By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Transylvanian tourists have a new reason to visit Bran Castle: safer punctures. The 14th-century castle said to have been the main inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula now has a COVID-19 vaccination station built in it. Dracula set the standard for vampire lore.
The allure of the world’s most famous vampire is no longer limited to fiction. Medics have set up a COVID-19 vaccination center in the castle that inspired the classic Bram Stoker novel Dracula, where doctors and nurses will give free Pfizer shots. Bran Castle lies in the Carpathian Mountains and, like most tourist attractions, has suffered since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, more than 160 Dracula films have been made, never mind the appearance of Dracula in books, television, comics, and video games. Dracula may not have been the first vampire ever created, but he’s likely the most popular. In his video series Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters in Literature, Dr. Thomas A. Shippey, Professor Emeritus at Saint Louis University, explained Dracula’s popularity due to the book that started it all.
A Romantic Ballet of Characters
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a complex literary work, which Dr. Shippey described as “an epistolary novel,” told from multiple viewpoints through many written documents woven into the story. Dracula has seven main characters, besides Dracula and his brides.
“There’s Jonathan Harker, sent out to Transylvania to complete a property purchase by Count Dracula himself; there’s Jonathan’s fiancée, Wilhelmina, known as Mina; [and] there’s Mina’s friend, Lucy Westenra—that makes three,” Dr. Shippey said. “Then there are the three men who want to marry Lucy—Arthur Holmwood, the one she accepts; Jack Seward, a doctor who runs a lunatic asylum; and a Texan called Quincey P. Morris.”
The seventh character appears at the behest of Dr. Seward. Professor Abraham Van Helsing, a Dutchman and expert of strange diseases, ends up leading the charge against Dracula.
Not only are the characters balanced delicately and brought to life with an expert vision, but the book is also structured as a series of correspondence and documentation. Dr. Shippey said that there are letters between Lucy and Mina, Mina’s private journal, Dr. Seward’s diary, newspaper clippings, and more. However, the first 60 to 70 pages of the novel, which ended up setting the rules for almost all future vampire fiction, are the journal of Jonathan Harker.
The First Rule of Bite Club
“The Count himself has a hand as cold as ice, he has a cruel mouth and sharp teeth, his nails are long and cut to a point, [and] he has hair on the palm of his hands,” Dr. Shippey said. “Once they get inside the castle, Jonathan notices there is no mirror in the hall. He has a shaving glass with him, but when he uses it, he notices that the Count behind him does not show up in it.”
According to Dr. Shippey, when Jonathan cuts himself shaving, the blood seems to infuriate the Count. They stay up late speaking, but as soon as a rooster crows the break of dawn, the Count leaves suddenly. Dracula is also repelled by a crucifix Jonathan wears.
Aside from a severe garlic allergy, this information set the stage for vampire lore for more than a century, from Nosferatu to Edward Cullen, cementing Dracula as an iconic literary character with staying power.