Jonathan is an intelligent, ambitious young lawyer, hardworking and devoted to his finacée, and later his wife, Mina. Jonathan changes a great deal in the course of the story: at the beginning, he is enthusiastic and hopeful, bursting with curiosity about the strange lands in which he finds himself. By the end of the novel, after the ordeal of hunting down Dracula, he has become a serious and somber man, his hair turned prematurely gray by worry over Mina.
The first part of Dracula is told through Jonathan's journal, as he makes his way to Castle Dracula in Transylvania. After some strange and frightening experiences, he meets his client and host, the wealthy and reclusive Count Dracula. After showing Dracula the plans of the London property his firm has bought for the Count, Jonathan realizes that he is a prisoner in Castle Dracula. He encounters three ghostly women there who seem ready to attack him but are driven away by Dracula, and Jonathan finds mounting evidence that his host is not entirely human. After Dracula leaves for England, Jonathan makes a desperate escape attempt and the action moves to England, leaving us in suspense about his fate.
Jonathan does escape Castle Dracula and eventually ends up in a hospital in Budapest, where he recovers from his traumatic experience and comes to believe the whole thing was a dream. When Mina finds out where he is, she comes to Hungary and the couple are married. They return to England, where Jonathan's employer, Mr. Hawkins, dies, leaving the Harkers his fortune and Jonathan in charge of the law firm. Jonathan recognizes a man walking in the London streets as Dracula, and realizes that his Transylvania experiences are real and have come back to haunt him.
Jonathan and Mina join up with Van Helsing and the others, and Jonathan's journal provides key information for their efforts to track down Dracula. Jonathan takes part in the search, investigating the details of Dracula's land purchases and movements. His involvement becomes more personal when Mina is attacked by the Count. Guilt-stricken over his inability to prevent the attack, Jonathan's hair turns white overnight and he becomes fanatical in his desire to hunt Dracula down. He sails with the others to Varna, then rides along the river with Quincey Morris until the final showdown with Dracula.
Mina Murray (later Mina Harker)
Mina is a lively and quick-witted young woman, whose simple prettiness (Seward describes her as "a sweet-faced, dainty-looking girl") conceals a powerful mind. Her letters and diary entries early in the book are full of humor and witty observations about her experiences. But as the story progresses, she like Jonathan becomes deadly serious and determined. Mina is saddened by her best friend Lucy's sudden death, and devastated by Dracula's attack on her. She believes Dracula has made her "unclean" and plays a key role in locating him and hunting him down.
Mina enters the story after the scene moves from Castle Dracula to England. She and Lucy Westenra go to the coastal town of Whitby for a vacation. After a shipwreck and other strange omens, Mina watches with concern as Lucy begins to sleepwalk and behave strangely. At the same time she is troubled by Jonathan's long absence in Transylvania and by the strange letters she receives from him. When she gets word that he is being treated in a hospital in Budapest, she leaves England and rushes to meet him. Jonathan and Mina are married soon after.
When they return to England, Mina notices Jonathan's distress at seeing a tall and unpleasant-looking man in the street. She decides that she must read Jonathan's journal and transcribe it from shorthand code. She gives this transcript to Dr. Seward and Van Helsing, who are seeking an explanation for Lucy's death. Mina impresses both the doctors with her keen and insightful thinking, and she becomes an important part of their planning. She is often left behind, however, when the men go off to investigate Dracula's movements. It is during one of these periods when she is attacked by Dracula and infected with vampirism.
Mina is terribly distressed and made almost suicidal by what has happened to her. With the support of the others, she decides to invest her energy in hunting down Dracula and preventing him from attacking others. Her infection has left her with a psychic link to Dracula, so that she is able to sense his surroundings. This ability is vital to the search for the Count. Mina also uses her logical mind to help anticipate Dracula's movements, guessing that he will head up the River Sereth to Castle Dracula. She and Van Helsing take a coach to the castle while the others follow the river's course. Although she falls more and more under the vampire's spell as they approach the castle, Mina is able to hold out until Dracula's death finally frees her.
