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==Bram Stoker==

     Bram Stoker was born Abraham Stoker Nov. 8, 1847, in Clontarf (a suburb of Dublin), Ireland, the son of a clerk in the Civil Service.  He was a sickly infant and remained an invalid for the first seven years of his life.  Stoker was educated at Trinity College in Dublin, eventually earning a masters degree in pure mathematics   Bram Stoker
     After stints in the civil service and as a drama critic, Stoker became business manager of the Lyceum Theater for Henry Irving in 1878, a position he held until 1902.  In 1878 he married Florence Balcombe who had also once received a proposal from Oscar Wilde.  The Stokers had one son, Noel Thornley.
     In 1879 his first book, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland was published.  Stoker studied law and was "called to the bar" in 1890.  He never practiced law but used the law and lawyers in numerous books.  He sketched the plot for Dracula in 1892, placing events in the next year.  In 1897 Dracula was published, which Stoker regarded as his masterwork but the reaction of the critics was somewhat disappointing.  His last novel Lair of the White Worm was published in 1911.   In April 1912, six days after the Titanic hit an iceberg, Bram Stoker died at age 65.

In addition to his most famous book, Dracula (published May 26, 1897), Stoker's works include The Snake's Pass (1890), Mystery of the Sea (1902), The Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903), Personal Reminisces of Henry Irving (1906), The Lady of the Shroud (1909), Famous Imposters (1910), The Lair of the White Worm (1911) and Dracula's Guest (published posthumously in 1914).
The short story Dracula's Guest can be read on-site Here


A full online version of  Dracula by Bram Stoker can be read   Here

==Summary of Plot==

{Note-spoiler warning} The story begins when Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, is invited to the Count's crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains, on the border of Transylvania and Moldavia), to provide legal support for a real estate transaction on behalf of Harker's employer in London.  At first seduced by the Count's gracious manner, he soon discovers he has become a de facto prisoner and begins to see disquieting facets of the Count's daily life.  Searching for a way out of the castle one night, he falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, but is saved at the last minute by the Count who wants to retain Harker as a friend to teach him about London, where the Count plans to travel among the "teeming millions".  Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life. Original edition of Dracula

Not long afterward, a Russian ship runs aground during a fierce tempest, on the shores of Whitby, a coastal town in England.  All passengers and crew are dead.  A huge dog or wolf is seen running from the ship, which contains nothing but boxes of dirt from Transylvania:  Count Dracula, in his animal form, has arrived in England.

Soon the Count is menacing Harker's devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her vivacious friend, Lucy Westenra.  Lucy receives three marriage proposals in one day, from Arthur Holmwood (Lord Godalming); an American cowboy named Quincey Morris who always carries a bowie knife; and an asylum psychiatrist, Dr. John Seward.  There is a notable encounter between Dracula and Seward's patient Renfield, an insane man who means to consume insects, spiders, and 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 the proximity of Dracula and releasing clues accordingly.

Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously.  All of her suitors fret; Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam.  Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy's condition, but refuses to disclose it, knowing that Seward's faith in him will be shaken if he starts spouting off about vampires.  Van Helsing tries multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing ground.  On a night when Van Helsing must return to Amsterdam (and his message to Seward asking him to watch the Westenra household is accidentally sent to the wrong address), Lucy and her mother are attacked in the night by a wolf.  Mrs Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright, and Lucy herself apparently dies soon after.

Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers report a "bloofer lady" (sometimes explained as "beautiful lady") stalking children in the night.  Van Helsing, knowing that this means Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Arthur, and Morris.  The suitors and Van Helsing track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation between her vampiric self and Arthur, they stake her heart and behead her.

Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives home from Transylvania (Mina joined him there after his escape from the castle); he and Mina also join the coalition, who now turn their attentions to dealing with Dracula himself.

After Dracula learns of Van Helsing and the others' plot against him, he takes revenge by visiting -- and biting -- Mina at least three times.  Dracula also feeds Mina his blood, creating a mind bond between them, and aiming to control her.  The only way to forestall this is to kill Dracula first and the rest of the novel deals with the main characters trying to achieve this.  Mina slowly succumbs to the blood of the vampire that flows through her veins, switching back and forth from a state of consciousness to a state of semi-trance during which she is telepathically connected with Dracula.  Mina uses this connection to track Dracula's movements.

Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania, followed by Van Helsing's gang, who manage to track him down just before sundown and kill him by "shearing through the neck" and stabbing him in the heart with a bowie knife.  Dracula crumbles to dust, his spell is lifted and Mina freed from the marks.  Quincey Morris is killed in the final battle, and the survivors return to England.

