08 October 2009

Dracula - Chapters 7-8: Dracula stops by for tea

So as promised to Victoria in the comments, let's talk about Lucy. Even after I've seen what her sleep-walking leads to, I still have questions. I understand her being awake and walking around after she gets bit by our good friend the Count, but why was she doing it before? My guess is that she was exposed to some other vampire at some other point, but where? So many unanswered questions.

And Mina. Oh Mina. Stupid Mina. After coming across Lucy in the churchyard, apparently in the embrace of some stranger, she prudently puts a cloak on her friend.
I fastened the shawl at her throat with a big safety-pin; but I must have been clumsy in my anxiety and pinched or pricked her with it, for by-and-by, when her breathing became quieter, she put her hand to her throat again and moaned.

The emphasis there was added by me. Mina, darling, two quick thoughts here. First, if she was moaning and putting her hand to her throat before you used the safety pin, it probably wasn't the safety pin. Secondly, if you stab someone with a safety pin, you're going to feel it. I understand that Stoker has to keep the suspense going, make sure his characters don't figure it all out before they're supposed to, but come on. She really is meant for Jonathan. Neither of them can see past the freaking obvious.

And we confirm our suspicions of Lucy have been Drac'd, when the Count is shipped to London and Lucy feels all better. Just when things seem to be settling down in the coastal town, Mina gets a letter from a nun about Jonathan. It's off to Hungary time for her! I can kind of understand the idea here, run to the side of your lover when they're ill. Makes sense. But that said, if he's insane, maybe you should take someone with you. No?

I should just note in passing, since I didn't cover it earlier, that log from the ship was absolutely chilling, and amazingly well-written. There are few things as great as a good nautical thriller. I mean, look at Der fliegende Holländer or Peter Grimes. Storms, the sea, and spooky ships are always an A+ combination.

Finally, we get to Renfield and Dr. Seward. So Renfield is really quite obviously a vampire, now that we've seen him refer to Dracula as Master. And Seward hasn't quite caught on yet. In his mind, "Master" is still in Renfield's head. It'll be interesting to see how Seward, the rational man that he is, comes to terms with Renfield being even weirder than previously thought. (Also: Seward is a chloroform addict! Neat! I didn't know we'd be dealing with high-end drugs in this novel.)

Alright, that's it for tonight. Any thoughts on the last two chapters, or the novel thus far? Let's have them in the comments!


  1. Hey, nice post. Re: Lucy and sleepwalking, my guess was more that Dracula was exerting some sort of subconscious psychic influence on her as he was approaching. Kind of the same for Renfield -- I didn't get the impression that he was actually a vampire, because wouldn't he be able to like turn into mist or a wolf or something and escape his cell?

    I also liked the chloroform bit -- I wonder if Stoker's building any parallel between Dracula's power over people and the addictive powers of certain drugs. We'll see if it shakes out:)

  2. I hadn't given any thought to the Drac/Drug parallel, but that's really interesting. Now I've gotta watch for that.

    And the subconscious psychic influence absolutely makes the most sense, now that I think about it. But it makes you wonder why Dracula chose Lucy and Renfield. If he's got the power, why not all of England? That may just be author choice to keep the scope of the novel easily handled, but it is an interesting question.

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  4. Remember when Harker was transfixed by the swirling dust in the moonlight or whatever when he was in the Castle? My guess is Lucy is under something like that.

    I'm still sticking with my Renfield=vampire senario...I like it better :) I mean he obviously has super-human strength if he wrentched the window out of his cell, and then climbed the wall a la Drac lizard-ing down the wall of his castle. Maybe he was just waiting for "Master" to come until he got out, waiting for instructions kind of thing?

  5. Yeah, I'm starting to go for the Renfield=vampire scenario. I just need to figure out how he gets energy, since he hasn't been drinking much blood.

  6. Nice addition of a Peter Grimes reference there, dude.

  7. It was all I could think of! Those two operas! Damn you musicology!