Turning into a vampire seems to have something to do with Dracula drinking the person's blood, but I can't figure if Stoker actually explains the entire process.

I fully expect that he didn't, as the novel is often not interested in making the vampire's powers too explicit, and that the "turning into a vampire" processes we associate with the character are invented or expanded upon by later adaptations. Still, it's worth asking:

I'd like to know as much detail as possible about the process of transforming into a vampire as described by Stoker in the original Dracula novel.

  • May be mistaken but I don't think he details the process in the novel. However, the references in the wikipedia page might provide a good start on how he might have envisionned it. It says that Stoker researched European folklore before getting interested in mentions of Dracula in a book by William Wilkinson. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula
    – James P.
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 3:46
  • The folklore itself is most likely inspired by bats. So one could asssume that the bite or having blood mingling would transmit whatever it is that causes the transformation. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/9858/…
    – James P.
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 3:51
  • @JamesPoulson Actually, Stoker's notes are dedicated much more to the study of revenants and werewolves than to bats.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


So, I read the book some weeks ago. In the books, it is not explained, but we can assume based on the two cases we are presented. Miss Lucy's successful transformation and Mina's failed one. Here is how it goes:

First Dracula encounters his victims, these encounters being at night, IIRC at the hour of the wolf. In these encounters, the victims get hypnotized, it was easier when done with Miss Lucy, since she has somnambulism. Dracula drinks the blood of his victims from the neck, where after the events two small holes can be seen, resembling a wider rodent bite. Now the transformation has begun, and on the next day the victim wakes up pale, extremely tired, and ill looking.

Here the events are different for our two victims.

Miss Lucy

In Miss Lucy's case, her friends are late at finding out that Dracula is feeding on her, he continues to do that for several nights. Each time, Miss Lucy is paler, weaker and more exhausted. Towards the end of the transformation at night she begins to look healthier and better looking, her teeth a bit sharper. And then... she simply dies! Just after death she fully transforms into a vampire. When the friends enter her crypt during the day, Miss Lucy can be seen as a dead corpse. But at night she is a terrible vampire who can transform into a gaseous form and inspire lust in men.

Mina Harker

With Mina Harker, the friends have noticed the attacks at much sooner. Dracula is unable to feed on blood nightly (like occurred with Lucy), the transformation continues nonetheless, but at much slower pace. The signs are the same, Mina begins to get weaker and weaker. At one point, she begins to look more vampiric. At that time, they notice that the minds and thoughts of Mina and Dracula are linked at specific hours: Sunrise and Sunset (Van Helsing begins to use that link to hypnotize Mina and gain information about Dracula's plans). Mina never fully turns into a vampire; when Dracula is killed, Mina's transformation stops. This seems to demonstrate that the transformation is not fully biological, but partially mystical.

Edit: During one hypnotic session, Mina tells Van Helsing she is not able to resist, and drinking blood from Dracula's chest. We're not told if the same happened with Lucy.

If I am not mistaken, Lucy's transformation occurs between 1 and 2 weeks. Mina's transformation must have taken about 4 and 8 weeks. (Not with the book right here).


So, what I can presume from the two cases we're presented:

  • The transformation is slow, and depends directly on the encounters between victim and vampire. In theses encounters the victim is not in control of her body. Vampire feeds on victim's blood.
  • In the early stages, the victim gets sick, extremely tired and pale.
  • In the final stages, the victim's varies between the states of "almost dead" during the day and "almost vampire" during the night. Here the victim has a link to the master vampire's mind. The links are stronger at sunrise and sunset.
  • Only after death does the victim's turns into a vampire. As seen with Lucy, the victim is a dead corpse during the day, and a vampire at night.
  • If the master vampire is destroyed the process halts. The victim reverts to healthy living state.
  • I'll get the book in the weekend and correct the dates or any mistake. Also, English isn't my mother tongue, fell free to improve the text.
    – RMalke
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 12:11
  • 1
    Excellent, thanks! One point; I'm pretty sure I remember one of the women drinking from a self-inflicted wound on Dracula's chest at some time. That'd be something to follow up on.
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 12:33
  • 5
    " transform in gaseous form, and inspire lust in men." - this OUGHT to be covered somewhere in DSM-V. Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 15:21
  • What DSM-V ? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5 ?
    – RMalke
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 15:23
  • 1
    I always assumed that, like werewolves, Vampires have saliva that carry a bacteria or virus that causes the change, much like rabies. Of course, this medical knowledge was a bit beyond ol' Abraham Stoker (as we can evidently transfuse blood without thought of blood phenotypes!) but the original really didn't go into specifics on how the Brides, Lucy, and Mina were actually infected. The supping of Dracula's blood would indicate a blood-born pathogen, which may or may not be carried in the saliva. You also forgot another victim; Jonathan, who was fed upon by the Brides himself.
    – Jersey
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 15:42

Dracula is based in a wide way on classic mid and eastern europe folklore. Vampire stories in european folklore are very old and there are many different stories with different outcomes and spirits.

In some stories people are turned into a vampire as a result of a curse (like the werewolves), usually after being bitten by his master, on others, the victim needs to be fully drawn from it's blood before turning, and there are others where the vampire master needs to feed their children's body with part of their cursed blood to force the change.

Brahm Stocker didn't explained in detail the process on it's novel. If you've readed it surely you know it's a very uncommon novel, formed from a collection of diaries, news, letters and anotations from the characters throught who you see the events of the book.

Thus... no one knows on the book the way the vampires are turned because the only one who knows the secret and the way the curse works is Dracula, and of course, he doesn't let it written on a diary.

  • 1
    Thanks, but I'm not asking if Stoker explained it in detail, nor about the folklore he may have been inspired by (vampires were actually very popular in English pulp fiction since The Vampyre was published nearly 80 years earlier, so he's not drawing exclusively from folklore). I'm asking what detail he does give in the novel, which is plenty. (Aside: epistolary novels are well-known since the 1600s, though they fall in and out of fashion.)
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 14:45

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