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Vampire

Did sunlight kill Dracula in the novel?

MMDE: Sunlight killed Dracula in the novel

Current: Sunlight did not kill Dracula in the novel

Most everyone knows how Dracula in the movies flees sunlight. In many, he and other vampires are killed by it and his body is shown crumbling away to dust.

Not many people realise this is entirely a fiction introduced in the movies only, and was not present in the original novel.

In fact it is even possible to pinpoint which movie introduced this. It was the 1922 Nosferatu, which, whilst a classic in its own right, was widely regarded as a Dracula clone in all but name due to copyright reasons. It's not the only deviation from the novel either - a swarm of rats is brought in with his ship, which spreads a plague in the town. This is entirely missing from the novel. 

Sunlight

In the book, Dracula is weakened in sunlight and loses many of his powers. He is perfectly able to move about normally though, and doesn't try to escape it in terror the way the movies show. Sunlight definitely doesn't burn him on contact. When he loses these powers, such as his strength and the ability to shape shift, he acts like a normal human.

In the novel, he only keeps his powers when he moves long distances if he stays in his coffin which was buried in soil from Transylvania. This is why he carries so much on the ship with him when he sails to England.

Bats

Actual vampire bats also sleep during the day, avoiding sunlight, which is most likely for safety. This is probably where the inspiration for the idea of Dracula avoiding it if possible came from.

Deeper meaning

The idea behind sunlight killing the bad guy is a reworking of the age-old good vs evil battle. It's a convenient way to illustrate how good will always triumph in the end, and similar ideas have appeared in countless works throughout history, for example Star Wars with the Dark side of the force, etc.