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English 1301

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula
March 7, 2011
Randy McMeans
Professor Leigh Baldwin

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula “Vampires,” fascinating creatures of the night. They roam the night portraying themselves as members of society. Their appeal is ever so alluring and lustful, yet beautiful, bone chilling evil. Our very souls are at risk for eternal damnation to be devoured and consumed by these evil creatures. The risk of eternal life consumes the imagination of men and women alike. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula could not have foreseen the magnitude of fascination of that which he created. The question that plagues the minds of Dracula enthusiasts is the Romanian Slavic ruler “Vlad Tepes”, the mysterious Dracula.

As we are introduced to Dracula in the novel, Jonathan Harker is dropped off at the front door of the mansion belonging to the frightful Count Dracula, by whom he is employed. It is already late and the wolves are howling in the background. Jonathan Harker feels a chill up his spine as he knocks on the massive wooden doors. Moments pass and the door is answered by Dracula himself. “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will.” (Dracula p.22) As we are introduced to this character Dracula, death fills the air. It is Harker’s interpretation of the handshake that he receives, which he describes as cold, dead steel. As the story develops it is obvious how he has come to star in hundreds of films and countless renditions of books. It seems that Stoker had quite a bit of imagination when creating this evil creature. As we look at his character he is stone cold with a death-like appearance and he closely resembles the character Vlad the Impaler. Page 3

Is he a real person or in fact based off the Wallachian ruler? This warlord was born in 1430 and as close as anyone can discern, he was in his mid-twenties when he took charge of the Wallachian and Transylvania regions. According to the research conducted, after the fall of Constantinople in 1459, Vlad was involved in several wars with the Turkish sultans and Hungarians. He also despised the Saxon leaders of Transylvania. As he arrived at the Romanian countryside, he found lawlessness and disorder. Initially, to restore order in his homeland, Vlad conducted scare tactics by having all that would break the law even for the most minor of infractions impaled on wooden stakes, women and children alike. This lead to his nickname Vlad Tepes, which in Romanian means the Impaler. The correlation between Vlad’s preferred method of execution and Stoker’s strategy for killing vampires is something that intrigued the minds of many who questioned whether Dracula and Vlad are one and the same. We immediately begin to see the similarities between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. The fact that Stoker makes mention of this in his novel seems he had to have had knowledge of the existence of Vlad or his alias The Impaler. How much Stoker knew of the Wallachian ruler is a mystery, but the question still remains to be interpreted by critics.

As we progress into Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, it becomes apparent that the count has become infatuated with Harker’s soon to be wife Nina. It happens that the Count had lost his wife to suicide. She had discovered an arrow that had been shot through the terrace window by the hands of her husband’s enemies, the Turks, falsely announcing the message that the Count Page 4

had been killed. Overcome by her grief, she flung herself over the terrace ledge into the river below. By committing suicide, she prevented her soul from reaching Heaven. This destroyed Count Dracula’s desire to live, causing him to reject God. By doing so, he was cursed eternally. In comparison, according to the history of Vlad the Impaler, his wife had also had an arrow shot into her window informing her not of his death, but that the Hungarian army was approaching Wallachia. She stated that she would rather have her body rot and eaten by the fish than be led into captivity by the Hungarians.

The link between Vlad Tepes and Dracula’s lust for blood consumption seemed to be directly related to the tale of Vlad’s courtyard dining. Vlad had his dinner table set up in the courtyard. While entertaining his guests, he had his servants place large bowls at the feet of his impaled victims collecting their blood. He was reported to take a piece of bread and dip it into the contents of the bowl and eat it. This seems yet another example and similarity between Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. Whether or not Bram Stoker was just the assistant of actor, Henry Irving or business manager for the Luceum Theater in London, his gothic novel touched the souls of many. His travels to the Romanian countryside further added mystery to his novel.

Page 5 Even Bram Stoker’s death added mystery to his novel. Whether or not it played a role into the madness of Dracula is in question. Bram Stoker died of syphilis, which can eventually drive the inflicted insane, causing delusions and episodes of mania. As we can see in the novel, there are some twisted, evil and unimaginable scenes that would require an individual to dwell upon the very dark imagination. In conclusion, the evilness that surrounded Dracula is portrayed through the works of Stoker and one can only pray that only one Vlad Tepes the Impaler existed, never to be seen again.

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