Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a classic gothic novel, originally published in 1897. The novel focuses on a group of men following and, ultimately, killing a vampire named Dracula. The readers learn fairly early in the book that vampires have supernatural powers and limitations they face. When Jonathan Harker, the first character met in the novel, goes to Dracula’s castle, he witnesses most of Dracula’s strengths and weaknesses. A few chapters in, the readers meet a bug-eating mental patient named Renfield. Renfield soon becomes one of the most important characters in the book.
The supernatural powers and restrictions faced by vampires are an essential aspect of the novel, along with the role of Renfield. Bram Stoker set the standards for all future vampires by writing Dracula, demonstrating the vampires’ powers throughout the novel. The main character, Count Dracula, is the core of all vampires. Jon Harker, a businessman, is the first to realize that Dracula has supernatural powers. Since Dracula is technically walking dead, it is to his advantage that no one can see his reflection.
Jonathan realizes this when Dracula enters the room unnoticed while Jon is shaving. Jonathan doesn’t see him come in, although the mirror he is using covers the entire room behind him. Later on in the book, Jonathan discovers the Count’s body “looking as if his youth had been half-renewed. ” Dracula’s body becomes renewed through the fresh blood of innocent humans on which he preys. Another example of a supernatural power is Dracula’s changing of formations. When attempting to kill Lucy slowly, Dracula changes into the form of a bat.
Lucy wakes up and complains of flapping and harsh sounds at the window at night. Vampires in the novel also have extreme powers such as speed and strength. Jonathan witnesses Dracula crawl down the castle wall, using his cloak as wings. Although Dracula’s powers make vampirism appealing to humanity, vampires also face a vast array of limitations. For example, when Jonathan notices that Dracula did not have a reflection, Jonathan accidentally cuts his face with his razor. Dracula’s face immediately changes and becomes full of fury, while he grabs Jonathan’s throat.
This shows that vampires can’t resist the taste of blood. Dracula draws back from Jonathan only because his hand touched Jonathan’s crucifix. This incident also demonstrates the fact that vampire’s powers are useless in the presence of any holy object, such as a crucifix or a communion wafer. Another major limitation faced by vampires is the fact that they are unable to enter a house without being invited in. Vampires are able to approach the house and try to tempt a human to invite them in, but they are never able to enter without an invitation.
These limitations significantly outnumber the vampire’s supernatural powers, making the life of a vampire an immensely difficult one. The readers of Dracula meet a peculiar character in chapter six named Renfield. Renfield is one of Dr. Seward’s mental patients. He is well-known for his strange habit of collecting and eating insects, spiders, and rats. Observation of the patient shows that Renfield has strange mood swings, and will seem perfectly sane at a given time, having normal conversations with his visitors.
Coincidentally, his strange behavior occurs at the same time as the arrival of Dracula in England. Renfield’s mood swings soon begin to depend on the time of day. Dr. Seward soon realizes that Renfield could possibly be under the control of Dracula. Needing permission to enter a building, Dracula finds Renfield to be of use due to him being effortlessly manipulated. In some cases, Dr. Seward will refuse to give Renfield his bugs. Dracula uses this to his advantage and goes to Renfield with the promise of unlimited animals.
Of course Renfield cannot refuse the offer, and welcomes Dracula into the asylum where he can get to Mina, Harker’s wife. Renfield soon becomes obsessed with Dracula and, whenever he is near, Renfield vows to do whatever Dracula says, and refers to him as “Master. ” With Renfield more than willing to do anything the Count desires, he becomes a puppet in Dracula’s plan for creating the Undead. Able to turn into mist and other forms, Dracula now has easy access to spy on the inhabitants of the house.
Dracula is closer to Mina, his next victim, and can listen in on conversations and learn more about the men’s plans to destroy him. Towards the end of the book, Renfield begs Seward to let him out of the asylum. Seward refuses and believes it would be best to wait. This is obviously a good choice to the readers because with Renfield out of the asylum, he would be able to do Dracula’s bidding during the day, while Dracula is asleep. Renfield plays a major role in Dracula by being the ideal slave for the Count’s needs, and is used as a pawn in Dracula’s plans.
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, set the standard for all vampire literature after its publishing. The novel’s audience witnesses the number of supernatural powers that vampires contain. Along with powers, vampires also face multiple limitations that make the life of a vampire a strenuous, repetitive one. Vampires often need to find ways to work around their limitations, like how Dracula used a vulnerable mental patient named Renfield to gain access into a building. The supernatural powers and limitations are an important aspect of the novel, along with the role of Renfield.