The character of Count Dracula, the aristocratic vampire at the center of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula, has become one of the most iconic figures in literature and popular culture. With his aristocratic manner, seductive charm, and insatiable thirst for human blood, Dracula epitomizes the mysterious and terrifying figure of the vampire. But how did Dracula become a vampire in the first place? Who was responsible for turning Bram Stoker’s Dracula into an undead creature of the night?
The Origins of Dracula in Folklore
Elements of the Dracula legend, including vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings, had been part of Eastern European folklore long before Bram Stoker penned his famous novel. Vampire myths had been circulating in Slavic cultures for centuries, including beliefs that the undead could rise from the grave to torment the living by draining their blood. Stoker likely incorporated these pre-existing myths when creating his iconic Count Dracula character. However, folklore alone does not provide a definitive answer about who specifically turned Dracula into a vampire. For that, we need to look at Stoker’s novel itself.
Dracula’s Vampire Origins in the Novel
Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula does not provide many details about Dracula’s early life as a human or exactly how and when he became a vampire. Throughout the novel, Count Dracula himself remains a shadowy, mysterious figure. However, some clues about his past can be pieced together from the scraps of information provided.
Dracula’s Mortal Life
In Chapter 3 of the novel, Dracula refers to his family’s heroic role in defending Christianity centuries ago:
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin gave them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, ay, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the werewolves themselves had come. Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?”
This and other passages indicate that Count Dracula was descended from an ancient warrior race in what is now Romania or Hungary. He lived as a prince or nobleman, defending Christianity against invading Turkish forces.
Dracula’s Vampire Transformation
The exact details of how and when Count Dracula became a vampire are never fully explained. However, some clues are provided:
– In Chapter 18, Van Helsing says: “He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. If it be so, then was he no common man: for in that time, and for centuries after, he was spoken of as the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the land beyond the forest.”
– Dracula refers to his youthful appearance despite his old age, implying he became a vampire and gained eternal life during his mortal lifetime in the 15th century.
– It is suggested he made a pact with the “Evil One” (the devil) to achieve power over life and death.
Though exact details are lacking, these clues indicate Count Dracula became a vampire around the late 15th century, after earning a fearsome reputation as a Christian warrior defending against the Ottoman Turks. He made some kind of faustian bargain for eternal life and power.
Who Actually Turned Dracula Into a Vampire?
While Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula provides hints about the general timing and circumstances of Dracula becoming a vampire, the book does not specify who exactly turned him into a creature of the night. Filling in this gap has been a tantalizing puzzle for fans and scholars over the decades. Here are the most widely proposed theories about who transformed Count Dracula:
Theory 1: Dracula Turned Himself
One theory proposes that Count Dracula found a way to turn himself into a vampire, perhaps using occult rituals, alchemy, or infernal pacts. Supporters of this theory point out that Dracula is portrayed as a uniquely powerful vampire, able to control weather and certain animals, and that this superior strength indicates he was no ordinary fledgling vampire created by another. Rather, Dracula chose vampirism intentionally to gain eternal life and did so by personally experimenting with dark arts to transform himself.
Theory 2: A Female Vampire Bride Turned Him
In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula has vampire “brides” who live with him in Transylvania. Some speculate that when Dracula was still a mortal man, one of his brides-to-be turned him into a vampire so they could be together eternally. Since female vampires in folklore were often portrayed as seductresses using their sexuality to lure men, this theory proposes that one of Dracula’s early loves chose to turn him into her immortal vampire consort.
Theory 3: Dracula’s Own Son Turned Him
Another theory suggests Count Dracula had a son who turned him in order to save his life. In this version of events, Dracula was mortally wounded in battle or sick and dying from old age. His son, out of loyalty and love for his father, transformed Dracula into a vampire to make him immortal. This theory fits with legends that vampires must drain a victim “to the point of death” before forcing them to drink vampire blood to finish the transformation.
Theory 4: An Ancient Powerful Vampire Turned Him
Rather than transforming himself or being turned by a lover, some propose Count Dracula was made vampire by a more ancient and powerful undead being. In the novel, Dracula has abilities exceeding those of most vampires, suggesting he was created by an ancient master vampire. Who this might be is debated, with candidates including Judas Iscariot, a Romanian forest demon, or Vlad the Impaler (on whom Dracula may have partly been based).
The origins of Count Dracula as a vampire remain shrouded in mystery within the pages of Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel. The book provides hints about the general timing – likely the late 15th century – and suggests Dracula intentionally chose to become a vampire to attain eternal life. However, Stoker leaves the exact details ambiguous. In the decades since Dracula’s publication, many theories have arisen to explain who transformed Dracula into a vrykolakas (undead vampire). While we may never know for certain, the enduring allure of solving this puzzle is a testament to the timeless power the character of Count Dracula continues to hold over readers and popular imagination.
|Dracula Turned Himself||Dracula used occult rituals or infernal pacts to transform himself into a vampire|
|Female Vampire Bride Turned Him||One of Dracula’s early loves turned him so they could be together forever|
|Dracula’s Son Turned Him||Dracula’s son turned him to save his life when he was dying|
|An Ancient Vampire Turned Him||A powerful ancient vampire like Judas Iscariot transformed Dracula|