Dracula Lesson Plans
Below are lesson plans for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
I "inherited" an Honors I class from another English teacher and part of the curriculum was this novel. I don't know that I would have chosen it myself, but once I started reading and teaching it, I became convinced of the value of including it in the course.
These lesson plans, as with other lesson plans on the website, are not intended to substitute for a knowledge of the book. I have included some tests and assignments used in teaching Dracula within these lesson plans. [The edition used was Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1981 Bantam Books.]
-Beginning focus for notes. Take notes of (1) relationships between people [characters] (2) instances of the supernatural. Later in the book Bram Stoker's inclusion of the latest technology of the day is also interesting for students to consider.
Read pages, 1-14 Discuss Chapter one.
NOTE: In 1994-95 they read twenty pages per day, Mon.-Fri. In 1996-97 they read 16 pages per day. M-F. In later classes they read less pages per day. That decrease may have a number of different causes.
Chapter I p.1
1. Jonathan, from Britain, is unaware of Eastern things.. Power
of description [Stoker's], like National Geographic, gives feeling of
verisimilitude. See: Description in
Chapter II p.15
1. Jonathan, getting to know castle, and realizing that he is a prisoner.
Chapter III p.28
1. Talking with the Count, learning about Dracula.
Chapter IV p.42
-FOCUS 1. three suitors are important to the story, not just peripheral characters. 2. 'catalog' of vampires' supernatural powers. 3. Issue of 3 powers in the world: Good, Man, Evil-Bad-Demon 4. Mr. Swales, role of doubter converted- [as in old prospector in 'Tremors' helps create suspension of disbelief] Note- students need help with Mr. Swales' dialogue.
1. Dracula tries to frame Harker by stealing child while wearing
Harker' clothes on. Wolves called to 'dispose' of the child's
Chapter V. p.57
1. Miss Mina Murray writes to Miss Lucy Westenra.
Chapter VI p.66
1. Mina's journal, graveyard lookout.
Chapter VII p.80.
1. In Mina's journal, cutting from the Dailygraph about the ship
arriving in a storm, with a dead captain.
Chapter VIII p.94.
1. Mina's journal: Lucy sleepwalking to the lookout cemetery
seat. Mina follows and sees pale man with red eyes bending
over her.[Why no suspicion?]
1. Identify briefly Lucy's three suitors:
2. Identify Mr Swales:
3. Identify Seward's patient:
Identify the following quotes: the speaker and the situation.
1. "You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the
doors are locked,..."
Identify the following quotes: the speaker and the situation.
1. She then rose, and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix
from her neck offered it to me.
Chapter IX p.110
1. Arrival in Buda-Pesth
Chapter X p. 125
1. Seward to Art.. "Lucy... had gone back a bit." *The tension to this is the reader knows[?] Dracula is the cause. p.125 [In horror stories, what is the "psychology" as we who are 'in the know' watch danger creep up on the unsuspecting, and the sometimes incredibly dumb. Do we identify with them? What about at the first of the book/movie when 'we' the audience and the character[s], find out the danger together??]
2. Van Helsing keeps his thoughts, ideas, and hypotheses to himself. [Perhaps a parallel situation would be thinking a friend, student, teacher, family member, was an alien. Who would believe?] p.126.
3. Van Helsing in control- Lucy needs transfusion. 'Art' gives it to her. -no notice taken of blood types in this "new" science - **Hmm, does Dracula notice blood types?? Van Helsing tells Seward not to sleep while watching Lucy. p.128+
4. Lucy feels better 'Arthur close to me'- [blood transfusion]. p.134.
5. John Seward blood to Lucy, who is close to death. p.134+
6. Lucy better- Van Helsing puts garlic all around, perhaps to keep out 'an evil spirit.' p.138.
Chapter XI. p.140
1. Lucy going to bed peacefully, with garlic. p.140.
Chapter XII p.153
1. Seward and Van Helsing find the chaos at Lucy's. Van Helsing
does not want to let Lucy die in her present state. p.153-
For a very well done extra credit assignment see: Lucy's Journal
Chapter XIII p. 171
1. Lucy very beautiful corpse. p.171
SIX FRAME DRAWING- showing the "principles" of the supernatural at work in relation to man. i.e. crucifix protects, can't see Dracula in the mirror, blue flames, rather jump overboard, etc.
