Blog Post 5: Clowning Around with Dracula

Hi everyone,

As promised in class today, here’s an open-ended thread for writing about our next section of Dracula for Monday’s class. Feel free to post on whatever seems significant to you in this section, either continuing what we’ve been discussing or addressing new issues that interest you — there’s lots to say about some of the key concepts we discussed today (as well as the ones we didn’t), and lots of other issues to explore as well.selin-gureralp_apostcardfromandy_fiction_ind_1 Just make sure that you ground your thinking in close analysis of specific language from this section of the novel. Enjoy!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, October 2nd. After class on Monday, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 5th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

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24 thoughts on “Blog Post 5: Clowning Around with Dracula

  1. Rebekah Clapham
    Blog Post 5

    For this post, I want to focus on what I assume is a very famous scene in the novel. On pages 322-328 after listening to Renfield’s dying advice, Van Helsing, Seward, Morris, and Holmwood burst into Mina and Jonathan’s room to find Jonathan in a trance and Mina sucking the blood out of Dracula’s breast. Jonathan, Mina, and Dracula’s roles in this scene are all flipped. Jonathan is in a “stupor”—he is powerless and completely vulnerable, and his wife is left to defend herself—not the typical role of the man. Jonathan’s face is described as “flushed,” a somewhat feminine description, and even though he is lying right next to his wife, he cannot do anything to help her. Mina is also left to protect Jonathan in this scene. When Jonathan awakes after the Count leaves, her first instinct is to “embrace him” to comfort him. She was also forced to protect him when Dracula was feeding on her because if she made any noise, Dracula said he would kill Jonathan. Thus, even though Jonathan spent much of this portion of the book trying to be the typical “brave” man by hunting Dracula and “protecting” his wife but not telling her details, ultimately, Mina is the one who ends up protecting him. It is also important to examine the relationship between Mina and Dracula in this scene. Gender roles are reversed again when Mina is forced to drink the blood off of Dracula’s breast. Dracula’s “right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom” (322). By doing this Mina’s white nightdress becomes smeared with blood. The contrast between the white nightdress and the blood represents the loss of purity in Mina and the corruption of her innocence. This can also be seen when Mina starts to “rub her lips as though to cleanse them from pollution” (328).
    There is also a lot of religious imagery in this scene. When the men first enter the room, Mina is seen “kneeling” on the near edge of the bed facing outwards, similar to a prayer position. The drinking of the Count’s blood is similar to the Eucharist… consuming Christ’s flesh and blood. This parallel is especially seen when Dracula says that Mina is now “flesh of [his] flesh, blood of [his] blood” (328). However, instead of the Count representing Jesus or God, he seems to represent the devil as he as described as having a “hellish look” with eyes full of a “devilish passion” and his white teeth like those of a “wild beast” (322). Dracula also cannot stand the sight of the crucifix or the “sacred wafer.” Instead of drinking milk, Mina is drinking blood from the Count’s breast and instead of consuming Jesus’s flesh and blood, she is consuming the Count’s/the devil’s. These comparisons and Dracula’s inability to stand symbols of religion further suggest he is a devil figure, corrupting women and taking their purity. This scene highlights how the Count’s biggest threat to society is his ability to bring disorder to gender roles.

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    • Hi Rebekah!
      I also got the impression that the Count brings about gender dynamic switches, however I didn’t necessarily associate it with innocence. Instead of the Count taking something away from the women–which would make sense also–I believe the transformation into vampires gives the women more freedom within their gender. When Mina is protecting Jonathan, even though the Count is overpowering her, she gains a power that allows her to be the “man” in this situation. And this gender switch is not only seen here, but almost exists as a precaution that the event you described would happen. It seems that the closer the women get to freedom within their Victorian society or within their relationships, the Count feeds upon them. Arthur goes to Mina to cry, another switch in dynamic, and Mina becomes more appreciated as an intellectual by all the men–especially in chapters 22-26. Having now been bitten, Mina finds more responsibility and strength, and the men listen to her wishes. She is also so brave throughout these chapters, it’s kind of ridiculous. And the men see this, but are still calling her “little girl” or “child,” showing that the influence of society is really driven into their ideas, even when supernatural beings are involved and accepted ideas need to be questioned.

