Dracula: From Historical Voievod To Vampire Prince
By Michael Vorsino
Master’s Thesis: University of Texas at Arlington, 2008
Abstract: Vlad Dracula was a fifteenth century historical prince in Wallachia, a part of modern day Romania. Prince Dracula was an ardent defender of Christendom, and staunch opponent of the expanding Ottoman Empire. However, through the skillful use of the printing press and the masterful work of the author Bram Stoker this man has become associated with the fictional character Count Dracula.
This thesis discusses the life and deeds of the historical Prince Vlad Dracula, also known as Ţepeş, or the Impaler, and his association with the fictional character Count Dracula. This thesis provides an examination of the epic struggle between Prince Dracula and the Ottoman sultan Mehmed ‘The Conqueror’. Furthermore, consideration will be given to the ever-changing view of Count Dracula in American pop culture as well as the differing roles of the folkloric and literary vampires throughout history.
Ever since I was young I have had a fascination with the paranormal. Growing up I was exposed to waves of television specials on ghosts, spirits, UFO’s, the Loch Ness monster, various conspiracy theories and a host of other subjects that would be considered outside the realm of the normal for a young lad at the ripe old age of eight. Without a doubt I owe this fascination to one person, my mother. There was always a big production at home when a television expose’ concerning anything mystical was on, and in the days before satellite television this was a rare treat indeed. Rather than being a detriment to my growth, this exposure has had quite the opposite effect, awakening a boyish sense of curiosity and a thirst for learning. Could this stuff really be true? If so, why have we as a society been so slow to accept the supernatural, and if not, why is it an ever-present theme in societies worldwide?
I remember my first exposure to the vampire. It was a four-day television extravaganza in which several different ‘made for TV’ movies were broken into four 30- minute segments. One of these starred Christopher Lee as Dracula. It took much cajoling for my mother to agree to let me sit in on that one, and I was absolutely terrified and irrevocably fascinated. From these beginnings stemmed grade school English papers on Loch Ness, Stonehenge, and UFO’s. At that time none of my teachers considered the study of folkloric vampires a worthy topic, that is, until I got to college.