Dracula Chapter 4 – Background

In this chapter, Stoker introduces some of Dracula’s henchmen, who are ethnically Romani. You might know this group of people by their more popular name, “gypsies.” In recent years, we have moved away from using that term because it is not only inaccurate (it comes from a word meaning “Egyptian,” while the Romani people are originally from India), but also pejorative (to “gyp” someone means to cheat or trick them).

 

The other interesting element in this chapter worth a little background discussion  is the presence of wolves in furthering the plot. We see them when the mother of the abducted (and presumably eaten) child arrives at the castle and Dracula calls the pack to take care of her, and when Harker considers leaving the castle. Wolves (or one wolf in particular) will pop up again as an important element to the story in later chapters.

We’ve seen the intermingling of vampire and werewolf mythology in contemporary horror stories like Twilight and True Blood, but Stoker was doing it a hundred years ago. He uses wolves to symbolically reinforce Dracula’s unique characteristics – they’re creatures who feed off of human flesh (at least in the folktales) and come out at night.

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