Abraham Van Helsing is a character best known throughout many adaptations of the classic vampire story Dracula as a vampire hunter and the archenemy of Count Dracula. Let’s learn more about Abraham Van Helsing:
Where is Abraham Van Helsing from?
Abraham Van Helsing is a fictional character from Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel Dracula published in 1987. Dracula, as a novel, plays out the ancient struggle between good and evil. It is a morality tale in which the forces of light overcome the powers of darkness. Stoker named Abraham Van Helsing after himself. Stoker’s first name is Abraham, a name he shared with his father. The fact that Stoker chose this name for one of his leading characters suggests a degree of identification with that fictional person. Not only does Van Helsing shares the same first name with Stoker, but they also both have Dutch ancestry.
As for the surname, there is no known explanation as to why Stoker used “Van Helsing”. But few possibilities have been suggested. Since Stoker is familiar with Shakespearean plays as he managed the Lyceum Theatre, the surname possibly came from “Helsingor”, the Danish town in which Hamlets’ castle is located. Another possibility is “Van Helmont” who is an ancient alchemist mentioned in On Superstitions Connected with the History and Nature of Medicine and Surgery (1844) by T J Pettigrew which was one of Stoker’s known source-texts for Dracula.
Was Abraham Van Helsing a real person?
The fact that Bram Stoker might have modeled Abraham Van Helsing on a real person is unverified. While the inspiration for the character is not known, there has been some speculation that Van Helsing was based on Georg Andreas Helwing. Helwing was a real-life 18th-century Lutheran pastor from Angerburg in what was then the Duchy of Prussia (today Węgorzewo, Poland) who studied and wrote about vampires and werewolves. He was also a polymath with a keen interest in both the esoteric and scientific just like Van Helsing. He was known as a debunker of folklore.
Others suggest that Van Helsing was modeled on Arminius Vambery whom Stoker met in London. Vambery is a learned Hungarian professor and arguably, Stoker’s knowledge about vampires and the real Dracula came from him. And while these theories may seem plausible, there is no conclusive evidence to support that the character was inspired by these people.
Another theory is that Van Helsing was modeled on Max Muller. Muller is a contemporary German professor who was a specialist in religion and mythology. This theory is supported by the fact that Stoker wrote in his early notes for Dracula that he conceived of three characters who were later combined into the character of Van Helsing. One of these characters was identified as “a German professor of history” who was to be named Max Windshoeffel.
Van Helsing is an eccentric old Dutch professor, philosopher, doctor, and scientist. His knowledge is encyclopedic, ranging from Tacitus to the latest theories about hypnotism. He even hints at one point that he has a law degree, too. He is described in the novel as a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day with an open mind. And that he has “an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration”. Van Helsing is also a man of faith. He is a catholic and uses silver crucifix, sacramental bread and the Blessed Sacrament along with revolvers, knives, wooden stakes and garlic wreaths to battle Dracula. He was described at greater length than any other protagonist in the novel.
His eccentricities make him stand out as one of the most interesting and memorable characters of the novel. He is the only member of the Crew of Light — the group that hunts down Dracula — who isn’t a native English speaker. Van Helsing is also is morally righteous, religiously committed, and has well-developed, albeit ironic, sense of humor. He laughs hysterically when things seem pretty grim to everyone else. It is undeniable that Stoker put a great deal of thought into Van Helsing’s character.
How is Van Helsing related to Dracula?
Abraham Van Helsing is a vampire hunter and Count Dracula’s archenemy. He is one of the members of the Crew of Light who helped rid the Earth of Dracula’s evil. At the outset, Van Helsing was the only character who possesses a mind open enough to recognize that Dracula is a vampire. He sees the Crew of Light as “ministers of God’s own wish”. Stoker portrays Van Helsing as the embodiment of incorruptible good, the hero he recruits “to set the world free.”
In the novel, Van Helsing was called upon by his former student, Dr. John Seward, to diagnose a serious disease suffered by young Lucy Westenra. Recognizing marks upon her neck, he deduces that she is suffering from a classic case of vampirism. It turned out that she’s a victim of Dracula, a vampire Count who has begun menacing England. Van Helsing then administers multiple blood transfusions. He also prescribes Lucy with garlic and gives her a crucifix but he ultimately failed to save her life. Meanwhile, Dracula has purchased properties in and around London, with plans to distribute 50 boxes of Transylvanian soil to them to be used as graves so each property would become a safe lair.
