818; in WLAIT 3: British and Irish Literature and Its Times), they originated in the Romantic movement, which was dominated by such poets as Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary’s husband) and Lord Byron. Some of these Dracula predecessors include:

  • Lord Byron’s “The Giaour” (1813), an occult narrative poem that mentions a vampire emerging from its tomb to suck the blood of humans.
  • Dr. John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), featuring a seductive and aristocratic vampire modeled on Lord Byron himself. Polidori was Byron’s physician, and he was present when Byron and the Shelleys held a horror story contest one stormy night in June 1816. Polidori based The Vampyre on an idea Byron himself had that night; Mary Shelley’s contribution would become Frankenstein.
  • James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire (1847), a long (nearly 900 pages) and turgidly written potboiler that introduces features Stoker would borrow for Dracula: Central European origins; long, fanglike canine teeth; a black cloak; the abilities to climb down sheer castle walls and put female victims in a trancelike state; arriving in Britain in a shipwrecked vessel.
  • Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), in which a sensuous female vampire preys on female victims.

Reception

Published on May 26, 1897, Dracula received mixed reviews and enjoyed only moderate sales during Stoker’s lifetime. Seeing the novel as a straightforward Gothic adventure story in which good triumphs over evil, Victorian readers and reviewers alike ignored the sexual elements that have proven so alluring for modern literary critics.

In addition to the novel’s sexual aspects, critics have found the figure of Count Dracula himself a strikingly rich source of symbolism, most of which plays off taboos or alienation of one kind or another. As one critic writes in the introduction to a recent edition, Dracula has been seen as standing for “perversion, menstruation, venereal disease, female sexuality, male homosexuality, feudal aristocracy, monopoly capitalism, the proletariat, the Jew, the primal father, the Antichrist, and the typewriter” (Ellmann in Dracula, p. xxviii). Along with being perennially fashionable among literary critics, Dracula has proven immensely popular on both stage and screen, where (beginning with Bela Lugosi’s classic 1931 film portrayal) he has found his widest exposure in popular culture.

—Colin Wells

For More Information

Belford, Barbara. Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Man Who Wrote Dracula. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Glover, David. Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals: Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.

Harrison, J. F. C. Late Victorian Britain 1875-1901. London: Routledge, 1991.

Hughes, William, and Andrew Smith, eds. Bram Stoker: History, Psychoanalysis and the Gothic. London: Macmillan, 1998.

Jarret, Derek. The Sleep of Reason: Fantasy and Reality from the Victorian Age to the First World War. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1988.

Jenner, Michael. Victorian Britain. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1999.

Leatherdale, Clive. The Origins of Dracula. London: William Kimber, 1987.

Ledger, Sally. The New Woman: Fiction and Feminism at the Fin de Siecle. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. West-port, Conn.: Greenwood, 1996.

Rosenbach Museum. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Centennial Exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Museum, 1997.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Maud Ellmann. Oxford World’s Classics Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Wolf, Leonard. The Annotated Dracula. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1975.

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Dracula

Dracula

Cursed to an endless life, Count Dracula is eternally resurrected in film and fiction, as well as in the vampire myth. Bela Lugosi's Dracula has become an indelible figure haunting the popular imagination since the release of Dracula in 1931. The definitive vampire, Lugosi's well-groomed Count has spawned a diverse group of vampires, including Sesame Street's Count, Grandpa Munster, Blackula, Duckula, and Count Chockula. The only vampire most people know by name, Dracula has sold innumerable books, plays, movies, costumes, toys, consumer products, and even tours of Romania.

Tod Browning's 1931 film Dracula is probably the most famous version of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. Often criticized for its over resemblance to the drawing-room melodrama from which it was derived, the film has nevertheless had a tremendous and lasting impact on both film and popular culture. The film follows the journey of Renfield, a British businessman, who is visiting Count Dracula in Transylvania in order to sell the Count some London property. Slowly, Renfield realizes that he is a prisoner and that the Count is a vampire. Once in London, the Count must battle Professor Van Helsing, a doctor who specializes in ferreting out and eradicating the undead. Van Helsing and Count Dracula fight over the soul of the innocent Mina, and finally Van Helsing kills the Count by plunging a wooden stake through the vampire's heart.

Dracula was so successful that, almost single-handedly, it rescued Universal Studios from folding, giving the studio its first profit in two years. More importantly, it established talking horror movies as a popular and profitable genre. Lugosi's quintessential Dracula set the stage for the filmic and fictional vampires that followed. Certainly Lugosi's sartorial elegance has become a trademark of Count Dracula—as George Hamilton complains in Love at First Bite (1979), "How would you like to spend 400 years dressed like a head waiter?" From the 1950s forward, Lugosi's image graced a staggering number of incongruous consumer goods, including swizzle sticks, jewelry, card games, decals, transfers, tattoos, cleaning products, Halloween costumes, albums, pencil sharpeners, greeting cards, plastic and wax figurines, clothing, puzzles, wind-up toys, candy, comic books, and bath products. By the 1960s, Dracula had become such a marketable image that he could be co-opted to sell just about anything.

The late 1950s and 1960s saw a resurgence of interest in monster culture centered around television showings of classic horror movies by hosts including Vampira and Ghoulardi, the proliferation of magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland, and the development of popular television series like The Munsters and The Addams Family, which parodied the American nuclear family. Lugosi's disdainful Count (barely even interested in his female victims) was recreated by Christopher Lee in five films, beginning with Horror of Dracula (1958); by Jack Palance in a prime-time version of Dracula (1973); and by Louis Jordan in a BBC miniseries, Count Dracula (1978). While the kitsch market bearing Dracula's image continues to spread seemingly unabated, like vampirism itself, a new vampire has emerged who bears a resemblance to Lugosi's elegant, aristocratic Dracula, and yet who is markedly sympathetic as well as erotic. Beginning with Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, published in 1976, novels and movies told from the vampire's point of view have become increasingly popular, as have vampire stories and films created by and for women (e.g., the films Lust for a Vampire and The Hunger, and the novels The Vampire Tapestry (1983) and A Taste of Blood Wine (1992).

The repeated adaptation of a text can serve as a guide to changes in popular understandings of psychological and social issues. Vampirism has been read as a metaphor for gender and racial "otherness"; for the simultaneous desire and fear of female sexuality, male sexuality, and/or homosexuality; for contagion of all sorts; and for the relationship between the "new" worlds of Western Europe and North America and the "old" world of Eastern Europe. Dracula itself has been variously interpreted as a parable of the oppression and resistance of marginalized groups, the power and alienation resulting from technological reproduction, the repression of sexuality and desire, the effects of industrial capitalism on the working class, and the complex interdependencies of colonialism. Of course, on one level, Dracula's popularity lies in its face-value: the fear of (and possible desire for belief in) the notion that the dead are not really dead. Like much horror and monster culture, Dracula deals in the (linked) questions of sex and death. And like most horror films, Dracula tells the story of a contest between good and evil, between the normal and the abnormal or pathological.

Dracula also follows generic conventions by installing normalcy at the end of its story, reinstating and reaffirming the good and the true after an anxious yet enjoyable period of peril. And yet, Dracula plays with the boundary between good and evil, between the normal and the pathological, in a way that goes a long way in explaining the story's popularity. Dracula blurs and transgresses the distinctions between living and dead, East and West, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, aristocratic and professional, healthy and diseased, and British and foreign before finally reinstating those terms as pairs of fixed opposites with the (apparent) death of the Count. It is Dracula's ability to appear normal, after all, to pass in the nighttime streets of London, which make him both so dangerous and fascinating. Dracula does not look like a monster—in fact, he looks like an upscale version of his victims. It is, in the end, Dracula's very adaptability, his ability to confuse epistemological and social categories, which ensures his everlasting capacity to both frighten and entertain us.

—Austin Booth

Further Reading:

Glut, Donald F. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, New Jersey, Scarecrow Press, 1975.

Gordon, Joan, and Veronica Hollinger, editors. Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.

Skal, David J. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen. New York, Norton, 1990.

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Dracula

Dracula

Introduction
Author Biography
Plot Summary
Characters
Themes
Style
Historical Context
Critical Overview
Criticism
Sources
Further Reading

Bram Stoker
1897

Introduction

Dracula, by Abraham Stoker—who generally published under the abbreviated first name Bram—was first published in Great Britain in 1897. Although myths and legends about vampires had existed since ancient times, Stoker's novel synthesized much of this lore and gave it a palpable feeling in the character of Count Dracula. In fact, the character of Dracula has since become so popular that many people who were first exposed to the famous vampire through film or television do not even know who Stoker is. While films, most notably the 1931 film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, have overshadowed the book, they have also helped to keep the story alive. In the last half of the twentieth century, the onslaught of Dracula films has added even more mystery to the legend of Count Dracula.

Stoker's inspirations for Count Dracula are heavily debated. However, most critics agree that Dracula was based in part on a historical figure, Vlad the Impaler, a fifteenth-century Romanian ruler known for his indiscriminate brutality, which included a taste for impaling people alive on wooden spikes and watching them die in slow agony. Other inspirations suggested by scholars include John Polidori's story "The Vampyre" (1819), Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla (1872), and Emily Gerard's Transylvanian travel book The Land beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania, which was published in the late 1880s, right before Stoker wrote his novel. However, while these and other sources have been named as potential inspirations, most modern critics agree that Stoker put his own spin on the vampire myth. In fact, Stoker worked longer and harder on this novel than any of his other works, taking seven years to research and write Dracula.

While the character of Count Dracula was important for establishing the conventions of what would become an entire genre of horror tales, the book's plot was also very timely. In their exposure to Dracula and their attempts to catch him and destroy him, the various vampire hunters underscore the Victorian attitudes that were present at this time. The Victorian Age took place in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901). Victorian moral and religious beliefs included the expected roles of men and women. This is most notable in the book's discussion of sexual matters, which are portrayed in both literal and symbolic ways. The student who wishes to dig deep into the historical and cultural context of the novel should check out The Annotated Dracula (1975), by Leonard Wolf. This edition, which is currently out of print, is available in many libraries. The edition includes extensive footnotes to the text, as well as maps, photographs, and captivating illustrations that underscore the Gothic aspects of the novel.

Author Biography

Bram Stoker was born Abraham Stoker on November 8, 1847, in Clontarf, north of Dublin, Ireland. Stoker was the third of seven children, and he was violently ill as a child. When he was sick, Stoker read many books and listened to the horror tales his mother told him. These led Stoker to start writing ghost stories, even as a child. After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin in 1868 with honors in mathematics, Stoker took a civil service position, but he most enjoyed going to the theater in his free time. In 1871, when local critics did not comment on a performance of Henry Irving—Stoker's favorite actor—Stoker offered to write an unpaid review of the performance for the Dublin Mail. Stoker continued to write unpaid reviews for the newspaper for several years. When Irving returned to Dublin to perform in 1876, Irving read Stoker's celebratory review of the actor's performance and invited Stoker to dinner. The two men struck up a friendship, and, in 1878, Irving leased the Lyceum Theatre in London and appointed Stoker as manager. Stoker married his neighbor, Florence Balcombe, and the two moved to England


where Stoker worked both as the theater manager and as Irving's acting manager from 1878 to 1905.