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    • Hey Rebekah,

      I had gathered that the Count symbolically represents the devil, but I did not analyze his symbolic meaning to the point that you have. I think that it is really valid that you compare Mina drinking his blood like Christians metaphorically drink Jesus’s flesh and blood. Embodying Christ is embodying goodness and devotion to God, however embodying the devil is showing that the person is corrupt. I believe that the book is stating that Mina became corrupted by her sprouting sexuality, therefore she was tempted by the Count. Mina tells us that she did not want Dracula to stop, though she was frightened, showing that there was pleasure in this strange and intimate situation.

      You discuss how the famous scene between Dracula and Mina show gender role reversals, and I believe that is tied to the fact as to why Mina is “corrupted.” She has turned dominant, however prior to her being seduced by Dracula, she was a good woman married to one man. As you touch upon, after Mina was intimate with the count, her white nightgown was stained with blood, representing her loss of innocence (this can be taken literally, as if she was a virgin). There is no doubt that her loss of innocence is seen as a “corruption,” but I think you should push this interpretation even further. Why do the men try so hard to resist Mina from becoming a “bad girl” or a “monster?” Why is there such a fear of women exploring their sexuality? Of course this is an unanswerable question and we are still fighting to find the answer in today’s society, but why do you think that these themes are so prominent in the book?

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    • I really like how you analyze that the smearing of blood on the white night dress represents the loss of Mina’s purity which is something that I didn’t really pick up on when I was reading this part of the book. I also find it really interesting how much religion played a significant role in this scene especially the part where Dracula is not able to look at a crucifix because it weakens his powers and also represents the exact opposite of what a vampire is, which is basically the representation of Satan.

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  2. Jessica Pavia
    Blog Post 5

    An idea that’s been intriguing me while reading Dracula is the connection between the supernatural and gender expression. We touched on how women vampires are more open with their desires–especially the sexual ones. And we talked about their need to feed on children as a metaphor of destroying their maternal status. What we haven’t really talked about is the men and how they, both vampiric and mortal, are affected by expressive women.

    In chapter 16, the men are confronted by a vampiric Lucy. Dr Seward describes her with “unclean [eyes] and full of hell-fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs [they] knew” (226). As a class, we continually mention Lucy’s letter to Mina in which she explains how if she could have three husbands, she would. However, she never actually acts on this and does turn all the men, besides Arthur, down. In the moment she is confronting the men, she is fully in control of the men and her desires. She makes the men shudder, and commands Arthur in a “manly” way. Besides wanting to be in control of her wants multiple times in the novel, this is the first time she actually is–when she’s a vampire. During this conflict, accepted gender dynamics are thrown out the window. As readers, we see the woman in command, and the men scared and at her mercy. This dynamic switch is what I find really interesting since we focus on the women most of the time–which is very important. However, with strong, expressive women comes men who can exist beyond the accepted form of masculinity and express other emotions besides dominance.

    Throughout these chapters (16-21), Mina is of great importance to the men. She has been writing all the journal entries up and putting them in order–she is a working women amongst men. Because of this, Mina exists as both the caring, maternal-type woman and the “new woman.” In chapter 17, Arthur begins crying in front of Mina while talking about Lucy. Regarding this unusual situation–considering it wasn’t widely accepted for men to show weakness–Mina writes “I suppose there is something in woman’s nature that makes a man free to break down before her and express his feelings on the tender or emotional side without feeling it derogatory to his manhood” (245). This moment is so important because it shows how a man crying and displaying weakness was considered unmanly, more feminine. However, since Mina is a strong, “man-like” woman, Arthur doesn’t need to be the dominant person in this exchange and can freely express sadness.

    After this exchange, the men decide their work has become too dangerous and fearsome for Mina to handle, and end their partnership. Being victims of their society, these men believe what they’re doing is right, and will save Mina’s delicate, womanly mind from being tormented. However, Mina does not like this decision and wishes she was still able to help out the men, to be more than the woman who stays at home. It is after this development that Dracula first feeds on her. Like Lucy, the moment Mina wishes she was more than what is accepted of her, she becomes a target for the supernatural. It’s as if Dracula was trying to save Lucy and Mina from being confined in their gender roles, allowing them to become vampire women in control of all aspects of their gender identity

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    • It’s certainly fascinating that you consider Dracula in a positive light. Or at least one in which he has a positive effect on characters we care about. I’m uncertain how well this consideration holds up when you juxtapose it with Dracula’s lines about bending to his will alone. There’s definitely some sense in this present era to say that Lucy and Mina are “being freed” by their newly available promiscuities. I might argue that instead it’s simply another direction in which they’re being forced by a man with too much power over them. Pretty simply, I’m wondering in this context how Dracula isn’t more like a pimp than a breaker of chains. Lust and seduction and their power over men was never really in dispute even during the medieval ages. For me, as cool as it might be to consider Dracula from a positive perspective for the sake of these women, I feel still that he’s just a different kind of user, and perhaps a worse one, especially for Mina.

