Harker, Jonathan

Harker, Jonathan

(pop culture)

At the beginning of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jonathan Harker arrived in Bistritz, Romania, in the midst of a journey to Castle Dracula. Upon his arrival at the Golden Krone Hotel, a note from Count Dracula awaited him. He was to go to the Borgo Pass, where a carriage from the castle would pick him up. When people learned of his destination to the castle, they were frightened and concerned for his welfare, and one lady gave him a rosary with a crucifix to wear. He was taken to Borgo Pass and then transported to Castle Dracula, where Dracula invited him in. Harker ignored the unusual appearance and manner of the count as he ate that evening. The next afternoon as he explored the castle, he noticed the lack of mirrors. He and Dracula spoke of England and worked to complete Dracula’s purchase of Carfax, a house in the London suburb of Purfleet.

The next day, the visit to Castle Dracula took on a strange and even sinister quality. As Harker shaved, Dracula suddenly appeared behind him. Dracula knocked the mirror aside, but not before Harker noticed that the image of Dracula behind him was not reflected in the mirror. He also noticed that Dracula recoiled from the crucifix. Harker began to catalog the strange occurrences day by day and concluded that for some reason he was being held prisoner. He tried to act as if the visit was normal, but then was ordered to write a series of letters telling his employer that he was extending his visit.

Harker became convinced of Dracula’s supernatural nature as he watched him crawl down the outside wall of the castle. He subsequently encountered the other residents of the castle, the vampire brides, three women who attacked him only to be thwarted at the last moment by Dracula’s sudden appearance. As he pondered his condition and strategized ways to flee, he noticed that a band of Gypsies had arrived. He escaped from his room and roamed through the castle. He found the count lying in a box of earth and considered killing him, but he did not. A second time he approached Dracula, immobile in his vampire sleep, but again found himself unable to complete the kill. Dracula escaped and left Harker behind in the castle.

Somehow Harker finally escaped and made his way to Budapest, where he became a patient at the Hospital of St. Joseph and St. Mary. The sisters who ran the hospital informed his fiance, Mina Murray, of his arrival. Mina left England, in spite of the declining health of her friend, Lucy Westenra, to go to Budapest where she and Harker were married.

Upon their return to England, they were informed of Lucy’s death, and Harker met Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, who had been called in as a consultant in her case. By adding the journal of his experiences in Castle Dracula to the data on Lucy’s death, a picture of what was occurring began to emerge. Also, he had spotted Dracula walking around London. Once Harker recovered his health and his sense of sanity, he and Mina worked together to compile and correlate information on Dracula’s activities. Harker then traveled into London to locate and track the movement of the boxes of earth Dracula had brought with him from the castle. Harker attended the meeting at which Van Helsing organized an informal committee, and he was the first to answer Van Helsing’s call for a commitment to destroy Dracula. Harker joined in the search for the boxes of earth, unaware that Mina was at that very moment under attack. He had believed her fatigue to be caused by stress. Several days later, he was at home with Mina when Dracula arrived. Dracula put Harker to sleep while he proceeded to exchange blood with Mina, a process interrupted by the timely arrival of the other men. They succeeded in driving Dracula away.

Harker accompanied Van Helsing on the final chase back to Castle Dracula. He traveled the last leg of the journey on horseback, along with associate Arthur Holmwood, and arrived with the others just as the box containing Dracula’s body was deposited in front of the castle. With Quincey P. Morris, he approached the box and used a large knife to slit Dracula’s throat. At the same moment, Morris plunged his Bowie knife into Dracula’s heart. In the fracas that concluded with Dracula’s death, Morris was killed. Harker and Mina went on to live happily, and named their first child after Morris. Seven years after killing Dracula, the couple returned to Transylvania, where many of the memories of their life converged.

It has been suggested that the character of Jonathan Harker was based upon Joseph Harker, a young artist who worked at the Lyceum Theatre where Bram Stoker was employed. Harker worked with a team of designers that created the stage setting for the theater’s production of Macbeth. Stoker had known Harker’s father, a character actor who had been kind to Stoker in his earlier years. When the job was completed, Stoker returned the favors shown him by helping Harker establish himself independently as an artist.

As Dracula was brought to the stage and screen, Harker’s role in the story frequently suffered, though not as much as the character of Quincey P. Morris, who was cut out completely to simplify the complex plot for dramatic presentation. In the stage versions, Harker’s important opening trip to Transylvania was deleted. When that segment of the novel was returned to the script in the movie version of Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, R. N. Renfield—not Harker—made the trip to Castle Dracula. In Horror of Dracula (1958) with Christopher Lee, he arrived at Castle Dracula not as a naive real estate dealer, but as a secret agent in league with Van Helsing. However, he was attacked and killed early in the course of events, before Van Helsing could arrive to assist him. Only in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stoker’s Dracula did Harker (played by Keanu Reeves) have the central role he played in the novel from the opening chapter to the final death of Dracula at his hand.


Haining, Peter. “The Origin of Jonathan Harker.” CDFC (Count Dracula Fan Club) Special: 3–4.

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The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Harker, Jonathan

uncovers vampiric and lycanthropic activities at Castle Dracula. [Br. Lit.: Dracula]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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