Dracula Ch. 8-10: It’s Probably Just A Flesh Wound

Spoilers through Chapter 10 of Dracula.

“We are hedged in with difficulties.” – Jack Seward 

 

We get one “new” perspective in this section, albeit a short one, with the letters concerning the shipment of boxes. I love how the delivery company is like “yeah sure we’ll deliver these giant boxes to this “partially ruined building” (119), it’s your business if your stuff gets ruined from exposure.” These foreigners don’t know how to care for their possessions, am I right.

Dracula has been MIA lately, unless that’s him as a bat/large bird (???) that is outside of Lucy’s window a couple of times (116/117). I wish the dates in the book were more consistent, because it would be fun to line up Renfield’s behavior with what Dracula might be doing at the time based on what’s happening with Lucy.

I really enjoy Seward’s understatements regarding Renfield, eg “a strong Man with homicidal and religious mania at once might be dangerous” (123) and about his mood swings: “it would almost seem as if there was some influence which came and went” (131-2).

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YOU THINK, JACK?

Anyway, back to our friends.

“Some of ‘New Woman’ writers will some day start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the New Woman won’t condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself. And a nice job she will make of it, too!” (110-111)

The New Woman that Mina refers to was the term used to describe the emerging group of women, mostly middle class, who were interested in crazy things like voting or working or simply being independent. I can’t really tell how much Mina approves or disapproves of the whole idea. DISCUSS?

Jonathan is back, our dear Jon full of all “his sweetness and gentleness” (123). some of the images in this book are great, and Jon running into the train station screaming about monsters is one of them. I like how Mina feels secure about “no other woman” (128) being in between her and Jon, but the argument can be made that there are THREE women and a man between them. It’s probably fine though. JUST READ THE DAMN JOURNAL, MINA.

I’m impressed with Stoker’s choices of perspectives. For example, I’m glad we don’t get Arthur or Morris (maybe later, I forget). Seward’s perspective is enough to show us all of the Lucy Fanclub feelings, and his job as mental asylum doctor is a lot more plot-relevant than anything Arthur or Morris are doing. I’m also glad we don’t get Van Helsing (maybe later, I forget), as it would kill a lot of the slow-build suspense that is working really well at this point in the story.

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Lucy’s “dream” of her sleepwalking episode is terrifying and claustrophobic and I love it.

I was trying to find out info on chloral hydrate, the thing Seward is taking because he is incredibly emo and upset over Lucy (124). Apparently it’s an early sedative, which sounds totally fine to take to cure insomnia. Don’t do drugs, Jack.

The blood transfusions are really interesting and horrifying. BLOOD TYPES ARE A THING. But it’s interesting how much importance they place on the act; Jack continues to have no chill about anything: “Jack has absolutely no chill “No man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves” (154) and Van Helsing is concerned that Arthur will be jealous if he knows Jack has also given Lucy blood.

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everyone needs to calm down tbh

Speaking of Van Helsing, THIS GUY. One of the first things he said in his first letter makes my head spin:

“Tell your friend that when that time you suck from my wound so swiftly the poison of the gangrene from that knife that our other friend, too nervous, let slip, you did more for him when he wants my aids and you call for them than all his great fortune could do.” (137)

I have no idea what he’s saying, there. Who sucked gangrene from where because who was dropping a knife? How would sucking it from a knife help, I don’t understand, send help.

Jack’s letter: “Everything is fine pretty much”

Arthur: *BURSTS INTO THE ROOM* “DON’T LIE TO ME”

Van Helsing: “Great we need your blood”

But Van Helsing is a really helpful addition to their crew, seeing as no one has the first clue what is going on, except maybe Renfield, and no one is giving that guy the time of day. I mean, at least he knows the useful properties of common garlic.


I had to google “the smuts of London” (138) because I had no idea what Van Helsing was saying but it sounded dirty. I guess I was sorta right.

Seward quotes “The unexpected always happens” (132) which is helpful to remember  in many situations including but not limited to  when your friends are being hunted by vampires. If you’re unfamiliar with Benjamin Disraeli, he’s a pretty important Victorian-era dude.

