Before Buffy kicked butt, Dracula ruled. This is a Victorian gothic novel written in the form of journals and letters. It deals with a Count from Transylvania who goes to London to find new victims in his quest for blood and eternal life and the group of Victorians who fight him and try to destroy him and evil in the process.
Jonathan Harker goes to Transylvania to help Count Dracula buy an estate in England. While he is at the castle a lot of strange things happen.
His fiancée Mina and her friend Lucy exchange letters back home. Lucy starts acting weird and her friend Doctor Seward examines her. He can’t figure out what’s wrong and brings in his friend, a famous doctor, Van Helsing. Van Helsing eventually believes that Lucy has been bitten by a vampire.
All the men in the book give Lucy their blood, but nothing works and eventually, after a lot of creepy behavior, she dies. They find out that she’s undead, a vampire. They have to kill her by driving a stake through her heart. She is finally able to rest in peace. They realize that Dracula is behind all this and hunt him down. Mina falls under his spell and they hypnotize her so that they can track him down. This works and they finally catch up to him while he tries to go back to the castle. They kill him there and he turns to dust.
Jonathan Harker: A solicitor(lawyer).
Count Dracula: The main character. A count from Transylvania . A vampire.
Mina Harker: Jonathan’s wife.
Lucy: A friend of Mina’s.
Dr. Seward: A doctor at an insane asylum.
Dr. Van Helsing: A friend of Seward’s.
Quincey Morris: A friend of Lucy’s.
Arthur Holcomb: Lucy’s fiancee. A rich man.
Swales: An old man.
Bilder: A zookeeper.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
- Harker travels to Transylvania by train and writes in his diary.
- He goes to a hotel where a note from Count Dracula is waiting for him.
- Everyone Harker talks to about Dracula acts scared and makes the sign of the cross or recites prayers.
- A woman begs him not to go to see Dracula. She tells him it’s St. George night and that at midnight evil will take over. She gives him a cross. He starts feeling a little nervous about going to see the Count.
- He gets on the coach and everyone is nervous about him and where he’s going. He can’t understand what they’re saying, but makes out a few words like ‘witch’ and ‘Satan’. The whole town comes out to see him leave and crosses themselves as he does so.
- As the coach travels the other passengers urge the driver to go faster as it gets darker.
- They go to the place where Dracula’s coach is supposed to pick Harker up, but no one is there. All the passengers are freaked out and just as they are about to leave a coach pulls up. It’s pulled by four black horses and driven by a scary guy all in black.
- Harker gets on the new coach and they take off. On the way, dogs howl and then wolves. They seem not to be going anywhere as far as Harker can tell.
- They are surrounded by wolves and then the driver speaks to them in a menacing voice and they take off.
- They get to the castle, which is dark, run down, and creepy.
- The coachman disappears and after a lot of haunted house noises, Dracula appears. He’s an old man.
- Dracula shows Harker to his room. There are lots of rooms in the castle, but only a few are open. Harker’s room is nicely made up and there’s dinner on the table in an adjacent room.
- Harker eats and Dracula sits and asks Harker all kinds of questions.
- Harker notices Dracula is very thin and his ears are a little pointy. He also notices that his fingernails are sharpened and he has hair on his palms.
- Harker gets a whiff of Dracula’s breath and it makes him sick.
- The wolves start howling and Dracula smiles calling them "the children of the night."
- Harker goes to sleep and the next day, breakfast is ready, but the count isn’t around. He explores the castle and finds all the rooms locked except for a large library. Drac finds him in the library and they talk for a long time about England and Drac’s new property there. Drac is happy it’s old and big. Harker is impressed with all Drac’s knowledge. Drac notices it is almost morning and says he has to go.
- Harker is shaving and cuts himself. Drac shows up, but Harker can’t see him in his shaving mirror. He looks from all angles, but still can’t see him. Drac is really excited about Harker’s bloody neck, and tries to grab at his throat, but the cross Harker has on, stops him. He throws Harker’s mirror out the window, calling it ‘vanity’ to have such a thing, and warns him that the country is more dangerous than he thinks.
