|Brides of Dracula|
|Created by||Bram Stoker|
|Spouse||Possibly Count Dracula (unclear)|
The Brides of Dracula are fictional characters in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. They are three seductive female vampire "sisters" who reside with Count Dracula in his castle in Transylvania, where they entrance men with their beauty and charm, and then proceed to feed upon them. Dracula provides them with victims to devour, mainly implied to be infants.
Like Dracula, they are the living dead, repulsed by sunlight, garlic and religious objects. In chapter three of the novel, two are described as having dark hair and eyes, and the other as being fair, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Sometime near the beginning of the novel, after Jonathan Harker arrives in Dracula's castle, he warns Harker that if he leaves his room to never sleep in any room in the castle other than his own bedroom, but does not tell him why, clearly aware that the sisters will kill him. Late one night Jonathan explores the castle and ventures to see which rooms are open to him. He finds many of the doors in the castle are locked but one room in particular he forced open, noticing that the door wasn't locked but the hinges were fallen. He enters into the furthest right wing of the castle with views from the windows overlooking the countryside and rooms with comfortable furniture. He sits at a table writing in his journal and as he felt sleepy, he remembered Dracula's warning but felt satisfied disobeying it and lies in a great couch in the corner of the room. As he believes he is sleeping he sees three women standing in the moonlight which was shining throughout the room but not casting any shadows upon the floor. More than delighted that fresh prey has entered their domain, they proceed to seduce him. Harker feels a burning desire for their lips to kiss his. As one of them begins to kiss his neck, he feels her sharp teeth barely scrape against his flesh. At that precise moment Dracula is seen grabbing her neck and hurling her away from him. Driving them back and chastising them for trying to feed on Harker when he wasn't done with him, he promises to give Harker to them after his business deal is concluded and gives them a "wiggling bag" (highly presumed by Harker to be a human child) to appease them. Harker soon fears for his life after this encounter, at one point thinking he sees them dancing in the sky outside his bedroom when he nearly nods off, which strengthens his resolve to escape. Dracula makes good on his word and leaves Harker to the sisters when he heads for England. Though Harker manages to escape the castle shortly after, he is badly traumatized by the encounter and is diagnosed with brain fever. Though they lose their victim, the brides continue to haunt the castle and terrorize the nearby village.
The sisters are seen again near the end of the novel as the protagonists pursue Count Dracula to Transylvania. The sisters suddenly appear at a camp consisting of Van Helsing and Mina Harker. Sensing that Mina is cursed with vampirism, they beckon her to join them, referring to her as their "sister" and promising not to harm her. However, Van Helsing had previously crushed a Sacred wafer and scattered it in a circle around the campsite. Due to this protective barrier, both Mina and the sisters are unable to cross its border. Although the Vampires kept away from the camp they remained in the darkness until sunrise upon which they fled back to the castle. At the coming of daylight, Van Helsing finds that their horses are dead (he speculates that they had died of fright in the sisters' supernatural presence, though some adaptations have the sisters kill the horses directly, either to slow down Van Helsing or simply to feed before they flew back to the castle). After Van Helsing binds Mina in another ring of sacramental bread, he subsequently goes to Dracula's castle alone to destroy the vampires and sterilize Dracula's tomb, keeping him from ever being able to enter it again. After locating the vampires' graves, he finds them asleep 'open-eyed'. He attempts to kill the first but almost fails as his eyes befall her beauty. Caught in an enchantment, he becomes entranced and lost in a state of uncertainty. Becoming overwhelmed with emotions, he feels compelled to protect her instead and even contemplates love for her. He suddenly hears a 'Soul Wail' from Mina which breaks the enchantment allowing him to finish his work. First using a blacksmith hammer, he strikes a stake into her, then proceeds to operate on her, detaching the head from the body then filling the mouth with garlic. He repeats this process with the other two as well, taking him an entire day to complete. Dracula's reaction to their deaths is not known.
In the novel, the three vampire women are not individually named. Collectively, they are known as the "sisters", and are at one point described as the "weird sisters". Although the three vampire women in Dracula are generally referred to as the "Brides of Dracula" in popular culture and media, they are never referred to as such in the novel. Whether they are married to Dracula is not mentioned in the novel, nor are they described as having any other relation to him.
The origin and identity of the Sisters, as well as the true nature of their relationship with Count Dracula, is never revealed. One of the three may have been identified in the short story "Dracula's Guest", as the vampire named Countess Dolengen of Gratz. The protagonist of the story, who is never identified, but presumed to be Jonathan Harker, encounters her at her tomb in Munich. Just as she is about to bite him, a great wolf who is presumed to be Dracula intervenes and destroys her. The wolf keeps the protagonist warm from the cold and yelps for nearby soldiers to come to their location. In the novel, Harker writes about one of the female vampires in the moment he is with them, stating, "I seemed somehow to know her face and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where."
