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Dracula Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Bram Stoker's Dracula. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Bram Stoker
One of seven children, Bram Stoker was born to upper-middle-class Irish Protestant parents in the middle of the nineteenth century; he suffered a grave illness at age seven, which caused him to turn to reading and probably prompted his interest in literature. As a young man, Stoker attended Trinity College, Dublin, and studied mathematics. He then embarked on a career in the theater, moving to London and working for the Lyceum, befriending such intellectuals as Oscar Wilde, and working as the Lyceum's stage and business manager for over a decade. Stoker later took a job at the London paper The Daily Telegraph, working as a literary reporter and critic. He began writing Dracula, his only successful novel, during this period of employment; it went on to become a sensation on its publication in 1897. Stoker wrote other novels and short stories before his death, of stroke, in 1912, but none approached the popular acclaim of Dracula. The novel has become a part of the Western popular imagination, drawn as it was from Victorian ideas of morality and reinterpretations of Central European myths about "wampyrs," or vampires.
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Historical Context of Dracula
Dracula can be framed against the social and political currents of the Victorian period in English society, which existed during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. During this time, England experienced a great deal of economic, social, and political change. Under Victoria, England expanded its colonial holdings to form an empire "on which the sun never set"—this empire extended from India to ports in China, to islands in the Caribbean, to portions of Africa in which England had trading and other financial interests. British imperialism during this time caused not only a great infusion of money into London, the capital of the empire, but also caused a greater exchange of information, stories, and legends from around the world. The legends of the Carpathian mountains, in present-day Romania, form the basis of the novel Dracula.
Other Books Related to Dracula
The novel most often compared to Dracula is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818, approximately 80 years before the publication of Dracula. Like Dracula, Frankenstein is a novel-in-letters, containing first-person accounts of interactions with a horrible monster. Both novels contain typically "gothic" elements, such as old castles, sweeping views of nature; both, too, are considerations of the interaction between "science" (or "reason") and superstition. But the fact of Dracula's being written much later actually belies Dracula's basis in the mythology of present-day Romania, which included mention of "wampyrs." Frankenstein, on the other hand, is more or less the invention of Shelley, although it draws more broadly on ancient stories of the creation of man out of inert material, including the "Pygmalion" myth.
Key Facts about Dracula
  • Full Title: Dracula
  • When Written: 1896-97
  • Where Written: London, England
  • When Published: May 1897
  • Literary Period: late-Victorian, but drawing on the Gothic and melodramatic traditions in the English novel
  • Genre: horror; horror-romance; Gothic novel; novel-in-letters
  • Setting: Transylvania and in and around London, England; the very end of the 1800s
  • Climax: The group locates Dracula in Transylvania, and stabs him in the heart and beheads him, thus freeing his soul to heaven and freeing Mina from his spiritual grasp
  • Antagonist: Count Dracula
  • Point of View: first-person (as relayed through letters and journal entries by various characters)
Extra Credit for Dracula

Other representations, over time. The character "Dracula" has achieved nearly universal recognition since the publication of Bram Stoker's novel, although many people who know of Dracula have not read the book. But Dracula's fear of mirrors, his aversion to garlic and crucifixes, his sleeping at night, and, of course, his desire to suck the blood of women, children, and the weak have become touchstones of Western society and culture. Notable versions of the Dracula-legend in the West include: Dracula, a film with Bela Lugosi (1931); Dracula, a film with Christopher Lee (1958); Dracula, a film with Frank Langella (1979); Bram Stoker's Dracula, a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola (1992); Dracula, a play on Broadway (1924); and various video games, graphic novels, and versions in other media.