At the same time, Stoker began to publish his own works. In 1882, Stoker published his first book, Under the Sunset, a book of twisted children's stories. Eight years later, he published his first novel, The Snake's Pass (1890). However, it was not until the 1897 publication of Dracula that Stoker received real attention from the critics, and even then it was mixed. However, although the critics were hesitant to endorse Stoker's horror novel, it was a popular success. Despite Stoker's good fortune, he remained loyal to Irving, whose bad business practices and failing career eventually led the two men to abandon the Lyceum Theatre. Following Irving's death in 1905, Stoker—who had always been in the actor's shadow—was distraught. Stoker had a stroke shortly after Irving's death, which incapacitated him somewhat. At the end of his life, Stoker and his wife became increasingly poor, and he looked to others for assistance. At the same time, he continued to write. His works in this late stage include Lady Athlyne (1908), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Stoker died of syphilis on April 20, 1912, in London. However, Stoker's Dracula has lived on and has since overshadowed its author.

Plot Summary

Chapters 1–4

Dracula starts out with several entries in Jonathan Harker's journal, which comprise the first four chapters. These entries set the structure for the rest of the novel, which is also told mainly through journal entries and letters. This first section introduces Harker, who is a recently promoted English solicitor (a type of attorney). Harker travels eastward across Europe from London to Transylvania, where he is going to meet Count Dracula and explain to the count the particulars of his London real estate purchase. As he travels across the country to the castle, he notices the reaction of various area residents who are frightened by Dracula's name. At Harker's last checkpoint, a coach from Dracula's castle arrives for him. Harker notes the strength of the driver. When he arrives at Dracula's castle, the count, an older gentleman, opens the door, and Harker notes that Dracula is also very strong. Over the next several days, Harker notes that Dracula is never around during the daytime, there are no mirrors in the castle, Dracula has no reflection in Harker's shaving mirror, and Dracula appears to be alone in the castle. Harker realizes that he is a prisoner.

At Dracula's request, Harker writes to his supervisor and to his fiancée, Mina Murray, letting them know the count wishes him to stay for a month. Dracula warns Harker that it is unsafe to wander the castle, and especially to fall asleep in any part of the castle other than his room. Harker ignores Dracula's advice and goes exploring. On two occasions, he sees Dracula scaling the castle wall at night, like a lizard. Harker is almost bitten by three women but is saved by Dracula, who warns them to keep their hands off Harker, saying that the solicitor belongs to him. Dracula gives them a baby to eat instead. Harker watches several days later as the baby's mother stands outside the castle, demanding that Dracula give her back her child. Dracula says a few commands, and a pack of wolves comes and eats the woman. Desperate, Harker climbs down the wall of the castle and discovers Dracula in his coffin. Harker realizes that the count has no heartbeat and appears to be dead. In the evening, Dracula reappears, and Harker demands that the count let him go. However, when Dracula obliges and opens the door, a pack of wolves appears. Harker, disheartened, realizes that Dracula is not really going to let him go. Harker overhears Dracula telling the three women that they can have Harker the next night. In the morning, Harker tries to escape but finds every way locked. Ultimately, he decides to climb down the castle wall and try to reach a train back to England.

Chapters 5–16

Lucy and Mina write back and forth to each other several times, discussing Lucy's engagement to Arthur Holmwood and her denial of two other suitors, Dr. John Seward and Quincey Morris. Seward works with his patient, Renfield, who has a penchant for trying to eat bugs in an attempt to suck the life out of them. Mina goes to Whitby with Lucy and her mother to vacation while waiting for Jonathan. She sees a mysterious ship arrive, which lost most of its crew at sea. The ship is carrying fifty boxes. Lucy begins sleepwalking and starts having nightmares. Dracula bites her, but Mina mistakes the holes on Lucy's neck for something else. Lucy starts to get weak and pale, and Mina assumes she is getting sick. Renfield is restless over the presence of his master. Mina receives word that Jonathan is in a hospital in Budapest, and she travels there to join him. They are married. Mina also writes several letters to Lucy, telling her about Jonathan's journal from Castle Dracula, which she has promised not to read since she does not wish to know the cause of her husband's madness.

Meanwhile, in Whitby, Lucy gets weaker. Holmwood asks Dr. Seward to look at Lucy. Seward does, but in turn sends for his old mentor, Professor Van Helsing, who is alarmed at Lucy's anemic state. He performs a blood transfusion, transferring some of Holmwood's blood into Lucy. Although this temporarily helps Lucy, she keeps getting worse and gets transfusions from three other men: Seward, Morris, and Van Helsing. Van Helsing also insists on making Lucy wear garlic around her neck, but her ill mother removes it. A wolf breaks through the bedroom window that night, giving Lucy's weak mother a fatal heart attack. Lucy dies two days later. Jonathan and Mina return home, and Jonathan sees Count Dracula on a street. Jonathan and Mina hear of Lucy's death from Van Helsing. They also hear of an attractive lady who has been snatching children from near the cemetery. Van Helsing speaks with Mina, who lets him read Jonathan's journal. He assures Jonathan that his experiences at Castle Dracula actually happened. Van Helsing hears about the woman in the cemetery and realizes that this is Lucy, now a vampire. He takes Seward to the cemetery at night and shows him Lucy's empty tomb. The next night, Seward, Van Helsing, Morris, and Holmwood return to the cemetery, where they encounter the vampire Lucy. She tries to attack but is driven back by Van Helsing's cross. The following day, the four men enter Lucy's tomb, and Holmwood drives a stake through her heart.

Chapters 17–24

Seward reads Jonathan's diary, while Mina listens to Seward's account of how they killed the vampire Lucy. Mina collects all of the notes she can on Dracula from Seward's diary, Jonathan's diary, and various other sources. She and Jonathan weave it into a chronological account of the past couple of months, which they present to Van Helsing and the rest of the group. Mina visits Renfield, then the group assembles to discuss Dracula. Van Helsing gives them all some historical background on vampires, and they ultimately decide to join forces to try to find Dracula's various resting places, the boxes of earth that came over on the ship, and consecrate them so that he cannot use them. Renfield, afraid of losing his soul, makes a desperate plea to Dr. Seward to be set free. Harker leads the men to Dracula's house, Carfax, which is right next door to the asylum. They discover a little more than half of the boxes of earth. Dracula, who can only gain access to a home if he is invited, gets Renfield to let him in. He starts sucking blood from Mina every night, although she mistakes his visits for nightmares. Mina starts to get noticeably weaker and paler.

While the men hunt down the rest of Dracula's coffins, Mina rests more and more. One night, Seward is called to attend to Renfield, who has been fatally injured in an inexplicable way. By talking to him, Seward and the other men, minus Harker, find out that Dracula visited Renfield, who realized that the count had been sucking blood from Mina. Renfield tries to prevent the count from attacking Mina anymore, but Dracula overpowers him, throwing him to the floor. The men rush upstairs to Mina's room, where they see Dracula forcing her to suck his blood, while Jonathan is in a stupor. Van Helsing drives Dracula away with a eucharist wafer, but later, when he presses a wafer on Mina's forehead as a protection, it burns her. Everybody realizes that Mina is half-transformed into a vampire. The men return to Carfax to consecrate the boxes of earth. They find Dracula's other houses and split up to consecrate the other boxes. However, they only find forty-nine out of the fifty boxes and realize that Dracula still has one left. They assemble at one of Dracula's houses, waiting for the count to arrive. When he does, he tries to attack them, but Jonathan counters with his knife. Likewise, the other men help to drive the count off with their crucifixes.

Media Adaptations

  • Dracula has been adapted into countless films. However, the film that helped define the cinematic image of the count was the classic 1931 version titled Dracula, which starred Bela Lugosi in the title role. The film, which was produced by Universal Studios and directed by Tod Browning, is available on VHS and DVD from Universal Home Video.
  • In 1992, Dracula was adapted into a film titled Bram Stoker's Dracula, one of the few titles to mention the original author. Francis Ford Coppola directed the film, which was released by Columbia Pictures. The film also featured a starstudded cast, including Gary Oldman as Dracula, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, Winona Ryder as Mina Murray, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Van Helsing, and Cary Elwes as Arthur Holmwood. It is available on VHS and DVD from Columbia/Tristar Home Video.
  • Dracula has been adapted into several spoof films. One of these is Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), released by Columbia Pictures and directed by Mel Brooks, who also played the part of Professor Van Helsing. Other actors include Leslie Nielsen as Count Dracula, Steven Weber as Jonathan Harker, and Amy Yasbeck as Mina Murray. The film is available on VHS from Castle Rock Home Video.
  • Dracula was adapted as an unabridged audiobook in 2002. It is available from Brilliance Audio.

As Mina's condition worsens, they realize that she has a psychic link to Dracula. As a result, Van Helsing starts hypnotizing her during sunrise and sunset when this link is activated, and through Mina they realize that Dracula is going to try to escape back to his castle by ship. The men plan to chase Dracula and, after some discussion, Mina goes along, too.

Chapters 25–27

The group splits up to chase Dracula in three ways. While Van Helsing and Mina travel to Castle Dracula, Seward and Morris chase the count over land, and Harker and Holmwood hire a river steamer. Although the three unnamed vampire women from Dracula's castle try to coax Mina away from Van Helsing, he thwarts them with holy items, then travels to the castle in the daytime to kill the three female vampires. Meanwhile, the two groups of men quickly catch up with Dracula, who is being transported by a group of gypsies. When Dracula is close to his castle, the group of vampire hunters arrives on the scene at the same time. In the ensuing fight, the gypsies are driven off, but not before they give Quincey Morris a fatal wound. Still, he and Jonathan are able to kill Dracula, just moments before Dracula is about to transform himself into an ethereal shape. As Jonathan's knife decapitates the count and Quincey's knife stabs him, the vampire turns into dust. Mina notes in an epilogue that she and Jonathan have named their son Quincey and that their story would seem very farfetched to others.

Characters

Count Dracula

Count Dracula is an old vampire who keeps Jonathan Harker prisoner in his castle and who ultimately tries to relocate to London and create a race of vampires. The character of Dracula was derived from many sources, including vampire lore and the historical figure Vlad the Impaler. Even before Jonathan meets the count, Dracula's reputation precedes him, and many locals try to warn Jonathan and give him items like crosses to ward off Dracula. Jonathan notes the inhuman strength of Dracula, the first of many strange traits. As Jonathan and others learn throughout the novel, Dracula has limited motion during the day, consumes only human blood, must pass over water in certain ways, has no reflection, must sleep on soil from his own land, has power over certain animals and weather, and has the power to turn others into vampires. This last trait causes considerable concern for the group of vampire hunters that assembles to fight him since Dracula bites two women—Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray—who are dear to many of the hunters. Dracula is successful in transforming Lucy into a vampire, although the vampire Lucy is killed by her own bridegroom, Arthur Holmwood, in her coffin.

