Bram Stoker

Bram   Stoker

Bram Stoker, born in Dublin in the year 1847, had a very troubled childhood. Then he went on to become a highly popular member of 'Trinity College', where he was also a very successful sportsman. His first working duty was as a civil servant, moving on to become a journalist. However, after seeing the actor, Henry Irving act on one of his tours of Ireland, Bram Stoker became the manager of the Lyceum, London, shortly after his marriage to Florence in 1876. Stoker remained there throughout his career and it was his careful management, providing a contrast to Henry Irving`s theatrical excesses, that was probably a major reason for the Lyceum`s success.

Bram Stoker wrote a number of short stories and novels, but surely is remembered for only one, that of his tale of vampires ' Dracula ', published in 1897.

Short Summary:

Dracula is an novel, that is composed from letters, journal and diary entries, telegrams, and newspaper clippings. The novel is meant to have a slightly journalistic feel, as it is a written by the people who witnessed the book's events.

A young Englishman named Jonathan Harker travels through Transylvania on a business trip. He is there to help Count Dracula, a Transylvanian nobleman, in buying an English estate. His journey into the remote Eastern European landscape is fearsome, although he is charmed by the Count's generosity and intelligence. Gradually, he comes to realize that he is a prisoner in Dracula's castle, and that the Count is a demonic being who plans to exploit on the masses of London. Dracula leaves him to die at the hands of three female vampires, but Jonathan attempts a desperate escape. . .

Meanwhile, in England, Jonathan's fiancée Mina visits her best friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy has recently been proposed to by three men Arthur Holmwood, Dr. Seward, and Quincey Morris. She chooses Arthur to be her happy fiancé. Mina and Lucy vacation together at Whitby, a quaint seaside town. While they are there, a Russian cargo ship is shipwrecked. The ship was carrying fifty boxes of earth from Dracula's castle. Despite the wreck, the boxes are delivered as ordered. Lucy begins to show strange behavior: she sleepwalks often, and she seems to be growing paler. Strange things happen one night, Mina finds her unconscious in the cemetery, as a figure with glowing eyes bends over her. The figure disappears as Mina comes closer, but night after night strange events continue and Lucy grows thinner and paler with each passing day.

Word comes from Budapest that Jonathan has been found, sick with brain fever. He can remember nothing of his travels in Transylvania. Mina goes to nurse him back to health and to help him make the trip back to England. When she arrives, they marry immediately. He gives her his diary but is afraid to read it. She seals the diary and promises that she will never read it unless it is for his sake.

Back in England, Lucy has returned to her home in London. Arthur, fearful for her health, asks Dr. Seward to try to figure out what is wrong with her. Seward is baffled by her illness, and calls in the aid of his old mentor, the brilliant Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing seems to know from the beginning what he might be up against. He tries to use various charms, as well as constant blood transfusions, to keep Lucy alive. Again and again, his attempts are complicated by a mixture of Dracula's work and bad luck. Lucy dies a few days later. Arthur's father dies at about this time. Van Helsing takes possession of Lucy's diary and correspondence, which lead him to make contact with Mina Harker.

Meanwhile, the Harkers have returned to England. Jonathan's boss, dies suddenly leaving the Harkers a considerable fortune. One day while they are in London, Jonathan actually sees the Count who has been restored to his youth by his feeding and although Jonathan cannot really remember things clearly, he has a nervous attack and falls unconscious. When he comes to, he cannot remember what upset him. Disturbed by this behavior, Mina decides to read the journal. The contents of the journal amaze her, and she wonders if her husband was already in the throes of brain fever. When Van Helsing comes to visit her to ask questions about Lucy, Mina is so impressed by the man that she gives him Jonathan's journal. It provides the missing link for Van Helsing, who now knows how the vampire came to England.

Mysterious attacks against children have begun in the area where Lucy was buried. Van Helsing shows Seward, Quincey, and Arthur that the cause is Lucy, who is now one of the undead. Arthur is the one who gives his fiancée peace by killing her. The four men pledge to destroy Dracula next.

Mina and Jonathan join with the men. They plan to destroy Dracula for good. The fifty boxes, now located in and around London, are the key. The boxes are full of earth made sacred by Dracula's family, and he cannot survive unless he sleeps in them for at least part of the day. The men begin to hunt down the boxes'. But Renfield, one of Dr. Seward's patients, works as Dracula's henchman, and with his aid the vampire is able to feed on Mina in secret. By the time the men learn what is going on, they are too late: they burst into the room one night to find Jonathan unconscious and Mina being forced to drink blood from Dracula's chest. Now, after enough time has passed she will become one of the undead unless they can destroy Dracula first.

They set to work, sterilizing all but one of the boxes in one day. Dracula, in the last box, flees back to Transylvania to rest for another attack. The band of friends tracks him down, splitting up so that Van Helsing and Mina will go to the castle while the four young men track the last box. Van Helsing and Mina succeed, killing the three female vampires and turning the castle uninhabitable for the undead. They then regroup with the others, and all together they surround the gypsies who are transporting Dracula in his coffin. During the struggle against the gypsies, Quincey receives a mortal wound. Jonathan and Quincey deliver the killing blows to Dracula just as the sun is setting.


Dracula: How he became a vampire is unclear. His powers include a wide range of abilities, some of which are beyond the powers of the other undead in the novel: he can commands any animal and control the weather he has superhuman strength and speed, he can transform himself into a bat or a wolf. He has serious limitations, as well: he is relatively powerless between sunrise and sunset; he cannot advance when faced by a cross, garlic, or a piece of communion wafer. At the start of the novel, he is an old man. As he feeds he grows younger and stronger. A long-dead nobleman of Transylvania, he plans to move to London, where he will have a big population of millions for his needs.

Jonathan Harker: The first character to encounter Dracula. At the time he is unaware of the Count's true nature and it takes an awfully long time, many readers complain, for him to catch on. He is polluted by the Count.  Jonathan is obsessed with destroying him. His letters and journal entries make up a substantial part of the novel.

Mina Murray, later Mina Harker:. Her devotion to Jonathan is strong. Mina is spiritually strong, pure of heart, and intellectually gifted. Her suggestions and strategic insight make it possible for the men to track down Dracula at the end of the novel. She is also Lucy Westenra's best friend, and, like Lucy, she is chosen by Dracula as a target.

Professor Abraham Van Helsing: Van Helsing is one of the greatest scientists of his day. A Dutchman and Dr. Seward's old mentor, his open mind allows him to correctly diagnose Lucy Westenra's problem. He is knowledgeable in vampire things, and he becomes obsessed with tracking down Dracula. For a long time, he is the only mortal character who knows that a vampire is at work among them. A wise and passionate old man, he understands before anyone else that Dracula is a threat to humanity and must be destroyed.

Dr. John Seward: Dr. Seward runs the insane asylum near Dracula's new estate. He is one of Lucy Westenra's suitors. A supremely rational man whose work among the insane. His diary, kept on phonograph, makes up a substantial portion of the novel.

Arthur Holmwood: Arthur is the lucky suitor whom Lucy picks to be her husband. He is incredibly wealthy, and his money will make the expedition against Dracula possible. He is good friends with Dr. Seward and Quincey Morris.

Lucy Westenra: pretty, and good-hearted, Lucy Westenra is Dracula's first important victim in the book. She is Arthur's fiancée. Dracula's attacks take away her strength, making it seem like she has an illness which her friend Dr. Seward cannot diagnose. She dies and becomes a vampire herself.

Quincey Morris: The third of Lucy's suitors. A rich Texan adventurer with a big bowie knife, he eventually gives his life in the battle against Dracula.

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