Dr. John Seward
John Seward is 29 years old, handsome, intelligent, and already a highly successful doctor in charge of his own asylum. He is serious, works extremely hard, and is motivated both by scientific curiosity and a desire to help others. He looks up to Dr. Van Helsing almost as a father. Seward is ill at ease around women, as both Lucy Westenra and Mina notice. He is an old war buddy of Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris's, and the three men remain close even though all three are in love with Lucy.
Seward first enters the story as Lucy's suitor. After his unsuccessful proposal, he begins noticing strange behaviors in his patient, Renfield. Watching Renfield trapping and eating increasingly large animals, Seward arrives at the theory that the patient is trying to absorb the life-force of these creatures. Seward's friend, Arthur Holmwood, calls him in to treat his fiancée, Lucy, who has been stricken with a sudden illness. Seward contacts his former mentor, Abraham Van Helsing, to help with the diagnosis. He and Van Helsing watch helplessly as Lucy is mysteriously drained of blood, and enters a trance-like state before dying.
After Lucy's death, Van Helsing tries to convince Seward, who is grieving over his lost love's death, that Lucy is somehow not really dead. Angered by the suggestion, but intrigued by Van Helsing's comments, Seward accompanies the Dutch doctor to Lucy's grave, where he sees the un-dead Lucy vanish into thin air. Seward returns with Van Helsing, Morris, and Holmwood, and they finish off the creature that once was Lucy.
Seward joins the hunt for Dracula, and his house becomes the nerve center for the group's activities. He helps track the Count's movements around London, all the while observing the increasingly strange and violent behavior of Renfield. Seward is just making the connection between Dracula and his patient's acts when Dracula kills Renfield and attacks Mina. After driving the Count out of London, Seward travels with the others to Varna and then travels up the river by steamboat after the Count and his gypsies. Seward and Holmwood hold the gypsies at bay while Harker and Morris finish off the Count.
Dr. Van Helsing
Van Helsing is a middle-aged Dutch doctor who was John Seward's most influential teacher in medical school. The two men still have a close, almost father-son, relationship. Van Helsing is energetic and physically fit, with a brilliant mind and an unusual sense of humor. He speaks with an accent and sometimes uses words in the wrong order, to comic effect. In addition to his medical skill, Van Helsing is a master of obscure knowledge, including folk remedies and superstitions; in Seward's words, Van Helsing has "an absolutely open mind." Van Helsing is the driving force behind the hunt for Dracula, supplying the knowledge and the willpower to keep the group working against its nefarious enemy.
Dr. Seward requests Van Helsing's help in treating Lucy Westenra's mysterious illness. We sense that Van Helsing suspects supernatural causes from the beginning, but he does not explain his theory of vampirism to anyone else until after Lucy's death. In the meanwhile, he supervises her treatment, using both common medical techniques like blood transfusions and unconventional methods such as hanging garlic flowers around Lucy's neck. After Lucy dies, Van Helsing tries to convince Seward that she must be prevented from becoming un-dead. Seward initially resists this explanation, until he and Van Helsing visit Lucy's grave and see the vampire Lucy in person. The doctors then enlist the help of Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris to destroy the vampire for good.
With this grisly task out of the way, Van Helsing turns his energy to organizing a group to hunt down the source of the infection, Count Dracula. Always remaining calm in the center of the frustrated and sometimes despairing group, Van Helsing directs them toward finding Dracula's lairs and tracking the vampire's movements. Mina Harker contributes greatly to Van Helsing's deductions, and the doctor comes to feel a respect and fatherly love for the young woman. After she is infected with vampirism, Van Helsing sadly feels that she must be excluded from the group's planning, as she might involuntarily reveal their plans to Dracula.
When Dracula flees England, Van Helsing discovers that he can, through Mina, trace Dracula's movements. Every day at sunrise and sunset he hypnotizes Mina and she describes the Count's surroundings. When the group determines that Dracula has fled England, Van Helsing travels with the others to Varna, then accompanies Mina in a stagecoach to Castle Dracula. As Mina's illness progresses, she becomes lethargic and much harder to hypnotize. At Castle Dracula, Van Helsing finishes off the three vampire women, then collects Mina and heads toward the river, where they witness the killing of Count Dracula and the death of Quincey Morris.
