Abraham Van Helsing

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Abraham Van Helsing
Dracula character
First appearanceDracula
Last appearanceDracula
Created byBram Stoker
Portrayed byEdward Van Sloan (Dracula and Dracula's Daughter)
John Gottowt (Nosferatu)
Peter Cushing (Horror of Dracula)
Herbert Lom (Count Dracula)
Frank Finlay (Count Dracula)
Laurence Olivier (Dracula)
Walter Ladengast (Nosferatu the Vampyre)
Jack Gwillim (The Monster Squad)
Nigel Davenport (Bram Stoker's Dracula)
Anthony Hopkins (Bram Stoker's Dracula)
Mel Brooks (Dracula: Dead and Loving It)
Christopher Plummer (Dracula 2000)
Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing and Van Helsing: The London Assignment)
Casper Van Dien (Dracula 3000)
Paul Vigrass (Demons)
Keith Reay (Dracula Reborn)
Rutger Hauer (Dracula 3D)
David Suchet (Dracula)
David Moroni (Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Information
AliasesVan Helsing
Professor Van Helsing
Dr. Van Helsing
SpeciesHuman
GenderMale
OccupationProfessor
Doctor
Lawyer
Vampire Hunter
Monster Hunter
Protagonist
FamilyVan Helsing
ReligionRoman Catholic
NationalityDutch
 
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Abraham Van Helsing
Dracula character
First appearanceDracula
Last appearanceDracula
Created byBram Stoker
Portrayed byEdward Van Sloan (Dracula and Dracula's Daughter)
John Gottowt (Nosferatu)
Peter Cushing (Horror of Dracula)
Herbert Lom (Count Dracula)
Frank Finlay (Count Dracula)
Laurence Olivier (Dracula)
Walter Ladengast (Nosferatu the Vampyre)
Jack Gwillim (The Monster Squad)
Nigel Davenport (Bram Stoker's Dracula)
Anthony Hopkins (Bram Stoker's Dracula)
Mel Brooks (Dracula: Dead and Loving It)
Christopher Plummer (Dracula 2000)
Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing and Van Helsing: The London Assignment)
Casper Van Dien (Dracula 3000)
Paul Vigrass (Demons)
Keith Reay (Dracula Reborn)
Rutger Hauer (Dracula 3D)
David Suchet (Dracula)
David Moroni (Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Information
AliasesVan Helsing
Professor Van Helsing
Dr. Van Helsing
SpeciesHuman
GenderMale
OccupationProfessor
Doctor
Lawyer
Vampire Hunter
Monster Hunter
Protagonist
FamilyVan Helsing
ReligionRoman Catholic
NationalityDutch

Professor Abraham Van Helsing is a character from Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula. Van Helsing is a Dutch doctor with a wide range of interests and accomplishments, partly attested by the string of letters that follows his name: "M.D., D.Ph., D.Litt., etc." The character is best known as a vampire hunter, monster hunter, and the archenemy of Count Dracula.

Dracula[edit]

In the novel, Van Helsing is called in by his former student, Dr. John Seward, to assist with the mysterious illness of Lucy Westenra. Van Helsing's friendship with Seward is based in part upon an unknown prior event in which Van Helsing suffered a grievous wound, and Seward saved his life by sucking out the gangrene. It is Van Helsing who first realizes that Lucy is the victim of a vampire, and he guides Dr. Seward and his friends in their efforts to save Lucy.

In the novel, from the annotations of Leonard Wolf, it is mentioned that Van Helsing had a son who died. Van Helsing says that his son, had he lived, would have had a similar appearance to another character, Arthur Holmwood. Consequently, Van Helsing developed a particular fondness of Holmwood. Van Helsing's wife went insane after their son's death, but as a devout Catholic, he refuses to divorce her. ("with my poor wife dead to me, but alive by Church's law, though no wits, all gone, even I, who am faithful husband to this now-no-wife".)

Van Helsing is one of the few characters in the novel who is fully physically described in one place. In chapter 14, Mina describes him as:

a man of medium height, strongly built, with his shoulders set back over a broad, deep chest and a neck well balanced on the trunk as the head is on the neck. The poise of the head strikes me at once as indicative of thought and power. The head is noble, well-sized, broad, and large behind the ears. The face, clean-shaven, shows a hard, square chin, a large resolute, mobile mouth, a good-sized nose, rather straight, but with quick, sensitive nostrils, that seem to broaden as the big bushy brows come down and the mouth tightens. The forehead is broad and fine, rising at first almost straight and then sloping back above two bumps or ridges wide apart, such a forehead that the reddish hair cannot possibly tumble over it, but falls naturally back and to the sides. Big, dark blue eyes are set widely apart, and are quick and tender or stern with the man's moods.

Van Helsing's personality is described by John Seward, his former student, thus:

He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy.[1]

In the novel Van Helsing is described with what is apparently a thick German accent, in that his English is broken, and he uses various German phrases like, "Mein Gott" (My God). Though his name is Dutch and he receives the telegram in Amsterdam, there is no given explanation for the German accent, as a result, many films depict the character as being German instead of Dutch, despite the Dutch name and having received the telegram in Amsterdam.

Adaptations of the novel have tended to play up Van Helsing's role as the vampire professional-expert, sometimes to the extent that it is depicted as his major occupation. In the novel, however, Dr. Seward is unaware of this side of his old friend and requests Van Helsing's assistance simply because Lucy's affliction has him baffled and Van Helsing "knows as much about obscure diseases as any one in the world". Indeed, Van Helsing takes too much time (weeks and months) to recognise Lucy's illness, and seems to have no practical knowledge about vampires. Until her funeral, he tells no one his theory of Lucy's death.