- Drac disappears and Harker looks out the window of the castle and realizes how remote it is. With all the locked doors and weird things happening he starts to think he is a prisoner.
- Harker is starting to get really worried about things at the castle. He’s convinced that Drac has something up his sleeve. He remembers how all the townspeople tried to warn him and is thankful that the woman gave him the crucifix.
- Later that night Harker asks Drac about Transylvanian history. Drac goes on and on about centuries of battles and families, but Harker gets the feeling that Drac seems to have been at all of them.
- Drac warns Harker that he can only sleep in his own room and that none of the other rooms are really safe.
- Harker looks out his window and sees Drac climbing out his. He is completely pressed against the wall, but going head first, like a lizard.
- Harker tries to get into Drac’s room, but can’t.
- Three strange women show up. They’re very creepy, but also pretty and sexy. They circle around Harker seductively and laugh menacingly. Drac shows up and tells them all to go away, that Harker is his. They leave reluctantly. Harker passes out.
- Harker wakes up the next day still afraid of the women who wanted to suck his blood.
- He goes down to the room and finds it bolted from the inside.
- Drac asks Harker to write three letters. One saying he is leaving the castle, another dated a few days later saying that he was leaving the next day and another saying that he had arrived in the nearest town. Harker gets worried.
- A band of gypsies shows up outside and Harker thinks he might be able to give them some letters to Mina.
- He writes the letters and throws them through the bars. Later, Drac shows up with the letters. The gypsies gave them to him.
- Harker wakes up the next morning looking for paper and pen to write some notes just to record what is happening , but Drac has taken everything away, including his journal, and identification papers.
- Harker notices some new workers at the castle and tries to get their attention. The gypsies tell the new guys something and they all laugh and ignore Harker. He notices his door is locked from the outside.
- The next day Harker sees Drac go out the window the usual lizard way only he’s dressed in Harker’s clothes to make it look like Harker has been seen around town.
- A woman shows up outside screaming. She’s asking Drac to give her back her child. The wolves show up and kill her.
- Harker decides to try to get in to find Drac while he sleeps. He climbs in his window and wanders around. He finds a pile of gold coins from different countries and all really old. He finally finds Drac lying in a coffin, but can’t tell if he’s dead or alive, but he’s so scared by the mean look in Drac’s eyes, he panics and goes back to his room.
- The next day Drac tells him to get ready that they’ll be leaving the next day. Harker tells him he wants to leave right away. Drac says go ahead and opens the door for him to go, but the wolves start howling and Harker chickens out.
- He goes back to his room and outside his door he hears Drac tell someone to go away, that tonight is his and tomorrow will be theirs.
- Harker goes down to Drac’s room again, but when he finds him in his coffin he looks much younger. Harker finds a shovel and hits Drac with it, but when he does Drac opens his eyes and looks at Harker. He runs away and hears a lot of movement outside. The gypsies are dropping off boxes. They leave and he is alone in the castle with Drac and the scary women. Where oh where is Buffy when you need her?
- This chapter is all in the form of letters between Lucy and Mina.
- Mina’s letters tell that she is nervous about Harker and misses him.
- Lucy’s tell that three men have proposed to her: Arthur, the man she really loves, Dr. Seward, and Quincey Morris.
- At the end of the letters is a note from Seward’s journal in which he talks about how disappointed he is about being rejected by Lucy and also mentions that he is focusing his attention on a particular patient named Renfield.
- The last part is a letter from Morris inviting Arthur for a drink with Seward.
- Mina goes to see Lucy in Whitby. There’s a strange old man who comes to talk to her every day near the graveyard where she sits looking at the sea. He tells her all kinds of stories.
- She is more and more worried about Harker.