Mina, on the other hand, has a better chance at survival. Because of this, the fight against Dracula becomes two-pronged. First, the group of hunters slowly gather evidence to show where Dracula's many coffins containing his native soil are located, so that they can consecrate them with a eucharistic wafer and deny Dracula all of his resting places. By doing this, they hope to pin the count in a corner and kill him before he can create a new race of vampires in London. At the same time, the group is fighting against time because Mina is slowly transforming into a vampire. These two fights culminate in a spectacular chase sequence, where Dracula realizes that most of his London resting places have been destroyed. The count flees eastward to his castle, believing that he has duped the vampire hunters. However, through the psychic link that Dracula shares with the half-transformed Mina, the group is able to predict Dracula's movements. The group overtakes Dracula before he can reach his castle, and Jonathan cuts off Dracula's head while Quincey Morris stabs the count, turning him to dust.

Lord Godalming

See Arthur Holmwood

Jonathan Harker

Jonathan Harker is the fiancé of Mina Murray and a solicitor who travels to Transylvania to assist Count Dracula with the count's purchase of a London property. Once in the castle, Jonathan notices some odd things about Dracula, including his inhuman strength, his ability to scale walls like a lizard, the lack of his reflection in mirrors, his tendency to be gone during the day, and the fact that Jonathan has never seen him eat food. As Jonathan spends more time in the castle, he realizes that he is Dracula's prisoner. After three mysterious women in the castle try to bite Jonathan when he is half-asleep, he realizes even more that Dracula and his companions are probably not human. One morning, Jonathan explores the castle and finds Dracula in his coffin, with no heartbeat. When Dracula appears that evening, Jonathan demands to be let go but is stopped by wolves that suddenly appear at the castle's front door. The next morning, after he witnesses Dracula's coffin being transported outside the castle on its way to England, Jonathan escapes the castle by climbing down the wall.

He ends up in a foreign hospital, and everybody—including Jonathan himself—assumes that he is mad. However, when he returns to London and hears about the strange happenings with Lucy Westenra and others, he realizes that the count is real and sets about trying to destroy him. When Mina is bitten by Dracula and half-transformed into a vampire herself, Jonathan is even more desperate to kill the count, which he almost does on one occasion when he surprises Dracula. However, it is not until they have chased Dracula from London to Transylvania that Jonathan gets his chance. He decapitates Dracula with a knife.

Arthur Holmwood

Arthur Holmwood is the fiancé of Lucy Westenra and is forced to kill the vampire version of Lucy. Arthur is known as Lord Godalming after his father dies and he inherits the title. In the beginning, Arthur is Lucy's chosen suitor, winning her hand in marriage over his two friends, Dr. Seward and Quincey Morris. However, this victory is bittersweet when Lucy begins to get ill. Arthur, like the other men present, donates his blood in a transfusion to Lucy after Professor Van Helsing says that she is anemic and needs it. However, the repeated transfusions are not enough, and Lucy ultimately dies. Although Arthur does not believe it at first, he is eventually shown that Lucy has become a vampire. He assumes the responsibility of killing her in her coffin. After this, although he is distraught over her death, Godalming uses his title and influence in several ways to help the group of vampire hunters find and destroy Dracula's various coffins in London. He also uses his influence to try to detain Dracula during his escape back to his castle. Godalming and Dr. Seward help fight off the gypsies who try to prevent Jonathan and Quincey from killing Dracula.

Mina

See Wilhelmina Murray

Quincey P. Morris

Quincey Morris is the only American character in the book; he stabs Dracula but receives a fatal wound himself from gypsies. In the beginning, Quincey is one of the three suitors of Lucy Westenra. Although she denies him, he still cares for her and becomes one of several men to give her a blood transfusion when she is anemic from being bitten by Dracula. After his death, Mina and Jonathan name their son after him.

Wilhelmina Murray

Wilhelmina Murray is the fiancée of Jonathan Harker, and she is almost turned into a vampire by Count Dracula. Throughout the story, Wilhelmina is referred to mostly by the shortened name Mina. In addition, before she and Jonathan are married, she is Mina Murray. After they are married, she is Mina Harker. Mina is worried when she does not hear from Jonathan for a long time, and she helps nurse him back to health when he is released from the foreign hospital. Mina is confused at the strange condition of her friend Lucy Westenra, whose health starts to decline after Lucy sleepwalks and encounters a strange man. As various characters start to compare notes, and Mina reads Jonathan's journal of his horrifying experiences in Dracula's castle, she realizes that the strange man was Dracula. As part of the team of vampire hunters, Mina assumes the role of secretary, taking and organizing all of their notes to try to figure out the best way to find and kill Dracula.

However, when Dracula bites Mina and makes her drink some of his blood, she starts to turn into a vampire herself. The rest of the team is initially optimistic that they can save Mina. But when a holy object burns her forehead, they all realize that she is cursed and will become a vampire if they do not kill Dracula soon. It is through Mina and her psychic link to Dracula that they are able to determine the route he is taking back to his castle. When the group of vampire hunters breaks into smaller groups to try to overtake Dracula by land or by water, Mina travels with Professor Van Helsing. When they are nearing Dracula's castle, the three female vampires try to coax Mina into joining them, but Van Helsing restrains Mina from going. When Dracula has been destroyed, the mark disappears from Mina's head, a sign that she has been cleansed of evil and is no longer in danger of becoming a vampire.

R. M. Renfield

R. M. Renfield is a mental patient in Dr. Seward's asylum; he is also the servant of Dracula. Like Dracula, Renfield has superior strength, a fact noted by Dr. Seward in his phonographic journal entries. He also has the odd habit of eating bugs in the same way that Dracula drinks blood. When Dracula arrives in England, Renfield becomes noticeably more excited and is sometimes hard to restrain. It is Renfield's escape to Dracula's London estate, which is right next door to the asylum, that ultimately leads the vampire hunters to Dracula's new home. At one point, Renfield begs to be let go, for his own salvation, but Seward refuses. When Dracula enters Renfield's cell, Renfield realizes that Dracula has been drinking Mina's blood. Renfield tries to save Mina by restraining Dracula from leaving, but Dracula overpowers Renfield, cracking his skull in the process. It is Renfield's account of all of this that makes the vampire hunters realize Mina has been bitten.

Dr. John Seward

Dr. Seward is the director of an insane asylum who realizes that one of his patients is connected to Dracula. Dr. Seward is one of Lucy Westenra's three suitors. When she turns his marriage proposal down, he is distraught but buries himself in work. When he does this, he notices the strange behavior of R. M. Renfield, a patient who eats bugs and talks about his master. When Lucy falls ill, Seward calls his friend and mentor, Professor Van Helsing, to come into town. After they try in vain to save Lucy's life by giving her blood transfusions, Van Helsing shows Dr. Seward that Lucy has turned into a vampire. Although Seward does not believe it at first, he quickly resolves to do what he can to help stop Dracula. Unlike the other characters who keep paper journals to record their thoughts, Dr. Seward uses a modern phonograph. His reliance on modern technology like this is one of the reasons why he has a hard time believing in the supernatural at first. As the story progresses, Seward realizes that Renfield's master is Dracula, and Seward joins the group of vampire hunters in seeking out and destroying Dracula's London sanctuaries. After the chase sequence at the end of the novel, Seward arrives in time to help fight off the gypsies while Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris kill Dracula.

The Three Female Vampires

The three unnamed vampire women first appear during Jonathan Harker's stay at Castle Dracula. When they first arrive, Jonathan is not sure if he is dreaming or mad, since they materialize out of thin air. They try to bite Jonathan but are stopped by Dracula, who gives them a baby to eat instead. Near the end of the novel, they leave the castle to try to coax Mina into joining them. However, Professor Van Helsing drives them away and goes to the castle the next day, where he kills all three vampires.

Professor Abraham Van Helsing

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing is the lead vampire hunter, and the one who knows the most about Dracula. Van Helsing has heard about Dracula before and is able to let the others know about the vampire's past, strengths, and weaknesses. Van Helsing was Dr. Seward's mentor and as such taught Dr. Seward his scientific methods. However, Van Helsing, who speaks with a thick Dutch accent, is just as versed in the supernatural. When he first sees the anemic Lucy, he realizes that she has been bitten by Dracula but keeps his suspicions to himself while he gathers evidence. He does, however, coordinate several transfusions of blood from himself and others to Lucy in an attempt to save her life. When his other methods, including making Lucy wear garlic to bed and placing a crucifix over her dead body, are thwarted by Lucy's mother and a greedy servant, respectively, Van Helsing realizes they must kill Lucy. He stakes out Lucy's tomb day and night, first with Dr. Seward and then with the other male vampire hunters, so that they can see she has been turned into a vampire and that she must be killed.

Professor Van Helsing is very fond of Mina and, like the others, is distraught when she is bitten. He is also very fond of Renfield, who reacts very warmly to Van Helsing. Van Helsing leads the group in the chase to destroy Dracula's London sanctuaries and chase him back to his castle in Transylvania. He also saves Mina's soul by preventing her from joining the three vampire women. In the end, he is one of the men who helps to fight off the gypsies when they try to prevent the group from destroying Dracula.

Lucy Westenra

Lucy Westenra is an Englishwoman who dies and becomes a vampire after she is bitten by Dracula. In the beginning, Lucy is distraught because she must choose between three suitors: Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood. She chooses the latter, but her engagement is thwarted by Dracula, who bites Lucy one night while she is sleepwalking. After this first experience, Lucy has many bad dreams and is repeatedly bitten by Dracula. Although Professor Van Helsing and others try to save her by giving her blood transfusions to relieve her anemic state, she ultimately dies from Dracula's bites. After she is dead, she turns into a vampire and starts to prey on little children around London. The children are mesmerized by Lucy, who drains some of their blood before leaving them to wander back home. The newspapers pick up the story, and Professor Van Helsing realizes that it must be the vampire Lucy. He leads Dr. Seward to stake out Lucy's tomb, convincing him that Lucy is a vampire. Finally, he leads Arthur Holmwood to see the same thing, and Holmwood drives a wooden stake through his intended bride, at which point her vampiric features return to normal and her soul is saved.

