Dracula Ch. 25-27: The End

“Have you seen that awful den of hellish infamy–with the very moonlight alive with grisly shapes, and every speck of dust that whirls in the wind a devouring monster in embryo?”

-Jonathan Harker, who has lost any chill he ever possessed

Happy Halloween!

If you’re reading this, you probably finished reading Dracula (if you haven’t finished reading Dracula, spoiler warning!).

I changed my mind: Adam Driver should play Jack Seward.

If you haven’t checked out the #dracalong hashtag, it’s not too late and it’s full of hilarity. #Recommended

I hope you all enjoyed the book. It’s long, occasionally long-winded, and internally inconsistent, but, hey, we can’t have everything. Or so they tell me.


Let’s talk about these deplorable adorable amateur vampire-hunters one last time.

I like how Van Helsing is dropping new vampire rules to the bitter end, e.g. when he says Dracula “cannot cross the running water of his own volition” (392). Haven’t we already seen Dracula use the ferry on the Thames?

Someone should follow Jack Seward around and poke him around when he says something completely unacceptable, like when he talks about how great euthanasia is (395), during a time when they might soon have to murder Mina for her own good. Like….there is no good time to say that but especially not now, Jack.

Remember that one time (in the end of chapter 25) when Van Helsing sends Mina off to get a manuscript so he can talk about her privately with Jack, but then at the very end of that scene, when they’ve talked to Mina again, Jack informs us that he writes all of these conversations down and THEN HAS MINA TYPE THEM OUT ON HER TYPEWRITER? WHAT IS THE POINT OF PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL DOCUMENTATION PROFESSIONAL? Ahem. This is fine.

In any case, it’s good that they keep Mina informed (by whatever method) as she’s the one to work out which route Dracula is taking back to his castle, and so saves the assassination expedition from failure. I love how she’s “the train fiend” and just, the best at geography and routes and things. Van Helsing and Co. try to rely on hypnotizing her thereby “spying” on Dracula, but instead she helps the most by using her awesome brain, and I love that.

(Me, thinking about Mina Harker)

It takes us a while to get there, but the actual “fight” against Dracula is very short and abrupt.  I appreciate that the format of the book as a collection of documents is striving for realism, and the fact that the most action-packed bit is recounted in very few words adds to that realism. You don’t wax poetic about who traded which blows unless you’re writing epic poetry or something similar. The moment when Jonathan and Quincey deliver the final blows is pretty epic. But I also understand that for such an intense book and for a conflict that’s drawn out for so long, the ending may be unsatisfying. What did you all think?

I think the scene soon before the climax is more graphic and chilling:: when Van Helsing is exploring the castle and sequentially murdering the three female vampires. A. Gross, dude and B. That would be really scary???? To be wandering around a hopefully-abandoned castle???? and murdering beautiful monster ladies????? C. Wolves outside. D. Your friend back at camp who is possibly turning into a vampire at that very moment. E. Big Daddy Vampire might get home at any minute.

And on that note, thanks for joining me on this read-through of Dracula!

(Coming up next: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ll be posting on the first eight chapters next Monday, November 7th).

Dracula Ch. 10-14: Science is (un)Dead

This week on Dracula: we learn, once again, that COMMUNICATION IS SUPER IMPORTANT.

I don’t know why it’s so difficult.

Communication as power is a huge theme in this book, intentionally or not. Keeping people ignorant is a terrible idea especially when there are vampires out to get you – Lucy’s mom agrees with me, I’m sure of it! Like, I understand that Van Helsing is struggling with other people’s inability to believe in blood-sucking monsters, but GOOD. GRIEF. All of the dudes keeping Lucy and her mom in the dark about everything, Van Helsing and Seward trying to keep Arthur in the dark about Lucy, Mina and Jonathan trying to stay in the dark about whatever happened to Jonathan….UGH. JUST. COMPARE NOTES ALREADY.

Renfield is the only other dude besides Van Helsing who knows what’s up (“the blood is the life; the blood is the life!” (170) and he’s insane, and as we all know you can’t trust insane people. Right, Seward?

“I am beginning to wonder if my long habit of life amongst the insane is beginning to tell upon my own brain” (163).