Six Frame Drawings- are done by folding a piece of typing paper in half length ways and then folding it in thirds crossways. This folding results in six frames which can be filled with "comics" type drawings. [*This technique can also be used to plan out scenes for filming.] The drawings for this assignment can be picked from one event in Dracula, or a series of separate events.
Student are graded on their understanding of the book and the number of "principles" illustrated and Not their artistic ability. [I usually demonstrate my art ability on the blackboard, to show the students that they should have no fears about their relative artistic ability being graded too critically.] The front page of the assignment contains the drawings, which may have the characters speaking in little "dialogue bubbles" in the scenes. On the back of each frame the students write the corresponding principle being illustrated. Grade the paper on the back of the drawing, so that their "art" remains unmarked.
NOTE: the students enjoy this type of assignment, and after about ten minutes all are happily drawing. Students' showing each other their pictures before they are handed in, should be discouraged so that students can do their own thinking, but discipline should not be so strict that it detracts from the classroom mood. Students should know that when the pictures are returned that they will have time to share them. Also, the teacher might consider showing a few pictures when they are being returned to the class, without showing the grade. This assignment can be used for other literature and composition activities.
Chapter XIV p.188
1. Mina reads Jonathan's journal. p.188-189.
DISCUSS? In the story, in the fight against Dracula, what actions are good strategy, and what actions are bad strategy?
TEST QUESTION: [30+ min] What is Bram Stoker's attitude toward women? Support with details to as far as having read in the book.
The paper should be type written on one side of the paper, 1 to 2 pages. Skip lines. The rough draft can be written in pencil or ink, but the final draft should be typewritten. Remember to support your views with material from your notes and the book.
Topics can include the following:
Foreshadowing- clues and hint of what is to happen.
1. Wind blowing the ship toward shore- Dracula may be
Tone- the mood or emotion of the book.
1. The wolves circle the carriage and the horses being afraid create the mood of.....
Theme- author's message to the reader.
1. First mate jumping overboard- it's better to die than lose your soul.
Supernatural- things happening beyond normal mortal human powers.
1. Dracula changing at the sight of the crucifix when he is about to attack Jonathan who cut himself while shaving.
Shortcomings of characters- weaknesses that characters have.
1. Jonathan not getting a 'clue' from all the village people's reaction to
Sample Organization for Paper:
NOTE: This paper is designed to give students further experience in writing mult-paragraph papers from earlier assignments. An entire course can be designed to developmentally teach desired skills to students. The skills in each unit can be planned to develop skills presented in earlier units, throughout the course.
Dracula has many interesting qualities. One of the main ones is the use of themes not generally found in recent books and stories. Some of these themes relate to good and evil, _____, ________, and ________.
Good and evil is illustrated as a theme in one part of the story when .........
Another theme is ..........
A third theme, different from today is .......
In conclusion, the themes in Dracula such as _______, ________, __________, and __________ are interesting because they are written in a memorable way, and they're different than those of more recent times. [Briefly summarize highlights of the paper.]
Chapter XVI p. 204
1. The four meet in the cemetery when Lucy is returning and put the 'Host' on the door of the tomb so she couldn't enter. They are convinced that she is a vampire when she tries to get Arthur and is stopped by Van Helsing with a crucifix. They return again with a mallet, scalpels, etc. to drive a stake through Lucy's heart and cut off her head. Arthur drives the stake. Van Helsing and Seward cut off the head. p.219-229.
