Overview

Dracula has appealed to readers for almost a century, at least in part because it deals with one of the great human conflicts: the struggle between good and evil. Stoker acknowledges the complexity of this conflict by showing good characters attracted to evil. For example, Jonathan Harker, the lawyer who journeys to Transylvania, is almost attacked at Dracula’s castle by three young female vampires. In fact, he seems to be actually welcoming the attack before it is interrupted by the count. In this scene, as well as others, Stoker suggests that evil, represented by the vampires, is an almost irresistible force which requires great spiritual strength to overcome. It eventually takes the combined forces of a band of men, representing different countries, to defeat the vampiric count. Stoker’s novel is a symbolic exploration of a conflict which has long troubled humankind.

Dracula also has considerable cultural importance. Stoker was not the first writer to make use of the vampire legend. Throughout the 19th century vampires appeared in a number of works, including Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla (1872), which Stoker read as a young man. But it is Stoker’s version of the vampire legend that has had the most enduring popular appeal and the greatest influence on modern writers and filmmakers. In his book Vampires Unearthed, Martin Riccardo tells the story of a survey taken by Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum to determine the world’s “most hated person.” Dracula ranked fifth. Clearly, Stoker’s creation continues to capture readers’ imaginations