Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Bram Stoker’s fictional Dracula, the vampiric count from Transylvania, was hardly the first vampire story ever written, but it is beyond a doubt the grandfather of modern vampire literature in English- speaking countries, as well as a source for innumerable vampire stories that followed in its wave of success. Although Stoker researched the myths of the vampire, as an author he justifiably used artistic license to create his own vampire, one that would be more suitable and terrifying to his audience.

In regards to species, Dracula was not any one particular type of vampire, but a conglomeration of several different types, many of which were not even native to the part of the world that the vampire comes from.

In the novel, for the few pages that he actually appears in it, Dracula is described as a tall, pale man, sporting a thick, white Victorian moustache. He has a very full and substantial head of HAIR, bushy eyebrows, and even HAIR on the palm of his hands. His teeth are caninelike, his fingernails overly long, and his beautiful blue eyes turn red whenever he grows angry. Dressed in black, he is initially old when first encountered in the book; however, as the story progresses, he becomes increasingly younger looking.

The count has an array of vampiric abilities, such as weather control; shape- shifting into a bat, dog, and wolf; and “control over the meaner things,” such as bats, foxes, owls, rats, and wolves. He can also procreate his species in that he can create other vampires, such as his vampiric brides. Although it is not truly an “ability,” it is a misconception that Count Dracula would shrivel up and die if exposed to sunlight. This is not true; daylight has no such ill effect on the Count.

Like one might expect, holy items have an adverse effect on Dracula as they do with many species of mythical vampires, items such as rosary beads with a CRUCIFIX, and the EUCHARISTIC WAFER. Many types of vampires must return to their graves or some dark place in which to spend their daylight hours. This is not the case for Dracula, who is unaffected in that respect by sunlight, but yet, he is still linked to his grave. The Count must lie in rest in his native soil, and so travels with COFFINS lined with Transylvanian soil. Dracula also requires an invitation to enter someone’s home, somewhat reminiscent of the GREEK VAMPIRE BARABARLAKOS, if not quite as literal. Of all the vampires that the various histories and mythologies have offered us, only one lore speaks of any type of vampire that casts no reflection in a mirror—the ZEMU from the Moldavia region of Romania. This distinct and unique disability is so obscure, compounded with the fact that the ZEMU is such a little- known species of vampire, it causes one to wonder if it is at all possible that Stoker heard of this tale or if it was a creation by the author himself.

It is a popular misconception that at the novel’s end Count Dracula was staked through the heart with a nicely shaped sliver of wood. The truth is that Dracula was simultaneously beheaded by Jonathan Harker and stabbed in the heart with a bowie knife by Quincey P. Morris.

Source: Eighteen-Bisang, Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula; Leatherdale, Dracula: The Novel and the Legend; Senf, Science and Social Science; Stoker, Dracula

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