 

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Dracula Ch. 1-3: And You Think Your Job Sucks

 

“What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor’s clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner?” (Stoker 21)

Jonathan Harker, a solicitor, begins as the narrator of Dracula. So let’s talk about this guy. He keeps a pretty descriptive journal for your average traveling lawyer. His account of his travels into Transylvania begins as a straightforward travelogue; he’s doing his best to describe the countryside, people and customs as accurately as possible. Obviously, though, his bias is real strong in favor of English Protestants. I like how he is judging the locals for all their superstitions, eg the sign against the evil eye, but HE HIMSELF has lots of uncomfortable feelings about wearing the rosary he is given by a local (10). Dear old Jon has lots of superstitions of his own that he doesn’t even notice. Again, he’s judging the locals for being so ignorant and quaint, but clearly the locals know a lot that he doesn’t. Like, say, LOCAL COUNTRYSIDE VAMPIRISIM? Even more hilarious is when, after their previous efforts have failed, they try to keep Jon from meeting up with Dracula’s coachman by getting him to the meeting place ahead of time. “SORRY, ENGLISH GUY, NO ONE HERE, SORRY, WE TRIED EVERYTHING, NOW LET’S GO HOME” (15). No one can say they didn’t do their best for the English idiot running off into bat country.

iar2sy6In spite of his terrifying carriage ride, Jonathan tries to keep up with his travelogue, describing the Count, the castle, and the history and culture he learns from the Count. Even when Dracula doesn’t show up in mirrors (34), Jon tries to remain the stodgy English solicitor – his travelogue doesn’t really give up and die until Jonathan sees Dracula crawling across the castle like a giant scary spiderman (44). After that, we’re pretty solidly in horror-genre territory. Jon seems to give up on his cute little Memos, too: “Mem. This diary seems horribly like the beginning of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ for everything has to break off at cockcrow—or like the ghost of Hamlet’s father.)” (39). THAT’S NOT A RECIPE, JON.

On Twitter, @baubitt pointed out Jonathan’s weird sexism toward ladies in olden times. Further, it’s fascinating that Jon identifies more to a woman writing love-letters than to Wallachian warlords (46). Like, he doesn’t wander around the castle looking at tables and saying “in ages past some striking manly bloodthirsty warrior type made his ill-spelt plans UPON THIS VERY TABLE.” He’s also meeting basic requirements for the damsel in distress trope thus far: trapped in a castle, at the mercy of a masculine Gothic villain, wanders around at night against orders, is almost gang-kissed by lady vampires….Honestly, the scene with all the vampires fighting over Jon is the kind of quality content I’m here for. Although their discussion about Dracula’s ability to love is terrifying and strange: what do you make of it?

A few notes on our jolly old Count:
-the coachman is definitely him, right? Right?
-Dracula is not a sexy vampire so far (24-25). Where did the sexy vampire trope come from?
-he’s a smart dude. He knows that language is power – he wants to be seen as a master and knows he has to master the local language to do so (27-28). I like how many times he asks Jon how to really blend in with the natives, wink wink nudge nudge.
-“Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders” (29). BLOOD. BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

Technology Sighting! I like Jonathan’s cutting-edge shorthand diary and how proud he is of it: “It is nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill” (46). You go, babe.

What are your thoughts so far? Feel free to comment below, and remember to check out the #dracAlong hashtag on twitter/instagram!

Dracula Readalong

Dracula by Bram Stoker (in which Mina and her many boyfriends hunt monsters) has all the spine-tingles of a good horror story and all the wordcraft of a classic. I’m rereading one of my favorite books, starting September 5th. I’m hoping to finish by Halloween, as if right and proper. Please join me!

The Schedule: img_1779
9/13: Finish Chapter 3
9/20: Finish Chapter 7
9/27: Finish Chapter 10
10/4: Finish Chapter 14
10/11: Finish Chapter 17
10/18: Finish Chapter 20
10/25: Finish Chapter 24
10/31:Finish Chapter 27

I’ll be posting here a couple of times a week with quotes, questions, and random observations/commentary. Any page number references will be to my copy, the Barnes and Noble 2003 paperback.  I might do some extra reading on JSTOR or other weird places; if I find anything interesting, I’ll link it.

Starter question: Have you read Dracula before? Is there an edition or cover that you particularly love? I keep meaning to take a peek at The New Annotated Dracula because it sounds hilarous and awesome.