|“||The blood is the life!||„|
|~ Renfield's most famous quote.|
R.M. Renfield is a supporting antagonist in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, and several of its film and TV adaptations. The most common version of the character is Count Dracula's insane and completely devoted slave.
In Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, Renfield is a lawyer who becomes Dracula's henchman after visiting the vampire's palatial lair Castle Dracula. Dracula promises to make him immortal if he follows Dracula's orders. Renfield has a complete mental breakdown after Dracula drinks his blood, and upon returning to England is institutionalized in Dr. Jack Seward's asylum. Renfield raves about "the master" and becomes obsessed with eating insects and small mammals in order to gain their "life force"; his gaolers write him off as a lunatic, unaware that he is prophesying Dracula's travels to England. At one point, Renfield attacks Seward, cutting his arm and drinking his blood.
Throughout Renfield's institutionalization, Dracula appears to him in several animal forms - including that of a bat and a wolf - to instruct him to engineer Mina Harker to come to him and be his bride. When Mina visits him in the asylum, however, Renfield has an attack of conscience and warns her that Dracula is going to kill her. Enraged, Dracula appears in Renfield's cell and attacks him; Renfield tries in vain to fight the Count, who ultimately breaks Renfield's neck.
In Popular Culture
Renfield has been played by several actors in several adaptations of Dracula. They include:
- The late Alexander Granach portrayed Knock, a character based on Renfield, in 1924's Nosferatu, a loose adaptation of Dracula.
- The late Dwight Frye, who also portrayed Fritz in Frankenstein, in the 1931 Universal Studios film Dracula.
- The late Klaus Kinski, who also portrayed Lope de Aguirre of Aguirre, the Wrath of God and, ironically, Count Dracula in Werner Herzog's Nosferatu, the Vampyre, in the 1970 film Count Dracula.
- Tom Waits in Francis Ford Coppolla's 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- Peter MacNicol, who also portrayed Janosz Poha in Ghostbusters II, in Mel Brooks' 1993 film Dracula: Dead and Loving It.
- Samuel Barnett in the TV series Penny Dreadful.