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  3. I would like to focus on the significance of blood and motherhood in Dracula. A quote that really stood out to me was “I tried to kill him for the purpose of strengthening my vital powers by the assimilation with my own body of his life through the medium of his blood—relying, of course, upon the Scriptural phrase, ‘For the blood is the life’.” (Stoker 273). From this quote, it seems that Renfield means that anyway a vampire can consume someone else’s blood, they then consume some vital part of that person’s life. By in large, if there is enough consumption of one’s blood, you are able to gain whatever powers they had.

    With regard to motherhood, a quote that I found to be significant was “We women have something of the mother in us that makes us rise above smaller matters when the mother-spirit is invoked; I felt this big, sorrowing man’s head resting on me, as though it were that of the baby that someday may lie on my bosom, and I stroked his hair as though he were my own child. I never thought at the time how strange it all was” (Stoker 268-269). From this quote, I believe that Mina is able to bring out a man’s vulnerable side just like a mother does with her child. An example of this occurring was when Arthur and Quincey were depressed and sadden about the death of Lucy, and Mina was able to comfort both of them just like a mother does with her child. In addition, Mina is someone who forgives which also has an effect on men where even Jonathan criticizes himself for saying bad things about a soul trapped inside a monster.

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    • I like your discussion the nature of blood in this novel. Blood certainly functions as a vital part to biological lives, and the loss of this, would inevitably lead to death.To further the idea, I think in addition to literal life, the curse of having your blood sucked by becoming a vampire will slowly drain away what aspect of humanity you have left, as you slowly transform into the being itself. As you lose your blood, you lose your human consciousness and qualities as well, as we see in the moments before Lucy’s death, where she almost convinces Arthur to “kiss” her. Thinking back to our conversations on Frankenstein, the absence of human qualities is directly related to the idea of death, and monstrosity.

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  4. This portion of Dracula had some similar themes as Frankenstein about life, godliness, and Paradise Lost. The motif of God and creation seems to be a lingering theme in the time that Dracula was written, with Dracula being a powerful satanic character. Satan being arguably the most identifiable bad guy in a literary/historical sense, creating monsters from satanic characteristics makes them identifiably evil. Like Frankenstein’s monster is a fallen angel in Paradise Lost, still vengeful towards his creator, we don’t know who created Dracula, but rather than being a fallen angel, he is a more established Satan dwelling in his castle in Transylvania (whether this backward Eastern country represents Hell for English society could historically be argued).
    In the theme of godliness rather than satanic-ness, Dr Seward and Renfield raise an important question of the difference between the Life and Soul of something; a cat, rat, fly, or whatever creature Renfield is interested in. Renfield evaluates his pets’ worth by whether they’re good to eat, for all he wants is to take life. Dr Seward questions about the animals’ souls, to which Renfield responds “I don’t want any souls, indeed, indeed! I don’t. I couldn’t use them if I had them; they would be no manner of use to me. I couldn’t eat them” (308-309). This is similar to Dracula, probably because Renfield was a follower of him, who also takes life in the form of blood in order to feed himself. Because a soul is not a physical thing to be eaten, maybe Dracula is unaware that with someone’s life he is taking their soul as well, for Dracula probably doesn’t have a soul to compare it to.

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    • It seems like that’s a divide between the two that separates the supernatural from man. Renfield does not want to consume any souls is a rather ethical choice, unlike Dracula who will eat a human, soul and all. Yet, there’s seems to be a type of balance as well. If Dracula did not care for life at all, then he just would have sucked Jonathan’s blood much sooner rather than attempt to build a relationship. Maybe Dracula just wants his prey to submit, rather than be completely soulless.

