Dracula: Notes

Dracula: Notes

Dracula: Notes

Dracula: Notes


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.


  • Life and Background of the Author
  • A Brief Synopsis
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Critical Essays
  • Selected Filmography
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Sometime in the late nineteenth century, Jonathan Harker, a young English lawyer, is traveling to the Castle Dracula, which is located in Transylvania, in order to finalize a transfer of real estate in England to Count Dracula. Harker becomes extremely nervous when all of the local peasants react in fear after they hear of his destination; nevertheless, he continues on to the castle until he meets an emissary of the Count in the Borgo Pass. The mysterious coach driver continues on to the castle, arriving in pitch darkness, to the accompaniment of howling wolves.

    Even though his accomodations are comfortable, Harker finds Count Dracula to be a pale, gaunt, thin man, rather strange, and Harker is mortified when, after accidentally cutting himself shaving, the Count lunges at Harker’s throat in “demoniac fury.” Harker soon finds himself imprisoned within the castle and assailed by three seductive female vampires, whom he can barely stave off. Harker also discovers the Count’s secret--that is, the Count survives by drinking the blood of human beings--and, now, he is intent on killing Harker. The Count escapes Jonathan’s attempt to kill him, and he swiftly leaves the castle with fifty boxes of earth, bound for England. The last we hear of Jonathan Harker, he is weak and sick, left alone with no visible means of escape from the castle.

    The novel then shifts to England, where Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray, is visiting her friend Lucy Westenra, who has accepted the marriage proposal of Arthur Holmwood, while rejecting the proposals of Dr. John Seward, head of a lunatic asylum, and Quincey Morris, an American from Texas, currently...

  • Excerpt


    This novel is not told in a straightforward, chronological, omniscient manner, like many nineteenthcentury novels. Instead, it is composed of a collage of letters, journal entries and diary jottings, in addition to a portion of a ship’s log, various newspaper clippings, and even a “phonograph diary.” Since the story is basically a mystery, this technique is highly effective in sustaining suspense, for there are literally dozens of narrative pieces for readers to fit together before they can see the complexity of the novel resolved and the entirety of Stoker’s pattern. Stoker most likely borrowed this approach to his novel from Wilkie Collins, who used the same technique in his “detective” novel The Woman in White (1860).

    Jonathan Harker’s journal entries begin on May 3, sometime in the late nineteenth century. The young London lawyer has been traveling by train across Europe and is currently in Budapest, in route to Count Dracula’s estate, located somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania--the “land beyond the forest.” Harker has been sent by his London law firm to complete the final transactions for a transfer of real estate, which the Count has recently purchased in England, and thus far, Harker is very pleased with his trip. He is favorably impressed with Budapest, and he remarks that already he can tell that he is . . .

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