“Count Dracula”, published in 1897, presents what has become the archetypal figure of a vampire. It is a gothic horror story which has influenced and inspired many films. In this extract, the reader is introduced to Count Dracula for the first time ….
His face was a strong–a very strong–aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
Hitherto I had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine; but seeing them now close to me, I could not but notice that they were rather coarse–broad, with squat fingers. Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal. The Count, evidently noticing it, drew back; and with a grim sort of smile, which showed more than he had yet done his protuberant teeth, sat himself down again on his own side of the fireplace. We were both silent for a while; and as I looked towards the window I saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There seemed a strange stillness over everything; but as I listened I heard as if from down below in the valley the howling of many wolves. The Count’s eyes gleamed, and he said:–
“Listen to them–the children of the night. What music they make!” Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added:–
“Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.” Then he rose and said:–
“But you must be tired. Your bedroom is all ready, and to-morrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away till the afternoon; so sleep well and dream well!” With a courteous bow, he opened for me himself the door to the octagonal room, and I entered my bedroom….
Some thinking points …
Count Dracula’s appearance suggests both vitality and strangeness – what does the narrator notice which communicate this?
How does the narrator respond to the touch of the Count? What does this communicate about the Count to the reader?
How does the Count describe the wolves? What does this suggest about his perception of them? Are there any similarities between the Count and the wolves as suggested in this extract?
Classic inspiration – some ideas for writing based on this extract
- Identify the characteristics of an animal and use this to write a description of a person.
- Choose words that are associated with power and strength and use these words to describe a person.
- Describe a room which belongs to a hunter.