The book closes with a note about Mina's and Jonathan's married life and the birth of their first-born son, whom they name Quincey in remembrance of their American friend.

==ANALYSIS==

The novel is narrated by multiple voices — Jonathan's journal of his trip to Transylvania, Mina's diary, and Seward's recorded journal, as well as letters and newspaper items.  Although somewhat crude and certainly sensational, the novel also does have psychological power, and the sexual longings underlying the vampire attacks are manifest.

Despite its important contributions to vampire fiction, several popular traits of fictional vampires are absent.  Count Dracula is killed by knives, not a wooden stake.  The destruction of the vampire Lucy is a three-part process (staking, decapitation, and garlic in the mouth), not the simple stake-only procedure often found in later vampire stories.  Dracula has the ability to travel as a mist and to scale the external walls of his castle.  One very famous trait Stoker added is the inability to be seen in mirrors, which is not something found in traditional Eastern European folklore.

It is also notable in the novel that Dracula can walk about in the daylight, in bright sunshine, though apparently without the ability to use most of his powers, like turning into mist or a bat.  He is still strong and fast enough to struggle with and escape from most of his male pursuers, in a scene in the book.  Traditional vampire folklore does not usually hold that sunlight is fatal to vampires though they are nocturnal.  It is only with the film Nosferatu that the daylight is first depicted as deadly to vampires.

Modern analysts have detected in Dracula a strong sexual component. As one critic wrote:

What has become clearer and clearer, particularly in the fin de siècle years of the twentieth century, is that the novel's power has its source in the sexual implications of the blood exchange between the vampire and his victims...Dracula has embedded in it a very disturbing psychosexual allegory whose meaning I am not sure Stoker entirely understood:  that there is a demonic force at work in the world whose intent is to eroticise women.  In Dracula we see how that force transforms Lucy Westenra, a beautiful nineteen-year-old virgin, into a shameless slut. (Leonard Wolf, "Introduction" to the Signet Classic Edition, 1992).
Dracula may also be viewed as a novel about the struggle between tradition and modernity at the fin de siècle.  Throughout, there are various references to changing gender roles; Mina Harker is a thoroughly modern woman, as she uses (then) modern technologies such as the typewriter, but she still embodies a traditional gender role as an assistant school mistress.

Stoker's novel also deals in general with the conflict between the world of the past — full of folklore, myth, legend, and religious piety — and the emerging modern world of technology, logical positivism, and secularism.

Van Helsing epitomizes this struggle because he uses, at the time, extremely modern technologies like blood transfusions; but he is not so modern as to eschew the idea that a demonic being could be causing Lucy's illness, thus he spreads garlic around the sashes and doors of her room and makes her wear a garlic necklace.  After Lucy's death, he receives an indulgence from a Catholic cleric to use the Eucharist (held by the Church to be transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus) in his fight against Dracula.  In trying to bridge the rational/superstitious conflict within the story, he cites then-new sciences, such as hypnotism, that were only recently considered magical.  He also quotes (without attribution) the American psychologist William James, whose writings on the power of belief become the only way to deal with this conflict.

Jonathan Harker's character displays the problems of dwelling in a strictly rational modern world.  Visiting Count Dracula in Eastern Europe, Jonathan scoffs at the peasants who tell him to delay his visit until after Saint George's feast day.  As a rational solicitor, Jonathan is concerned "with facts — bare meager facts, verified by books and figures, and of which there can be no doubt" (Dracula).  All of Jonathan’s rationality weakens him to what he witnesses at Castle Dracula.  For example, the first time Jonathan witnesses the Count crawling down the castle face down, he is in complete disbelief.  Not believing what he sees, he attempts to explain what he saw as a trick of the moon light.

Despite the aforementioned problems of rationality in dealing with vampires, the characters of Dracula use (then) modern technology and rationalism to defeat the count.  For example, during their pursuit of the vampire, they use railroads and steamships, not to mention the telegraph, to keep a step ahead of him (in contrast, the count escapes in a sailboat).  Van Helsing uses the aforementioned method of hypnotism to pinpoint Dracula's location.  Mina even employs the then-primitive field of criminology to anticipate the count's actions, and cites both Cesare Lombroso and Max Nordau, who at the time of the novel were considered experts in this field



NOTE-Plot summary and analysis are from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dracula&oldid=49095455


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