2. They make a pact to stop Dracula. p.229-230.
Teacher's Note: Teachers should realize the importance of pacing tests throughout a unit and throughout a course. There are a multitude of different types of tests. The "total learning situation" of the students in each class should be considered when giving tests. To give only multiple choice tests would not develop higher writing and thinking skills in the students. To give too many essay tests takes time and energy from a class that they might need simply to read an extensive book and take thorough notes on it.
Therefore, multiple choice, fill in the blank, and true-false tests can keep a class reading on schedule without over-burdening it while they are reading challenging, or boring material. Essay tests and creative writing assignments can give a class the opportunity to look at the material in a new and deeper way. These tests can also make students happily aware of the growth in their own skills and understanding. [Happiness is the consciousness of growth. -Wilhelm Reich]
Dracula [Chapters 1-16]
1. What is Buda-Pesth?
8. What does Van Helsing think needs to be done with Lucy some
days after her funeral?
11. Van Helsing seals the tomb door with __________________
Chapter XVII p. 231
1. Mina meets and 'charms' Renfield with her 'goodness.' p.245- 247 [Renfield hopes that she will leave- is aware that Dracula is after her.. we learn this later.]
2. Vampires' powers catalogued- by this point in the book, they are believable. p.250
3. Pact against Dracula [all six] and the dangers of fighting him. p. 251-254
4. Van Helsing to Mina: "And now for you, Madam Mina, this night is the end until all be well. You are too precious to us to have such risk. When we part tonight, you no more must question. We shall tell you all in good time. We are men and are able to bear; but you must be our star and hope, and we shall act all the more free that you are not in the danger, such as we are." p.255 [IRONY- This 'cutting off' places her in more danger.]
5. Mina's comment on Van Helsing's decision: 'All the men, even Jonathan, seemed relieved; but it did not seem to me good that they should brave danger and, perhaps lessen their safety- strength being the best safety- through care of me; but their minds were made up, and though it was a bitter pill for me to swallow, I could say nothing, save to accept their chivalrous care of me.' p.256
6. Renfield pleads with Seward to let him go. Seward refuses. p.257-261. [We later learn that Renfield has agreed to let Dracula in.]
Chapter XIX p.262
1. Harker, re: Mina- "I am so glad she consented to hold back and let us
men do the work." p.262
Chapter XX p. 276
1. Jonathan tracking boxes. Breaking and entering and legal means.
Chapter XXI p. 291
1. Renfield regains consciousness, tells of his involvement with Dracula who had bribed him with living creatures.. And Dracula is invited in and Renfield tries to stop him and is thrown down. He reports that Dracula has gotten to Mina. p. 291-297
2. In the Harker's room, Mina is being forced to drink Dracula's blood while Jonathan is unconscious. p. 298-299.
3. Harkers and others learn extent of Dracula's doings. p. 298-305
4. Mina: "Oh my God, what have I done to deserve such a fate?" p. 304
*Question of power of God- involvement of god. Mina "What have I done?" People become under the power of evil by choice [seduction], but what about 'overpowering'? i.e. Mina, or the woman with the baby, and the wolves? *Also, Is power of God found in church, or sacred objects, or places? Then why is Dracula in old sanctuary places?
Chapter XXII p. 306
1. Harker, "As I must do something or go mad, I write this diary."
*TEST [DracuTs3.Cp1] Ch 16-22
1. When the men meet at Lucy's tomb to "release her soul," first Arthur ________________________________________.
2. And then Van Helsing and Seward _______________________________
3. Weapons against Dracula include _________, _______________, and __________________.
4. Dracula's weapons include _________________, _______________, _______________________, and ____________________.
5. Renfield gives Dracula permission to enter because ___________
6. Renfield tries to stop Dracula because ______________________
7. Dracula creates a 'link' between him and Mina by ____________
8. Why doesn't the 'sacred wafer' protect Mina? _______________
9. Van Helsing mentions euthanasia when ______________________
10. What is one thing the men do illegally as they are trying to find Dracula? ___________________________________________.
