This thesis was written as part of a MOOC I took. More info here.
Bram Stoker was Irish and was brought up as a Protestant in the Church of Ireland. Dracula is a powerful lesson that promotes Catholic teachings and tries to inculcate faith in the power of the Holy Bread and other Holy paraphernalia.
The Holy Wafer, referenced heavily in the book, is part of the religious ceremony of Mass in Church. Stoker’s referencing it as being among the sacred objects that shun Dracula points to his possible intent to direct people to go to Mass and partake of the Holy Bread. Other symbols such as Holy Water and the Crucifix are also representative of the Church and its power.
Central European folk beliefs considered Garlic a powerful ward against Vampires and could be why Stoker adopted Garlic as a major symbol.
Dracula is the embodiment of immortality in life, whereas Christian belief tells us that what is truly immortal is our soul and that the body is an inconsequential vessel; we must shun immortality in life so as to hope for immortality in the afterlife.
What Dracula gives to others is eternal life on Earth. As far as can be perceived in the book, there are no instances of anyone having died with a Vampire’s bite. What, then, is so bad about eternal life on Earth that the protagonists seem to despise and wish to be rid of? Could it be Christianity’s influence of the eternal soul being better than the eternal body that could be behind their purposeful actions?
Throughout the book the characters ask for God’s forgiveness or wish for deliverance from Evil. Harker’s journal – “There is something of a guiding purpose manifest throughout…. Mina says that perhaps we are the instruments of ultimate good.” A direct reference to “God’s will be done”.
All in all, Stoker’s religious background seems to have been expressed powerfully in Dracula, whether deliberate or not.
You can view the previously published theses here.