The Vampire: Dracula: From the Writings of Bram Stoker to the Movie

Dracula

This is a Public Domain photo of Bela Lugosi as Dracula in the 1931 film.
This is a Public Domain photo of Bela Lugosi as Dracula in the 1931 film.
Vlad the Impaler
Vlad the Impaler | Source

Meet Bram Stoker

I've loved Dracula and Dracula movies since I was a kid. Watching Bela Lugosi transform from a bat into a suave and scary vampire right before my eyes often sent chills up my spine. So suave and debonair, but that's Hollywood's interpretation. How did the story of Dracula begin? Most of us know it was based on true events...Vlad the Impaler (Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia). Then along came the popular 'Count Dracula' in the novel "Dracula" (published in 1897, published in America in 1899) written by Bram Stoker.

A little drum roll please....Bram Stoker was born 165 years ago. A quick look at Bram Stoker tells us he was ill until he started school. Had no further illnesses after starting school and wound up being an athlete. He graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and then became interested in the theater. He was a critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and also wrote stories.

He married the lovely Florence Balcombe, who had been dating Oscar Wilde. Florence and Stoker had one child, a boy. After they were married they moved to London where Stoker managed the Lyceum Theatre.

Stoker spent years researching folklore and mythical stories about vampires. Dracula was written as a collection of diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings according to Wikipedia. The original 541 page manuscript was considered "horror fiction".

Further research into Bram Stoker's life led me to find out he was interested in the supernatural and the occult, perhaps leading to his interest in vampires. More to the point, he gave us Dracula! As mentioned earlier we know Stoker isn't responsible for the creation of Dracula but for the popularization. Stoker died in 1912.

Bram Stoker

This is a Public Domain photo of the author Bram Stoker.
This is a Public Domain photo of the author Bram Stoker.

The Novel in a Nutshell

The novel introduces us to a gracious host (Dracula) who lures an English real estate attorney to his castle. As the attorney leaves town headed for Dracula's castle he writes in his diary, " I shall never forget the last glimpse which I had of the inn yard and its crowd of picturesque figures, all crossing themselves, as they stood round the wide archway, with its background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard." You know this isn't good! As he reaches the castle he says, "By-and-by, however, as I was curious to know how time was passing, I struck a match, and by its flame looked at my watch. It was within a few minutes of midnight. This gave me a sort of shock, for I suppose the general superstition about midnight was increased by my recent experiences. I waited with a sick feeling of suspense." Now you know we're on our way. Dracula uses him to gain information about England. Jonathan is attacked by Dracula and left to recover in a convent.

The ship Dracula takes to England is found aground with no survivors, only the casket filled with earth from Transylvania. (A large dog jumps off the ship and runs away...presumably our Count!) However, the ship's log tells of strange happenings and the disappearance of crew members.

In this novel we are introduced to Renfield, an insane man who eats insects, and Van Helsing, who knows Dracula is a vampire. Without going into too much detail, the English attorney had a girlfriend named Lucy whom Dracula looks up in England and turns into a vampire. When she starts to ravage the countryside Van Helsing hunts her down...they drive a stake through her heart, behead her, and fill her head with garlic....all bases covered here.

Remember our attorney? His name is John Harker and about this time he returns to England with his wife. Yes, you know his wife is going to be involved here. Dracula begins to visit Harker's wife Mina...he drinks her blood, gives her some of his...here's where it gets kinky....now he begins to control her mind and because they've swapped blood they are telepathically linked which also leads to Dracula's end.

VanHelsing uses their telepathic link to track Dracula. Dracula, being no dummy, heads back to Transylvania, but we all know VanHelsing catches up and kills Dracula turning him to dust.

Quotes from the Novel Dracula

Despair has its own calms.
Listen to them - children of the night. What music they make.
I want you to believe...to believe in things that you cannot.
No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the woman he loves.
The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.
There was a great tomb more lordly than all the rest; huge it was, and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word, DRACULA.
The blood is life and it shall be mine.
My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side.
And then away from home! Away to the quickest and nearest train! Away from this cursed land, where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet!

Novel Background

According to Wikipedia the name 'Dracula' comes from the 'Order of the Dragon'. However it seems more like it came from Vlad II Dracul since Dracula means "Son of Dracul". Van Helsing says (in the novel) "He must, indeed, have been the Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land." It is believed that Dracula's castle is fashioned after Slains Castle where Stoker once stayed.

Vampire myths have existed, all over the world, for thousands of years, from China to Greece.

Stoker also uses Christianity to fight the vampire! People pray throughout the novel and ask God for help; “Great God! Merciful God, let me be calm, for out of that way lies madness indeed.” The symbolism of Dracula being afraid of the cross and repelled by holy water...all Christian symbols. It is also interesting to note when Dracula comes to England he takes up residence in a run down abbey, a former religious center.