- In Seward’s journal he notes that Renfeild catches flies and when he tells him to stop he asks for three days. He then starts catching spiders to eat the flies and he in turn eats them. He goes from spiders to sparrows and then asks Seward for a kitten to kill the sparrows. He doesn’t get the cat and then the sparrows are all gone, Seward realizes he’s eaten the sparrows himself. Renfield goes back to flies.
- From Mina’s journal: She is very worried about Jonathan, still having not heard from him. She talks about Lucy’s sleepwalking and how scary it is and how even when she’s asleep she seems to be watching Mina.
- Swales tells Mina that a big storm is coming and he feels death in the air.
- Mina and a coast guard watch a mysterious ship sailing into port.
- A newspaper reports the arrival of the strange ship after a terrible storm. There is no one on board except a dog and a dead man tied to the wheel.
- They find a journal on the dead man that tells what happened. Every time they would put someone on watch that person would disappear. The sailors all got panicky and searched the ship and found nothing. Then it would happen again. Every night someone would disappear. Then one of the sailors said they saw a strange man on the ship. They look for him, but can’t find him anywhere. Finally there’s no one left but the captain and the first mate. The first mate searches the ship and tells the captain he knows the secret and tells the captain to come with him and then throws himself overboard. The captain thinks that the mate was the murderer, but isn’t sure. He ties himself to the wheel with a crucifix around his neck and that’s how they find him.
- Mr. Swales dies, too. Of some kind of fright.
- At the funeral for the captain, a dog is too frightened to go near the casket and Lucy watches it with a strange identification.
- Mina’s diary: Lucy goes sleep walking and Mina sees Lucy in the garden with something dark standing near her. She rushes over, and sees that the figure has red glowing eyes. Lucy is asleep, but covers up her neck. Mina carries her back to the house.
- Mina notices that the skin around Lucy’s neck is pierced.
- Mina locks Lucy in so she won’t sleep walk, but wakes up to find her trying to get out.
- Mina sees a large bat outside Lucy’s window.
- They sit on a bench in the park and Lucy is nervous about a creepy guy with red eyes sitting near them.
- Lucy goes to bed and Mina walks by the room and sees Lucy asleep with her head out the window and a giant bird sitting next to her.
- Mina hears that Lucy’s mother is dying.
- Mina gets a letter from a hospital hearing that Jonathan is alive, but not feeling very well. He has delusions.
- Seward notes that Renfield is acting differently now. He’s not interested in his animals. He seems to be waiting for something or someone.
- Renfeild escapes during the night and Seward tracks him to a ruined chapel on a nearby estate. He rants about his master coming and says that he will wait for him. They put him in a straitjacket.
- From Mina’s journal: Mina goes to see Jonathan. The nurse tells her that she can’t tell her what he was raving about, it was too evil.
- Jonathan gives Mina his notebook and tells her he doesn’t want to know what is in it.
- Jonathan and Mina marry in the hospital. As a sign of good faith she gives him back the journal without reading it.
- From Seward’s notes: Renfield escapes again, they chase him and find him staring into the sky at a big bat.
- Lucy writes in her diary that she is not feeling well and is worried. She hears flapping out her window and her throat hurts.
- Holmwood writes to Seward and asks him to examine Lucy.
- Seward can’t find anything physically wrong with Lucy. He thinks it’s mental. He writes to his friend Van Helsing asking for help.
- Van Helsing comes and can’t find anything wrong either. He tells Seward to let him know if she gets worse.
- Seward finds Renfield getting weirder. He’s very agitated.
- Seward sends a telegram to Van Helsing telling him to come at once because Lucy is worse.
- Seward writes Holmwood about Lucy.
- Van Helsing comes back and tells Seward to keep Lucy’s case secret. He seems to know something, but doesn’t say what it is.
- Van Helsing decides Lucy needs a blood transfusion. Holmwood arrives and volunteers.
- After the transfusion Van Helsing decides to go back to Amsterdam to get some books that will help him.
- Seward stays up all night watching Lucy.
- Van Helsing comes back and Lucy looks even worse.
