Plot Summary

The novel opens with the diary of Jonathan Harker, a young English solicitor whose firm has sent him to Transylvania in Eastern Europe to meet with Count Dracula. Harker is responsible for facilitating the count’s purchase of an estate in England. As Harker travels toward the remote mountaintop castle, many of the local peasants warn him—either overtly or through their own obvious horror of his destination—against going to Castle Dracula. By the time Harker arrives, he is nearly paralyzed with fear. Although Count Dracula temporarily allays Harker’s fears with his suave and hospitable demeanor, within days Harker realizes that he is a prisoner in Castle Dracula. Moreover, the count has strange nocturnal habits and is obviously attracted to the sight of blood when Harker nicks himself shaving. Soon, Harker is accosted by three female vampires, whose efforts to consume him are only staved off by Dracula’s own declaration that Harker belongs to him. As the first section of the novel closes, Harker is nearly crazed with fear, sure of his own imminent death, and resolves to act desperately in order to escape.

The narration turns to an exchange of letters between Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray, and her best friend Lucy Westenra, both Englishwomen. Lucy has recently had three proposals of marriage from three very eligible men, and has accepted Arthur Holmwood, a handsome, sensitive man who is heir to a lordship. Her other suitors, Dr. John Seward and Mr. Quincey Morris, are equally likeable and are also friends with Holmwood. They accept Lucy’s decision with good grace, and all four of the young people vow to remain friends.

Mina, a schoolmistress, meets Lucy and her mother in the coastal town of Whitby for a holiday. Mina, an industrious and intelligent young woman, keeps a detailed diary in which she records that Lucy has a troubling habit of sleepwalking. Mina is also worried about the long lack of communication from Jonathan and wonders if some harm has befallen him. One afternoon, an unmanned ship from Russia washes...

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