Themes

Salvation and Damnation

As several characters note in the novel, a person's physical life is of secondary importance to the person's eternal life, which can be jeopardized if the person is made evil by a vampire like Dracula. Professor Van Helsing says, when he is explaining why they must kill the vampire Lucy, "But of the most blessed of all, when this now Un-Dead be made to rest as true dead, then the soul of the poor lady whom we love shall again be free." Even characters that are of questionable goodness, such as the mental patient, R. M. Renfield, realize that, although they can find immortality by being a vampire, they cannot find salvation. Renfield says, when he is begging Dr. Seward to let him go, not explaining that he is afraid of his master, Dracula: "Don't you know that I am sane and earnest now; that I am no lunatic in a mad fit, but a sane man fighting for his soul?" When Mina is distraught after realizing that Dracula has started to turn her into a vampire, Van Helsing warns her to stay alive if she wants to achieve her salvation. "Until the other, who has fouled your sweet life, is true dead you must not die; for if he is still with the quick Undead, your death would make you even as he is."

Roles of Men and Women

The novel underscores the expected roles of men and women in Victorian times. Women were expected to be gentle and ladylike and, most of all, subservient to men. For example, in one of her letters, Lucy notes, "My dear Mina, why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?" Lucy is frustrated that she has to choose between her three suitors and does not wish to hurt any one of them by saying no. Lucy says, "Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it." Women are expected to live for their husbands, so much so that Mina practices her shorthand while Jonathan is away so that she can assist him when he gets back. Mina says, "When we are married I shall be able to be useful to Jonathan."

Even more important than a woman's devotion to her husband was the idea that women, at least gentlewomen, should be pure. As part of this, men were expected to respect a woman's privacy and never burst in on her when they might catch her in an undressed state. Quincey notes this when Professor Van Helsing says they need to break down the door to Mina's room. Quincey states, "It is unusual to break into a lady's room!" However, as Van Helsing notes, in situations where the woman might be in mortal danger, this rule should be broken. Van Helsing is worried, rightly so, that Dracula might be attacking Mina. So he replies to Quincey, "You are always right; but this is life and death."

Topics for Further Study

  • Read several British newspaper articles circa 1897 to get a feel for how they are written. Imagine that you are a contemporary reporter in Victorian London and that you have found all of the notes that Mina Murray and the others kept about their vampire hunting. Write an article exposing their adventures, keeping it in the style of the newspapers of the time.
  • Research the vampire lore of eastern Europe and other regions that Stoker drew upon to write Dracula. Find at least five other "rules" about vampires—things they can do, things they cannot—that Stoker did not include in his novel, and write a detailed description about each one. For each rule, try to find one literary work, film, or other form of media that has incorporated this rule.
  • Research the medical science that Stoker incorporates in the novel, and discuss how it related to contemporary medicine in Stoker's time. Now compare the medical methods that Van Helsing and others use to try to heal Lucy and Mina to current medical methods used to treat blood-related conditions like anemia.
  • Compare the courting process described in the novel with modern dating methods in England. Imagine that you are one of the characters from the novel who has been transported to modern-day England. Write a journal entry describing your perceptions of modern dating methods while remaining true to Victorian attitudes and the specific traits of the character you choose.

In fact, the role of men as saviors of their women, which is underscored again and again in the novel, was another aspect of Victorian life. When it came to danger, especially physical danger, women were expected to act like damsels in distress. Mina fulfills this role after she is bitten and looks to Jonathan for support. Notes Mina of Jonathan's hand, "it was life to me to feel its touch—so strong, so self-reliant, so resolute."

Reason and Madness

The novel also explores the ideas of reason and madness. In the beginning, Jonathan believes that he is going mad when he sees the three women vampires appear out of thin air. Later, he thinks that all of his experiences were the result of hallucinations brought on by madness. Seward works at an insane asylum, so he is exposed to madness every day. As a result, Seward tends to always follow his scientific reasoning, a fact that Van Helsing notes, "You are a 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." Because of this, Seward does not believe in the vampire Lucy, even after seeing her the first time. His mind is unable to reconcile the supernatural things that he has seen, and so it simply blocks them out, at least temporarily. He is the type of man who would rather base his life on hard facts and hard science and who likes to use the newest technologies like the phonograph. His mentor, Van Helsing, is also an accomplished scientist, but he realizes that sometimes it is necessary to forget what one has been taught and believe in something else, even if it seems mad or heretical. Van Helsing says "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."

Style

Gothic Novel

Dracula is a Gothic novel, which is also sometimes known as a Gothic romance. Many scholars consider Horace Walpole's novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) to be the first Gothic novel. Like Dracula, Walpole's novel was wildly popular. Gothic novels generally focus on mystery and horror, and they usually have some supernatural elements. In Dracula, the supernatural elements are many, starting with the use of a vampire as the title character. In addition, the specific attributes given to the vampire underscore his inhumanity. Jonathan says, after witnessing Dracula scale the castle wall like a lizard, "What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man?" Jonathan's plight in the beginning, when he is trapped in Dracula's castle, is also typical of Gothic novels, which often place their heroes in seemingly inescapable situations. Finally, the various settings—including Dracula's imposing castle, the ghostly landscape of Transylvania, and the graveyard and Lucy's tomb in London—are all settings that are found in Gothic fiction.

Epistolary Novel

In addition to being a Gothic novel, Dracula is also an epistolary novel, meaning that it is told through a series of letters instead of a single, connected narrative. Actually, although letters like these compose some of the plot, particularly the exchanges between Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra, the book also relies on journal entries and news articles to tell the tale. In fact, the book begins with an entry in Jonathan Harker's journal: "Left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning." Some of these entries, like the one referenced above, contain mundane details about Harker's journey. These specific details about Harker's journey give the book a feel of realism, which is consistent with the naturalistic movement that became popular at the turn of the nineteenth century. It also helps to counterbalance the supernatural aspects of the novel by making it seem as if the book is true.

In epistolary novels like this one, the narration is all in the first person. However, in Dracula, which bounces around from character to character, readers receive several first-person accounts. This disjointed approach helps to disorient the reader, who must try to figure out what is going on based on several separate accounts.

Suspense

The use of multiple first-person narrators helps to increase the suspense in the book, since Stoker jumps around from character to character, building tension in a certain situation and then moving on to the next one. In this way, the reader is left to wonder what is going to happen in a specific situation or to a specific character. The best example of this is the anticipated fate of Jonathan Harker. In the first four chapters, Stoker builds suspense, starting on Harker's journey. After hearing enough warnings from the local residents, Harker starts to be concerned for his safety and notes, "I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. If this book should ever reach Mina before I do, let it bring my goodbye." Although Jonathan later thinks he was overreacting, at least when he first meets the count, the seed of doubt and suspense is planted in the reader's mind. This seed continues to grow as Jonathan notices certain things about Dracula: "The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth." As he stays at the castle, Jonathan gives readers even more information about Dracula's vampiric qualities, which help to heighten the suspense.

However, at the end of the fourth chapter, Stoker adds the most suspense of all, when he has Jonathan announce his intention to try to leave the castle, "I shall try to scale the castle wall farther than I have yet attempted…. And then away forhome! away to the quickest and nearest train!" While readers root for Jonathan, they must wait several chapters to find out whether or not he is successful in his attempt, since the novel switches gears and starts to talk about the experiences of Mina and Lucy. The novel continues to build suspense, which culminates in the massive chase to kill Dracula and save Mina.

Compare & Contrast

  • 1890s: In the Victorian Age in England, attitudes towards sex are extremely repressed and private. However, in reality, the Victorian era is teeming with pornography, prostitution, and other illicit activities—signs that human sexual desires are not fully repressed. With the advent of photography, pornography enters a new phase.
    Today: In most Western nations today, sex is a very public issue. Sex has become an integral part of many ad campaigns, television shows, and films. However, some groups, such as conservative Christian groups, still advocate the repression of sexual images and content in media.
  • 1890s: In England, Oscar Wilde is sentenced to prison for his homosexuality.
    Today: Although United States President Bill Clinton promises to champion gay rights during his presidency, many members of the gay and lesbian community are disappointed by his infamous "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the United States military. This policy allows homosexuals to remain active in the military as long as nobody knows they are homosexual.
  • 1890s: Stoker taps into the fear of damnation and unholiness with his novel Dracula, in which several characters' souls are put in jeopardy. If Dracula succeeds in his quest, he will convert several others into soulless humans.
    Today: The moral and ethical issues surrounding cloning come to a head when an independent company announces that it has cloned the first human. Some worry about a homogenous race of humans that is engineered to look a certain way.
  • 1890s: Citizens of London are still reeling from the crimes of Jack the Ripper, an unnamed murderer who killed at least five women in London's East End in 1888.
    Today: For more than a century, the case of Jack the Ripper has remained unsolved. However, in 2002, popular mystery author Patricia Cornwell claims that the murderer was the well-known artist Walter Sickert.

Historical Context

Organized Religion in the Victorian Age

The Victorian Age witnessed both a rising and falling in the popularity of organized religion. When religious activity was at its peak, it was pervasive. Morality and religion—especially the Christian religion—infused all aspects of life. Stoker's use of Christian elements such as a cross and a eucharist wafer as weapons against the evil Dracula underscores this idea. However, by the end of the century, when Stoker wrote Dracula, the moral compass was not as clear, and many people experienced a crisis in their religious faith. This was due in large part to the publication of several scientific works that challenged conventional notions of religion. One of the most famous of these was Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859).

Sexuality in the Victorian Age

In many ways, the Victorian Age was paradoxical. On the outside, men and women strove to appear pure and conservative. They observed proper courtship rituals, adopted an uninterested attitude towards sex, and at all times tried to act with decorum—at least in public. In private, however, it was a different story. The same time period that saw all of these restrictive rules also witnessed a booming prostitution industry. While this was generally accepted, there was one form of sex that was considered deviant and criminal: homosexuality. Through part of the Victorian Age, homosexuality was a capital offense. However, by the 1890s, the sentence had been reduced to prison time, which was the fate of noted author Oscar Wilde.

During the Victorian Age, pornography found a huge audience. In 1890, an anonymous author published My Secret Life, a massive autobiography that detailed the author's sexual experiences and gave an accurate portrayal of the darker side of Victorian society. While some people wrote about sex in an academic sense, studying the sociological and psychological aspects of human sexuality, some people found it hard to make a distinction between these scholarly studies and pornography that was meant only to arouse. One of people's fears about pornography was that it might lead to sexually criminal behavior, such as rape.

Jack the Ripper

In the late 1880s, when Stoker was getting ready to write his novel, London's East End was terrorized by an anonymous serial murderer known simply as Jack the Ripper. Although these crimes did not include sexually deviant acts like rape, most of the Ripper's victims were prostitutes, which has led some to believe that the murderer's motivation may have been sexual in nature, perhaps a consequence of sexual repression.

Health and Medicine in the Victorian Age

Victorians were extremely worried about their health, especially in London, where crowded and unsanitary city conditions often led to widespread disease. Medicine in the nineteenth century was largely undeveloped, and medical education was not yet regulated. As a result, many doctors were inexperienced and did their patients more harm than good. In the novel, the characters' health is referred to often. Lucy requires many blood transfusions in an attempt to keep her alive; other characters fall ill throughout the novel; when Jonathan escapes from Dracula's castle, he makes it to a hospital and eventually gets nursed back to health by Mina. However, even after he is healthy, Mina is very careful to keep an eye on Jonathan, concerned that he might have a relapse. Both Lucy's mother and Arthur Holmwood's father suffer from illnesses during the novel. In addition, after giving Lucy their transfusions, the male characters have to rest up to save their strength and avoid getting sick.