- Seward gives her his blood in a transfusion.
- The next day a box of garlic comes for Van Helsing. He hangs it all over Lucy’s room and around her neck.
- Lucy feels better.
- Lucy’s mother, Mrs. Westenra takes away the garlic.
- Van Helsing is very upset. They go in to look at her and find her in bad shape again.
- Van Helsing gives Lucy his blood.
- Lucy sleeps well for four days.
- There’s a story in a newspaper about an escaped wolf from the zoo.
- Bilder, the zookeeper hears the wolves howling and notices a strange man by the cage. The wolves calm down once he talks to the man. The next day the cage is twisted open and the wolf is gone.
- The wolf returns later with wounds on his head.
- Renfield attacks Seward with a knife and then licks the blood up off the floor. He says "the blood is life."
- Lucy hears a flapping at her window. Then the howling of a dog. She sees the bat. Her mother comes in to care for her. A wolf jumps through the window and in the excitement Lucy’s mother dies. Lucy passes out after her mother falls on her. The maids hear her and she tells them to go have a glass of wine to calm their nerves. She goes in to look for them later and finds them all passed out and sees that the decanter they drank from smells like a drug.
- Seward and Van Helsing go to Lucy’s house. They can’t get in so they break in and find the maids asleep on the floor.
- They find Lucy near death.
- They wake the maids and they run a bath for Lucy. They need to give her another transfusion and just then Morris arrives and volunteers.
- Seward tells Van Helsing that he will fill out Mrs. Westenra’s death certificate so Lucy doesn’t have to do it.
- Morris wonders why all those blood transfusions haven’t worked. He talks about vampire bats that he saw in S. America.
- Lucy falls asleep and Seward notices that her teeth look longer and sharper. He feels she will probably die the next day.
- Mina writes a letter to Lucy telling her that she and Jonathan are back in England and Jonathan is now a full partner.
- Seward writes about Renfield attacking two porters. After a struggle they subdue him. The porter talks about suing, but Seward bribes them with booze.
- Seward watches Lucy while she sleeps. Her teeth are sharp. A bat flies by the window and Lucy rips the garlic from around her neck. Seward replaces the garlic and Lucy sleeps.
- Van Helsing takes over from Seward and looks at her neck. Her wounds are gone. He feels that death is near.
- Arthur tries to kiss Lucy and Van Helsing says "not yet." Lucy falls to sleep and then in a daze asks Arthur for a kiss. Van Helsing holds Arthur back. Then, he lets Arthur kiss her and she dies.
- Lucy looks very rested in death.
- Seward and Van Helsing prepare for Lucy’s funeral. They lay both Lucy and her mother out.
- Van Helsing places garlic in Lucy’s coffin and puts a crucifix in her mouth.
- Van Helsing tells Seward to bring knives the next day so they can cut off her head and take out her heart. Seward is upset by this, but then decides to trust Van Helsing.
- One of the maids steals the crucifix from Lucy.
- Van Helsing asks to read all Lucy’s papers. He stays up all night to watch Lucy’s body.
- Mina writes that Jonathan saw Dracula in London and was very upset. Afterward, Jonathan can’t remember this. Lucy decides to read his journal.
- In a newspaper article there is a story about a neighborhood that is being terrorized by the ‘bloofer lady’. Children disappear and return the next day with wounds on their necks.
- Van Helsing and Mina correspond. Mina comes to visit him.
- They meet and find similarities between Lucy’s and Jonathan’s behavior. She gives Van Helsing Jonathan’s journal.
- When Jonathan finds out that Van Hels8ing visited he’s very relieved.
- Seward writes that Van Helsing believes that the ‘bloofer lady’ is Lucy.
- Seward wants proof that Lucy is the "bloofer lady’
- He and Van Helsing visit one of the children in the hospital and find the same wounds on his neck.
- They go to the graveyard and find Lucy’s tomb empty.
- They wait in the graveyard and finally see a white shape. Seward finds Van Helsing holding a small child who has not been hurt.
