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).


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.

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.

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”


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.



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

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).


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.

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!