Halloween Reads: Dracula

Trick

Major players: (visual aids used where appropriate)

Dracula: Totally evil vampire

Nosferatu

Not to be mistaken for the evil vampire who can get away with anything by making this face:

TVD: 4x12 - A View to a Kill Screenshot

Oh Klaus, why can’t I quit you? 

Jonathan Harker: Loveable dummy. Ultimately useless.

Mina Harker: Wife of Jonathan Harker. Everybody loves her for little obvious reason. Dracula wants to turn her into a vampire.

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All Elena Gilbert related mean-ness comes from a place of love, I swear.

Van Helsing: Vampire hunter from Amsterdam. Feels in debt to Dr Seward over some vague incident in which he was poisoned and Seward saved him. We never learn the details. Has a Bertha Mason situation happening in his home life and is weirdly obsessed with Mina.

Dr John Seward, ‘Jack’ to his friends: Psychiatrist and wannabe vampire hunter.

Quincey Morris: American. Says everything ‘laconically’. Is also obsessed with guns and has a habit of shooting at nearby wildlife without warning.

Arthur Holmwood/Lord Godalming: Fiance of the late Lucy Westenra. His only use to the plot is financing and name dropping so far as I could tell.

Lucy Westenra: The first sexy lady to go all vamp on us. Fiancee to Arthur. Rejected proposals from Dr Seward and Quicey Morris. Best friend to Mina Harker.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker is a collection of diary entries, letters and telegrams all reliving the tale of how six people attempt to bring down a vampire.

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The story begins with Jonathan Harker, lawyer, travelling to Transylvania in order to facilitate one Count Dracula’s move to England. The count lives in a castle out in the middle of nowhere, and during his journey, whenever Jonathan tells locals where he’s travelling to, they cross themselves and start to pray. Jonathan just assumes this is typical ‘foreigner’ behaviour. That is until he gets to the castle and Dracula refuses to let him leave. When he discovers that Dracula sleeps in a coffin, leaves the castle by crawling, Spiderman style down the walls and feeds babies to his three vampire girlfriends, Jonathan realises that perhaps the locals had a point.

Meanwhile Jonathan’s fiancée, Mina Murray is staying with her best friend, Lucy in the seaside town of Whitby. Lucy has recently gotten engaged to one Arthur Holmwood. Unfortunately for Arthur, Lucy is about the become Dracula’s first victim because unfortunately for Whitby, it happens to be the town in which Dracula’s ship from Transylvania docks. Not that anybody knows that at this point, seeing as everybody on the ship was dead when it arrived and the only passenger anybody saw on board was a large black dog (Dracula: Sirius Black style).

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This is Whitby. I took this photo when I was there in September. Pretty, right?

Seeing Lucy’s mysteriously declining health, her recently rejected admirer Dr Seward steps in to save the day. He brings in his mysterious colleague Dr Van Helsing to help. Despite all their efforts, Lucy dies. Once she becomes a vampire, Van Helsing recruits Dr Seward, Arthur and Quincey (the other guy who proposed to Lucy) as trainee vampire hunters.

Meanwhile Dr Seward is increasingly realising that his favourite patient, Renfield may also be in Dracula’s thrall. Renfield is locked in a lunatic asylum because of his desire to ‘consume life’. He spends his days tempting flies into his room. Once he has enough he feeds the many flies to a few spiders, then the few spiders to some sparrows. When Dr Seward refuses to buy him a cat, Renfield eats the sparrows himself. Yes, it’s called Dracula, but the highest creep factor in the book has to go to Renfield.

Once Mina realises that her best friend’s death and her husband’s recent experience in Transylvania may in fact be related, she and Jonathan join the vampire hunters and together they form Team Kill Dracula. Dracula then tries to turn Mina into a vampire which only makes everybody more determined to kill him. I think this is because Mina is the ideal 19th century woman. She is educated, but submissive, maternal yet weirdly sexless. Such an ideal of womanhood cannot possibly be lost to sexy wanton vampirism.

(You can tell this was written by a 19th century man).

But is she? You’d have to read it to find out.

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This is Whitby Abbey. Apparently it inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. Mina and Lucy hang out up here quite a lot. They spend a lot of time in the graveyard just down the road chatting with sailors. 

Happy Halloween!

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Author: Lydia Tewkesbury

24. Waitress. Loves a good story.

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