This post includes spoilers through chapter 24 of Dracula.
Once again I don’t know where to start with these chapters. We have developments with Renfield, lots of Van Helsing monologues, a terrifying vampire attack, and honestly an awful lot of moaning. I like how now that the team has formed, all of them are able to work together and do what they’re best at – eg Jonathan can abuse his capacity at the law to find Dracula’s properties; Van Helsing can provide collegian lectures on their foe; Quincey can shoot things….. I also like how they start to pair off according to their skill sets: Jack and Van Helsing the morbid doctors, Arthur and Quincey the hunters, Mina and Jonathan the documenters. Not romantic pairs, although Arthur and Quincey should probably stop showing up together in their pajamas (327).
So Renfield. I don’t even like Renfield and I still have 1,000 questions about how he fell in with Dracula and what his life (and death) goals are. Renfield gets upset when he sees Mina because he realizes Dracula is feeding on her and“it made me mad to know that he had been taking the life out of her” (331). Why is he mad? What is so special about Mina? I know Mina was nice to him THAT ONE TIME she met him, but honestly Renfield seems so completely determined before but suddenly he is throwing himself at his “Lord and Master” and getting the crap beaten out of him. What’s also, um, remarkable is that Van Helsing and his boys don’t even KNOW Mina is getting vamped until Renfield tells them. Because they are idiots, I guess.
And then none of them except Van Helsing has their stakes with them (332)! What a bunch of rookies! Van Helsing did not raise you this way!
QUINCEY: We can’t just barge into a lady’s room!
VAN HELSING: That rule doesn’t apply to doctors, and anyway Van Helsing can go ANYWHERE HE LIKES.
That scene in the Harkers room is terrifying though and I don’t want to talk about it, someone else can.
Instead, let’s do a Quincey sidebar because. Wow. This guy is a weirdo, there I said it.
- When the Harkers are attacked, Quincey runs outside and Jack sees him hide beside a tree. Is he….trying to hunt Dracula? Play hide and seek? I don’t think they covered this in Vampirehunting 101.
- When they try to assassinate Dracula by waiting for him at one of his houses, Quincey takes charge and “without speaking a word, with a gesture, placed us each in position” (359). Headcanon that he’s doing all of these elaborate hand-signals and the rest of them are looking at each other like “wtf is Quincey trying to say???” “I don’t know, YOU fought with him in the jungle or whatever.”
- Arthur is all, “Hey, it’s fine, guys, we’ll take my car[riage]” and Quincey’s response is A+: “Look here, old fellow, it is a capital idea to have all ready in case we want to go horsebacking; but don’t you think that one of your snappy carriages with its heraldic adornments in a byeway of Walworth or Mile End would attract too much attention for our purposes” (346-7). It’s just. The best.
- According to Van Helsing: “when Quincey give him something from his pocket which crackle as he roll it up” (372). I tried to find out what Quincey is bribing the sailor with but it’s a mystery. I’m guessing it’s paper money (maybe even YANK money!!!!), and Van Helsing is just describing it in a weird way because Van Helsing.
- “Quincey is all man, God bless him for it” (385). Yeah, okay, Van Helsing, but maybe don’t encourage Quincey because he really needs to find some chill.
We’re going to revisit my favorite theme in this book, “communication is power.” Dracula is a pretty smart guy, and knows his best chance (besides murdering all of them) is to destroy all their written evidence that they have painstakingly gathered and organized. So he goes and burns all their notes (336), like a jerk. BUT FORTUNATELY they have three copies because of Mina’s magical Manifold typewriter and also because she plans ahead. Four for you, Mina Harker! You go, Mina Harker, you use that man-brain.
We need a Jonathan Harker sidebar too.
- Jon’s white hair (355): for some reason I remembered his white hair happening after the castle section. Anyway, Victorian stories seem to be really into hair color change after traumatic events (see: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle).
- “Today he is a drawn, haggard old man , whose white hair matches well with the burning eyes and grief-written lines of his face. His energy is still intact; in fact he is like a living flame.” I’ll just leave this quote here.
- Jon’s Kukri knife is first mentioned (360), which I find hilarious because we have seen no sign of it before this point, and like, why do you even h
ave one of those, and Bram did you even PLAN THIS BOOK AHEAD or did you suddenly decide Jon needed a terrifying weapon? Kukri knives are pretty significant. My notes tell me that they’re the weapon of a group from Nepal called the Gurkha, which both helped and fought against the British at different points in India. Essentially, this is the most imperialist weapon Jon could possibly be using, and he’s using it to get rid of the reverse-colonialist vampire. That’s….really subtle, Bram. PS: I’m not posting links because hilariously a lot of them have Dracula spoilers. Apparently Bram Stoker REALLY popularized this weapon.
- “…if we find out that Mina must be a vampire in the end, then she shall not going into that unknown and terrible land alone” (350) My notes here just say “jon holy shit holy shit.” Somehow I’ve never noticed that Jon is saying that if they can’t save Mina, he’s decided to become a vampire too. Which is ….pretty dark, considering their beliefs about vampires being irredeemable and damned.
And today on “Pretty Unacceptable Things to Say” with our favorite doctor, Van Helsing:
- “Do you forget,” he said, with actually a smile, “that last night he banqueted heavily, and will sleep late?” (348). Too soon, bro. Too soo.
- “the Vampire’s baptism of blood” (378): do you think these through before you say them, or do you just blurt them as they occur to you? No chill, VH. No chill.
Bonus “And That Was Just Freaking Weird” round from Dracula:
- “Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine – my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed” (361).
A few of you have finished the book already, and the rest of us are well on the way! One more week! Three more chapters! Yay!