Dracula | Study Guide

Bram Stoker

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Stanley Stepanic, Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Virginia, explains the motifs in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

Dracula | Motifs



Doors may protect characters, shielding them from horror or danger. But more often doors trap characters literally, in physical spaces they want to escape, or metaphorically, by preventing characters from getting to needed information. Especially in Castle Dracula, at Carfax Abbey, and in the rooms the Westenras rent for their stay in Whitby, doors are often inconveniently opened or closed to characters. Even the vampires are subject to doors as obstacles when those doors are draped with garlic flowers or sealed with crumbs of communion wafer.


A crucifix is a major force to protect characters from the vampire and his vampire women. The Un-Dead recoil in horror from the sight of the crucifix. Readers are introduced to the protective power of the crucifix as early as Chapter 2 when the Golden Krone's landlady begs Harker not to travel to Castle Dracula and insists he take her crucifix. At that time, Harker doesn't understand why he should carry a crucifix. However, it is not long before he realizes the comfort and protection of the crucifix: "Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck!" he exclaims. When he is alone and scared of Dracula, a crucifix gives him strength. Van Helsing arms each man with a crucifix as they pursue Dracula. The characters come to realize that a crucifix can be used as a powerfully effective Christian force against Dracula's dark satanic plans.

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