Chapter XXIII p. 319
1. Jonathan, a haggard, old man under the strain. p. 319
2. Quincey, Arthur, Harker, Van Helsing ambush the Count, but he escapes and threatens them. p. 323 Dracula states, "My revenge is just begun. I spread it over centuries and time is on my side. Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine- my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed. Bah!" p. 324 *Van Helsing thinks these words show that Dracula is afraid.
3. Mina asks the men to pity Dracula because they may have to pity her too, as she transforms into a vampire. p.326-327
4. Quincy guarding the Harkers. p. 328.
5. Mina thinks of Van Helsing hypnotizing her so he can learn of Dracula's whereabouts because of the psychic connection between them. p. 329. [**Later they think he is using her to spy on them.
6. From the trance they learn that Dracula is fleeing in a ship. p. 331.
7. They can't just let him go because if they don't kill him, Mina will become a vampire. p. 332.
*NOTE: We keep reading a long book, with complicated details because we begin to care about Mina, Jonathan, and the others- as good people. Perhaps we empathize with them as people who are like we are, against 'fearsome' odds. [**What else is the appeal of Dracula that he persists? GOOD DISCUSSION QUESTION? Some said his power, wealth, confidence?] NOTE- discussed again somewhat after chapter XXV.
1. On p. 289 is Count deVille really Count 'Devil'?
Chapter XXIV p. 333
1. Van Helsing tells Jonathan, with Seward's 'phonograph,' to stay with Mina while the rest hunt for Dracula and how to pursue him. ?? p. 333.
2. On Dracula's trail, discovering the ship, etc. p.335+
3. Dracula forces the captain (with bad weather) to take him and his box on board for Transylvania.
4. Van Helsing says they are like the knights of old- for God... redeem one soul already. p. 338
5. Van Helsing - Dracula's "childlike brain" slowly learning [Concept of Dracula being non-human, different capabilities for learning ??? Not clear.. p. 339.
6. Seward's diary.. Mina- indications, she is slowly turning becoming a vampire. Does the Count know about them through her? p. 341.
7. Van Helsing to tell Mina that she could be a communication tool for Dracula. [This is stupid!] Perhaps they could feed him misinformation? - Or does Van Helsing think that would be cruel to Mina? p. 342.
8. Mina says "don't tell me anything.." p. 344 and "take me with you." p. 345.
Chapter XXV p. 348
1. Mina makes them promise to cut off her head, etc. when they feel she is
too far gone to save otherwise. p. 350-351
Class writing assignment and class discussion.
1. Write five things that you're afraid of. Don't sign your name.
Chapter XXVI p. 364.
1. Mina's hypnotic trance tells them Dracula is still on board a ship, but possibly going up a river. p. 364-367.
2. Captain Donelson reports the weather while carrying Dracula favorable all the way through until they got the box in port. p. 368-369.
3. Petrof Skinsky picks up the box and dies for it. p. 369-370
4. Mina reasons out Dracula's tactics to travel by water. Van Helsing again impressed by her intelligence.
5. Quincey Morris and John Seward to follow the river on horses, well armed. Arthur and Jonathan Harker to follow Dracula on the river. Van Helsing to take Mina directly to Dracula's castle to destroy his refuge there, before he gets there. p. 374-376.
6. Everybody in pursuit. p. 377-381.
Chapter XXVII p. 382.
1. Superstitious people notice the mark on Mina's forehead. p. 382.
2. Toward Dracula's country.. Mina laments that she is 'unclean.' p.383.
3. Van Helsing- Travels with Mina until they arrive outside the castle. p. 384+ He makes a ring of wafer crumbs.. Mina can't get out of, and the vampire ladies can't get in. Although they do evidently kill the horses. p. 387-389.
