R.M. Renfield was a resident patient in Dr. John (Jack in some cases) Seward’s asylum and is the only named patient in the novel. He was diagnosed a "zoophagous maniac" or carnivorous madman, ingesting insects and spiders, believing their life-force would prolong his years. His age in the novel is stated as being 59. It is also stated when he was being subdued he showed the strength of a tiger, more a wild beast than human. He is also quite crafty and displays a superior intellect when he is not in a melancholy state or a fit of rage. Dracula brutally killed Renfield for his eventual betrayal.
Dr. John Seward shares several sets of notes about Renfield, the first set being his initial observations about his patient:
- Renfield’s age according to the novel is 59 years old; this varies depending on the retelling.
- He possesses a “sanguine temperament” meaning that he has a cheerful or positive outlook on life, despite being in harsh circumstances.
- He has great physical strength
- He is “morbidly excitable”
- He goes through “periods of gloom ending in some fixed idea” which is unknown to Seward.
His second set of notes leads him to the conclusion that Renfield wants to become a vampire:
- Renfield refuses to mention “drinking”
- He fears the thought of being burdened with the “soul” of anything
- He has no dread of wanting “life” in the future
- He despises the meaner forms of life altogether, though he dreads being haunted by their souls.
Conclusion? Renfield wants eternal life via vampiric transformation, courtesy of Count Dracula.