Renfield, Dr. Seward’s patient, serves as a ticking time bomb, showcasing an escalating timeline of the eclectic and viscerally shocking signs of vampiric contamination. In Chapter 6, Dr. Seward observes Renfield eating animals, an impulse that expands throughout the book and culminates in Renfield cutting Dr. Seward to drink his blood. The reader also sees that Renfield differs significantly from Dracula; he is presented as mad, where Dracula is refined. Like Dracula, however, Renfield can remain composed as needed. When meeting with Mina in Chapter 18, for example, he maintains a calm and measured temperament, while Dr. Seward posits this as a part of his madness. This speaks to the strength of Dracula’s sway, and serves to contrast Renfield with his master, rendering Dracula even more formidable.

The epistolary nature of the novel allows Dr. Seward’s interviews with Renfield to provide the reader with a clear pathology of vampire power. Lacking the maturation of Dracula, Renfield is tormented by the clash between his humanity and his warped devotion to his master. In Renfield’s ongoing arc, the reader also sees a cautionary tale warning against the quest for immortality. Driven by the promise of endless creatures and insects to eat, Renfield is convinced that single-minded devotion will bring him a glorious everlasting life. Instead, he finds death at his master’s hands. The tragedy of Renfield enables him to serve as a foil to Dracula, exposing the doomed shadow side to the seductive allure of the vampire.