Count Dracula, having acquired ownership of England’s Carfax estate through solicitor Jonathan Harker, moved to the estate and began menacing England. His victims included Lucy Westenra, who lived in Whitby. The aristocratic girl has suitors such as John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris, and has a best friend in Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker’s fiancée. Seward, who worked as a doctor in an insane asylum — where one of the patients, the incurably mad Renfield, secretly serves Dracula — contacts Van Helsing about Lucy Westenra’s peculiar loss of blood. Van Helsing, recognizing the mark of the vampire, tries to save Lucy, but she dies and returns as a vampire. Eventually, Van Helsing and a heartbroken Arthur destroy the vampiric Lucy.

Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters pursue Dracula back to Transylvania. There, they chase him down the Borgo Pass and corner him. Armed with knives, Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris slit Dracula's throat and impale his heart. Dracula's body then crumbles to dust.

Later, Van Helsing takes a grandfatherly role in regard to the young Quincey Harker, Jonathan and Mina's son.

Film adaptations[edit]

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror was the first film version of Dracula. Although it followed the same basic plot as the novel, names were changed: Van Helsing is Professor Bulwer and appears only in a few scenes. Unlike the book, he is a friend of Thomas Hutter (the film's version of Jonathan Harker) before he meets Count Orlok (a renamed Count Dracula) and never meets the vampire face to face.

Peter Cushing's character in the Hammer movies may not have had the first name "Abraham" as his case reads J. Van Helsing, as seen in The Brides of Dracula. In the series of Hammer Dracula films set in the 1970s, the character of Van Helsing is named Lawrence Van Helsing and is seen in the prologue (set in 1872) of Dracula AD 1972. These movies had Dracula being resurrected in the 1970s only to meet Lawrence's grandson, Lorrimar Van Helsing, a different vampire hunter also played by Cushing. In The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Cushing plays the original Van Helsing from the Hammer series.

Christopher Plummer portrayed Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 2000 (he had previously appeared as a vampire hunter, Professor Paris Catalano, in Vampire in Venice). After defeating Count Dracula (Gerard Butler), Van Helsing finds that the vampire lord cannot die in the conventional means of destroying a vampire and he only succeeded in paralysing him in a deathlike state. Knowing that Dracula would inevitably rise again, Van Helsing imprisoned the vampire beneath his Carfax Abbey estate, using leeches to dilute Dracula's blood and transfuse it into himself as a means of preserving his own life until he can find a means of destroying Dracula. This has the unintentional side-effect of creating a link between Dracula and Van Helsing's daughter. When Dracula escapes after his coffin is stolen, Van Helsing's daughter and his assistant are able to use this connection to deduce Dracula's true identity and defeat him after the elder Van Helsing's death.

Hugh Jackman played Gabriel Van Helsing, the eponymous hero of Van Helsing (2004), loosely based on Bram Stoker's character. Gabriel hunts monsters for a secret organization made up of the world's religions (known as the Knights of the Holy Order) to rid the world of evil "that the rest of mankind has no idea exists", although he is the most wanted man in Europe for his conspicuous actions. In the movie he is sent to Transylvania to kill Count Dracula. When he arrives, Dracula tells Gabriel that they have already met and have quite a history together. It is implied that Gabriel is actually the angel Gabriel, with vague references referring to Dracula's murderer as the "Left Hand of God".

Notable actors to have portrayed Van Helsing in film adaptations of Dracula include:

Appearances in other media[edit]

Novels[edit]

In the 2009 Dacre Stoker novel Dracula the Un-dead, Van Helsing is now a 75 year old man with heart problems, having apparently been disgraced in the medical profession for deaths caused by improper blood transfusions; he was also briefly a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders due to his knowledge of anatomy and reputation for mutilating corpses for unspecified reasons. He later becomes a vampire himself after a battle with Dracula.

In Kim Newman's series Anno Dracula, Van Helsing has failed to kill Dracula. As a result, the vampire lord has conquered the United Kingdom after marrying Queen Victoria and becoming her Prince Consort. Van Helsing, meanwhile, was killed at the hands of Dracula, and his head is displayed at Buckingham Palace.

Comics[edit]

Dracula and Rachel Van Helsing: The Tomb of Dracula #40 (Jan. 1976). Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

Abraham Van Helsing was also portrayed in the The Tomb of Dracula Marvel Comics series, which was based on the characters of Bram Stoker's novel.

In the Marvel Comics miniseries X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula, Van Helsing joins forces with the immortal mutant Apocalypse and his worshipers, Clan Akkaba, in order to destroy Dracula, their common enemy. It is noted that Van Helsing had encountered Apocalypse before and previously believed him a vampire.

In Fangland by John Marks, the re-imagined Van Helsing is split into two separate characters, namely Clementine Spence and Austen Trotta.

In Italian comic book Martin Mystère, Van Helsing's name is Richard. He became a vampire after being bitten by one, and after destroying Dracula he came to London to solve the case of Jack the Ripper.

Media involving descendants of Van Helsing[edit]

There have been numerous works of fiction depicting descendants of Van Helsing carrying on the family tradition.

Films[edit]

Television[edit]

Comics[edit]

Games[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]