The two dark-haired vampire women are described as facially resembling the Count, in that the three have aquiline noses. It has been suggested[by whom?] from this that it may have been Stoker's intent that these two are Dracula's daughters, extending the sexuality metaphor of vampirism to incest. When the brides first discover Harker, the blonde vampire is encouraged to feed on him first, with one of the others stating, "Yours is the right to begin," signifying that she has some status over the others. This could imply that the blonde vampire is Dracula's wife or consort, and the mother of the two dark-haired women if they are indeed his daughters. When Van Helsing discovers the sisters' tombs, the blonde is far more opulent than the others', as if for a loved one or one of high status. Harker describes the women as "ladies by their dress and manner", indicating that the vampires are of high lineage, further suggesting the idea that they are Dracula's family. The blonde vampire is shown to act in a mildly rebellious manner toward Dracula when he scolds her for attempting to feed on Harker; Dracula's reaction upon discovering the sisters with Harker is both that of a jealous husband and an angry father. The vampire women claim that Dracula does not love them, nor has he ever loved them, but Dracula insists he does love them and shows he cares for them by providing them with victims to feed upon. However, it is not explained why he left them behind in Transylvania rather than taking them to London with him.
Even though it is never specified, it is possible that the term "sister" wasn't meant in the literal sense and is, instead, more comparable to the relationship of the women and not as they are to Dracula. They are also depicted in the novel calling Mina Harker their sister after she is forced to drink Dracula's blood, afflicting her with vampirism. Mina and her best friend (and Dracula's future victim) Lucy Westenra also call each other sisters in the novel despite not having any blood relation. The vampire women may be his wives throughout his lifetime, descendants of his whom he turned into vampires or simply nonspecific women he killed and turned into vampires to create more of his kind.
As vampires, the sisters are powerful in their own right; their beauty and seductive charm belie lethal, predatory interiors. Their beauty and flirtatious manner appear to be their greatest power when it comes to bewitching their victims into a trance-like state. Harker and Van Helsing are both attracted to and yet repulsed by them. They can seemingly appear out of nowhere and are inhumanly strong, as shown when they kill Van Helsing's horses. They also have the power of flight, as seen when they fly in the air with their dresses trailing behind them.
The vampires serve as foreshadowing for the threat of vampirism in the story which, as seen with Lucy, later on, includes Dracula's power of corruption over his victims once he has drained their blood and made them into vampires.
Commonly all three brides appear in film adaptations of the novel, though some film adaptations depict them as a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. They are typically depicted as enchantingly beautiful young women, coquettish and seductive in manner, often appearing like succubi in the night, dressed in flowing silk nightgowns (despite the novel describing them as dressed as noblewomen), and behaving in a wild and sexually aggressive manner.
In 2015, NBC began to develop a TV series about the Brides of Dracula characters titled Brides, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and produced by Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. The series was built on the premise "What if Van Helsing did NOT kill the three brides of Dracula? What if they survived for centuries and are now living in New York City?", with the series being described as a sexy reimagining of Dracula as a family drama with a trio of strong, diverse female leads, a show about empowered women and their attempts to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy, and their non-traditional family. In October 2019, the series was still being developed with the intention to sell it to a streaming service. On January 8, 2020, it was announced that ABC network handed out a pilot order to the series. Aguirre-Sacasa will pen the script and exec produce alongside Berlanti and Schechter. Maggie Kiley will direct the pilot. The Brides will be a co-production between ABC Studios and Warner Bros. Television. In March 2020, Deadline reported the cast: Gina Torres as Cleo Phillips, the leader of this vampire trio and now a maven of New York City real estate; Katherine Reis as Lily Stevens, the youngest sister and now a striving singer; Chris Mason as Roland Grant, a stylish real estate mogul who arrives in town to challenge Cleo for professional supremacy and who has secret ties to Dracula; Sophia Tatum as Justine Strang, completely friendless and new to town as an aspiring model; Goran Višnjić as Dracula, the powerful, ageless, and iconic King of Night who “turned” each of his three brides and was left for dead at his destroyed castle in the Carpathian mountains; Erin Richards as Renée Pélagie, the sister who is now the head of a top modeling agency in New York City, known for her torrid affairs with her beautiful female models; and Charlie McElveen as Arthur Seward, an ambitious young news reporter working the graveyard shift at his paper covering news of the bizarre, and the love interest to Lily. On June 29, 2020, ABC decided to drop the series from the 2020-2021 lineup in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the series is being pitched to other networks.
Let me advise you, my dear young friend. Nay, let me warn you with all seriousness, that should you leave these rooms you will not by any chance go to sleep in any other part of the castle.
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I dared not wait to see him return, for I feared to see those weird sisters.
They smiled ever at poor dear Madam Mina. And as their laugh came through the silence of the night, they twined their arms and pointed to her, and said in those so sweet tingling tones that Jonathan said were of the intolerable sweetness of the water glasses, ‘Come, sister. Come to us. Come!’
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