Brides of Dracula
|Brides of Dracula|
|Last appearance||Dracula 3D|
|Created by||Bram Stoker|
The Brides of Dracula are 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 male humans with their beauty and charm, and then proceed to feed upon them. Dracula provides them with victims to devour, mainly infants and children.
Like Dracula, they are the living dead, repulsed by religious objects. In chapter three of the novel, two are described as dark haired and the other as blond, though some film adaptations depict them as a blonde, a brunette and a redhead.
Although the three vampire women in Dracula are popularly referred to as the "Brides of Dracula", they are never referred to as such in the novel, instead referred to as the 'sisters'; whether they are married to Dracula or not is never mentioned, nor are they described as having any other relation to him. Though it is mentioned by the sisters that Dracula does not love, nor has he ever loved them, the count himself claims he once loved them in the past. The two dark-haired women, however, are described by Jonathan Harker to have "high aquiline noses, like the Count's". It has been suggested 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. Another theory is that two of the women are actually Dracula's sisters and the blonde one is his true wife, though neither theory has never been stated or proven. However by being described as "sisters" could imply that they are of no relation to Dracula or each other and are simply bound by their vampire "sisterhood", and are merely Dracula's concubines. Stoker may simply have intended them as random women Dracula turned in the past, or they were his wives throughout his lifetime and did not find out his true nature until it was too late. Despite their words, the sisters have oddly never attempted to leave the castle and follow Dracula's orders without question. Likewise Dracula, while angered at them disobeying trying to feed on Jonathan, shows he does care somewhat for them by giving them something to eat in the form of the contents of the "wiggling bag" and honors his promise to give them Harker when he leaves, though it is not revealed why he leaves them behind in Transylvania rather than taking them to London with him.
As vampires, the sisters are powerful in their own right; their beauty and playful charm belie lethal, predatory interiors. Their beauty and flirtatious manner appears 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 Helsing's horses. They apparently do not live in fear of Dracula, as they talk back to him without hesitation and the blond vampire can be seen defying him when she demands to feed upon Harker. The blond vampire is described by one of the brunettes as, "The First" and she is depicted as the leader of the three and Dracula's favourite. This may suggest that the blonde is in fact Dracula's true wife or consort, and may be the mother of the two dark-haired women if they are indeed his daughters.
Sometime near the beginning of the novel, Dracula warns Harker never to enter any room in the castle other than his own bedroom, but does not tell him why, clearly aware that the sisters will kill him. Harker encounters them when he wanders the castle during Dracula's absence and enters a luxurious salon where the sisters are kept. As it's nightfall when he does this, the sisters are awake and roaming the castle. More than delighted that fresh prey has entered their domain, they proceed to seduce him. Harker tries to resist their seduction and is saved by Dracula, who drives them back, chastising them for trying to feed on Harker when he wasn't done with him, though he promises to give Harker to them after his business deal is concluded and gives then a "wiggling bag" (highly presumed by Harker to be a child) to appease them. Dracula makes good on his word and leaves Harker to the sisters when he heads for England, but Harker manages to escape the castle before they can drain him, though he is badly traumatized by the encounter.
The sisters aren't seen again till near the end of the novel as the protagonists approach Castle Dracula in pursuit of the vampire. The sisters suddenly appear at a camp consisting of Van Helsing and Mina Harker. Either Dracula telepathically ordered them to attack the camp, or they discovered it themselves. Sensing that Mina is bitten and nearly a vampire, they beckon her to join them, referring to her as their "sister" and promising not to harm her. However, thanks to the holy symbols placed around her, Mina keeps her sense of self and is repulsed by them, though she does feel the urge to heed their calls. Van Helsing manages to keep them at bay, but the sisters persist in trying to take Mina. In the middle of this, they manage to kill and feed on their horses. The sisters are forced to flee when the sun rises. Van Helsing subsequently goes to Dracula's castle and, after locating their tombs, attempts to kill them but almost fails due to being entranced by their beauty. He manages to overcome their spell and destroys them by staking and decapitating them. Dracula's reaction to their deaths is not known.