- They go back the next day and find Lucy in the coffin. She looks so healthy Seward can’t believe she’s dead. Van Helsing explains that Lucy has been bitten by a vampire and that she is undead. He tells him that he will have to cut off her head and stuff it with garlic, but he needs to tell Arthur first.
- The four men meet. Van Helsing explains his theory to them all and they agree to go with him to the coffin.
- Seward writes about the men going to the graveyard. The coffin is empty. Van Helsing leaves a host (the wafer from the Catholic mass)at the door of the tomb.
- The men wait and finally Lucy shows up. Her lips are bloody. She tries to get Arthur to come with her. Lucy slips through a crack in the door and goes back into the coffin.
- They go back the next day and Arthur drives a stake through Lucy’s heart. She looks relieved. They gut off her head and stuff her mouth with garlic.
- Mina arrives at the mental hospital. She and Seward read each others journals (she listens to his on record). Jonathan arrives and he and Mina go over the journals to make a complete record.
- Jonathan’s journal tells of how he found out that Drac’s boxes arrives, but he is suspicious that some of them may have disappeared.
- Lucy finishes Seward’s diary.
- Mina goes to see Renfield. He seems perfectly normal and speaks very intelligently.
- The whole group agrees to hunt Dracula.
- A giant bat lands on the windowsill. Morris shoots at it.
- Just as they are about to leave a note comes from Renfield. They all go see him and once again he is very coherent and pleads with them to let him out. They leave him in the asylum.
- Harker’s journal: Morris wonders if Renfield might be sane. Van Helsing feels that Renfield is mixed up with Drac.
- Van Helsing gives the men garlic, knives, crucifixes, and Catholic hosts.
- They go to Drac’s estate and find only about half of the boxes. Suddenly, millions of rats show up and the men leave.
- Van Helsing goes to see Renfield, but he barely speaks to him.
- Mina writes that she had a strange dream in which smoke with red eyes came through a door and then she saw a face.
- Harker finds out that Drac has had the missing boxes delivered to different places in London.
- He also finds out that Drac moved the boxes himself. He doesn’t tell Mina anything.
- Seward writes about more weirdness from Renfield and then notes that his moods parallel the comings and goings of Drac.
- A worker at the asylum tells him that Renfield is on the floor covered in blood.
- Seward writes that Renfield’s back is broken and he is paralyzed. Seward operates on Renfield.
- Renfield feels he’s going to die and so decides to make a last statement. He tells about Drac coming to see him and promising him rats and other animals if he will be his slave. Renfield figures out that Drac has been draining the life out of Mina. Drac comes back and he and Renfield fight.
- All the men go to Mina’s room. They find Drac standing over her and blood everywhere. Drac goes toward them and Van Helsing holds up the host. Drac flees. They search the house and find all the journals and records burnt and later find out that Renfield is dead.
- Morris sees a bat leaving Carfax.
- Mina tells the men that she felt a mist entering the room and tried to tell Jonathan but he was asleep. Drac then appears. He starts sucking her blood and then taunting her. He makes Mina suck some of his blood.
- Harker writes that the men decide to destroy all of Drac’s property. Van Helsing puts a host to Mina’s forehead to bless her and it burns, proving that she is unclean.
- The men all go to Carfax. They put holy water on the boxes. After that they go to Drac’s house in London and do the same thing. They find paperwork dealing with other property and go to these places and do the same to the boxes there.
- Van Helsing and Harker wait at Drac’s house in London and a telegram comes from Mina warning them that Drac is on the way. The other two men show up and they wait for Drac.
- Drac surprises them and Harker stabs him. He drops some money and tries to grab for it. He jumps out a window and tells them that his revenge on them is only beginning.
- They realize that as scary as he is he seems to fear them. They also realize that money is somehow necessary to him.
- Since the sun is setting they rush back to protect Mina.
