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Renfield: A New Version of a 126-Year-Old Character

Renfield: A New Version of a 126-Year-Old Character

What do you think about Renfield’s relationship to Dracula?

RENFIELD, from left: Nicolas Cage as Dracula, Nicholas Hoult, 2023. ph: Michele K. Short / Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Universal Pictures’ new movie “Renfield,” which hits theaters on April 14, follows Nicholas Hoult as the titular Renfield, a beleaguered familiar to Dracula, played by Nicolas Cage. The movie depicts Dracula and Renfield in the modern day and the latter is at the end of his rope trying to get away from his abusive boss. But if you haven’t read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” in a while — or ever — you may wonder if Renfield is a real character in the world of the novel and how he’s similar to Hoult’s onscreen version.

Ahead, we break down Renfield and Dracula’s relationship in the “Dracula” book.

Is Renfield a Character in “Dracula?”

Of course, “Dracula”‘s title vampire is the most famous character from Stoker’s 1897 novel, but Renfield exists in the work, too. He’s Dracula’s servant — or, as vampires call them, familiar — and he helps Dracula with his devious plans. In the novel, Renfield is a patient at an insane asylum who believes that eating bugs will give him their life force. He reveals that Dracula sends him the insects (since Dracula can control rats, birds, and spiders).

Renfield is described in the book as very strong and excitable, but also morbid and gloomy. He helps Dracula with his plan to turn Mina Harker into a vampire. But Renfield eventually has a change of heart and tries to stop Dracula, and the latter nearly kills him. Van Helsing saves Renfield’s life, only for Dracula to return and finish the job.

Does Renfield Have Powers in “Dracula?”

In “Dracula,” Renfield is convinced he has powers from eating bugs but it doesn’t seem that the bugs give him any special abilities. In the movie “Renfield,” Renfield — now a lawyer who met Dracula in the early 1900s — does get supernatural powers by eating the bugs, thanks to Dracula. Those powers have also kept him young through the years.

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