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  5. One idea that seems to keep appearing in the book is the idea of science and medicine, which is one of the things we were discussing in class. Science and medicine in the novel have been a struggle with Van Helsing, who chooses to take the approach of viewing both modern medicine and practices while also relying on the history of medicine to cure Lucy and to come to terms with her illness and death, when no one else thinking only of modern ideas and illnesses sees any correlation with her illness.
    One place were we see this concept is when Helsing says, “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” (Stoker 228). The diction in which this is said criticizes the ideas of just modern medicine, but history in general and the way it has been taught and written. Modern science explains all and if something cannot be explained or just isn’t then it does not exist, so the sciences have no reason to mention it. This is why no one knows of Dracula and ways to rid of him in the new modern Victorian, London.
    Van Helsing represents this stepping stone of the characters that connects the old with the new. He is from Amsterdam which is in the middle of Transylvania and London, which is no coincidence. He treads as being the character that is suppose to bring both worlds closer together believing in the ideas of combing the old history and logic of medicine with the new. London is living in a time of vast modernization and juxtaposing that is that idea of Transylvania, where everything is very primitive in nature and a step back in time to serfdom almost. Van Helsing is trying to convince all the characters that sticking with only one thought is very deadly an idea especially when they cannot even see what is happening around them. People need a better understanding of history.

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    • Hi Jeremy!

      I agree with your point, the conflict between the supernatural and the natural is an overarching theme throughout this novel. At a time period when evolution and other scientific discoveries were prominent, Dracula goes back to include religious symbolism and primitive doings to deal with vampires. Catholic symbols come up throughout the novel, particularly whenever faced with a vampire; one must possess a crucifix to drive them away. This shows Stokers drive towards religion and supernatural over science and natural and supernatural holds more power than the natural. Stoker throughout the novel depicts God and appears on almost every page. For instance, Mina’s journal notes Jonathan finding Dracula in the middle of a busy street, “ I believe it is the Count, but he has grown young. My God, if this be so! Oh, my God. My God!” The repetitive use of God, particularly in the face of danger, holds a stronger meaning, which is, no matter how far science and technological advances venture, one must not neglect the supernatural.

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    • Hey Jeremy,
      I like how you connected the location of Van Helsling to his position in modern science because he clearly used old and new techniques to perform his examinations on his patients. This is especially important because he serves as a balance in the house because he is sightly modern and culture regarding science and medicine Van Helsling serves as the outcast but is considered a helpful outcast.

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  6. The potion of Dracula I would like to focus on the significance of the flies that Renfield was seeing.In Dr. Stewards diary, he first talks about how he is uneasy about Reinfeild as a person because he has rapid mood changes that is hard to keep track of because they are so inconsistent. When Dr. Stewards asks him about the flies, he first says that, “its wings are typical of the aerial powers of the physic facilities. The ancients did well when they typified the soul as a butterfly!”(308) These flies reflect the positive aspect of life and where he sees his current state at. However, as you read further, Reinfeild had an accident that had him covered in blood and lying on the floor and nobody knows what had happened to him. When he regains consciousness, he tells his audience the the flies were, “Great big fat ones with steel and sapphire on their wings;and big moths,in the night,with skull and cross bones on their backs.”(319). This shows that depending on the situation and Reinfeild state of mind, he witnesses different types of flies that signify different things in the moment. On page 308, the flies signified beauty and peace because nothing horrific or mysterious was directly going on with them in that point in the story. However, as soon as Reinfeild gets hurt he sees flies that represent the opposite of what they did earlier. They signified death and pain which was what Reinfeild was experiencing. The flies come into contact with Reinfeild when everything is going well and peaceful and when pain is involved in situations.

