|Allies||Brides of DraculaRenfield|
|Enemies||Jonathan HarkerAbraham Van Helsing|
|Created by||Bram Stoker|
His appearance is described thus:
In his youth, he studied the black arts at the academy of Scholomance in the Carpathian Mountains, overlooking the town of Sibiu (also known as Hermannstadt) and became proficient in alchemy and magic (Dracula Chapter 18 and Chapter 23).
Using the black arts, Dracula returned from death as a vampire and lives for several centuries in his castle with his three wives for company.
In the 19th century, however, he acts on a long contemplated plan for world domination, and infiltrates London to begin his reign of terror. He summons Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, to provide legal support for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker's employer. Dracula at first charms Harker with his cordiality and historical knowledge and even rescues him from the clutches of his three bloodthirsty brides. In truth, however, Dracula wishes to keep Harker alive just long enough for his legal transaction to finish and to learn as much as possible about England.
Dracula then leaves his castle and boards a Russian ship, the Demeter, taking along with him boxes of Transylvanian soil, which he needs in order to regain his strength. During the voyage to Whitby, a coastal town in northern England, he sustains himself on the ship's crew members. Only one body is later found, that of the captain, who is found tied up to the ship's helm. The captain's log is recovered and tells of strange events that had taken place during the ship's journey. Dracula leaves the ship in the form of a large wolf.
Soon the Count is menacing Harker's devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her vivacious friend, Lucy Westenra. There is also a notable link between Dracula and Renfield, a patient in an insane asylum compelled to consume insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures — in ascending order of size — in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield acts as a kind of motion sensor, detecting Dracula's proximity and supplying clues accordingly. Dracula begins to visit Lucy's bed chamber on a nightly basis, draining her of blood while simultaneously infecting her with the curse of vampirism. Not knowing the cause for Lucy's deterioration, her companions call upon the Dutch doctor Van Helsing, the former mentor of one of Lucy's suitors. Van Helsing soon deduces her condition's supernatural origins, but does not speak out. Despite an attempt at keeping the vampire at bay with garlic, Dracula entices Lucy out of her chamber late at night and drains her blood, killing her.
Van Helsing and a group of men enter Lucy's crypt and kill her reanimated corpse. They later enter Dracula's residence at Carfax Abbey, destroying his boxes of earth, thus depriving the Count of his ability to refuel his powers. Dracula leaves England to return to his homeland, but not before biting Mina.
Eventually, the group of heroes — Lord Godalming, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Jonathan Harker, Mina and Quincey Morris — track the Count back to Transylvania and, after a vicious battle with Dracula's gypsy bodyguards, destroy him. Dracula's death is shorn of the rituals enjoined by Van Helsing. Despite the popular image of Dracula having a stake driven through his heart, Mina's narrative describes his throat being cut by Jonathan Harker's "kukri" knife and his heart pierced by Quincey Morris's Bowie knife while he is being transported in his coffin en route to Castle Dracula (Mina Harker's Journal, 6 November, Dracula Chapter 27). This omission of the proper rituals of destruction has led some to express doubts whether Dracula has really been finished off. Dracula, it is suggested, may rise again.
According to Van Helsing:
One of Dracula's most mysterious powers is the ability to transfer his vampiric condition to others. As seen with Lucy and Mina, transfer of the curse is done through a bite to the throat, allowing the Count to ingest the victim's blood at the same time. The victim is transformed gradually, exhibiting physical weakness and a fear of holy objects, the transformation being complete when the body is completely drained. Oddly, all other vampires present in the novel are female, and there is no mention of Dracula's victims on the Demeter ever becoming undead (as they themselves are male). However, it is implied through his encounters with Mina Harker that a person to be turned must also consume some of Dracula's blood:
Although his acolytes share the Count's enhanced strength, thirst for blood and aversion to holy objects, they do not appear to possess the more advanced powers of their creator, such as shapeshifting into animal forms and weather manipulation. There is one instance where the vampire Lucy shrinks in size in order to squeeze through a crack and reenter her tomb, and the brides of Dracula are observed turning into motes of dust that float in the moonlight, but it is never revealed if Mina and the other vampire acolytes possess the abilities to take the form of animals.
Dracula's powers are not unlimited, however. He is much less powerful in daylight and is only able to shift his form at dawn, noon, and dusk (he can shift freely at night). The sun is not fatal to him, though, as it is in later adaptations. He is repulsed by garlic, crucifixes and sacramental bread, and he can only cross running water at low or high tide. He is also unable to enter a place unless invited to do so; once invited, however, he can approach and leave the premises at will.
Dracula is arguably one of the most famous villains in popular culture. He has been portrayed by more actors in more film adaptations than any other horror character. Actors who have played him include Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Jack Palance, Udo Kier, Jonathan Massey, Frank Langella, Louis Jourdan, Klaus Kinski, Duncan Regehr, Stefan Lindahl, Edmund Purdom, Gary Oldman, Leslie Nielsen, George Hamilton, Gerard Butler, Patrick Bergin, Dominic Purcell, Richard Roxburgh, Marc Warren and Keith-Lee Castle. The character is closely associated with the cultural archetype of the vampire, and remains a popular Halloween costume.
Historically, the name "Dracula" is the given name of Vlad Tepes' family, a name derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg (king of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Holy Roman Emperor) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III, was admitted to the order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks and was dubbed Dracul (dragon) thus his son became Dracula (son of the dragon). From 1431 onward, Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol.
Stoker came across the name Dracula in his reading on Romanian history and chose this to replace the name (Count Wampyr) that he had originally intended to use for his villain. However, some Dracula scholars, led by Elizabeth Miller, have questioned the depth of this connection. They argue that Stoker in fact knew little of the historic Vlad III except for his name. There are sections in the novel where Dracula refers to his own background, and these speeches show that Stoker had some knowledge of Romanian history but certainly one of no depth. Stoker includes few details about Vlad III save for referring to Dracula as "that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turks", a quote which ties Stoker's Vampire to the Wallachian prince in earnest, due to Prince Vlad's famed battles with Turks over Wallachian soil, a thing which Stoker clearly made reference to.
While Vlad III was an ethnic Vlach, the fictional Dracula claims to be a Székely. In addition the vampire's aversion to holy objects is uncharacteristic of Vlad, who was in fact part of a Christian order and often invoked the name of God in his actions.
The story of Dracula as Stoker created it and as it has been portrayed in films and television shows ever since may be a compound of various influences. Many of Stoker's biographers and literary critics have found strong similarities to the earlier Irish writer Sheridan le Fanu's classic of the vampire genre, Carmilla. In writing Dracula, Stoker may also have drawn on stories about the sídhe — some of which feature blood-drinking women.
It has been suggested that Stoker was influenced by the history of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was born in the Kingdom of Hungary. It is believed that Bathory tortured and killed up to 700 servant girls in order to bathe in or drink their blood. She believed their blood preserved her youth, which may be connected to the element of Dracula in which Dracula appeared younger after feeding.