Dracula is the most complex and probably the most interesting character in the novel. The efforts of the Harkers and their friends to unravel Dracula's motivations and anticipate his actions are the story's driving force. Although they succeed in destroying Dracula, it could be said that they never really come to understand him. Count Dracula is apparently the same person as Voivode Dracula, a Transylvanian nobleman of feudal times who was famous for defending his country against the Turks. His un-dead nature allowed him to survive for many centuries, growing in power and plotting his departure. Dracula is completely ruthless, regarding himself as a superior being for whom humans are simply nourishment. Mina and Van Helsing decide that Dracula is brilliant but has a criminal brain, which means he tends to repeat the same patterns of behavior. He is immensely powerful, physically as strong as a dozen men; he has the ability to hypnotize others, to influence the weather, and to change his own shape. Dracula is tall and thin, with a sharp nose, red eyes and unusually sharp teeth. A white-haired old man at the start of the story, he appears to grow younger as he consumes the blood of his victims.
When Dracula begins, the Count has arranged through Jonathan Harker's law firm to buy a property in London. Dracula disguises himself as his coach driver and brings Jonathan through the woods and mountains to his castle. At first he is a genial host, providing Jonathan with sumptuous meals and conversing with him well into the night. But Dracula gradually begins to exert his power over Jonathan, confining him to the castle and forcing him to write letters to England. Dracula prepares for his voyage by hiring local gypsies to fill boxes with earth from the castle grounds. Finally, he abandons Harker in the castle, thinking that the three vampire women will take care of him.
The Demeter, a Russian ship, carries Dracula and his boxes of earth to England. Dracula kills off the crew one by one until the ship crashes ashore at Whitby, where a lone wolf is seen leaving the ship. At Whitby, Dracula brings Lucy Westenra under his spell, infecting her with vampirism before she returns to London. He continues to visit his young victim, eventually breaking into her house in the shape of a wolf and killing Lucy's mother. Meanwhile, Dracula has brought Mr. Renfield, Seward's patient, under his control. The madman has fits at sunrise and sunset and tries to devour the "life-force" of animals in imitation of his "master."
After Lucy's death, Van Helsing organizes the group to hunt down Dracula and the Count's movements become more restricted. Dracula is trying to spread his power across London by moving the boxes of earth to outlying areas. He has purchased several houses in addition to Carfax Abbey, but this leaves a paper trail which Harker and the others are able to follow. They eventually track him down at one of the houses, and Harker swings at him with a knife, but the Count escapes. He seems to take a malicious delight in attacking Harker's wife, Mina, and infecting her with vampirism. But this proves his undoing, as Mina is able, under hypnosis, to report on Dracula's movements. With all but one of his lairs destroyed, Dracula flees back to Eastern Europe, taking a ship to the port of Varna and then a gypsy caravan along the River Sereth. Dracula is intercepted by his pursuers before he reaches his castle, and is destroyed, his body crumbling into dust.
Arthur Holmwood (Lord Godalming)
Arthur Holmwood is an old friend of John Seward and Quincey Morris. He is the son of Lord Godalming, a wealthy English nobleman, and becomes the new Lord Godalming when his father dies, shortly before Lucy Westenra's death. Arthur is not described in much detail, nor does he narrate any part of the novel, but it is clear from his words and actions that he is a strong-willed man, devoted to his fiancée Lucy and heartbroken at her death.
Lucy mentions Arthur in one of her letters to Mina. She writes that she loves him but that she is not certain that he feels the same way. Soon after, the three men make their marriage proposals to Lucy and she chooses Arthur, the last proposer. When Lucy becomes ill, Arthur tries desperately to find help for her, calling in Dr. Seward and Van Helsing. Arthur is the first to donate blood to Lucy, and the other three men hide the fact that they have also done so because Arthur feels that he has married Lucy in a way by giving her his blood. After Lucy's death, Van Helsing asks Arthur to drive the stake through the un-dead Lucy's heart. Arthur is shocked at first, but seems to take some comfort from finally putting Lucy's soul to rest.