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  7. The idea of a central protagonist in Bram Stoker’s, Dracula is an unimportant aspect of the narrative. Though the titular character serves as the novel’s antagonist, there are too many voices to assign the role of “main character.” However, Stoker puts Mina in charge of the story’s assembly allowing her to serve as the main editor.
    In Chapter 17, when Mina meets with Dr Seward to compare similar experiences, the conversation ends with Mina rushing to organize all the information discovered so far, “I took the cover off my typewriter, and said to Dr Seward, ‘Let me write this all out now,'” (262). Mina’s job as secretary reflects many of the same skills necessary to be an editor. Up until this point it can be assumed that Mina has been responsible for the past chronology of the novel. Yet now, she takes a more present stand in planning the story’s development, choosing what to include while it is happening.
    Furthermore, from this point on the story takes a tonal shift. Now that Mina can actively change the way the reader perceives the story – she becomes a more central character. Mina changes the way the reader perceives her. For example, previously Mina is seen fretting over Jonathan and Lucy, without really focusing on herself. Yet, more than anything Mina is seen as totally in love with Jonathan, so much so that she can typically drop anything without an ounce of hesitation in order to rush by his side. After her conversation with Steward, Mina livens up significantly. She quickly becomes a whole person, rather than just an attachment to other characters. Mina begins to embody the concept of the “ideal woman,” during the time period: she has a “man’s brain” (274) and is also seen as desirable, being both married, as well as being sought after by Dracula. Stoker allows Mina to take control of the story, not to re-shape herself, but to give women a sense of self-serving power, instead of a need to please others – specifically men.

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  8. I have discussed earlier how I believe Lucy is initially chosen by Dracula to be victimized instead of Mina because Lucy is more sexually aware of herself. I find that vampires prey on things that they desire to remove innocence from. For example, Lucy as a vampire preys on children because she herself is deprived of her innocence and wants to do the same to children, who are the epitome of innocence. Mina is not selected by Dracula at the beginning of the novel because she is a “good girl.” Mina is married to Jonathan and is devout to him and only him, whereas Lucy has multiple lovers and bathes in the attention from her beauty. In chapter XXI, however, Mina is bitten by Dracula in the famously graphic scene. I believe Mina is selected because she grows wary and tired of her husband and seeks excitement. Her curiosity leads Dracula to bite her because she turns into a “bad girl.”

    Mina retells the story about how Dracula bites her to her husband and other men in the room. She says that Dracula said to her “First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as well be quiet; it is not the first time, or the second, that your veins have appeased my thirst!” Mina then tells the men, “strangely enough, I did not want to hinder him [Dracula]” (327). What Dracula says to Mina indicates that Mina has seduced him twice before. The first time, Dracula says, appeased his thirst, and he has come back for more. Mina tells the group of men, which includes her husband nonetheless, that she did not want Dracula to stop. The story Mina is telling us suggests that she is becoming more of a “bad girl” because she has essentially cheated on her husband and told him about it. Dr. Seward tells us that after Mina tells her story, she holds the hands of both her husband as well as Van Helsing; “Then she raised her head proudly, and held out one hand to Van Helsing who took it in his, and, after stooping and kissing it reverently, held it fast. The other hand was locked in that of her husband, who helf his other arm thrown round her protectingly” (326). Mina is definitely more aware of her sexuality and has been bitten by a vampire because it is evidently so. She is proud of her sexuality, for the quote says that she holds her head proudly, and knows that her sexuality is a tool because she has her husband’s hands “locked” around her own while another man kisses her hand “reverently.”

    Mina can no longer be a “good girl” because Jonathan does not keep the relationship stimulating. In Jonathan’s diary he tells us about a night that Mina wanted to make love to him but he left her because he was more interested in his work. Jonathan writes, “I took Mina to her room and left her to go to bed. The dear girl was more affectionate with me than ever, and clung to me as though she would detain me, but there was much to be talked of and I came away,” (306). Mina has done so much for Jonathan, has basically devoted her life to him, and is left feeling empty because she is denied love and intimacy. This is the reason why she is seduced by Dracula because she needs to fulfill desires her husband can not give her, making her a “bad girl.”

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    • Hi! I thought your analysis of Mina’s innocence was really really interesting and something that I hadn’t thought of at all. Dracula’s feedings on Mina definitely have a seductive and sexual undertone because after all he is taking her bodily fluids. Mina’s hesitance to prevent him from doing so is similar to Jonathan’s when the lady vampire is about to bite his neck. Were they approached in the same way and were similarly tempted? Dracula isn’t described in a particularly handsome way like his three vampire brides are, but I absolutely see the appeal for long-suffering Mina whose husband has either been away in Transylvania, deathly ill, or just distant and secretive the entire novel.

