Seward, John(pop culture)
Dr. John Seward, one of the leading characters in Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, appeared early in the story as a suitor of Lucy Westenra. In a letter to her friend Mina Murray (chapter 5), Lucy described Seward:
He is a doctor and really clever. Just fancy! He is only nine and twenty, and he has an immense lunatic asylum all under his own care. Mr. Holmwood introduced him to me, and he called here to see us, and often comes now. I think he is one of the most resolute men I ever saw, and yet the most calm. He seems absolutely imperturbable. I can fancy what a wonderful power he must have over his patients.
Previously, Seward had been a friend of Arthur Holmwood and Quincey P. Morris, with whom he had traveled in the Orient. At the asylum, he was giving a significant amount of attention to patient R. N. Renfield, who displayed some unusual symptoms. Renfield wanted to consume various animals in an attempt to take in their lives. Seward called this unique form of madness “zoophagous” or life-eating. After Dracula headed for England, Renfield began to react to his movements. Seward dutifully recorded the changes in Renfield’s behavior, but had no understanding of their cause.
While attracted to Lucy, he was shut out of her life by her choice of Holmwood (Lord Godalming), but was called back into the plot as Lucy’s health failed. Unable to find any cause, he called in his mentor, Abraham Van Helsing of Amsterdam, to consult on the case. Initially Van Helsing was stumped but immediately recognized that Lucy needed blood. Seward participated in giving her a transfusion, and while Van Helsing traveled back and forth to Holland, Seward watched over Lucy’s progress and recorded her decline.
After Lucy’s death, he became one in the team under Van Helsing who sought out and destroyed Dracula and was present when Lucy’s body was staked. Seward eventually understood the relationship between Renfield and Dracula and began the process of deciphering his actions. He introduced Van Helsing to Renfield and was present when Renfield connected Dracula to Mina. In fact, he was with the other men who rushed to her bedroom to save her from the vampire’s attack.
He then went to Dracula’s base at Carfax and his house in Piccadilly to destroy the boxes of Transylvanian earth. Once it was discovered that Dracula had escaped England and fled to Transylvania, Seward joined the rush to Castle Dracula. In the final push to get to the castle, the team split up and Seward traveled by horse with Morris. He arrived immediately after the Gypsies had deposited the box of earth containing Dracula’s body before the castle doors. Rifle in hand, he held the Gypsies back while Morris and Jonathan Harker killed the vampire.
In the later dramatic and cinematic productions of Dracula, unlike the other characters, Seward almost always survived. In the drama by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, he became the father of (rather than the suitor of) Lucy Westenra, an alteration also evident in the several movies based upon play. Possibly the most interesting twist on Seward’s character came in Fred Saberhagen‘s novels, The Dracula Tape (1975) and especially The Holmes-Dracula File (1978), in which Seward emerged as one of the villains. That idea was seconded by Kim Newman, who transformed Seward into Jack the Ripper in his novel Anno Dracula (1992).