4. Harker and Arthur delayed by boat 'accident.' p. 389.
5. Seward and Quincey in pursuit of a band of gypsies transporting what probably is Dracula's coffin. p. 390-393.
6. Van Helsing goes into Dracula's castle and kill/frees the three vampires and seals Dracula's coffin. p. 390-393.
7. Mina's journal p. 393-399.. describes the end. Dracula is gathering wolves. The gypsies are racing to the castle with his coffin. The four men are in pursuit, make the gypsies stop; Harker and Quincey rush through, break open the coffin and kill Dracula. But Quincey is mortally wounded. He dies seeing that the Mark is gone from Mina's forehead.
Note p. 400 Seven years later.
The Harkers have a son named after the four. They return to Transylvania and Harker realizes there is no proof for his account. Arthur and Seward are both happily married. p. 400.
Panel of Characters:
*Teacher's note: This panel is a great change of pace. It can be done After the final has been given or Before. It is entertaining for the students to see these characters 'come to life' and the various interpretations of the characters from the students' viewpoints. The panel shows the teacher, and the class who understands the material, in a gentle way.
The panel is also useful to a teacher 'buried' under end of semester paper grading. The panel involves the class without increasing the paper correcting load.
The panel is done by placing six desks at the front of class, facing the class. Name signs printed on typing paper are placed on the desks as students volunteer for the characters. The teacher can expect each class member to ask a question of one of the panel members. A grade is placed in the grade book for the question. *Grading questions in this manner prevents a student in the class from dominating the class or the panel, or disrupting in some way.
Final Exam: [Alternate]
*Alternate test/final for those students leaving early. [This test is given to those who receive permission to leave school before the final is given. An alternate test is given so that those taking this test do not inform the rest of the class about the contents of the final. How extensive such a test can be depends on the circumstances.]
-Write on one side of the paper, skip lines.
2. Compare the villains [or antagonists] of The Odyssey, Beowulf, and Dracula with each other and with your own ideas of a 'villain.'
3. From the viewpoint of one of the cultures of the above books, describe your own culture.
Dracula, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Esther
*Choose ONE of the first four questions.
1. When considering the characters in the above stories, which one do you feel the most sympathy with? Why?
2. Which character do you most dislike? Why?
3. If you had to choose one of the cultures from the above stories to live in, which would it be? Why?
4. What have you learned about your own culture, from studying these other cultures?
ANSWER THE NEXT TWO QUESTIONS ON THE TEST PAPER:
*5. What is the climax in each of the stories?
A. Dracula ____________________________________________
B. The Odyssey _____________________________________________
C. Beowulf ________________________________________________
D. Esther ________________________________________________
*6. A. Quincey keeps his promise to Mina that he will be a true friend by _________________________________________________.
B. Van Helsing meets the three vampire ladies and ________ ______________________________________________________.
C. How can the men tell where Dracula is through Mina? _______
D. The Szgany who help Dracula are also known as _____________.
E. Three groups pursue Dracula toward his castle. They are:
*7. Pick a character that you think is not understood [NOT ONE THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN ABOUT] and write a 1st person narrative paragraph- explaining that character. "Some may think that I am _____________, but I really am __________."
*8. Which book would you most recommend to others to read? Write a paragraph persuading others to read it. Use support.
*9. Summarize the story of Dracula from Mina' point of view.
I always considered Dracula a worthy book to be included in my 9th grade Honors English class. The students respond well to brave people fighting for a good cause. Many girls are drawn into the book because of the part played by Mina and the respect the men show for her. In spite of sometimes stifling restrictions placed on women by her society, Mina comes off well in Bram Stoker's presentation of a woman rising above her perceived societal position due to grave circumstances that cause the men around her to allow this growth.
Also, good and evil, concepts lost or caricatured in later books and films, are presented clearly and present great opportunities for examination and discussion in classes prepared for such discussions.
Finally, most of my students have enjoyed reading Dracula, and once they were "into the book" often read on further before they were assigned to do so.
Return to the: Teaching Literature page