Because of his wealth and noble rank, Arthur is essential to the group's efforts to hunt down Dracula. He is able to persuade Dracula's bankers to turn over their records to him, and the local officials in Varna help the group because of Arthur's influence. When the group splits up to pursue Dracula, Arthur and Seward take a steamboat up the River Sereth, meeting up with the others at Dracula's caravan.
Quincey Morris is a rangey Texan, always ready for action, and an old friend of John Seward and Arthur Holmwood. The lone American in Dracula, Morris speaks in a slangy, "down home" style very different from that of the other characters. Despite his casual manner, Morris is a fierce friend and a dedicated vampire hunter.
After Lucy Westenra declines Morris's marriage proposal, instead choosing his friend Arthur, Morris invites the lucky man to drink with him and Seward, showing there are no hard feelings over their competition for the same woman. Morris is almost as upset as Arthur Holmwood over Lucy's illness and eventual death. Like Holmwood, Morris donates blood to keep Lucy alive and, after overcoming his initial horror, helps to track down and kill the un-dead Lucy.
When the group splits up to pursue Dracula up the River Sereth, Quincey Morris joins Harker on horseback. The two men follow the Count's gypsy caravan along the river and catch up with them just as the other two groups of pursuers converge on Dracula. Morris fights bravely and, along with Harker, strikes the deathblow against Dracula, but he is fatally wounded in the fight. After Morris's death, the Harkers name their first child Quincey in his memory.
Lucy only lives through the first half of Dracula, but she is an important and memorable character. A close friend of Mina Harker's, Lucy is lively and beautiful, and clearly enjoys the attentions of her three suitors. She is more impulsive and emotional than her friend Mina, and seems to love her fiancé sincerely during their brief engagement.
While staying in Whitby with Mina, Lucy begins sleepwalking and falls under the spell of a mysterious dark figure that lures her out onto the cliffs one night. When Mina finds Lucy, Lucy has two small puncture marks on her throat. Soon after this, Lucy begins wasting away, getting increasingly pale and weak as if she is being drained of blood. She goes to stay with her mother near London and Dr. Seward and Van Helsing are called in to treat her. To their despair, Lucy continues to get worse, and her fate is sealed after Dracula in wolf-form breaks into the house and her mother is killed.
Unfortunately, Lucy's death does not end her role in the novel. As Van Helsing guesses, Lucy has been infected with vampirism and reawakens in "un-dead" form. She begins haunting the London suburbs at night, luring small children away and drinking their blood, although she does not kill her victims. Seward and Van Helsing go investigate the reports of the mysterious "Bloofer Lady" and find the un-dead Lucy with one of her child victims. They return soon after with Holmwood and Morris and Lucy's former fiancé puts an end to her career as a vampire.
Renfield is a patient at Dr. Seward's asylum. He is 59 years old, but still physically powerful, and has an aggressive, moody temper. Seward becomes interested in Renfield when the patient begins behaving strangely (even for a mental patient) and shows signs of obsession with a "fixed idea." Renfield catches flies, then uses the flies to catch spiders, and the spiders to catch birds. He eats the progressively larger animals in an effort to absorb their life-force. Despite this bizarre behavior, Renfield has periods of sanity, in which he talks rationally to Seward.
It becomes clear that Renfield's behavior is in some way related to Dracula's presence in England. Seward notices that Renfield acts differently depending on the time of day. The patient also talks of his "master" coming to save him. Renfield makes several attempts to escape, and once he runs next door to the old abbey. He also makes an attempt to kill Seward using a large knife; when he cuts the doctor, Renfield tries to lap up his blood.
Mina Harker comes to visit Renfield in his cell. He behaves very calmly during her visit. Soon after, he begs Seward to release him, saying that it's a matter of life and death, but he cannot tell the doctor why. Two nights later, Renfield is found with his back broken and his head badly battered, although he has been alone in his cell. As he is dying, Renfield tells Seward and Van Helsing that Dracula entered his cell in a mist-like form and, when Renfield tries to resist the Count, he threw Renfield violently down. Before he dies, Renfield warns the men that Dracula has been visiting Mina.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Chapter 5 and 6
Chapter 9 and 10
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 24 and 25