“Listen to them—the children of the night. What music they make!” (Ch. 2; p. 26)
Count Dracula says these words to Harker shortly after he arrives at the castle, as Harker is hearing the wolves baying outside the keep’s walls. Because of Bela Lugosi’s recitation of them in the famous 1931 Universal horror film, the words are arguably the best known in Stoker’s novel. Beyond their fame, however, they serve the thematic purposes of emphasizing Dracula’s connection to wild animals—a common motif in vampiric lore—and of highlighting his identification of himself as a “hunter” (p. 26): not of animals, of course, but of humans.
“What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man?” (Ch. 3, p. 48)
Harker’s terrified pondering of Count Dracula’s true nature—of thematic importance for its insight into the novel’s pondering of a similar question: what differentiates the human from the monstruous? The monstrous seeks to dominate and use others; the human seeks to serve their good, and will give of him- or herself to do so.
“A brave man’s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble. You’re a man, and no mistake. Well, the devil may work against us for all he’s worth, but God sends us men when we want them.” (Ch. 12; p. 189)
Van Helsing to Morris, when the latter arrives in time to give Lucy a much-needed blood transfusion. The physician’s words not only underscore the obvious blood motif in Stoker’s text but also gets at one of the book’s central questions: how do we distinguish the human from the inhuman, the living from the dead, the “monsters” from the “men”? Van Helsing here suggests that at least one factor in that determination is the desire and ability to give and save life—versus the drive to take and dominate it.
“Keep it always with you that laughter who knock at your door and say, ‘May I come in?’ is not the true laughter. No! he is a king, and he come when and how he like. He ask no person; he choose no time of suitability. He say, ‘I am here.’” (Ch. 13; p. 218)
Van Helsing to Seward, following a seemingly inappropriate explosion of laughter after Lucy’s burial. The “King Laugh” speech in its entirety is actually a thematically crucial passage, as it affirms life in the face of death and joy in the face of grief; it thus helps readers to classify Stoker’s novel as an essentially hopeful work, assuring them of the vampire’s ultimate defeat
“I have learned not to think little of any one’s belief, no matter how strange it be. I have tried to keep an open mind; and it is not the ordinary things of life that could close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they be mad or sane.” (Ch. 14; p. 230)
Van Helsing’s assertion about the importance of keeping an open mind and of being willing to trust one’s own experience over external, received authority.
When Lucy—I call the thing that was before us Lucy because it bore her shape—saw us she drew back with an angry snarl, such as a cat gives when taken unawares… At that moment the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing; had she then to be killed, I could have done it with savage delight. (Ch. 16, p. 257)
Seward’s reflections upon seeing the vampiric Lucy. His comments emphasize the bestial nature of the vampire; more importantly, they hint at the theme of hostility to unsuppressed female sexuality that many readers have detected in Stoker’s text.
“Well, you know what we have to contend against; but we, too, are not without strength. We have on our side power of combination—a power denied to the vampire kind… We have self-devotion in a cause, and an end to achieve which is not a selfish one. These things are much.” (Ch. 18, pp. 288-289)
Van Helsing encourages his comrades with these words as they go forth to hunt Dracula. His words also reinforce what Stoker seems to see as a key element of human nature: our capacity to devote ourselves to something greater than ourselves, a selfishness and generosity of spirit denied to the vampire, the “monstrous”
“You must struggle and strive to live, though death would seem a boon unspeakable. You must fight Death himself, though he come to you in pain or in joy; by the day, or the night; in safety or in peril! On your living soul I charge you that you do not die—nay, nor think of death—till this great evil be past.” (Ch. 22, p. 347)
Van Helsing to Mina, as Mina contemplates ending her life. His words highlight the endless need for hope, particularly when things seem most hopeless; and reinforce the novel’s faith in life over death, good over evil.
“Thus we are ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him.” (Ch. 24, p. 379)
Van Helsing points to the companions’ efforts to destroy Dracula as a holy cause, once more affirming Stoker’s novel as one in which evil is doomed to failure.
“I am only too happy to have been of any service!… It was worth for this to die!… Now God be thanked that all has not been in vain! See! The snow is not more stainless than her forehead! The curse has passed away!” (Ch. 27, p. 444)
Quincey Morris’ dying words, words that reinforce the novel’s theme of self-sacrificial love as the primary characteristic of true humanity, a force that can lift the “curse” of monstrous, self-serving, self-aggrandizing evil.