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Amanda Martin
Professor Morin
LBST 2212-112
8 April 2015
Dracula: A Test of Time
Dracula is nearly always the prototype for a vampire when the subject is brought up in
conversation. With todays ever expanding and changing guidelines for what it means to be one
of the undead, its good to go back and look at the creatures origins. Written in 1897, the novel
of the same name as the character was received by critics as a fleeting trend. 118 years later, the
novel is universally thought of as the birthplace of the vampire. It is still favorable between pop
culture and educators alike and has seen many book-to-screen adaptations. Bram Stokers
Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992, is widely renowned as being closest to the
novel. Coppola makes minor but obvious changes in the relationships between characters to
intensify the underlying mysterious and romantic nature of the vampire and makes adjustments
in the plot in order to suit the adapted subject matter as well as to connect with the modern
The first difference between the movie and the novel is that the former begins with a
prequel of sorts that introduces Draculas backstory and sets up the romance that is seen later in
the movie. The director added this to the plot purely to support and justify his other changes such
as the alterations some characters went through during the process of bringing the novel to life.
Most notably would be the demeanor of Lucy Westenra. In the novel, Lucy is innocent to the
extent of naivety until she is turned by Dracula. Vampirism was seen as a disease that corrupted
her soul and turned her into the complete opposite of what a proper Victorian woman was to be.

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As a result, in death she became a sultry seductress that preyed on children. In the novel, it was
said that her sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous
wantonness." (Stoker 231).
This sweet being was not seen on screen. From the moment she was introduced, it was
obvious that Lucy was no longer a prim and proper lady of the 1890s; instead, she was
flirtatious and daring. This not only supported the forward, seductive air surrounding vampires
but also reflected on the evolution of what was thought to be a womans role in society. In the
time of the novels creation, Lucys taking blood via transfusions from three men was scandalous
but subtle. Subtleness was not as necessary in the 90s and the sensuality that vampires bring into
effect needed to be made more obvious.
Another minor character change was seen in Hawkins, Jonathan Harkers boss. In the
novel, Hawkins is a kind, sweet man that drank to the Harkers heath and gave them all of his
estate and wealth upon his death (140). In contrast, Hawkins role in the movie was minimalized
and downgraded to simply being a boss and not a lifetime friend of the couple. This translates as
distance and ambivalence to the point of being mean. Because this paternal figure is absent,
Mina and Jonathon remain in their economic status with no means of elevation.
Romance has always found its way into the world of vampires. A century ago, drinking
and exchanging blood was a euphemism for intimate relations between two people because such
topics could not be openly spoken about. The modern viewer would have no appreciation for the
subtle but scandalous nature of interaction between the women and Dracula, which prompts the
modernization of romance as a plot element. In the movie, the before-mentioned five minute
prequel is used to set up Draculas origin story. From this, we learn that the title character is none
other than Vlad the Impaler. This was hinted at in the novel but was never outright discussed.

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We also learn that Vlad/Draculas wife kills herself which is seen as a one way ticket to
eternal damnation. Nearly 400 years later, Dracula discovers that Mina is the reincarnation of his
lost love and tracks her down. She recovers her memories from her past life and slowly falls back
into love with Dracula. This changes not only the dynamic between the two but the ending of the
work as a whole as well. To best compare the effect the romance has on the movie, the scenes
where Mina drinks Draculas blood should be analyzed. The diction of the lines describing the
exchange in Dracula depict a violent scene. Minas being forced to drink the blood of Dracula,
who is repeatedly paralleled to the devil: his eyes flame red, he has devilish passion, his teeth
are sharp and clamp down like a wild beasts, and he throws his victimMinaaside while he
jumps at the group who come to her rescue (247).
None of those words have a positive connotation. Mina is a damsel in distress and has no
say in what happens to her. She is physically incapable of getting out of the situation on her own
and has to rely on others to save her. Additionally, because Mina drank the blood of a man other
than her husbands, she is ashamed; she believes she is no longer pure and sobs Unclean!
Unclean! (248) despite her husbands rejection of the idea. This scene is entirely different from
the movie because the films romance changes Mina from a victim to a lover. Now Mina chooses
to take blood and chooses to transition into a vampire. It gives her power and, again, reflects the
change in the roles women had, especially in different countries such as the UK and the US.
As mentioned before, the romance inadvertently changed the ending of the story.
Originally, in the novel, Dracula bluntly acknowledges he used Mina and Lucy to exact his
revenge and not for romance: "I spread [my revenge] over centuries, and time is on my side.
Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine
- my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed'" (267.) If you look

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back at Lucy, she took children to feed on. Because she was changed, she turned her back on the
very morals she once stood on and if she was anything like Renfield, she saw Dracula as her
master. She would have obeyed any order from him had she lived. If Mina was to share the same
fate, it would once again destroy the image of the proper Victorian woman.
Jonathan did not want that for his wife so the men rallied together and sought to kill
Draculawhich they seemingly succeeded in doing. The murder occurred in the novel before
sunset, with items that were not to Van Helsings vampire killing protocol (416). The ending was
ambivalent; Dracula could have died or he could have shapeshifted into dust. The thing stabbed
into his heart was not a wooden stake and his throat was slashed instead of having been
decapitated. Its up to the reader to decide whether or not Dracula lives or dies. The movie isnt
as courteous. In order to have one last fight scene, the group fails to reach Draculas castle
before sunset and he awakens before he is attacked. The romance between Mina and the
vampire leads her to defend him from Jonathan, Seward, and Van Helsing. The two retreat and
Mina kisses him in his disgusting dying state. With love, Mina releases Dracula from the pain he
is in and upon death, he regains his youth once more. Mina fully decapitates the body to make
sure it stays dead and leaves no question of whether Dracula will come back or not. The movies
last scene portrays this in that way in order to deliver a sense of finality that clears all
uncertainty surrounding the death.

The modern viewer can connect with a woman who makes her own decisions or flirts.
They can relate to a vampire romance because the evolution of monster to lover changed how
audiences perceived vampires. Coppola made these changes to better suit the time the movie was
in. Additionally, the changes he made allowed for reservations or confusion that readers had to
be changed or clarified and for questions in regards to character and plot to be answered. For
those reasons, it is safe to say this is the best and closest adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula.