Dracula: Character Profiles

Jonathan Harker: the young English solicitor who is sent to Transylvania to negotiate a land transaction for Count Dracula. Harker begins the novel as a member of the professional class but, due to the sudden death of his benefactor, ends it as a member of the nobility. He is devoted to his fiancée Mina, and her state of mortal and spiritual peril nearly drives him to despair.

Count Dracula: the seemingly immortal vampire who, despite the fact that he actually appears in relatively little of the book, nevertheless dominates it—just as he seeks to dominate the great city of London. He is by turns charming and debonair but also brutal and ruthless. He is intelligent and proud, and his hubris contributes to his downfall—for he does not dream that the likes of Van Helsing and his compatriots can actually defeat him. And yet, at the moment of his destruction, witnesses report that they think they see a momentary look of peace on his face—a reminder that, for all his villainy, Dracula, too, was a victim of a greater, metaphysical evil.

Lucy Westenra: the young, innocent woman who is engaged to Dr. Seward but who becomes an unwitting “bride” of Dracula and unwillingly joins the minions of the Un-dead. In order to prevent the vampiric Lucy from doing more harm to children and others in London, those who care for her most are forced to destroy her. She is thus also, potentially, read as a symbol of (to the Victorian mind) the danger of female sexuality unleashed.

Wilhelmina (Murray) Harker: the older, more world-wise friend and confidante of Lucy and fiancée of Jonathan Harker. It is Mina’s attention to detail and her painstaking piecing together of the disparate pieces of evidence regarding Dracula’s activities and plans that plays no small part in bringing about the vampire’s defeat—even as she herself succumbs to Dracula’s “baptism of blood,” and suffers under threat to the eternal fate of her soul were the vampire not to be defeated.

Abraham Van Helsing: a former teacher of Seward who is a genuine Renaissance man, well-versed in many arts and fields of lore, but especially that of the vampire. His knowledge, strategy and heroic actions are key elements in the defeat of Dracula. The text also offers hints that Van Helsing sees in Dracula  worthy adversary, a foil to himself—a twisted version (i.e., the villain) of what he, Van Helsing, sees (as do to those around him) himself to be (i.e., the hero).

Dr. John Seward: a psychiatrist who operates an asylum for the insane in England (he oversees Renfield, Dracula’s hospitalized “acolyte”). He was once very much in love with Lucy Westenra, and was heartbroken when she accepted the marriage proposal of Arthur Holmwood (Lord Godalming) over his own. His record of the quest to destroy Dracula forms the bulk of the text. He must wrestle with his own devotion to science and empirically gained knowledge in order to accept Van Helsing’s account of vampiric lore. He is thus often cast as the “doubting Thomas” of the novel’s cast.

Arthur Holmwood (Lord Goldaming): the British noble who wins Lucy’s hand in marriage; alas, their marriage is never consummated because Lucy falls prey to Dracula first. Holmwood’s personal wealth is a critical factor in the success of the plan to defeat Dracula.

Quincey Morris: the visitor to England from Texas who ends up losing his life in the fight against Dracula. He, like Seward, was an unsuccessful suitor of Lucy; he too, like the other men, did all he could to save her from her eventual, unfortunate fate.

Renfield: the “madman” in Seward’s asylum who is an acolyte of Dracula, the “anti-John the Baptist” to the vampire’s anti-Christ. Renfield’s fits of madness and spells of sanity coincide with the vampire’s comings and goings at the Carfax estate. It is Renfield who understands, seemingly better than any other character save Van Helsing or the vampire, that “the blood is the life!”