Late in the novel, when Dracula escapes from Van Helsing and company at his Piccadilly house, the count declares, “My revenge is just begun!” It is not immediately clear for what offense Dracula must obtain revenge, but the most convincing answer comes in the opening chapters, when Dracula relates the proud but disappointing history of his family. In Chapter 3, he speaks of the “brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship.” The count notes the power his people once held, but laments the fact that the “warlike days are over.”

Although he retains his lordship in Transylvania, the world around him has changed and grown significantly—the “glories” of days gone by now belong to other families and other races. Indeed, when the count discusses “the crowded streets of your mighty London,” we sense that he lusts for power and conquest: “I long . . . to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is. But alas!” In this light, Dracula becomes not simply a creature of fathomless evil. Rather, he is a somewhat sympathetic and more human creation, determined to regain his family’s lost power and subject the world to his own dark, brutal vision.