Renfield: A Tracking Device
Dracula, written by Bram Stoker in 1897, is a novel that has influenced generations of thrilling gothic novels and horror movies alike. The vampire Count Dracula is not the first of his kind in literary history but he is without a doubt the most famous. Most novels written about vampires after 1897 can trace some of its roots to Dracula. One of the unique characteristics about the novel is the point of view in which the novel is written. The story is told through letters, journal entries, and newspaper articles accounting for the characters interactions with Count Dracula. One of the most telling characters in the novel is not represented through his own point of view, but by others interactions with him. Renfield is a mental patient of the asylum where one of the main characters, Dr. Seward, works. The reader is never privy to Renfield’s inner thoughts as they are the other characters, but it is through Renfield that the reader can track the movements of Count Dracula.
Evidence of Count Dracula’s presence in England begins with Renfield’s manic behavior. On June 5th, Dr. Seward observes Renfield catching flies. Next he observes Renfield attracting spiders and feeding them the flies. Within a month of noting this odd behavior, Dr. Seward watches as Renfield eats a fly. “I scolded him for it, but he argued quietly that it was very good and very wholesome; that it was life, strong life, and gave life to him” (Stoker 67). This consumption of a living organism is an important connection between Renfield and Dracula, as vampires need human blood to sustain life. This zoophagous behavior, as Dr. Seward calls it, becomes more and more intense as Count Dracula’s presence in England continues. By July 20th, Renfield graduated from consuming small insects to eating an entire colony of sparrows raw. As the main characters become aware of Dracula’s intentions in England, Renfield’s behavior becomes more erratic.
Cited: Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Roger Luckhurst. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
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