Critical Overview

When Dracula was first published, critics found little literary merit in the novel. A reviewer for the Athenaeum wrote in 1897, "Dracula is highly sensational, but it is wanting in the constructive art as well as in the higher literary sense." However, even those critics who did not believe that the novel was literary acknowledged it as a horror work that would appeal to its audience. The Athenaeum reviewer says, "Isolated scenes and touches are probably quite uncanny enough to please those for whom they are designed." In fact, some reviewers admitted that, although their Victorian sensibilities instructed them to reject the base qualities of the novel, they were drawn to it. For example, the Bookman reviewer notes, "we must own that, though here and there in the course of the tale we hurried over things with repulsion, we read nearly the whole with rapt attention." This mixed attitude—praising the horror aspects while denying the work's literary merit—continued throughout most of the twentieth century. For example, in his 1918 book The Vampire: His Kith and Kin, Montague Summers notes this dubious distinction. Summers explains, "the reason why, in spite of obvious faults it is read and re-read—lies in the choice of subject and for this the author deserves all praise." So, despite its widespread popular appeal, Dracula did not share the literary distinction of other Gothic novels like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

However, as was also true of Shelley's novel, Stoker's novel exploded onto the screen in the twentieth century and has enjoyed more than one hundred adaptations in several languages. Partly


due to this attention, critics began to review the novel once again in the latter half of the twentieth century. Royce MacGillivray says, in his 1972 essay in Queen's Quarterly, "Certainly without the films it is hard to believe that Dracula would be one of the few proper names from novels to have become a household word." Many of these reviewers focused on the sexual aspects of Dracula. For example, in his 1959 essay "The Psychoanalysis of Ghost Stories," Maurice Richardson notes that the novel "provides really striking confirmation of the Freudian interpretation." In fact, Richardson is so enamored of this idea that he says the story does not make sense unless it is viewed as Freudian. Richardson says, "it is seen as a kind of incestuous, necrophilous, oral-anal-sadistic allin wrestling match." Other reviewers agree, although most note that Stoker, who was very moral himself, probably did not realize that he was embedding sexual symbolism in his work. C. F. Bentley says, in his 1972 essay in Literature and Psychology, "In common with almost all respectable Victorian novelists, Stoker avoids any overt treatment of the sexuality of his characters."

This was one of many essays in the 1970s, a time when critics experienced renewed interest in the novel. As Stephanie Moss notes in her 1997 entry on Stoker for Dictionary of Literary Biography, "The critical revival of Dracula in the early 1970s turned a trickle of literary criticism into a deluge." As Moss notes about modern critics, "The most frequently mentioned psychological aspect is the madonna/whore schism within Victorian perceptions of women, seen most clearly in Lucy's transformation from aristocratic female to vampire." This trend has continued to the present day.

Criticism

Ryan D. Poquette

Poquette has a bachelor's degree in English and specializes in writing about literature. In this essay, Poquette discusses Stoker's use of time in Dracula.

Right from the start, Dracula is a novel obsessed with time. Jonathan Harker's first journal entry notes, "Left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late." From this rather plain beginning, the reader is drawn into a suspenseful tale in which the clock starts to tick faster and faster as the fates of the characters are determined. However, Stoker is subtle in his use of time, so that the reader does not even realize that it, while not a main theme, gives the story its structure. This structure is organized in a way that increases the suspense and disorientation of the reader as the novel progresses.

Although Jonathan's diary starts out mundane, it quickly becomes terrifying. As he travels across the country to the castle, he notices the reaction of various area residents, who are frightened by the name of Dracula, and one woman even begs Harker not to go to Dracula's castle and gives Harker a cross. Harker is unnerved by these warnings but pushes on. Harker translates some of the language of the villagers, including Satan, hell, and other words that denote evil. These evil signs, which grow to include the inhuman activities of the count himself, help to polarize the plot, turning the story into a classic fight between good and evil. Both sides offer immortality, or timelessness, but there are strong differences between the two. The Christian version of immortality is endless time lived in spirit form. This eternal salvation is the goal of Christian religion, and good Christians will sacrifice anything to preserve this, even their lives, as the men risk their lives to try to save Mina's soul.

By chasing Dracula, the men risk being sentenced to an immortal life as a vampire. This immortality is endless time lived in physical form. Unlike Christian immortality, which is based upon the soul, eternal life as a vampire means living in a soulless body. When the men are called upon to kill the vampire Lucy, Van Helsing notes that they have saved her soul and released her from endless damnation. Van Helsing says, "For she is not a grinning devil now—not any more a foul Thing for all eternity. No longer is she the devil's Un-Dead. She is God's true dead, whose soul is with Him!"

Besides large-scale versions of time like heavenly immortality and eternal damnation as a vampire, Stoker also uses smaller, more contained images in his novel. For example, from the beginning, the story quickly organizes itself around a day-night pattern. Jonathan arrives at Castle Dracula during the night. However, while he was used to knowing the time down to the minute as he was traveling, times seems to float once he gets to Castle Dracula, where he only knows roughly what time it is. This sense of disorientation is increased by the fact that Dracula keeps Jonathan up all night talking, so that Jonathan will sleep during the day when Dracula sleeps. Jonathan says, "I had finished my meal—I do not know whether to call it breakfast or dinner, for it was between five and six o'clock when I had it." These inexact times are a far cry from the ultra precise times that Jonathan was used to on his trip and which he has come to rely on in his daily job as a solicitor, which requires a precise attention to details like time.

Because of this "strange night-existence," as Jonathan calls it, he starts to think that he might be losing his mind or hallucinating. Jonathan soon learns that Dracula leaves the castle on many nights, scaling the castle walls in the process. This makes Jonathan realize that he can use the daytimes to explore the castle for a way out. However, while exploring one afternoon, he becomes tired and falls asleep in a different part of the castle. When he wakes up, it is nighttime, a dangerous time for him in Dracula's castle. In fact, as one of the female vampires gets ready to bite him, Jonathan sits waiting, "with beating heart." However, Dracula saves Jonathan from the women, at least temporarily, and Jonathan realizes that if he is going to plan an escape, it must be at a certain time, preferably in the morning when he has a whole day to climb down the castle wall and try to reach a city.

Just as the day and night system of time poses serious issues for Jonathan's safety while at Castle Dracula, time quickly becomes an issue for the others as soon as Dracula arrives in London. When Dracula starts to feed off Lucy, she becomes increasingly more weak and pale. Although Van Helsing and Seward try to ward off Dracula's advances, their efforts are thwarted. Finally, Van Helsing says that they are running out of time. "There is no time to be lost. She will die for sheer want of blood to keep the heart's action as it should be." Although it takes two more transfusions to help Lucy, she appears to be getting better. Lucy notes that she has gone several days without incident, which makes her think that she is in the clear: "Four days and nights of peace. I'm getting so strong again that I hardly know myself." However, despite all of these efforts, a telegram from Van Helsing telling Seward to watch after Lucy arrives late. This mistake proves to be nearly fatal, as Dracula sends a big wolf to break Lucy's window, which gives Lucy's mother a fatal heart attack and greatly weakens Lucy. As Seward notes, Van Helsing works frantically, trying to beat the clock and save Lucy's life: "I never saw in all my experience the Professor work in such deadly earnest. I knew—as he knew—that it was a stand-up fight with death."

However, Stoker's most spectacular use of time is the revelation that Mina has been half-transformed into a vampire, which sets off the final chain of events. Once they realize this, the men, who have already been rushing around to try to stop Dracula from converting London into a town full of vampires, realize that the stakes are even higher and the timeline is even shorter. The realization comes not when they burst in upon Mina, being forced to suck the vampire's blood but when Van Helsing's eucharist wafer burns Mina's forehead: "it had seared it…. My poor darling's brain toldher the significance of the fact as quickly as her nerves received pain of it." Up until now, the men did not realize the severity of Mina's having been bitten and having the chance to turn into a vampire. However, since the holy symbol is burning her flesh, this is a sign that they are all running out of time. If Mina is not to become one of the immortal undead, they need to find Dracula and kill him. Van Helsing says of Dracula, "he can live for centuries, and you are but mortal woman. Time is now to be dreaded—since once he put that mark upon your throat."

This fact gives the men the motivation they need to chase Dracula from London to Transylvania, risking their own lives and salvation. However, they are aided in their quest, ironically, by time. Although Dracula has the power of immortality, he is limited in his movement during the day and must rely on the help of other, mortal men. Because of this fact, Dracula panics and takes the surest and safest way of passage out of London, by boat. However, this gives the vampire hunters a timely advantage, since they can reach their destination much faster by land and cut Dracula off before he reaches his castle. In addition, since Mina has always been obsessed with time in an effort to help Jonathan in his business, she has learned how to memorize train timetables, which comes in handy when trying to thwart Dracula. Mina says, "I knew that if anything were to take us to Castle Dracula we should go by Galatz, or at any rate through Bucharest, so I learned the times very carefully."

In the end, the battle between good and evil, spiritual immortality and eternal physical damnation, the vampire hunters and Dracula comes down to just a few moments of time. Mina notes that the capture of Dracula takes place near the end of the day, right before Dracula is about to be free of his daytime prison: "As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph." However, time is ultimately on the hunters' side, since Jonathan lunges at Dracula just in time, his "great knife" decapitating Dracula. As Mina continues, she realizes that even Dracula was human once. With Jonathan's act, the human part of Dracula—which has lived an immortal physical damnation for hundreds of years—finally finds peace as his soul is delivered into spiritual eternity: "there was in the face a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there."

Source: Ryan D. Poquette, Critical Essay on Dracula, in Novels for Students, Gale, 2003.

Brian Stableford

In the following essay, novelist and sociologist Stableford examines the history behind Stoker's novel.

Bram Stoker's Dracula completed the set of three 19th-century horror stories which were to create modern myths in alliance with Hollywood. Like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde it owed its origin to a nightmare, but it took Stoker many years of research and forethought to get himself to the point of beginning an actual draft. Even then he encountered difficulties, eventually dropping the opening sequence that was later published separately as "Dracula's Guest." What remains is untidy, although the presentation of the story as a patchwork of documents helps to sustain the pretence that the untidiness is merely superficial. In fact, it could hardly be more deep-seated; the novel is shot through with loose ends, unsettled questions, inept transitions and dramatic changes of emphasis. Such conundrums and confusions are part of the book's very essence. Had Dracula not been such a changeable and paradoxical character he could not have been half so fascinating; nor could he have been qualified to become the central monster of 20th-century folklore, celebrated as much by humour as by horror schlock, and as often redeemed—at least in recent times—as re-damned.