In other media
Commonly all three brides appear in film adaptations of the novel, though some adaptations show fewer than three, such as the 1995 spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It, in which two appear, and Dracula (1958) and Drakula İstanbul'da, where a single bride appears. They are typically depicted as enchantingly beautiful young women, coquettish and seductive in manner, often appearing to men like succubi in the night, dressed in flowing silk nightgowns and behaving in a wild and sexually aggressive manner.
Although missing from the silent film Nosferatu, the Brides made silent appearances in the 1931 film Dracula and the Spanish language version of Drácula. (The latter film, shot simultaneously on the same sets at night with a separate cast and crew, depicts the brides as more obviously sexual than in the more chaste English-language version.)
The three brides are present but silent in the 1973 television adaptation Bram Stoker's Dracula (starring Jack Palance), although they are depicted as a bit more ravenous as they attack Harker on sight. Dracula saves Harker from them the first time. But Harker is later caught while trying to escape the castle and thrown into their chambers. Upon awakening, Harker finds the brides waiting for him, they corner him easily and feed on him with no Dracula to stop them. Harker is later shown having died from this and became a ravenous vampire himself.
They had lines in the 1977 BBC production entitled Count Dracula. Dracula is a bit less antagonistic to them in this version, talking to them in a tone that's stern and yet gentle and almost playful. They first appear while Harker is writing in the library to Mina. They sit around the table, giggling, while at the same time intrigued at Harker's attempts to come up with what to say next in his letter to Mina; one of the brides reaches over and takes his letter, and they then taunt him by playing a game of "keep away" with it. Dracula drives them back when they attempt to kill Harker, but consoles them by treating them to a baby he has kidnapped. Harker roams the castle vaults during the day, and discovers the Brides asleep in their coffins, their lips stained with blood. Later in the film, they accost Van Helsing and Mina in the forest near the castle, and beckon Mina to join their ranks, but due to the holy symbols placed around her by Van Helsing, Mina manages to resist their calls. During daylight when Van Helsing stakes the brides as they sleep, Mina, who is becoming a vampire, evidently feels their pain.
In Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula, the brides were played by Monica Bellucci, Michaela Bercu and Florina Kendrick. They lure Jonathan Harker to a secluded bedchamber in Dracula's castle before sexually abusing him in an erotic frenzy. When Dracula voyages to England to seduce Mina, Harker is given to The Brides. They keep him prisoner, draining just enough of his blood to keep him in an anaemic stupor. He eventually escapes them (a deleted scene shows Harker managing to bypass them by using a makeshift cross), and they are not seen again until a confrontation with Van Helsing in the Carpathian mountains, after which he beheads them. Bellucci, Bercu and Kendrick's dialogue was entirely in Romanian, and Kendrick reportedly helped her co-stars to speak her native tongue correctly.
While the Brides usually remain nameless, they are called Marishka, Aleera, and Verona (played by actresses Josie Maran, Elena Anaya and Silvia Colloca, respectively) in the 2004 film Van Helsing. For the first time, the Brides are more than brief background, becoming important minions of Dracula and powerful combatants. In Van Helsing, both Dracula and his Brides have the ability to transform into large winged monsters. In this film, the Brides have given birth to countless vampire infants, which are born dead (as vampires are the "walking dead"), and Dracula and his brides are incessantly seeking a way to bring them to life. Verona, the oldest of the brides, is Dracula's consort and the leader of the three, whereas Marishka and Aleera are his concubines. Aleera, despite being the youngest of them, is the most fearsome and bloodthirsty of the trio.
The concept was also present in the 1987 horror comedy The Monster Squad, where Dracula has abducted three young women (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) and turns them into his vampire brides.
In Dracula 2000, the Brides are composed of Dracula victims he bites upon his awakening in 2000 and journeying to New Orleans, as he seeks to capture Mary Heller, the daughter of Abraham van Helsing (who has kept himself alive into the present day by diluting Dracula's blood with leeches, seeking to find a way to permanently destroy Dracula). The Brides include Solina (Jennifer Esposito) (a thief who was part of a group mistaking his coffin for a treasure chest), Valerie Sharpe (Jeri Ryan), a news reporter covering the plane crash that was carrying his coffin (as Dracula awakened and killed her camera man before turning her), and Lucy Westerman (Colleen Fitzpatrick), Mary's roommate whom Dracula meets while tracking her. The three help Dracula find and capture Mary, but are killed during the final confrontation with Mary and Van Helsing's assistant Simon Shepherd; Valeria by a stake, Solina and Lucy by decapitation.
