September 21, 2021

#08-138: Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Van Helsing and Dracula (1931)

Note: Vampires still sell, but the first "big hit"--and still scary today--is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. It was written in the form of diary entries, letters and other "real" documents, giving it a feeling of authenticity.

Get Ready: What sorts of books or stories do you find scary?

Few novels have gripped me with fear like the macabre events of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

At the beginning of the novel, London lawyer Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to help a client--Count Dracula--purchase properties near London. Against the count's advice, Harker wanders the halls of the castle at night--and must be rescued from the grips of three vampire women. Dracula soon departs the castle, leaving Harker at the women's mercy. He barely escapes, ending up delirious in a hospital in Budapest.

Dracula, meanwhile, sails for London, taking along several boxes of earth. The ship's crew members disappear one by one, leaving only the captain to man the helm. When the ship runs aground in England, the captain reports seeing something like a large dog leap ashore.

Jonathan Harker is engaged to Mina Murray, whose best friend Lucy Westenra chooses a husband from among the three men courting her. But Dracula has other plans, and stalks her after she starts sleepwalking. Mina goes to Budapest to bring home Harker; a Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who taught one of Lucy's suitors, knows that Lucy is being drained of blood, and why.

Garlic repels vampires, and Van Helsing places it around Lucy's room, but her mother unknowingly removes it. Lucy and her mother die soon, and shortly after her death a beautiful woman is seen abducting children. Van Helsing and his team go to Lucy's tomb and drive a stake through her heart before beheading her, and the child abductions cease.

The now-married Harkers return and join Van Helsing's campaign against the vampire. But Dracula fights back, using a henchman named Renfield to get to Mina. He half-turns her to vampirism, and the only way she can be saved is if Dracula dies.

Vampires must rest in the earth of their homeland (hence the boxes on the ship). Van Helsing and his team search out each of Dracula's properties and one by one neutralize those boxes of earth. Dracula escapes England with his final box, and Van Helsing exploits a psychic connection between Mina and the vampire to track him down. Jonathan and the others trap him not far from his castle (where Van Helsing and Mina have destroyed the vampire women) and stab Dracula in the heart. He crumbles to dust, Mina is saved, and the Harkers go on to raise a family.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. crumbles
  2. delirious
  3. exploits
  4. helm
  5. henchman
  6. macabre
  7. neutralize
  8. psychic
  9. repels
  10.  suitors

  1. gruesome; horrifying
  2. uses for one's own purposes
  3. pushes away
  4. breaks into small pieces
  5. of the mind
  6. assistant bad guy
  7. make useless
  8. men hoping to convince someone to marry them
  9. mentally disturbed by illness
  10. steering wheel of a ship

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 21, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. i; 3. b; 4. j; 5. f; 6. a; 7. g; 8. e; 9. c; 10. h