The incredibly detailed interview with the zookeeper is super random, but also, why would you name your gentle loveable captive wolf “Bersicker” (164)? I’m not picking up what you’re putting down, zookeeper. I presume that the wolf that escaped from the zoo is the same wolf that breaks through Lucy’s window and allows Dracula to get in to her. But then Lucy talks about dust floating around in the room and it’s mesmerizing (174), just like Jonathan with the dust that turned into the vamp-ladies, and it seems like if Dracula could shape-shift into dust he could just dust himself through a closed window??? DISCUSS?

But to be honest, Lucy’s diary entry at the end of chapter 11 is one of the more terrifying parts of this book for me. It’s so claustrophobic and helpless-feeling: even though she’s in a house (in the middle of town?) with her mom and a bunch of servants they’re all trapped and essentially at Dracula’s mercy. I don’t know, was it scary for anyone else? Or was there another part that was scarier for you?

Ok but picture this:

you and your doctor bro are bustling around trying to save this girl you have a huuuuge crush on and you’re like “bro we need more blood” and suddenly you realize your American gunslinging bro has been sitting behind you on the sofa the whole time (179).

Me to Quincey Morris.

I don’t have a point to this, I’m just amazing Quincey doesn’t have an attack of the hysterics or something since the girl he likes is dying and stuff. He’s just…sitting there. Creepin.

Meanwhile, Van Helsing has his priorities straight:

“You’re a man, and no mistake. Well, the devil may work against us for all he’s worth, but God sends us men when we want them.”
182 Quincey knows about vampire bats and yet no one has a brain
183 Lucy tearing the paper up is also terrifying
185 “I love you with all the moods and tenses of the verb” mina/lucy 4evah

And sometimes when we don’t want them, to be honest.

I’m trying to stay focused, here, but there is just so much WEIRD STUFF in these chapters, friends! Let’s list a few real quick:

  • There’s a really good Renfield joke to be made here about how the older generation characters are dropping like flies, but I can’t quite manage it. Seriously, though: Lucy’s mom, Arthur’s dad, Jonathan’s boss, all in a couple of chapters. Van Helsing is lucky his grey hair hasn’t killed him yet.
  • There’s Van Helsing’s surprisingly pro-American comment on Quincey Morris: “If America can go on breeding men like that, she will be a power in the world indeed” (207)
  • There’s Arthur’s claim  DURING LUCY’S FUNERAL that he’s totally married to Lucy now because they exchanged fluids (208) and Seward/Morris/Van Helsing probably all die a little inside
  • Van Helsing has an attack of the hysterics (208) but in a manly way I guess??? Seward’s comments on that are wild. Apparently you can lecture women right out of their hysterics, but men cling to their hysterics hard.
  • Ellen Terry name-drop, who was apparently a friend of Bram Stoker’s
  • Bizarre Twilight reference, ahoy: “I am daze, I am dazzle” (219). Are you sure Stephenie Meyer didn’t read this before writing Twilight?

I have two favorite scenes in these chapters.

Number one is when Mina and Van Helsing first meet. I absolutely love how she demurely hands him her notes, doubting if little ol’ me could possibly be of help to a brilliant physician – and then he can’t read shorthand. Of course, Stoker ruins it by making her reference Eve because Stoker hates fun:

“I could not resist the temptation of mystifying him a bit—I suppose it is some of the taste of the original apple that remains still in our mouths” (218).

That apple was delicious, okay.

My other favorite scene is the conversation between Van Helsing and Seward at the end of Chapter 14. Van Helsing completely tears apart Seward’s scientific empiricism and I’m here for it:

“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain” (227).


“He meant that we should have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him; but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe” (229).

Whew! That’s all I got for this week!

But then again “Truly there is no such thing as finality” (225), so here’s some last facts:

Jonathon Harker makes a judgement of Van Helsing’s personality based on his eyebrows and Van Helsing mentions physiognomy. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically the study of human faces and how the way you look means you behave or think a certain way. Victorians loved it because it gives your racism some pseudo-scientific backing. Here are a couple of links.

There are a couple of references in these chapters to contemporary poems, and they’re both PRETTY EFFING DARK but enjoy:

Death-bed” by Thomas Hood (short and what it says on the can)
The Giaour” by Lord Byron (long and includes vampires)