Although Stoker was a very 'moral' person, he uses many sensual scenes in Dracula. Female vampires are very seductive as is the debonair Count. It might also be noted Dracula only drinks the blood of women, how then become his followers and servants.

This is a Public Domain photo of the program for Bram Stokers stage production of Dracula.
This is a Public Domain photo of the program for Bram Stokers stage production of Dracula.

Movie Background

Amazingly, to me, the first time 'Dracula' appeared on stage was when Stoker himself wrote a play that appeared only once at the Lyceum Theatre. "Nosferatu",a German movie was made in 1922. The most popular adaptation is the 1931 film, "Dracula" starring our beloved Bela Lugosi. Many more Dracula films have been made with Coppola's version being considered more true to the book. Lugosi was not the first choice for this 1931 movie, Lon Chaney was. However, he died of throat cancer in 1928 and Lugosi lobbied for and got the part. Today, most of us see Lugosi as the ultimate Dracula.

Some changes took place in the film. For example, Renfield who was just a patient in an asylum in the novel but becomes the attorney that goes to Transylvania in the film. The villagers warn Renfield about Dracula...in the novel they warn of events and happenings but not Dracula in particular. Renfield also survives the ride to the castle with no driver in the carriage, in the novel there is a driver.

The 'three brides' in Dracula's castle lose their importance in the film and are only shown briefly.

Dracula turns Renfield into a mad man who eats rats and serves Dracula in the film, he was a made man in the novel. Dracula still sails to England but the journey plays a minor part in the movie. There is no explanation, in the movie, why Dracula goes to England. When the ship docks in London, Renfield is the only survivor, besides Dracula of course, in the novel there were no survivors. As in all things Hollywood, there has to be some comic relief. In "Dracula" that is Martin, the sanitarium employee who looks after Renfield.

Another 'new' happening in the movie is Dracula's lack of reflection in a mirror which leads Van Helsing to deduce he is a vampire. In the film Dracula feasts on the blood of strangers that he finds when walking the streets...this doesn't happen in the novel where he only 'feasts' on those he knows and particularly chooses.

Of course Lugosi's Hungarian accent added to the mystic of Dracula. This being the first Dracula movie with sound made him (Dracula/Lugosi) that much more sinister.

In the film, transfusions were given to Lucy to keep her alive...in the book she just died.

Conclusion

Bram Stoker wrote a novel of horror. He never depicted Dracula as a 'nice guy'. Dracula was a megalomaniac who drank blood so he could live for eternity. His depravity is apparent in the novel and is especially obvious when he feeds a child to his female vampires.

It has been said the house is a symbol for the soul. If this is true Stoker shows us that we invite evil into our soul for Dracula cannot enter any house unless he is invited in. Other than that he is very powerful. He summons Lucy to him while she is sleeping, and she comes. She then walks in graveyards and is undead...a vampire. He exerts a powerful hold over all women, i.e. his 'brides' in Transylvania. To quote the Shadow, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men."

Stoker, in spite of his morality, hints at immorality in women. That women are attracted to and follow Dracula because he is sexually aggressive and they are attracted to that quality in him. To borrow another quote from Stoker's "Dracula", “The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white, sharp, teeth”

Again, in the novel, Dracula is called a "criminal". He is also a walking dead man...remember, he cannot be out in the sun, he needs blood to survive, the epitome of all that is evil. He never feels any sorrow or pity. Remember too, he can change into animals...the wolf, the bat. There is nothing good or endearing about this horrible creature, this monster.

Because of this evil and horror, Dracula has been made into a move over 200 times, a fascination that has lasted all these years. That should tell us there is someone out there interested in Dracula! Of course from the original Dracula there have been off-shoots, movies like "Van Helsing", "Twilight", "Salem's Lot", and more. A fascinating subject introduced to us in a novel 165 years ago. Put on your garlic necklace, grab your crucifix and if you haven't met Dracula...meet him now!

Please add your comments about this hub and Dracula...books or movies. Its always interesting to see what others think and have them add to my hub.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


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Comments 27 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mary, who doesn't know about Dracula, lol!! Seriously, such a well written Hub article about the author and his famous work. I have seen many a movie, but am a bit embarrassed to admit I never did finish the book. My husband had a copy and I tried to read it way back when and got sidetracked. Your article reminded me that among all the others I need to do, I need to try to finish that book soon!! Have of course voted up and shared all over :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I always love to read the history behind famous movies like this one. Lugosi was the ultimate evil; he even looked somewhat evil in real life. :) Interesting stuff about the psychology behind the characters, or maybe the metaphor....anyway, loved this review. Great job Mary!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A brilliant hub tillsontitan ;I used to love the Dracula films as well as Frankenstein but D was my favourite. This was a great read and I vote up and share.

Eddy.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

You are not alone Janine, though I've seen every movie, I never read the book. I've read about Bram Stoker, but never Dracula...guess I have to put it on my list too!

