Dracula Ch. 4-7: Sea Travel Is A Real Pain In The Neck

“There’s something in that wind and in the hoast beyond that sounds, and looks, and tastes, and smells like death” (Stoker 92).

We have a few new narrators in this section:
• Mina Murray, by stenograph and letter
• Lucy Westenra, by letter
• Jack Seward, by phonograph (you can listen to some old phonograph recordings here)
• Quincey Morris, by letter
• Arthur Holmwood, by telegraph

giphy-8
Dracula, maybe?

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll keep mentioning that communication (through whatever medium) as power is a huge theme in this book. Dracula knows it, when he makes Jonathan write letters to mislead anyone looking for him and when he takes away all of Jonathan’s paper along with his luggage (54). I really enjoy the different forms of journals or diaries that the various characters use, eg Jonathan and Mina with stenography, Dr. Seward with the phonograph (74).

Speaking of Dr. Seward, we haven’t seen any memorandums for a while but he’s got one: “Mem. Under what circumstances would I not avoid the
pit of hell?” (75).

giphy-11
THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION, JACK. A GOOD QUESTION.

Why is he asking this to himself, especially at this point in the story where all he’s doing is sitting around being sad about Lucy and watching Renfield? DISCUSS.

Lucy Westenra is hilarious and great but also terrifying. I’m curious why Dr. Seward says that Lucy “is a curious psychological study” (69), as quoted by Lucy. Is it because he’s in love with her already or because there’s something about her that is interesting?
I mean, Lucy is a pretty odd girl. When Seward is trying to propose and is FIDGETING WITH AN EXTREMELY SHARP SURGICAL INSTRUMENT (70) Lucy just thinks it’s adorable. She’s also considers hanging out in graveyards as totally normal for respectable young ladies (to be fair, Mina’s right there with her on that one).

I love that the other supporting characters are first introduced as Lucy’s gaggle of suitors. “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (73). QUESTION, do you think Lucy is secretly really pleased and vain that she has so many boys falling for her? Or is she honestly upset that she has to hurt at least two of them? DISCUSS.

Seward: Lucy rejected me, I guess I’ll go study my favorite madman to make myself feel better.
Morris: Lucy rejected me, I guess I’ll invite her other boyfriends to a barbecue!
Holmwood: I am so good I can express myself by telegram.

Lucy’s clearly got problems, though. When Mina’s describing her sleepwalking and says, “there is an odd concentration about her which I do not understand” (90), I got chills. First of all, yikes, and second of all, is Dracula influencing Lucy in some way? She starts sleepwalking before Dracula even (presumably, if we judge by the ship’s arrival) gets to England. DISCUSS? IDK.giphy-9

Mina mentions practicing her observation skills and writing everything down, just like lady journalists (67) which is probably my favorite thing any Victorian heroine has ever said, but that’s beside the point. Is the implication that Mina is the correspondent who writes the article for the Dailygraph? In previous readings, I assumed she was just pasting in the shipwreck article and the captain’s log because it was relevant, but now I think it is written by her. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense for the article writer to mention what Swale said. Right??? Hashtag internalized misogyny because I assumed anyone writing an article would automatically be a dude. DISCUSS.

Mina doesn’t have the same kitten-like appeal to everyone around her the way Lucy does, but she still seems to attract good friends, eg the old dude Swale. And if she DID write the Dailygraph article, she managed to convince the guys in charge to let her take down the captain’s log, even though it seems like that would be classified to whatever investigations are going on.

We haven’t seen much of Renfield yet, but he seems suitably terrifying and disgusting. I honestly can’t remember anything that happens with Renfield later on, but he definitely has a vampire-like tendency of eating things for their energy, for whatever reason.

We haven’t seen Dracula for a while, but am I correct in assuming the giant dog that runs off the ship is Dracula in disguise? Or am I crazy? DISCUSS.

There are a couple references in these chapters to early Victorian poetry, if you want some further reading:

  • Casabianca” (also known as “The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck”) by Felicia Dorothea Hemans is appropriately terrifying and sad, and also involves a lot of people dying on a boat.
  • Marmion” by Sir Walter Scott is a fairly long poem that I …have not read. Judging by the plot, it’s moderately scandalous! Let me know if you read this and if there are any interesting parallels to Dracula.
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4 thoughts on “Dracula Ch. 4-7: Sea Travel Is A Real Pain In The Neck

  1. “Why is he asking this to himself, especially at this point in the story where all he’s doing is sitting around being sad about Lucy and watching Renfield? DISCUSS.”
    I mean, he DID just say he pushed Renfield’s questioning to the point that he felt it was “cruelty.” Given his immediate comment after as well as later actions with Renfield I think he’s trying to decide how much of his morality he is willing to trade to advance his study of psychology. At least, that was my take on it.

    I’m confused about the whole news article thing since I don’t have the book. Are there two articles? One from the 8th and one from the 9th? Or is the note from the 9th Mina’s journal addition to the article? Why on earth are things in her journal out of order since she later writes about the 8th? GAHHHHH THE DATES

    “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?”
    SPOILERS
    I mean…she gets her wish by one character’s interpretation…

    I definitely figured Dracula was influencing Lucy in some way but maybe it was someone/something else? Like, there’s a lot of weird shenanigans going on in that town at the end of July/early August. Lucy starts sleepwalking on July 26th, that suicide grave they like sitting by (or on?) suspiciously happened on July 29th, all the ship nonsense happens, what’s his face dies, etc. Also at the same time the crazy guy is going crazy in London (I think?). It feels very supernatural/astrology-ish somehow.

    THERE ARE TOO MANY DISCUSSES IN THIS POST I HAVE TO STOP

      1. “QUESTION, do you think Lucy is secretly really pleased and vain that she has so many boys falling for her? Or is she honestly upset that she has to hurt at least two of them? DISCUSS.”
        YES AND ALSO YES
        I FEEL THIS WAY BECAUSE REASONS

        “We haven’t seen Dracula for a while, but am I correct in assuming the giant dog that runs off the ship is Dracula in disguise? Or am I crazy? DISCUSS.”
        This is too hard. I’m still waffling about it. My gut says yes and supposedly your gut is smarter than your brain so I guess I’ll go with that.

    1. Re: the article/dates: UGH THE DATES ARE SO FRUSTRATING. I think she wrote just the one article, but then there’s also the addendum and then the captain’s log, and I think all of that is also in the Dailygraph. It’s unclear.

      re: SPOILERS, HAHA I FORGOT ABOUT THAT PART. YIKES.

      re: Dracula influencing Lucy – it’s just weird, how does he even know she exists before he gets there???? idk man this book is weird.

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