Dracula Ch. 15-17: Van Helsing’s Boy Band

This post contains spoilers through Chapter 17 of Dracula.

These chapters are really going for it. I just…I have…there’s so many…

Okay let’s start with something easy, like: BODY-SNATCHING!

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No wait, not that kind of body-snatching.

But seriously, even though it’s a valid reason for Lucy’s body to be absent from her grave, I LOVE that Seward is the first one to suggest it (235). I found some interesting links about Victorian body-snatchers, if you’re interested. It really was the best way for a Victorian medical student to learn anatomy. Headcanon: Seward was a body-snatcher when he was in medical school. He knows all about how to do it. He was the best body-snatcher in his class. His classmates always went to him for advice on sneaking into graveyards or picking locks.

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I think it’s really interesting that the pediatrician they visit suggests the idea that a vampire bat may be to blame (232). Why didn’t Van Helsing bring up at least the bat theory before he mentions it to Seward in Chapter 14? It would at least have got Seward thinking in the right direction. On the one hand, it makes me CRAZY that Van Helsing doesn’t tell everyone from the get-go that they’re dealing with vampires. On the other hand, they wouldn’t have believed him. On the third hand, he could have said it was a vampire bat and that would at least have helped him get people to watch Lucy constantly, keep windows and doors closed, keep garlic around her, etc. ARGH.

I don’t really understand the rules for vampirism in this book, to be honest. But I think it’s really interesting that because Lucy died while she was sleeping, she is different from other vampires in that during the day she really does look like she’s a sleeping human rather than a soulless monster (239). Also I don’t understand how she can be a soulless monster but also tainting the original Lucy’s soul (necessitating the boys to “cleanse” her via staking, which, okay, YIKES).

I also don’t know how Van Helsing’s use of the Host and his indulgence really makes sense (249). There’s a good (and vaguely spoilery) blog post about it here (thanks to gamedevftw for the link). If anyone else has helpful information, I’d be interested.

I like how Van Helsing is SO READY to kill the vampire, when he and Seward go to Lucy’s tomb and find her in it, and then he’s like “oh wait, Arthur’s feeeeeelings” (240). Like, haven’t you put a lot of thought into this already, since you’ve already waited SO LONG since Lucy died? She’s wandering around preying on kids and you’re just now getting around to the staking and – whoops! Don’t have my crew with me! To be fair, Arthur IS having a terrible year. At least Quincey is around to keep him laughing with “Americanisms” and whatnot. Quincey seems like almost a redundant character at this point – what is his narrative function? DISCUSS. You have Seward and Arthur already as Lucy’s suitors, Seward is the rejected one and Arthur is the accepted one, Seward has plot-relevant skills and such…..Quincey’s just a hired gun.

There are a lot of gruesome and/or scary scenes in these chapters but I’m not sure what to say about them. Lucy throwing the small child onto the ground  “with a careless motion” (251) is the most chilling for me personally.

I love how this book includes letters that were not read by their original recipients at the time they were written: e.g. Mina’s last letters to Lucy and Van Helsing’s “if you’re reading this I’m dead” letter to Seward. It makes the fictional documents format of the book really interesting and purposeful and realistic; you can picture the characters putting together the documents afterward and slipping the “unread” ones in.

“Mina and I have worked all day, and we have put all the papers in order” (270).

The Harkers: DATA ANALYSIS DREAM TEAM! I’m really happy that the whole (?) team is together now. Seward and Mina’s scenes crack me up, from Seward’s thought of “I must be careful not to frighten her” (260) to Mina nerding out over Seward’s phonograph (261) to Seward’s realization that he has NO idea how to use his phonograph diary as a reference tool (262). I look forward to more of their dynamic. I’m glad Jonathan is able to show his skills now that he’s recovered, from hunting down Dracula’s mysterious boxes to collating data to just standing around looking pretty. Wait. Um. Yeah.

Harkers ftw.

“The world seems full of good men—even if there are monsters in it” (265).

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