Comparison and Contrast of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Polidori’s The Vampyre
While Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Polidori’s The Vampyre share some minor details, mostly regarding the basics of vampires and the location and date in which the stories take place, the majority of the stories differ greatly. The Vampyre was published almost a hundred years earlier, so it is easy to see how some details of that story can be seen in Dracula. Bram Stoker no doubt must have used The Vampyre as an influence, but only as an influence, as his story has its own unique details regarding characters and plot. I will discuss how the stories of The Vampyre and Dracula begin in a similar fashion, and then explain how there are key differences in narration, characters, the vampire itself, and in the plot and ending.
Polidori’s The Vampyre begins in London, and we are introduced to the main character, Aubrey, an orphaned Englishman who is left great wealthy by his late parents. We are also introduced to Lord Ruthven, a mysterious man whom everyone has a great deal of curiosity for. Lord Ruthven and Aubrey meet, and soon begin a trip through Europe together. It is only after some time has passed, and Aubrey is able to see that Lord Ruthven is of a negative character, that they part ways, as stated in the book: “Aubrey determined upon leaving one, whose character had not shown a single bright point on which to rest the eye” (Polidori, pg. 21). Soon, Aubrey learns that his old travelling companion is actually a vampire, and does everything he can, short of breaking his oath, to stop him from marrying and ruining his sister, like he has done before to many other females before her. In Dracula, Jonathan Harker is a young solicitor travelling to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula, who is buying property in England. Harker is initially curious about Dracula, and wants to spend some time conversing with him to learn more about him and his homeland. After some time spent at Dracula’s castle however, Harker realizes that Dracula is evil, writing in his journal: “This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst it’s teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood…The very thought drove me mad. A terrible desire came upon me to rid the world of such a monster” (Stoker, pg. 44). Soon after, he manages to escape and dedicates his time to stopping Dracula from killing and spreading his evil. In both scenarios, the main character of the story meets the vampire, who is passing as a normal mortal being in society, and is initially friendly with them. However, after some time passes and the main characters realize the full extent of what they are dealing with, soon become sworn enemies to the vampires.
This is where the stories begin to part ways and show their differences. Firstly, the narration of the two stories differs in that The Vampire is told as a third person narrative, and Dracula is told as an epistolary novel. The narration in The Vampyre is always told from one point of view – which is a third-person perspective, someone outside of the story. The short story doesn’t stray from that format at all. A good quote to demonstrate the narration of the story from this perspective is the introduction of Aubrey: “About the same time, there came to London a young gentleman of the name of Aubrey: he was an orphan left with an only sister in the possession of great wealth, by parents who died while he was yet in childhood” (Polidori, pg. 16). With Dracula, the story is told through a series of letters, diary entries, and news stories. It opens with the journal of Jonathan Harker, which details the events of his trip to Transylvania and his time in the castle leading up to the departure of Dracula for England and Harker’s escape. From here, the story branches out into letters between Mina and Lucy, various letters and telegrams between Arthur, Dr. Seward, Mr. Morris, and the...
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