Stoker borrowed some of the inspiration for Dracula from John Polidori's "The Vampyre" and J. Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla"—Stoker and Le Fanu were both graduates of Trinity College, Dublin—but when he went in search of an aristocratic model for the "king-vampire" of his nightmare he found a new one, as different from its predecessors as Carmilla Karnstein was from Lord Byron. This was the 15th-century Voivode Vlad Tepes, "the Impaler," who was also nicknamed Dragul ("Dragon" or "Devil"; Dracul in the Latinized version) but whose scribes often signed him Dragulya, meaning "son of Dragul," to distinguish him from his similarly-nicknamed father. In re-characterizing Dracula Stoker borrowed extensively but selectively from the rich Eastern European vampire folklore popularized by Dom Augustine Calmet. It was this carefully-processed research which produced the archetype of all modern literary vampires, determining their appearance, their abilities and their limitations (especially, of course, the fatal flaws which permit their destruction). Every modern vampire which violates this template does so consciously and deliberately; it cannot simply be ignored. No other novel of any kind has ever stamped out an image so firmly and so decisively.

Stoker's Dracula is supposed to be an incarnation of pure evil, but this role is confused even in the original text—a confusion which has paved the way for a vast range of calculated variations. In the dream which provided the seed from which the story grew the "king-vampire" appeared only at the end, interrupting the female vampires who posed a more immediate threat to the dreamer—as they do, in the text, to Jonathan Harker. Harker therefore owes his life to the creature he subsequently determines to destroy. The main threat which Dracula subsequently poses is that of conferring extraordinary sexual attractiveness and a kind of immortality on the novel's two main female characters, Lucy and Mina. Stoker dutifully declared such a fate to be far worse than death, but he must have known that it had already been viewed in a more ambiguous light in works by John Keats, Théophile Gautier and others.

Like "Carmilla," Dracula is among the most strikingly erotic works published in Britain during the Victorian era, but if its conscientious representation of female "voluptuousness" and sexual appetite as a manifest disgrace is not consciously hypocritical it must surely be reckoned severely neurotic. Had such hypocrisies and neuroses died with Victoria Dracula would not have become so astonishingly promiscuous in his more recent seductions, but they did not—and all the heroic Draculas of the 20th-century fin de siècle have not yet succeeded in staking the unnaturally-beating hearts of those hypocrisies and neuroses, nor in reducing them to ashen dust with bright Enlightenment.

Stoker had always suffered the effects of a morbid imagination and had made earlier efforts to turn its produce to useful effect. His collection of allegorical fairy tales Under the Sunset—which does not seem to the modern eye to be very suitable for children—includes such dark pieces as "The Invisible Giant," about the ravages of plague, and "How 7 Went Mad." When Dracula became a runaway bestseller Stoker tried to follow it up with something similar but he had no idea how he had worked the trick and his attempts to copy it ranged from the feeble to the fatuous. There is an element of supernatural horror in the treasure-hunt story The Mystery of the Sea, but it remains fugitive and the story itself fizzles out. The Jewel of Seven Stars employs the then-fashionable motif of a revivifiable mummy of a lovely but accursed Egyptian queen, but the action comes to an abrupt conclusion just as the story proper seems to be about to begin. The original ending was, in fact, so brutally opaque that another (perhaps by another hand) was substituted in later editions, but the revamped version fails dismally to save the plot from cringing self-destruction. The Lady of the Shroud is an oldfashioned political Gothic in which vampirism plays a very peripheral (and probably illusory) role.

The Lair of the White Worm is one of the most spectacularly incoherent novels ever to reach print; the only excuse for its existence one can suggest is that it must have been based on another actual nightmare, which the aging and ailing Stoker had not time to gather into an organized plot. On the other hand, its lurid portrayal of the femme fatale's doppelgänger as a great White Worm has offered intriguing fuel for thought to critics interested in sexual symbolism. The other short pieces collected in Dracula's Guest are not handicapped by Stoker's incapacity for organizing novel-length texts but they are mostly very weak. "The Judge's House" is a tolerable pastiche of Le Fanu and "The Secret of the Growing Gold" is effective even though the gold in question is only blonde hair, but the remainder are trivial. Attempts by Peter Haining and others to locate "lost" Stoker stories that had not been previously reprinted have produced nothing of any real interest.

At the end of the day, it seems as if the inspiration that led Bram Stoker to write Dracula was an unrepeatable accident of fate owing more to luck than judgment—but that should not detract from the credit due to its author. Nobody else ever wrote a book like Dracula, and it certainly has not been for want of trying.

Source: Brian Stableford, "Stoker, Bram," in St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, edited by David Pringle, St. James Press, 1998, pp. 573–75.


Rebecca Stott

In the following essay, Stott discusses the decadent gothic genre and how the qualities of Dracula place the novel in that genre.

When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897 he was able to draw upon a century-long tradition of interest in vampirism, firmly associated with the exotic fantasies of romanticism and with the theme of seduction and evil. By 1913 the book was in its 10th edition. After its first stage production in 1930 the sales of the book doubled and by the 1930's the first vampire films began to emerge. With the extraordinary number of subsequent films produced this century, Dracula has become a 20th-century myth of unparalleled resonance.

Stoker's text has been the focus of renewed critical interest in the last few decades, as the subject of a plethora of critical readings and interpretations: Marxist, Freudian, feminist, and Darwinian. As fantasy, drawing on one of the most ancient Eastern European superstitions, it invites and stimulates such diverse and interesting speculations.

Those familiar with the film myth of Dracula are often surprised by the density and literary quality of Stoker's text. Film versions are rarely loyal to it to any degree. It insists, like so many fantastic texts, on its own authenticity. In the tradition of Wilkie Collins it claims authenticity by narrating events through the diaries and letters of the characters involved. But Stoker goes much further than Collins by mobilising almost any form of information: ship's logs translated from the original Russian, newspaper cuttings, doctors' reports, telegrams, memoranda, even transcribed verbal accounts from a phonograph.

The text needs contemporary testimony to provide a scientific account of the movements, habits, and history of the central threat of the novel—Dracula—and it relies on the constant production of such information. Van Helsing (a Dutch Catholic "scientist"), the principle vampire hunter, supported by his team of assistants—Seward (a medical man specialising in the treatment of the insane), Godalming (an aristocrat), Harker (a lawyer), and Quincey Morris (an American), insist on a flow of information within the band of hunters. "Good women tell all their lives," Van Helsing tells Mina. Dracula is a confessional novel: without confession there would be no text.

The central action of the novel is defensive. Dracula is planning to invade England, to create an empire of "semi-demons." Harker travels to Transylvania as lawyer to the Count and it is in this opening "gothic" section of the novel that we are first introduced to the vampire superstition and its Eastern European origins. The second section of the novel jolts us back to England and the domestic complacency of the central characters. In the background, unseen, Dracula is invading the country. Invasion stories of many kinds were reaching a peak around the turn of the century, exacerbated by real fears of political instability in Europe. Dracula, for all its gothic and fantastic characteristics, dramatises this fear.

Lucy Westenra, the innocent and beautiful young heroine, is the first victim of the invading Count. Van Helsing is brought in to study the strangely anaemic state of the fading heroine. With Mina Harker, the heroine with a "man's brain," the defenders band together to protect England from the advancing threat, now identified by Van Helsing as vampirism. They are too late to save Lucy despite a series of major blood transfusions from four men. Now dead, but Undead, she stalks Highgate cemetery preying on young children, and she must be staked in a violent and ritualistic ceremony which critics have identified as a kind of gang rape. The novel is packed with scenes of erotic power which have invited sexual readings in the late 20th century, but which went apparently unnoticed by the novel's 19th-century audience.

It has been observed that the vampire hunters not only doubt their own sanity (much of the novel takes place in a lunatic asylum) but actually mirror the sadism and violence of Dracula. The instability of narrators and the problematising of vision are characteristics of fantastic literature from Poe onwards, as is the compulsion to exorcise the demonic "other": the Not-I. The band of vampire hunters enact many sadistic rituals, such as the staking of Lucy, in the name of the protection of the Empire.

Dracula is a novel which insists on protecting (and patrolling) women as much as it insists on patrolling the Empire. The men are forever placing protective circles of Holy Wafer and garlic flowers around the women. Dracula will invade through any gap. It is a novel which expresses fears of Dracula's effect upon women—their sexualisation. While the central threat of the novel is the seducing Dracula, the novel is populated with female vampires—four of the five central female characters are vampires. Dracula attacks only women.

The novel forms part of a late 19th-century genre which David Punter has identified as decadent gothic. The four great novels of this genre are Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Stoker's Dracula and Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau. All these novels enact fears of regression and degeneration stimulated by the discoveries of evolutionary theory. All are concerned in some ways with "the liberation of repressed desires." Dracula can be seen as the beast within, so precariously contained. He must be tracked down and eliminated. While the novel moves towards his final elimination—he crumbles into dust once staked—the hunters do not observe the elaborate rituals of staking. The ending is ambiguous: Mina (who has herself sucked Dracula's blood) gives birth to a child on the anniversary of Dracula's death—a male child who bears the names of all the band of men involved in the tracking of Dracula. Moreover, the hunters are thrown back again on their own uncertainty. They are left with their only record of the dramatic events as a "mass of typewriting."

Source: Rebecca Stott, "Dracula: Novel by Bram Stoker, 1897," in Reference Guide to English Literature, 2d ed., edited by D. L. Kirkpatrick, Vol. 3, St. James Press, 1991, pp. 1554–55.

Carol A. Senf

In the following essay, Senf steps outside of the usual readings of Dracula as a battle between Good and Evil to explore the unreliability of the story's narrators and the moral ambiguity hidden in the tale.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Julius Caesar, I, ii, 134–135

Published in 1896, Dracula is an immensely popular novel which has never been out of print, has been translated into at least a dozen languages, and has been the subject of more films than any other novel. Only recently, however, have students of literature begun to take it seriously, partially because of the burgeoning interest in popular culture and partially because Dracula is a work which raises a number of troubling questions about ourselves and our society. Despite this growing interest in Bram Stoker's best-known novel, the majority of literary critics read Dracula as a popular myth about the opposition of Good and Evil without bothering to address more specifically literary matters such as style, characterization, and method of narration. This article, on the other hand, focuses on Stoker's narrative technique in general and specifically on his choice of unreliable narrators. As a result, my reading of Dracula is a departure from most standard interpretations in that it revolves, not around the conquest of Evil by Good, but on the similarities between the two.