Billy, the classics will always be just that, whether horror or romance...I've always been a big fan of 'monster' movies and know Dracula is probably one of the most famous characters! Glad you enjoyed.

Eddy, not sure if Frank or Drac is my favorite...both 'interesting' characters for sure.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

Good work Mary. A few days ago I was looking at a book at Amazon - The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker - basically these guys are analyzing every single page of the novel and writing notes and explanations on the side of the page so the book is twice the size it used to be. The book was expensive and it is possible to analyze something so much you eventually lose all interest in it.

So you've done Stoker, will you be doing Mary Shelley next? :)

Voted Up and Interesting.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Mary,

What a detailed summary of a movie I love, as I do all things vampire...

I appreciate how you distinguish the book from the film and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Bram Stoker, all new and interesting to me.

Voted UP and UAI. Hugs, Maria


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

My family rarely paid attention to what I was reading as I was always buried in a book. I read Dracula when I was eleven or twelve and was both hooked and scared. Its a creepy book that gets under one's skin. I have also read his 'Lair of the white worm' and the gothic 'Lady of the shroud' - i love the fact he created an enduring legend all by himself. The original Dracula book is written so well - diary entries and newspaper articles - that make it so much more realistic and believable despite the fantastic theme... thanks for the memories1


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Mary, thank you so much for refreshing my memory about the origin of Dracula. This is an excellent informative hub! Bravo!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I agree Steve, just like anything else, if we 'over' analyze we lose the thrill of it. Now I'll have to think about Shelley...

Researching this I also learned more about Stoker...we don't always know a lot about authors from so long ago Maria.

Glad to provide memories. Knowing you it is no surprise you read this at such a young age.

You are most welcome Martie. Thanks for reading!!


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Sociologically and psychologically speaking, repression is like gasoline for the vampiric qualities in all of us.

Arguably, then, it's socially acceptable to kick back and enjoy a good Dracula reading or, better yet, pay ten bucks or so and experience group-catharsis in a movie theater.

That said, I learned a few new things about this subject from your well-researched and well-written hub. Thank you for sharing this information. As always, you do marvelous work!

Aloha, and Happy Draculian Thanksgiving!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Gee, I could've used your great comment as an opening for my hub ;) Glad you enjoyed Hawaiianodysseus....Aloha to you and Happy Thanksgiving...hmmm Draculian!


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 4 years ago from New Hamphire

I loved Bram Stoker's Dracula. I read it years ago and couldn't put it down. I find the stories behind the stories perhaps even more interesting-thanks so much for sharing.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Ah, alifeofdesign, a girl after my own heart! I am so glad you enjoyed this.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Mary,

This is an awesome hub and I have learned a lot about Count Dracula to refresh my memory. When I was a kid I saw the Dracula movies and remember Bela Lugosi playing Dracula. Voted up and sharing with followers. Also Pinning and sharing on Facebook.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I watched a few Dracula movies and at that time to me it all seemed so scary and enjoyed it too your hub is useful, interesting and voted up!


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

Interesting post. I am fond of the character Dracula.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

No actor beat Bela Lugosi as Dracula. I think it was something about his eyes! So glad you enjoyed Paul and appreciate the votes and all the shares.

Happy you found this hub useful and interesting DDE.

Ah, if you like Dracula you like my hub? Glad to hear it MG Singh.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

tillsontitan, this is very interesting, I always loved Bela Lugosi. Funny thing, my husband had a doctor named Bela Josi, who reminded me of Bela Lugosi.

Voted-up interesting and shared.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I don't know if I would've been afraid of that doctor or loved him ;) Thanks for the vote and share.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

I got chills just reading this one! What a beautiful piece of writing. Bravo. Voted up.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Then I did Bram Stoker justice! Thank you TT2!


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

Indeed you did. And I agree...Lugosi was chillingly good in that role.


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

I am amazed this is your least read hub. Great article, really detailed review and the literary critique was really interesting.

I really loved the book although it was really dark at places and quite uncomfortable to read in one or two places. I love the paranormal fiction genre so I have seen lots of vampire films but never this one.

Great job!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Anna. I guess you and I are more into Dracula than most. I did try to point out that the book was dark and about a 'creature' who was not very nice. Again, I appreciate your comment.


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

You succeeded very well in portraying the darker aspects of the book and even with those shadowy aspects you still made it sound very intriguing... which it most definitely is :)


John Albu profile image

John Albu 21 months ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

Now that's a great hub! Nice to see like-minded Dracula fans here!

By the way, this track is very recommended, for all ye VAMPYRES ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTHQgP1vnsY


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York Author

Anna, I apologize for not commenting on your comment. I somehow missed doing so and am embarrassed as it is such a kind one. Anyone who likes Dracula is a friend of mine! Again, except my apology.

Enjoyed the track John. There are many "horror" fans here and its nice to meet up with one every once in a while.

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