Author: Bram Stoker
The first part of Dracula is told through the eyes of Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor who is sent to Transylvania, Romania to work on some papers for a mysterious Count Dracula. Whilst staying at the Count’s castle Harker begins to realise his host has an unusual lifestyle: he is most active at night, and does not want his guests to leave their rooms. One night Harker tries to escape from the castle, only to meet three female vampires who bewitch him. He is only saved by the Count, because the Count needs Harker’s legal advice.
Harker having returned home, the second part of the story is told through a ship’s log which describes how the boat came to run aground off the coast of England, the crew haunted by a wild dog and then killed, and the captain chained to the ship’s helm (the steering wheel). The contents of the boat are all coming from Transylvania.
The third part of the story has Dracula now in England, and follows Harker and his friends as they realise what the Count is really doing there. One friend, the beautiful young Lucy, begins to slowly lose all her strength, getting weaker every day. The friends call for Professor Van Helsing, who realises what is destroying Lucy but will not tell the others. Lucy eventually dies and is buried, only for stories of an undead woman wandering the night to come out.
The friends, now led by Van Helsing, begin the final war on Dracula, which takes them back to Transylvania.
Stoker’s vampire story is the most famous vampire story, and for many people vampires equal Dracula. However, there were other vampire stories before this.
The novel is written as an adventure, and switches between different narrators and styles (Harker, Harker’s wife, his friends, the ship’s log, letters), each writing short sections. This method of changing the storyteller throughout the story is a popular modern device called ‘piecemeal’.
There was nobody about, and I made a search over every inch of the ground, so as not to lose a chance. I went down even into the vaults, where the dim light struggled, although to do so was a dread to my very soul. Into two of these I went, but saw nothing except fragments of old coffins and piles of dust. In the third, however, I made a discovery.
There, in one of the great boxes, of which there were fifty in all, on a pile of newly dug earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep. I could not say which, for eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death, and the cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor. The lips were as red as ever. But there was no sign of movement, no pulse, no breath, no beating of the heart.
I bent over him, and tried to find any sign of life, but in vain. He could not have lain there long, for the earthy smell would have passed away in a few hours. By the side of the box was its cover, pierced with holes here and there. I thought he might have the keys on him, but when I went to search I saw the dead eyes, and in them dead though they were, such a look of hate, though unconscious of me or my presence, that I fled from the place, and leaving the Count’s room by the window, crawled again up the castle wall. Regaining my room, I threw myself panting upon the bed and tried to think.
Reviews were mostly positive for Dracula when it was published, but it never sold well during Stoker’s life. Later interest in vampire stories, sparked by movies, have increased the popularity of Dracula.