Dracula is a fictional character, arguably the most famous vampire in fiction. He was created by the Irish writer Bram Stoker in his 1897 horror novel of the same name. It is an epistolary novel, that is, told mostly in diaries and letters from the characters, although Stoker also fabricates newspaper clippings, and even uses transcriptions of a dictation machine, then very new.

Table of contents
1 Plot
2 Analysis
3 Origins
4 Movies
5 Tributes and Parodies
6 Related Topics
7 External links


Dracula is set in Transylvania and England and tells of various encounters with the blood-sucking Count Dracula. The story begins when Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, is invited to the Count's crumbling castle to hammer out a real estate deal; while there, he becomes a de facto prisoner, discovers disquieting facets of the Count's daily life, and is seduced by three female vampires. He eventually escapes the castle and finds his way back to England.

Not long afterward, a Russian ship runs aground in Whitby. All passengers and crew are dead. A huge dog or wolf is seen running from the ship, which contains nothing but boxes of dirt from Transylvania.

The Count reappears and is soon menacing Harker's devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her vivacious friend, Lucy Westernra. Lucy receives three marriage proposals in one day, from Arthur, Lord Godalming; an American called Quincy Morris who always carries a bowie knife; and an asylum psychiatrist, John Seward. There is a notable encounter between Dracula and Seward's patient Renfield, an insane man who means to consume insects, rats, and birds, and other creatures -- in ascending order of size -- in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield acts as a kind of motion sensor, detecting the proximity of Dracula and releasing clues accordingly.

Lucy begins to waste suspiciously away. All her suitors fret; Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy's condition, but refuses to disclose it, knowing that Seward's faith in him will be shaken if he starts spouting off about vampires. Van Helsing tries multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing ground. On a night when Van Helsing must return to Amsterdam (and his message to Seward asking him to watch the Westenra household is accidentally sent to the wrong address), Lucy and her mother are attacked in the night by a strange wolf. Mrs Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright, and Lucy herself apparently dies soon after.

Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers report a "bloofer lady" stalking children in the night. Van Helsing, knowing that this means Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing form a coalition of the killing and track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation between her vampire self and Arthur, they stake her and behead her. Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives home from Transylvania, and he and Mina also join the coalition, who now turn their attentions to dealing with Dracula himself.

Then begins the longer drama of tracking Dracula's movements in London, spoiling his Transylvanian earth with holy wafers, and dealing with his intensifying seduction of Mina Harker. Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania, followed by Van Helsing's gang, who re-kill him and his three vampire women. Mina is freed, and the survivors (Quincy Morris is killed in the final battle) return to England.


The novel is narrated very effectively by multiple voices -- Jonathan's journal of his trip to Transylvania, Mina's diary, and Seward's recorded journal, as well as letters and newspaper items. Although somewhat crude and certainly sensational, the novel also does have psychological power, and the sexual longings underlying the vampire attacks are manifest. The pace is relaxed and atmospheric and the characters richer than one might expect.

Despite its important contributions to the vampire myth, several popular tropes are absent: for instance, Count Dracula is killed by knives, not a wooden stake; and the destruction of the vampire Lucy, though it does involve a wooden stake, is not the simple shove-the-stake-in-and-the-thing-is-done procedure often found in later vampire stories. Dracula also has the ability to travel as a mist and to scale the external walls of his castle.


Many authors claim that Stoker loosely based his character on the historic Wallachian (southern Romania) ruler Vlad III, also known as Vlad Ţepeş ("Vlad the Impaler"). In his six year reign (1456-1462) he is estimated to have killed 100,000 people, mainly by using his favourite method of impaling them on a sharp pole. However, it should be noted that the history of Romania at this time was mainly recorded by German immigrants, a group with which Vlad Ţepeş is known to have clashed several times. Indeed, Vlad Ţepeş is revered as a folk hero by native Romanians for driving off invading Turks with his brutal tactics. The attribution of Vlad Ţepeş as the source of Stoker's Dracula is challenged by those who have studied Stoker and claim that he had no knowledge of Ţepeş before writing his book.

The name Dracula is derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon, founded by King Sigismund of Hungary (who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad III's father (Vlad II) was admitted to the Order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol. The word for "dragon" in Romanian is drac (from Latin draco) and ul is the definite article. Vlad III's father thus came to be known as Vlad Dracul, or "Vlad the Dragon". In Romanian the ending ulea meant "the son of". Under this interpretation, Vlad III thus became Vlad Dracula, or "The Son of the Dragon." (The word '\'drac'' also means "devil" in Romanian, giving a double meaning to the name for enemies of Vlad Ţepeş and his father.)

In writing Dracula, Stoker may also have drawn upon stories about blood-drinking ghouls from his native Ireland, and the Dracula myth as he created it and as it has been portrayed in films and television shows ever since may be a compound of various influences; many of Stoker's biographers and literary critics have found strong similarities to Sheridan le Fanu's earlier classic of the vampire genre, Carmilla.


One of the first movie adaptations of Stoker's story actually caused Stoker's estate to sue for copyright infringement. In 1922, silent film director F.W. Murnau made a horror film called Nosferatu the Vampire, which took the story of Dracula and set it in Germany. In the story, Dracula's role was changed to that of Count Orlok, one of the most hideous versions of the vampire to be created for a movie. The Stoker estate won its lawsuit and all existing prints of Nosferatu were ordered to be destroyed. However, a number of pirated copies of the movie survived to the present era, where they entered the public domain. Nosferatu was also remade in 1979 by Werner Herzog.

The film Shadow of the Vampire (2000) was about the filming of Nosferatu, with the twist that Max Schreck, the rarely-seen actor playing the vampire, actually was a vampire. John Malkovich plays Murnau and Willem Dafoe plays Schreck.

The 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning is one of the more famous versions of the story and is commonly considered a horror classic. In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In 1956, Hammer Films produced a newer, more Gothic version of the story with the title The Horror of Dracula. This version of the story, starring Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, is widely considered to be the most faithful version of the story to be adapted to film.

In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola produced and directed a new version of the movie, called Bram Stoker's Dracula starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. Coppola's story included a subplot in which Mina Harker was revealed to be the reincarnation of Dracula's greatest love. This story was not part of the Stoker's original. The soundtrack included 'Lovesong for a Vampire' by Annie Lennox.

Patrick Lussier took a stab at the legend with his modern day Dracula 2000 (promoted as Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000; Wes Craven was an executive producer). To discover how to destroy Dracula, Van Helsing (portrayed by Christopher Plummer) keeps himself alive with injections of Dracula's blood. When thieves steal the vampire and crash near New Orleans, Van Helsing and his ward must track down the vampire and save Van Helsing's daughter Mary.

Tributes and Parodies

Like Frankenstein, Dracula has inspired many literary tributes or parodies, including Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, Kim Newman's Anno Dracula and Wendy Swanscombe's erotic parody Vamp.

Related Topics

External links