NovelGuide: Dracula: Character Profiles
Count Dracula : A vampire, several hundred years old, who lives in a castle in Transylvania. Count Dracula is a member of an old, noble and once-powerful family. He has a civilized and cultivated manner overlaying an evil soul. Like all vampires, he is immortal unless he is destroyed in the traditional manner, by having a stake hammered through his heart and his head cut off. He lives off blood, which he sucks from his female victims, who themselves become vampires and must suck the blood of others, creating a new race of vampires. He can control the elements and certain animals, including bats and wolves, and can change shape and size. In common with other vampires, Count Dracula is bound by certain limitations. He is nocturnal, losing his power in daytime; he cannot cross water unless he is carried; he cannot approach any place or person protected with Christian Communion wafers, crucifixes, or garlic; and he can only go where he is first invited. This last fact means that his entry into a person's life is inextricably linked with their desire, which forms the basis of the symbolism of sexual prowess that the Count embodies.
Count Dracula forms a plan to go to live in London, where he will be able to feed off the teeming millions of people and create vast numbers of vampires. Van Helsing's band of friends oppose him and finally defeat him.
The Hon. Arthur Holmwood: The only son of Lord Godalming and fianc� of Lucy Westenra. After his father's death, he inherits his title of Lord Godalming. After Lucy is bitten by Count Dracula, Holmwood is one of the men who gives his blood in transfusions to try to save her life. After she dies, Holmwood is persuaded by Van Helsing that as her bridegroom-to-be, he must destroy the vampire Lucy. With Van Helsing and the rest of the group of men, Holmwood goes to the churchyard where she is buried and drives a stake through her heart. Holmwood is one of Van Helsing's band of friends who hunt and destroy the Count.
Quincey Morris : A rich American from Texas, Morris is one of Lucy Westenra's three suitors and is a friend of the other two. Lucy turns down his proposal of marriage, but he remains her friend and after she is bitten by Count Dracula, he is one of the men who gives his blood in transfusions to try to save her life. Morris is a man of action and organizes the ambush of the Count in his Piccadilly home. He is one of Van Helsing's band of friends who hunt and destroy the Count. He arranges to take Winchester rifles on the expedition and helps the other men to destroy Count Dracula, but is killed by one of the gypsies who are transporting the Count back to his castle. The Harkers later name their first child after him.
Wilhelmina Murray : See Mina Harker
Jonathan Harker : The fianc�, later husband, of Wilhelmina Murray and a young solicitor (lawyer) who is sent by his employer to Count Dracula's castle to help him buy a property in London. Initially an honored guest, Harker soon realizes that he has become a prisoner of the Count. He escapes from the castle but falls ill with 'brain fever,' an illness which has all the characteristics of a nervous breakdown. Harker, the archetypal rational Englishman, simply cannot cope with or comprehend the alternative reality of ancient beliefs and occult powers represented by the Count.
Harker recovers his confidence after meeting Van Helsing, who is able to bridge the Western European scientific and the Eastern European occult fields of knowledge. He becomes a determined and courageous opponent of the Count and in the final battle, cuts off the vampire's head.
Mina Harker : Fianc�e and later wife of Jonathan Harker (before her marriage, she is called Wilhelmina or Mina Murray). Mina is a practical and courageous young woman and a loyal and loving companion to Jonathan Harker. She leans shorthand and typing in order to be useful to her husband after her marriage. When she becomes convinced of the threat posed by Count Dracula, she puts her skills to good use by transcribing and keeping the records of Van Helsing's band of friends in their fight against the Count.
Mina is the closest friend of the Count's first victim, Lucy Westenra, and later, she herself becomes his victim. She embodies the highest virtues of Christian womanhood and of Victorian society, being pure of heart, innocent, and truthful, retaining these values even after she has been bitten by the Count. Van Helsing pays her the compliment of having a "man's brain," and she is able to maintain an objective viewpoint even at times of suffering. He research helps the men track the Count down in Transylvania.
Renfield : A patient in Dr John Seward's insane asylum. Renfield is diagnosed as a zoophagous homicidal maniac: he eats living creatures like flies and spiders as he feels that their life force is nourishing to him; and he makes the occasional violent attack on people. In these respects, Renfield mirrors the Count. Seward becomes interested in his case and studies him, though because of his rational scientific prejudices, he misses the most important aspect of the case, which is that Renfield's mind and soul are being taken over by Count Dracula, whom he calls his "master." Renfield develops a liking for Mina Harker and is furious when he learns that the Count is draining her lifeblood. He rebels against the Count and is killed by him.