More familiar with the numerous film interpretations than with Stoker's novel, most modern reader are likely to be surprised by Dracula and its intensely topical themes; and both the setting and the method of narration which Stoker chose contribute to this sense of immediacy. Instead of taking place in a remote Transylvanian castle or a timeless and dreamlike "anywhere," most of the action occurs in nineteenth-century London. Furthermore, Stoker de-emphasizes the novel's mythic qualities by telling the story through a series of journal extracts, personal letters, and newspaper clippings—the very written record of everyday life. The narrative technique resembles a vast jigsaw puzzle of isolated and frequently trivial facts; and it is only when the novel is more than half over that the central characters piece these fragments together and, having concluded that Dracula is a threat to themselves and their society, band together to destroy him.

On the surface, the novel appears to be a mythic re-enactment of the opposition between Good and Evil because the narrators attribute their pursuit and ultimate defeat of Dracula to a high moral purpose. However, although his method of narration doesn't enable him to comment directly on his characters' failures in judgment or lack of self-knowledge, Stoker provides several clues to their unreliability and encourages the reader to see the frequent discrepancies between their professed beliefs and their actions. The first clue is an anonymous preface (unfortunately omitted in many modern editions) which gives the reader a distinct warning:

How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated, so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact. There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within the range of knowledge of those who made them.

Writers of Victorian popular fiction frequently rely on the convention of the anonymous editor to introduce their tales and to provide additional comments throughout the text; and Stoker uses this convention to stress the subjective nature of the story which his narrators relate. The narrators themselves occasionally question the validity of their perceptions, but Stoker provides numerous additional clues to their unreliability. For example, at the conclusion, Jonathan Harker questions their interpretation of the events:

We were stuck with the fact, that in all the mass of material of which the record is composed, there is hardly one authentic document; nothing but a mass of typewriting, except the later notebooks of Mina and Seward and myself, and Van Helsing's memorandum. We could hardly ask any one, even did we wish to, to accept these as proofs of so wild a story.

The conclusion reinforces the subjective nature of their tale and casts doubts on everything that had preceded; however, because Stoker does not use an obvious framing device like Conrad in Heartof Darkness or James in The Turn of the Screw or employ an intrusive editor as Haggard does in She and because all the narrators come to similar conclusions about the nature of their opponent, the reader is likely to forget that these documents are subjective records, interpretations which are "given within the range of knowledge of those who made them."

While Stoker's choice of narrative technique does not permit him to comment directly on his characters, he suggests that they are particularly ill-equipped to judge the extraordinary events with which they are faced. The three central narrators are perfectly ordinary nineteenth-century Englishmen: the young lawyer Jonathan Harker, his wife Mina, and a youthful psychiatrist Dr. John Seward. Other characters who sometimes function as narrators include Dr. Van Helsing, Seward's former teacher; Quincy Morris, an American adventurer; Arthur Holmwood, a young English nobleman; and Lucy Westenra, Holmwood's fiancée. With the exception of Dr. Van Helsing, all the central characters are youthful and inexperienced—two dimensional characters whose only distinguishing characteristics are their names and their professions; and by maintaining a constancy of style throughout and emphasizing the beliefs which they hold in common, Stoker further diminishes any individualizing traits. The narrators appear to speak with one voice; and Stoker suggests that their opinions are perfectly acceptable so long as they remain within their limited fields of expertise. The problem, however, is that these perfectly ordinary people are confronted with the extraordinary character of Dracula.

Although Stoker did model Dracula on the historical Vlad V of Wallachia and the East European superstition of the vampire, he adds a number of humanizing touches to make Dracula appear noble and vulnerable as well as demonic and threatening; and it becomes difficult to determine whether he is a hideous bloodsucker whose touch breeds death or a lonely and silent figure who is hunted and persecuted. The difficulty in interpreting Dracula's character is compounded by the narrative technique, for the reader quickly recognizes that Dracula is never seen objectively and never permitted to speak for himself while his actions are recorded by people who have determined to destroy him and who, moreover, repeatedly question the sanity of their quest.

The question of sanity, which is so important in Dracula, provides another clue to the narrators' unreliability. More than half the novel takes place in or near Dr. Seward's London mental institution; and several of the characters are shown to be emotionally unstable: Renfield, one of Dr. Seward's patients, is an incarcerated madman who believes that he can achieve immortality by drinking the blood of insects and other small creatures; Jonathan Harker suffers a nervous breakdown after he escapes from Dracula's castle; and Lucy Westenra exhibits signs of schizophrenia, being a model of sweetness and conformity while she is awake but becoming sexually aggressive and demanding during her sleepwalking periods. More introspective than most of the other narrators, Dr. Seward occasionally refers to the questionable sanity of their mission, his diary entries mentioning his fears that they will all wake up in straitjackets. Furthermore, his entries on Renfield's condition indicate that he recognizes the narrow margin which separates sanity from insanity: "It is wonderful, however, what intellectual recuperative power lunatics have, for within a few minutes he stood up quite calmly and looked about him."

However, even if the reader chooses to ignore the question of the narrators' sanity, it is important to understand their reasons for wishing to destroy Dracula. They accuse him of murdering the crew of the Demeter, of killing Lucy Westenra and transforming her into a vampire, and of trying to do the same thing to Mina Harker. However, the log found on the dead body of the Demeter's captain, which makes only a few ambiguous allusions to a fiend or monster, is hysterical and inconclusive. Recording this "evidence," Mina's journal asserts that the verdict of the inquest was open-ended: "There is no evidence to adduce; and whether or not the man [the ship's captain] committed the murders there is now none to say." Lucy's death might just as easily be attributed to the blood transfusions (still a dangerous procedure at the time Stoker wrote Dracula) to which Dr. Van Helsing subjects her; and Mina acknowledges her complicity in the affair with Dracula by admitting that she did not want to prevent his advances. Finally, even if Dracula is responsible for all the Evil of which he is accused, he is tried, convicted, and sentenced by men (including two lawyers) who give him no opportunity to explain his actions and who repeatedly violate the laws which they profess to be defending: they avoid an inquest of Lucy's death, break into her tomb and desecrate her body, break into Dracula's houses, frequently resort to bribery and coercion to avoid legal involvement, and openly admit that they are responsible for the deaths of five alleged vampires. While it can be argued that Dracula is a fantasy and therefore not subject to the laws of verisimilitude, Stoker uses the flimsiness of such "evidence" to focus on the contrast between the narrators' rigorous moral arguments and their alltoo-pragmatic methods.

In fact, Stoker reveals that what condemns Dracula are the English characters' subjective responses to his character and to the way of life which he represents. The reader is introduced to Dracula by Jonathan Harker's journal. His first realization that Dracula is different from himself occurs when he looks into the mirror and discovers that Dracula casts no reflection:

This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, was beginning to increase that vague sense of uneasiness which I always have when the Count is near.

The fact that vampires cast no reflection is part of the iconography of the vampire in East European folklore, but Stoker translates the superstitious belief that creatures without souls have no reflection into a metaphor by which he can illustrate his characters' lack of moral vision. Harker's inability to "see" Dracula is a manifestation of moral blindness which reveals his insensitivity to others and (as will become evident later) his inability to perceive certain traits within himself.

Even before Harker begins to suspect that Dracula is a being totally unlike himself, Stoker reveals that he is troubled by everything that Dracula represents. While journeying from London to Transylvania, Harker muses on the quaint customs which he encounters; and he notes in his journal that he must question his host about them. Stoker uses Harker's perplexity to establish his character as a very parochial Englishman whose apparent curiosity is not a desire for understanding, but a need to have his preconceptions confirmed. However, instead of finding someone like himself at the end of his journey, a person who can provide a rational explanation for these examples of non-English behavior, Harker discovers a ruined castle, itself a memento of bygone ages, and a man who, reminding him that Transylvania is not England, prides himself on being an integral part of his nation's heroic past:

… the Szekleys—and the Dracula as their heart's blood, their brains and their swords—can boast a record that mushroom growths like the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs can never reach. The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace; and the glories of the great races are as a tale that is told.

To Harker, Dracula initially appears to be an anachronism—an embodiment of the feudal past—rather than an innately evil being; and his journal entries at the beginning merely reproduce Dracula's pride and rugged individualism:

Here I am noble; I am boyar; the common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one; men know him not—and to know not is to care not for … I have been so long master that I would be master still—or at least that none other should be master of me.

It is only when Harker realizes that he is assisting to take this anachronism to England that he becomes frightened.

Harker's later response indicates that he fears a kind of reverse imperialism, the threat of the primitive trying to colonize the civilized world, while the reader sees in his response a profound resemblance between Harker and Dracula:

This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where perhaps for centuries to come he might… satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. The very thought drove me mad. A terrible desire came upon me to rid the world of such a monster. There was no lethal weapon at hand, but I seized a shovel which the workmen had been using to fill the cases, and lifting it high, struck, with the edge downward, at the hateful face.

This scene reinforces Harker's earlier inability to see Dracula in the mirror. Taken out of context, it would be difficult to distinguish the man from the monster. Behavior generally attributed to the vampire—the habit of attacking a sleeping victim, violence, and irrational behavior—is revealed to be the behavior of the civilized Englishman also. The sole difference is that Stoker's narrative technique does not permit the reader to enter Dracula's thoughts as he stands over his victims. The reversal of roles here is important because it establishes the subjective nature of the narrators' beliefs, suggests their lack of self-knowledge, and serves to focus on the similarities between the narrators and their opponent. Later in the novel, Mina Harker provides the following analysis of Dracula which ironically also describes the single-mindedness of his pursuers:

The Count is a criminal and of criminal type … and qua criminal he is of imperfectly formed mind. Thus, in a difficulty he has to seek resource in habit … Then, as he is criminal he is selfish; and as his intellect is small and his action is based on selfishness, he confines himself to one purpose.

Both Mina and Jonathan can justify their pursuit of Dracula by labeling him a murderer; and Mina adds intellectual frailty to his alleged sins. However, the narrators show themselves to be equally bound by habit and equally incapable of evaluating situations which are beyond their limited spheres of expertise. In fact, Stoker implies that the only difference between Dracula and his opponents is the narrators' ability to state individual desire in terms of what they believe is a common good. For example, the above scene shows that Harker can justify his violent attack on Dracula because he pictures himself as the protector of helpless millions; and the narrators insist on the duty to defend the innocents.

The necessity of protecting the innocent is called into question, however, when Dr. Van Helsing informs the other characters about the vampire's nature. While most of his discussion concerns the vampire's susceptibility to garlic, silver bullets, and religious artifacts, Van Helsing also admits that the vampire cannot enter a dwelling unless he is first invited by one of the inhabitants. In other words, a vampire cannot influence a human being without that person's consent. Dracula's behavior confirms that he is an internal, not an external, threat. Although perfectly capable of using superior strength when he must defend himself, he usually employs seduction, relying on the others' desires to emulate his freedom from external constraints: Renfield's desire for immortality, Lucy's wish to escape the repressive existence of an upper-class woman, and the desires of all the characters to overcome the restraints placed on them by their religion and their law. As the spokesman for civilization, Van Helsing appears to understand that the others might be tempted by their desires to become like Dracula and he warns them against the temptation:

But to fail here, is not mere life or death. It is that we become as him; that we henceforward become foul things of the night like him—without heart or conscience, preying on the bodies and the souls of those we love best.

