Dracula is an epistolary novel by British writer Bram Stoker published in 1897. It tells the story of Count Dracula, an immortal vampire who feeds on the blood of the living and can turn them into demonic creatures.
The complexity of the character of Dracula renewed by modern themes dear to psychoanalysis such as the association of Eros and Thanatos – of the desire for eternal life – or the questioning of limits (between beast and man, between life and death or between Good and Evil…) will turn it into a modern myth that the cinema will help to amplify through adaptations.
Presentation of Bram Stoker’s novel
- Count Dracula: Cunning vampire, concealing his true nature, living in a castle in Transylvania. He buys a house in London and wants to do business with Jonathan Harker.
- Jonathan Harker: Young notary clerk working for Mr. Hawkins. He is engaged to Mina Murray. He goes to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula on business. There, he saw a nightmare of confinement but found his freedom. Dracula will have made the mistake of letting him find her.
- Arthur “Art” Holmwood Lord Godalming: Fiancé of Lucy and friend of John Seward and Quincey P. Morris. Bold and honest man. Broken by Lucy’s fate that he “will save” from the curse but not from death, he will only have more ardor at the loss of Dracula.
- Quincey P. Morris: A Texan, friend of Arthur Holmwood, spurned lover of Lucy. Brotherly and valiant, he will not survive the final battle.
- Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray: a young teacher engaged, then married, to Jonathan Harker. Noble heart, strong soul, victim of the curse from which the count’s death will free her. She will assist her comrades in the war until the end.
- R. M. Renfield: Mental imbalance, yet endowed with surprising logic and analysis, is treated by Dr. John Seward in his psychiatric hospital. Adorer and victim of the count.
- Doctor John “Jack” Seward: medical psychologist who runs a psychiatric hospital. Another disappointed lover of Lucy, he will remain at her bedside throughout his illness, will fight with all his heart and science with his companions.
- Doctor Abraham Van Helsing: Dutch doctor, professor and friend of John Seward. He comes to Lucy’s bedside at the latter’s request. Inflamed, surly, doomed to death in his fight against evil, he will guide his followers after having awakened them to the tragedy in progress.
- Lucy Westenra: Friend of Mina Murray, she becomes engaged to Arthur Holmwood after rejecting the marriage proposals of Doctor John Seward and Quincey P. Morris. Victim of the count, she becomes a vampire, kidnaps children she does not have time to kill. Her former companions set her free, especially when her fiancé, Arthur, drives a stake into her heart while she lies in her coffin.
Presentation of the novel
Dracula isn’t the first fantasy novel to harness the vampire theme. However, it marks a crucial stage in fantastic literature and in particular that dealing with the theme of vampires; the success of the book and the popularity of the character attest to this even today. More than Stoker’s sense of story and mastery of suspense, it is the personality of his main character that is the basis of the myth. Count Dracula, beyond the creature of horror with supernatural powers, is above all a damned human being, an undead, and it is this complex dimension that ensures his charm.
Indeed, Dracula is a monster but is also a reprobate, a rejected of God, a person to be feared but also to be pitied. Mina Harker urges her companions to feel not hatred but pity for her, which obviously does not exclude the determination to get rid of it.
“But this is not a work of hate. The poor being who caused all this suffering is the most unhappy of all. Think how happy he too will be when, his evil double being destroyed, the best part of himself will survive, his immortal soul. You must have mercy on him too, without it preventing your hands from making him disappear from this world. – Bram Stoker, Dracula, chapter 23.
The story is thus played out between England and Transylvania in the 19th century, notably in a castle removed from the Carpathians. Based on mythological tales, Bram Stoker creates the character of Count Dracula, an aristocratic vampire who is both monstrous and refined. The first part of the book, which takes place in the castle of the count, is masterfully tinged with a strange and sinister atmosphere.
The story is epistolary and is composed of fragments of the diaries and letters of the protagonists, as well as newspaper articles. Passages were transcribed while they are passages recorded on the phonograph. It is therefore a story written in the first person but which espouses several points of view – except that of the count.