Dracula – The book is nothing like any of the movies

Since I’m already in my Halloween mood, I just finished reading the original Dracula. In actuality I listened to it as an audiobook from Librivox.org. I’ve been listening to it for the past several days at the office while I did my regular work. It’s a really good recording and well worth the time.

It was terribly good fun, but it was almost laughable at how different the actual book is versus what we have come to know "about" the book. Taking a step back, the original Dracula starring Bela Legosi (or any other rendition really) is nothing like the original story. In the main novel Dracula shows up for the first two chapters while revealing his plans to Harker and then all but disappears for the rest of it. He does show up here and there to deliver a few lines but otherwise we "feel" his presence rather than see his person.

Another thing that really caught me was the idea that Dracula is a handsome seducer that merely has to look at women and they fall under his spell. There is certainly seduction in the very early stages of the novel and the idea of sexuality is obviously prevalent, but you don’t actually see Dracula running around bending the will of women and luring them. His actions are very much out of sight and you only see some of the end result.

To take it step further, Dracula isn’t even a main character in the original. We barely see him, we mainly hear of his deeds and the fear he causes. If anything, Dr. Seward and Van Helsing are the main characters with Mina and John Harker having major supporting roles. Everything is about the hunt for Dracula not their interaction with him. Even the "final showdown" barely has Dracula involved. Van Helsing and group cross the vast oceans on a long trek, then make their attack against the gypsies that are protecting Dracula. But once they fight off the gypsies, Dracula is defenseless and is killed without putting up and sort of fight. There is no mortal struggle between Van Helsing and Dracula as we see so often.

I also found it humorous that Dracula is killed with a knife in the heart and not a wooden stake as we are all so accustomed to. And let’s not forget that lopping off of the head bit. That usually gets left out. To graphic for television? Hard to say.

We all know the "legend" of Dracula, but this was a great reminder that the legend and the original story aren’t really that similar. Anyone else agree or am I out on a limb here?

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