13 October 2009

Dracula - Chapters 9-12: Why do Victorians hate garlic?

The chapters in which Lucy is sick. Pretty easily summed up: Lucy is sick, Seward doesn't know what to do, he calls Van Helsing who does the right thing, people undo the right thing, Lucy gets worse. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about a couple of things from these chapters.

Firstly, while I agree with Victoria over at VPO that it is not the smartest idea ever for Van Helsing to not tell anyone what he's doing, I think he has a reason. I'm absolutely positive that Van Helsing knows what is going on. He's got the garlic (which we know keeps away vampires), and he's giving Lucy much-needed blood while trying to make sure she isn't alone at night. So he's got this figured out. But I'm not sure if he's 100% certain yet, and I think that is where he derives his reticence to let anyone in on the secret. I've been trying all day to come up with a parallel, and I'm having trouble. Imagine that you think your mom is secretly an alien. But there is NO WAY you are telling anyone until you are positive. I mean, that just gets you laughed at. Also, it alerts the other aliens that you know. Once you have proof and a way to get rid of her slimy self, you act. In much the same way, Van Helsing is waiting until he has everything he needs to rid the greater London area of Vampires, and he isn't showing his cards in the meantime.

That said, it's leading to some awfully horrible things. Some of these circumstances just seem like something out of Comedy of Errors (or a good Looney Tunes cartoon), but they leave us horrified rather than humored. So it should come as no surprise that things finally work for the worse and Lucy is dealt a final blow from the escaped wolf who is in the company of the original Batman. As she is attended to by Seward, Van Helsing, and her third suitor, Quincey Morris, we get to hear of a couple interesting stories on the side.

Story One: Jonathan and Mina Harker are back in England! And they've come into a boatload of money! And Mina has decided to again start writing Lucy. She, sadly, doesn't realize it's too late. I wonder if we're going to get the journey from Budapest to Essex any time. That would be an awfully interesting tale, I think. Alternatively, it could be heinously boring.

Story Two: Renfield is still insane! Patrick Hennessey, the only man with enough letters after his name to rival Van Helsing, is looking after the asylum while Seward is off taking care of Lucy. He reports that Renfield has broken out again and gone chasing after two laborers carrying heavy boxes from Dracula's British estate. Now, we know that heavy boxes going to the estate had Dracula in them. What do you suppose these contained? My guess is maybe Dracula again, now that he has done in Lucy. Maybe that was his whole goal in coming. Renfield lends some credence to this when he shouts as he is being restrained:
I'll frustrate them! They shan't rob me! They shan't murder me by inches! I'll fight for my Lord and Master!
I think he is literally fighting for his "Lord and Master" here, and not just doing Dracula's bidding.

I always find it interesting how an author can keep my attention in books with multiple story-lines of equal importance. In Dracula, I'm always sad to see one go by the wayside, but after a bit, I almost forget about it and get just as engrossed in the next story. This really is one of the best page-turners I've read in quite some time, and if it weren't for Victoria keeping me on track, I surely would have gone ahead of schedule by now. What do you guys think? We're about halfway through: good book, great book, or terrible book? Let's hear it!


  1. I'm going to say "terrible book." That doesn't mean it can't be a page-turner, but I get about as much character out of "Dracula" as I do from the latest Dan Brown novel, both of which are more fascinated with revamping (sorry) mythology than anything else. I'll give the edge to Stoker, though, because he has some nice descriptions and the occasionally poetic digression ("King Laugh").

  2. Really? I find myself absolutely engrossed in it, and the chilling parts really are quite chilling.

    That said, there haven't been as many in the last few chapters and as page-turning as it is, we need something new to bring back suspense. At this point we get it: Lucy is a vampire, Drac is one too... now what do we do. So I guess I can kind of see your point here, but overall I still like the book.