Dracula by Bram Stoker is the classic Victorian novel about the vampire fiend of the same name. Written in the form of letter, diary entries, and newspaper clippings, it tells the story of a group of people and their battle against Count Dracula. But there’s more to this novel than just the monster aspect. Read between the lines and you can find a whole host of meanings. Anyone performing a gender-based analysis could have (and have had) a field day reviewing Dracula. One could even delve into the study of Victorian xenophobia. It’s a treasure trove of exploration for English majors.
Dracula is not an overtly sexy vampire story (unless you get into some close reading of the relationship that comes from blood-sucking). In fact, Dracula himself doesn’t play a big direct role, and get little actual “screen” time. Mostly, the reader is privy to the lives of the characters who are battling against him: Mina and Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. John Seward, Quincy Morris, and Arthur Holmwood.
Jonathan’s imprisonment in the beginning and the character of Renfield are the most fascinating, and creepy, parts of the book. After he imprisons Jonathan, Count Dracula moves from his castle in Transylvania to the more fertile hunting grounds of London, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake. He finds sustenance in Lucy Westenra, and eventually kills her. Van Helsing convinces everyone else that the fiend needs to be stopped, or else his reign of terror would continue in perpetuity. This becomes more apparent when they realize that Mina is the count’s next victim. After much research and preparation, they find Dracula, but fail to kill him in London. So, they follow him back to Transylvania for a final showdown.
So is Dracula a good story? Can you pick up the progenitor of vampire stories, read it and still be entertained? Dracula is not a quick and easy read, but becomes more interesting if you are able to read analytically. I’ll admit, it’s not a story that will engage everyone. If you prefer your vampires sexy, then you should look to something much newer. If you prefer your vampires present, you should look elsewhere. However, if you wish to be a more-informed reader of Victorian or vampire fiction, then this book is cannon.