The Brides also appeared in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the season 5 premier "Buffy vs. Dracula". They were referred to as "The Three Sisters." As Buffy fights Dracula, the Brides work to "distract" Giles from coming to her aid. They are credited as "Vampire Girls" and played by Marita Schaub, Leslee Jean Matta, and Jennifer Slimko.
They appear in Dracula, the musical where they sing "Forever Young" and have intricate and elaborate flying sequences.
They also appear in the 2002 Italian TV mini-series Dracula (known as Dracula's Curse in foreign markets). As in the 1992 version, they speak in their native tongue and play up their supernatural nature by being able to fly and phase through objects.
In the alternate history novel Anno Dracula, Dracula becomes dominant in Britain and eventually weds Queen Victoria, becoming Prince consort and Lord Protector. Despite being married to Victoria he keeps his retinue of brides, who despise the now-powerless and chained Victoria. It is mentioned that one of the brides is Barbara of Celje.
In the first sequel, The Bloody Red Baron, the Brides of Dracula are mentioned as including Mata Hari, Lady Marikova (from the novel The House of Dracula by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes), Lola-Lola (from the film The Blue Angel), Sadie Thompson, Lemora, and the Baron Meinster (from the film The Brides of Dracula).
In the beginning of the second sequel, Dracula Cha Cha Cha, a list of Dracula's official brides is given. They are: Elisabeta of Transylvania (from Bram Stoker's Dracula), 1448–1462; Ilona Szilagy (Vlad III's real-life second wife), 1466–1476; Marguerite Chopin of Courtempierre (from Vampyr), 1709–1711; Queen Victoria, 1886–1888; and Sari Gábor, 1948–1949. The plot surrounds Dracula's engagement to Princess Asa Vajda (from Black Sunday).
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has written a trilogy called Sisters of the Night, with each book featuring the story of one of brides: Kelene: The Angry Angel (1998), Fenice: The Soul of an Angel (1999) and Zhameni: The Angel of Death (unpublished).
In The Diaries of the Family Dracul by Jeanne Kalogridis, the Brides are imagined as Zsuzsanna Tsepesh, a descendant of Vlad Dracul (believed in the novels to be his niece); Dunya, a Transylvanian servant of Vlad's mortal descendants, and Elisabeth Bathory, the notorious Hungarian noblewoman who murdered hundreds of her servants and bathed in their blood.
In The Dracula Tapes they are mentioned by Dracula who states that he has tired of them and does not even remember why he turned them in the first place. The women do not help his situation at all when Harker comes to visit for the business transaction of Carfax Abbey, and end up scaring Harker even more. It is implied that unlike Dracula (who did not want to scare or harm anyone), the women let the power go to their heads once they became vampires. Dracula had more or less planned to abandon them in the castle.
In comic books
A number of brides are seen in the Marvel Comics series The Tomb of Dracula, ranging from victims long since turned from ancient times to recent ones of modern day. Likewise in the companion series Dracula Lives, a two-part story in particular called The Pit of Death in which the protagonist is thrown into the titular pit where many of Dracula's brides are kept, among them his blind wife.
- Dracula, pg 47 "I dared not wait to see him return, for I feared to see those weird sisters",pg 244 "He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust, as again Jonathan saw those sisters in the castle of Dracula pg 377 "Then I braced myself again to my horrid task, and found by wrenching away tomb tops one other of the sisters, the other dark one. I dared not pause to look on her as I had on her sister, lest once more I should begin to be enthrall. But I go on searching until, presently, I find in a high great tomb as if made to one much beloved that other fair sister which, like Jonathan I had seen to gather herself out of the atoms of the mist. She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man in me, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, made my head whirl with new emotion."
- Dracula, pg 38
- Jan B. Gordon's "The Transparency of Dracula", in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Sucking Through the Century, 1897-1997, edited by Carol Margaret Davison.
- Dracula Lives! #10–11 ( Jan.–Mar. 1975)