Becoming like Dracula, they too would be laws unto themselves—primitive, violent, irrational—with nothing to justify their actions except the force of their desires. No longer would they need to rationalize their "preying on the bodies and souls of their loved ones" by concealing their lust for power under the rubric of religion, their love of violence under the names of imperialism and progress, their sexual desires within an elaborate courtship ritual.

The narrators attribute their hatred of Dracula to a variety of causes. Harker's journal introduces a being whose way of life is antithetical to theirs—a warlord, a representative of the feudal past and the leader of a primitive cult who he fears will attempt to establish a vampire colony in England. Mina Harker views him as a criminal and as the murderer of her best friend; and Van Helsing sees him as a moral threat, a kind of Anti-Christ. Yet, in spite of the narrators' moral and political language, Stoker reveals that Dracula is primarily a sexual threat, a missionary of desire whose only true kingdom will be the human body. Although he flaunts his independence of social restraints and proclaims himself a master over all he sees, Dracula adheres more closely to English law than his opponents in every area except his sexual behavior. (In fact, Dracula admits to Harker that he invited him to Transylvania so he could learn the subtle nuances of English law and business.) Neither a thief, rapist, nor an overtly political threat, Dracula is dangerous because he expresses his contempt for authority in the most individualistic of ways—through his sexuality. In fact, his thirst for blood and the manner in which he satisfies this thirst can be interpreted as sexual desire which fails to observe any of society's attempts to control it—prohibitions against polygamy, promiscuity, and homosexuality. Furthermore, Stoker suggests that it is generally through sexuality that the vampire gains control over human beings. Van Helsing recognizes this temptation when he prevents Arthur from kissing Lucy right before her death; and even the staid and morally upright Harker momentarily succumbs to the sensuality of the three vampire-women in Dracula's castle:

I felt in my heart a wicked burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina's eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth.

For one brief moment, Harker does appear to recognize the truth about sexual desire; it is totally irrational and has nothing to do with monogamy, love, or even respect for the beloved. It is Dracula, however, who clearly articulates the characters' most intense fears of sexuality: "Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine—my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed." Implicit in Dracula's warning is the similarity between vampire and opponents. Despite rare moments of comprehension, however, the narrators generally choose to ignore this similarity; and their lack of self-knowledge permits them to hunt down and kill not only Dracula and the three women in his castle, but their friend Lucy Westenra as well.

The scene in which Arthur drives the stake through Lucy's body while the other men watch thoughtfully is filled with a violent sexuality which again connects vampire and opponents:

But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shine through it; the sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the vault … There in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing that we had dreaded and grown to hate that the work of her destruction was yielded as a privilege to the one best entitled to it, but Lucy as we had seen her in life, with her face of unequalled sweetness and purity.

Despite Seward's elevated moral language, the scene resembles nothing so much as the combined group rape and murder of an unconscious woman; and this kind of violent attack on a helpless victim is precisely the kind of behavior which condemns Dracula in the narrators' eyes. Moreover, Lucy is not the only woman to be subjected to this violence. At the conclusion, in a scene which is only slightly less explicit, Dr. Van Helsing destroys the three women in Dracula's castle. Again Dr. Van Helsing admits that he is fascinated by the beautiful visages of the "wanton Un-Dead" but he never acknowledges that his violent attack is simply a role reversal or that he becomes the vampire as he stands over their unconscious bodies.

By the conclusion of the novel, all the characters who have been accused of expressing individual desire have been appropriately punished: Dracula, Lucy Westenra, and the three vampire-women have been killed; and even Mina Harker is ostracized for her momentary indiscretion. All that remains after the primitive, the passionate, and the individualistic qualities that were associated with the vampire have been destroyed is a small group of wealthy men who return after a period of one year to the site of their victory over the vampire. The surviving characters remain unchanged by the events in their lives and never come to the realization that their commitment to social values merely masks their violence and their sexuality; and the only significant difference in their condition is the birth of the Harkers' son who is appropriately named for all the men who had participated in the conquest of Dracula. Individual sexual desire has apparently been so absolutely effaced that the narrators see this child as the result of their social union rather than the product of a sexual union between one man and one woman.

The narrators insist that they are agents of God and are able to ignore their similarity to the vampire because their commitment to social values such as monogamy, proper English behavior, and the will of the majority enables them to conceal their violence and their sexual desires from each other and even from themselves. Stoker, however, reveals that these characteristics are merely masked by social convention. Instead of being eliminated, violence and sexuality emerge in particularly perverted forms.

Recently uncovered evidence suggests that Bram Stoker may have had very personal reasons for his preoccupation with repression and sexuality. In his biography of his great-uncle, Daniel Farson explains that, while the cause of Stoker's death is usually given as exhaustion, Stoker actually died of tertiary syphillis, exhaustion being one of the final stages of that disease. Farson also adds that Stoker's problematic relationship with his wife may have been responsible:

When his wife's frigidity drove him to other women, probably prostitutes among them, Bram's writing showed signs of guilt and sexual frustration … He probably caught syphilis around the turn of the century, possibly as early as the year of Dracula, 1896. (It usually takes ten to fifteen years before it kills.) By 1897 it seems that he had been celibate for more than twenty years, as far as Florence [his wife] was concerned.

Poignantly aware from his own experience that the face of the vampire is the hidden side of the human character, Stoker creates unreliable narrators to tell a tale, not of the overcoming of Evil by Good, but of the similarities between the two. Dracula reveals the unseen face in the mirror; and Stoker's message is similar to the passage from Julius Caesar which prefaces this article and might be paraphrased in the following manner: "The fault, dear reader, is not in our external enemies, but in ourselves."

Source: Carol A. Senf, "Dracula: The Unseen Face in the Mirror," in Journal of Narrative Technique, Vol. 9, No. 3, Fall 1979, pp. 160–70.

Sources

Bentley, C. F., "The Monster in the Bedroom: Sexual Symbolism in Bram Stoker's Dracula," in Literature and Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1972, pp. 27–34.

MacGillivray, Royce, "Dracula: Bram Stoker's Spoiled Masterpiece," in Queen's Quarterly, Vol. 79, No. 4, Winter 1972, pp. 518–27.

Moss, Stephanie, "Bram Stoker," in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 178, British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers Before World War I, edited by Darren Harris-Fain, Gale Research, 1997, pp. 229–37.

"Novel Notes: Dracula," in the Bookman, Vol. 12, No. 71, August 1897, p. 129.

Review of Dracula, in the Athenaeum, No. 3635, June 26, 1897, p. 235.

Richardson, Maurice, "The Psychoanalysis of Ghost Stories," in the Twentieth Century, Vol. 166, No. 994, December 1959, pp. 419–31.

Stoker, Bram, Dracula, edited by Maurice Hindle, Penguin, 1993.

Summers, Montague, "The Vampire in Literature," in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin, 1928, reprint, University Books, 1960, pp. 271–340.

Further Reading

Belford, Barbara, Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of "Dracula," Knopf, 1996.

In this compelling biography, Belford examines the life of Stoker, who has always been less famous than his greatest creation, Dracula. As Belford shows, this trend was true in Stoker's life, overshadowed as he was by his employer, the actor Henry Irving.

Gerard, Emily, The Land beyond the Forest: Facts, Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania, AMS Press, 2001.

This travel book was originally published in the late 1880s, and many believe that it was one of Stoker's references for the Transylvanian portion of the novel. The book also talks about the vampire legends of the area.

McNally, Raymond T., and Radu Florescu, In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends, Little, Brown, 1975.

This famous Dracula reference explores the real-life links between Stoker's title character and the historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler.

Pool, Daniel, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England, Touchstone Books, 1994.

This highly informative reader's companion is ideal for those who wish to learn more about the language, culture, and customs of nineteenth-century England, including courtship rituals and Victorian attitudes towards sex. As such, it serves as an indispensable guide to Stoker's novel.

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Dracula

Dracula


Based on ancient folk tales and myths, the story of Dracula the vampire is the most enduring of all horror stories. The 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker (1847–1912) is the first recorded tale of Count Dracula, who rises from the dead to feast on the blood of the living. Adaptations have appeared on film, television (see entry under 1940s—TV and Radio in volume 3), and radio (see entry under 1920s—TV and Radio in volume 2) and in print many times. From folk tales to TV's The X-Files (1993), vampire stories have been used for centuries as a way of explaining strange events. The blood-sucking Count has been most successful in the darkened movie theater, however. With Bela Lugosi (1882–1956) in the title role, Dracula (1931), directed by Tod Browning (1882–1962), provided the original for many of the Dracula images that became familiar in American popular culture. The movie also inspired vampire characters, from the Count in Sesame Street (see entry under 1970s—TV and Radio in volume 4) to Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis, 1910–) of the TV series The Munsters (1964–66). Other TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) take a cool 1990s approach to the vampire myth. Because of the movies, however, Stoker's Count Dracula is still the most famous vampire of them all.

Although Lugosi's Dracula in his tailcoat and cloak has become the best known, it is Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horrors, directed by F. W. Murnau (1888–1931), that began the movie industry's fascination with the undead. Murnau's 1922 film stars creepy Max Schreck (1879–1936) in the role of vampire Count Orlock. Even by the higher standards of the twenty-first century, Nosferatu has some genuinely frightening moments. The British-made Dracula (1958), directed by Terence Fisher, (1904–1980) has also influenced the popular image of the vampire. Starring Christopher Lee (1922–) as Count Dracula and filmed in vivid color, Fisher's film stands alongside Browning's as one of the best adaptations of Stoker's novel. In the late twentieth century, vampire stories became more sympathetic to vampires. Interview with the Vampire, the 1994 movie version of the novel (1976) by Anne Rice (1941–), updates the myth by making vampires seem attractive and "normal" as well as frightening. Many other movies and TV series have offered interpretations of the legend of Dracula.

Over a century after Stoker's novel first appeared, the vampire industry shows no sign of weakening. Dracula has inspired Halloween costumes, comic books (see entry under 1930s—Print Culture in volume 2), cartoons, clothing, and many more consumer goods. Dracula has also helped the tourist industry in Romania, where Stoker's original vampire rests in the crypt of his dark ancestral home. In the twenty-first century, Dracula lies buried deep in the popular imagination.


—Chris Routledge

For More Information

Cohen, Daniel. Real Vampires. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1995.

Miller, Elizabeth. Dracula. New York: Parkstone Press, 2001.

Miller, Elizabeth. Dracula's Homepage.http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller (accessed February 4, 2002).

Pipe, Jim. Dracula. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beech Books, 1995.

Skal, David J. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen. New York: Norton, 1990.

Transylvanian Society of Dracula—Canadian Chapter.http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Recreation/TSD/tsdhompg.html (accessed February 4, 2002).

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