- Mina asks Van Helsing to hypnotize her since she has a bond with Drac. Under hypnosis she hears water and senses that Drac is on a ship.
- The men search for a ship and find one that left for the Black Sea. It was too foggy to leave. A strange man arrived and asked to see where his box had been loaded. After that the fog lifted and the ship was able to leave.
- The men decide to go to Transylvania.
- Seward notices that Mina’s teeth are getting sharper. The men realize that since she can have access to Drac’s thoughts through hypnosis he can probably know what she’s thinking too and they decide to keep some of their plans a secret from her.
- They all leave for Transylvania.
- Mina tells Harker to kill her if she becomes a vampire.
- Van Helsing hypnotizes Mina again and she still hears the water so they know Drac is still at sea.
- They wait at the port for the ship, but Drac outsmarts them and creates a fog so that the ship has to dock at another port.
- They realize that Drac can read Mina’s thoughts, but that she may still be able to get into his mind during the day when he sleeps.
- They find the ship, but the box has already been released to a man named Hildesheim.
- They go to his house and he tells them that he gave the box to a man named Skinsky. They find out that Skinsy has been brutally murdered.
- They realize the only way to catch Drac will be to let Mina in on everything.
- Mina figures out that Drac is going back to his castle.
- The group splits up. Quincy and Harker go by boat, Seward and Holmwood by horse, and Van Helsing and Mina take a train.
- Van Helsing is having a harder time hypnotizing Mina.
- Van Helsing and Mina near the castle.
- At the castle Van Helsing surrounds Mina with crushed hosts. A mist appears and the three women rise out of it. They beg Mina to come with them. When the sun comes up they disappear.
- In the morning the horses are dead and Mina is asleep. Van Helsing can’t wake her and leaving her in her protected circle, goes to the castle.
- He fins three graves and a tomb marked ‘Dracula’. He puts ground of wafer in the tomb and then kills the three women with a stake.
- He goes back to Mina who wakes up and tells him that her husband is coming.
- Mina writes that she and Van Helsing can see a group of gypsies riding and pulling a coffin.
- The others catch up and surround the coffin. They all have weapons. The gypsies get ready to fight.
- Morris gets cut during the fight. Jonathan knocks the box to the ground and opens the coffin. He and Morris kill Drac and his body crumbles to dust. The gypsies leave and a pack of wolves follows them. Morris dies and Mina goes to help him. The burn from the host is gone and she is no longer in danger.
- The novel ends with a note from Harker. Everybody is married and happy. He and Mina have two kids, one of them is named Quincy and he hopes that one day he will realize that men loved his mother enough to die for her.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- The myth of Dracula is based on Vlad the Impaler. He lived in the fifteenth century and was a big warlord. He may have killed almost a hundred thousand people and liked to drain their blood.
- There is a subtext of East vs. West in the novel. The West is Britain, the major Imperialist power at the time and the East is the mysterious Balkans, full of superstition and backward types. Dracula tries to learn all he can about Western culture so that he can take over. In the end, despite the east (Drac) trying to conquer a new world (London and the west) the Imperialists chase him back and kill him.
- "New Woman" was a term used for women who wanted to be free of Victorian restrictions.
- Good vs. evil is also a very obvious theme. Drac only comes out at night. He is afraid of blessed hosts and holy water. He dresses all in black. He does a lot of his killing in graveyards, etc. He attacks pure, virginal women and even children.
- Dracula is considered a gothic novel.
- There is also a theme of science vs. superstition. While, Van Helsing is a man of science and tries all kinds of medical ways to save Drac’s victims, it’s really only the other stuff that works - the garlic, the holy water, etc.
- Stoker mixes elements of a standard Victorian novel with elements of a Gothic horror story.
- While in Victorian society sex was very repressed, Dracula is all about sex and seduction. The cost however is a bloody death.
- Van Helsing, while an interesting character, is written inconsistently. At times he speaks like a great intellectual and though a foreigner, his English is excellent. At other times he has a thick accent and can’t quite form proper sentences.