Dracula Summary

Dracula is an epistolary novel by Bram Stoker that follows a group of English friends and their encounters with Count Dracula, a vampire.

  • Jonathan Harker travels to Count Dracula's home in Transylvania, and Dracula imprisons him. Dracula then travels to London, where he targets Harker's fiancé, Mina Murray.

  • Dracula attacks Lucy Westenra, Mina's friend, and Lucy falls ill. Dr. Van Helsing reveals that Lucy's illness is the result of a vampire bite. 

  • Mina, Jonathan, Van Helsing, and several others kill Lucy, who has become a murderous vampire. They then turn their attention to Dracula. 
  • The group tracks Dracula back to Transylvania and kills him.

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Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor, is apprehensive on his way to Castle Dracula in the province of Transylvania (in what is now Romania). His nervousness grows when he observes the curious, fearful attitude of the peasants and the coachman after they learn of his destination. He is on his way to transact business with Count Dracula, and his mission necessitates remaining at the castle for several days.

Upon his arrival at the castle, Harker finds comfortable accommodations awaiting him. Count Dracula is a charming host, although his peculiarly bloodless physical appearance is somewhat disagreeable to Harker’s English eyes. Almost immediately, Harker is impressed with the strange life of the castle. He and the Count discuss their business at night, as the Count is never available during the daytime. Although the food is excellent, Harker never sees a servant about the place. While exploring the castle, he finds that it is situated high at the top of a mountain with no accessible exit other than the main doorway, which is kept locked. He realizes with a shock that he is a prisoner of Count Dracula.

Various harrowing experiences ensue. When Harker secretly explores one of the rooms in the castle, three phantom women materialize and attack him, attempting to bite his throat. Then the Count appears and drives them off, whispering fiercely that Harker belongs to him. Later, Harker thinks he sees a huge bat descending the castle walls, but the creature turns out to be Count Dracula. In the morning, trying frantically to escape, Harker stumbles into an old chapel where a number of coffinlike boxes of earth are stored. He opens one and sees the Count lying there, apparently dead. In the evening, when the Count appears as usual, Harker demands that he be released. The Count obligingly opens the castle door. A pack of wolves surrounds the entrance. The Count laughs maliciously. The next day Harker, weak and sick from a strange wound in his throat, sees a pack cart loaded with the mysterious boxes drive from the castle. Dracula has departed and Harker is alone, a prisoner with no visible means of escape.

Meanwhile, in England, Harker’s fiancé, Mina Murray, goes to visit her beautiful and charming friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy is planning to marry Arthur Holmwood, a young nobleman. One evening, early in Mina’s visit, a storm blows up and a strange ship is driven aground. The only living creature aboard is a gray wolflike dog, which escapes into the countryside. Soon afterward, Lucy’s happiness begins to fade because of a growing tendency to sleepwalk. One night, Mina follows her friend during one of these spells and discovers Lucy in a churchyard. A tall, thin man bending over Lucy disappears at Mina’s approach. Lucy can remember nothing of the experience when she awakens, but her physical condition seems much weakened. Finally, she grows so ill that Mina is forced to call upon Dr. Seward, Lucy’s former suitor. Lucy begins to improve under his care, and when Mina receives a report from Budapest that her missing fiancé has been found and needs care, she feels free to end her visit.

When Lucy’s condition suddenly grows worse, Dr. Seward asks his old friend Dr. Van Helsing, a specialist from Amsterdam, for his professional opinion. Examining Lucy thoroughly, Van Helsing pauses...

(The entire section is 1,244 words.)