Dr John Seward : A doctor, director of the insane asylum and one of the two unsuccessful suitors for the hand of Lucy Westenra. He donates blood to Lucy after she become the Count's victim. Seward is a former pupil of Van Helsing, who taught him medical science, but he lacks Van Helsing's understanding of metaphysics and the occult. This lack leaves him baffled and powerless in the face of the growing evidence of the Count's vampiric activities. He is also reduced by his limitations to the status of an impotent observer in the case of his insane patient, Renfield. Van Helsing rebukes him for his narrow-minded scientific prejudice: "You are clever man, friend John; you reason well, and your wit is bold; but you are too prejudiced. You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain." A sign of Seward's bent towards the scientific and technological side of life is the fact that he uses a phonograph, then a modern instrument, to keep his diary.
Significantly, although Seward believes he is governed by objective science, he occasionally becomes ambushed by emotion in that he cannot put it to one side, as Mina can. For example, he wants to keep secret his diary of his beloved Lucy's destruction by the Count, rather than using it as data, as the cooler-headed Mina suggests.
Once Seward is led by Van Helsing to overcome his scientific prejudices and accept the reality of the Count's existence, he joins Van Helsing's band of friends in destroying the Count, and proves a brave opponent.
Mr Swales : An old man whom Mina and Lucy meet at Whitby. He professes to have no time for religious beliefs or the supernatural and therefore at first seems to typify the modern English rationalist viewpoint. But as he feels his own death approaching, he admits to Mina that he had only mocked the supernatural to overcome his fear of death. Swales is found dead with his neck broken, seemingly at the hand of Count Dracula.
Vampire women : The three beautiful vampire women, called by some critics "the weird sisters," try to seduce Jonathan Harker and suck his lifeblood at Count Dracula's castle. They represent the reverse of the ideal of the Victorian lady, being sexually aggressive and insatiable, and anti-maternal: far from nourishing children, they eat them. They turn up again at the end of the novel, when, by means of their seductive wiles, they almost manage to deflect even the wise and pious Van Helsing from his purpose of destroying them. They are simultaneously the nightmare and the fantasy figure of the 'respectable' Victorian man; consequently, Harker both fears them and longs for them.
Van Helsing : A Dutch professor of medicine and a lawyer, and the former teacher of Dr John Seward. Seward calls him "a philosopher and metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day." Seward calls on him to treat Lucy Westenra as she declines as a result of being drained of blood by the Count. Van Helsing is a master of Western science and uses advanced medical methods such as blood transfusions to help Lucy, but he is not restricted to rational and scientific approaches. His knowledge of metaphysics, folk medicine and the occult enable him to deduce that she is the victim of a vampire and to protect her to some extent. However, he has to keep his knowledge to himself for some time due to the prejudices of those around him. He slowly and patiently leads them towards a broader understanding of the world around them. A compassionate as well as a wise man, he becomes the guide, teacher and leader of the band of friends who join together to destroy the Count.
Lucy Westenra : A beautiful, lively and virtuous young woman, and the best friend of Mina Harker. Her sexual magnetism causes her to receive three marriage proposals in one day, from Seward, Morris and Holmwood. She accepts Holmwood and becomes his fianc�e. Her lament that she cannot accept all three of her suitors is a sign of her fatal flaw: her openness to sexual desire. This leads to her becoming the first victim of the Count. As she loses her lifeblood to the Count, she becomes ill and is treated by Seward and Van Helsing. They cannot save her: she dies and becomes an Un-dead vampire. Lucy becomes a damned soul and a voracious sexual predator who tries to prey upon her fianc�. She also lures innocent children away so that she can feed off their blood, reversing the nurturing, maternal Victorian ideal of womanhood. Van Helsing helps Holmwood to accept that he must destroy the vampire Lucy. In a scene filled with violent sexual symbolism, Holmwood restores Lucy's soul to a state of peace by driving a stake through her heart and cutting off her head.
Mrs Westenra : Mother of Lucy Westenra. Mrs Westenra has a heart condition which she keeps secret from her daughter, and Mrs Westenra in turn is not told of Lucy's becoming a victim of Count Dracula. Thus Mrs Westenra unwittingly sabotages the protections that Van Helsing places around Lucy, contributing to her daughter's death. Mrs Westenra dies of fright when she sees a wolf, either controlled or possessed by Count Dracula, put his head through Lucy's bedroom window.
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