After researching on Dracula’s weaknesses and strengths, the Crew of Light then planned to destroy Dracula to prevent further spread of evil. They visit Dracula’s lairs and place sacramental bread in the boxes of soil to “sterilize” them, preventing Dracula from further using them. The team then tracked Dracula with the help of the hypnotized Mina who has a telepathic link with Dracula. They pursued Dracula to Transylvania. Van Helsing killed the three female vampires in Dracula’s castle. In the final battle, Jonathan Harker brings his Kukri knife down on Dracula’s throat as the bowie knife of Quincey Morris simultaneously impales Dracula’s heart in the final moments of daylight and Dracula’s body finally crumbles to dust.
In the 2004 movie Van Helsing, Dracula reveals that Gabriel Van Helsing, the re-imagined version of Abraham Van Helsing, is the Archangel Gabriel and was the one who originally murdered him before becoming a vampire.
Is Van Helsing a vampire?
Abraham Van Helsing’s initial role in the novel as a helpful professor was gradually replaced with the more compelling title of a vampire hunter.
In the movie Van Helsing in 2004, he was attacked and bitten by Velkan Valerious — a werewolf. He then became a werewolf when the next full moon arrived and commences a final battle with Dracula who turned into a giant bat-like creature. Van Helsing bites into Dracula’s throat, killing him and his offsprings.
In the Van Helsing series, Abraham Van Helsing is the ancestor of Vanessa Van Helsing and Scarlett Harker and was a vampire hunter himself. He was adversaries with Dmitri, a vampire who admired and respected Van Helsing.
Why did Van Helsing kill Dracula when he was human?
Gabriel Van Helsing is a re-imagined version of Abraham Van Helsing from the 2004 action film. He is a monster hunter under the employ of the Vatican. Gabriel was known as the “Left Hand of God” and served as His messenger. At some point, Gabriel descended to earth, took on living flesh, and becomes human. Gabriel fought many great battles during his time on earth. Sometime in the 1460s, he met Count Vladislaus Dracula with whom he became close friends. But Dracula had broken the oath of celibacy of the Knights of the Holy Order. When the woman he loved was banished and killed, he tried to bring her back to life with dark magic. This forced Gabriel to kill him. Unable to deal with the guilt, Gabriel asked God to erase his memories.
Gabriel spent the next 400 years wandering the earth until one day after a battle, again with no memory, he was found half-dead crawling up the steps of the Vatican and a new adventure unfolds.
Who is Van Helsing on BBC Dracula?
The Dracula 2020 TV series released on BBC One and Netflix is based closely on the novel by Bram Stoker. The series, however, had an interesting, unique, and surprising twist. The iconic vampire hunter Van Helsing was portrayed by a woman in the character of Sister Agatha Van Helsing, which makes for one of the best introductions to the Van Helsing character in history.
Agatha is a member of St. Mary’s Convent, Budapest. She met Dracula when he arrives at the Convent following Jonathan Harker. Dracula ended up killing all the nuns except Agatha and Harker’s fiance, Mina. Dracula eventually feeds on Agatha and she was forced to tag along with him on his journey to England. In her attempts to defeat Dracula, Agatha managed to sink their ship while it approaches Whitby. Agatha died but, Dracula, however, sealed himself inside a coffin filled with his native soil as the ship sinks.
One hundred twenty-three years later, Dracula emerges from his coffin and surfaces on Whitby beach. He met Dr. Zoe Van Helsing, whom he has mistaken as Agatha. He tries to feed on her, but her blood makes him vomit as Zoe is terminally ill with cancer. Zoe aims to study the Count like her ancestor Agatha did. When Zoe drunk the Count’s blood, she began to experience Agatha’s memories until she was completely taken over by Agatha. Agatha then reveals she figured out Dracula’s weakness: his fear of death. The first season ended with Zoe/Agatha succumbing to her death while the Count feeds on her poisoned blood.
The showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, when asked how they decided to make Sister Agatha Van Helsing, explained that nuns are more or less dressed in the superhero outfit for fighting vampires. Van Helsing as a nun is, indeed, an unconventional twist.
Portrayals Throughout The Years
The character Van Helsing has been portrayed throughout the years. The first known Van Helsing was played by Edward Van Sloan in the 1931 version of Dracula from Universal. But the most famous incarnation of the character was played by Peter Cushing in the 1958 movie. Peter Cushing has played the character in numerous films and he has been identified with the role of Van Helsing more than any other actor. The character was also played by Sir Laurence Olivier in the 1979 big-screen adaptation, by Anthony Hopkins in the 1992 version, and by Mel Brooks in Dracula: Dead and Loving It in 1995. The vampire hunter also had a spin-off movie, Van Helsing, in 2004 with Hugh Jackman taking on the title role.
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