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  9. We’re, as a class, certainly touching very heavily on gender roles in this novel. And the purpose of the monster perhaps as we’ve been considering it based on our Seven Theses reading by Cohen. It having been long enough since I’ve read this book, I cannot remember Mina’s fate in the end. Certainly, as a few have written on this blog, there is significance to the targeting of Mina. I’m curious now how the author will change her through this experience. In the chapters we’ve now read, Mina’s transformation has been remarked upon by van Helsing, regarding her heart (a woman’s) but also her mind (a man’s). I’ve felt that there has a been a very deliberate ramp on the author’s part to place Mina in this predicatment. What I’m unsuccessfully trying to predict is his purpose. As far as I can tell, she’s now in a position where she is totally reliant on the story’s men to save her from Dracula’s clutches. So she’s become progressively more useful to the men only to be relegated again to that defining helplessness, in a punishing fashion alike to Icarus. Without knowledge of her fate, I am not sure whether she is intended as a social lesson atop Lucy’s fate, regarding the roles of women, or if she is placed in a way that the narrative will allow some further sort of redefinition of her capabilities. I’m eager to see a feat on the part of the author where Mina escapes her fate to succumb the perversion of gender roles and behaviors but also transcends the present (in the novel) set of roles and behaviors otherwise considered normal. Because right now they seem set totally at odds, and I’m eager to see whether Dracula the monster and Dracula the book serve as a warning or as a progressive and mind-opening tale.

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  10. As I read further and further into Dracula, I can’t help but become aware, and more so annoyed, with the ignorance that all of the characters seem to undergo regarding communication. I want to focus on the treatment of Mina during this past section, and how the the shortcomings of our characters insight connect with gender perception. One of the advantages of having a novel of multiple narrators, other than having multiple perspectives is Bram’s ability to use dramatic irony. While the reader shortly figures out that Lucy has been subject to the attack of a vampire, it takes each character a slightly ridiculous amount of time to understand what has actually been going on. After Lucy dies the characters finally come together together and begin to piece together the events that have unfolded thus far in the novel, and while the reader may be able to assume that the character’s would have learned from their past experiences, everyone seems just as ignorant as ever.

    Mina, while being the wife of Jonathan, also functions as his secretary. It is by her handiwork, that a manuscript of writing concerning the novel’s main events have been stitched together. As the men of the novel received this book however, Mina becomes ostracized from all further discoveries, for she “is to precious to have at such risks” (291). She feels upset to have made anyone anxious, but states, “I must hide it from Jonathan…the dear fellow would fret his heart out. I shall put a bold face on, and if I do feel weepy he shall never see it” (297). From a reader’s standpoint, this is where the novel gets frustrating. Originally, it was Mina’s failure to consult Lucy about her incident with Dracula, for fear that it would disturb her that inevitably lent for such a slow understanding of the events taking place, and eventually her death. Furthermore, Jonathan didn’t want Mina reading his journal, because he was afraid that it would upset her as well. When she does however, she progresses the plot forward, and brings enlightenment to Dracula’s activities. Keeping information secret, has only led the characters to turmoil. Now, as Mina recedes from the patriarchal group, she becomes subject to Dracula’s abuse, and while it becomes obvious to the reader when Mina becomes “paler than usual” what has happened, none of the male characters can see what’s going on.

    In this section, the males dehumanize Mina after all she has done to make this novel possible, and contribute to overarching theme of ignorance. It’s when Mina refers to her ability to retain information and feelings by supposing, “it’s just one of those lessons that we poor women have to learn,” (297) I want to put down the novel and scream. Can no one see how ignorant they’re being? It seems as if Stokers trying to emphasize the ignorance one may have when it comes to female roles. While Mina may be the overarching glue to this entire novel, and undoubtably a lens which allows most of the male characters the ability to see, she can only be viewed by everyone, including herself, as a wife “too precious” to make any sort of difference whatsoever.

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    • I think it is interesting what you have said about the communication aspect of the characters of the novel and the ignorance that they coney to the attack on Lucy. I also think it connects the idea of Van Helsing being a bridge of the traditional way of thinking as apposed to the new and modern ways, also involving the science and medicine practices. The characters of London do not see what it happening to Lucy, but when the old and wise Helsing shows up, he seems to criticize the ideas that modern thinking and medicine have been doing to try and cure Lucy. He gets there and deduces the primitive ideas that have been the central idea around Lucy that is which a vampire has come to London and hurt Lucy. This shows, like you said, the ignorance of the characters and the problem that Stoker is trying to show, which is the idea, that only thinking of the modern ways, can be dangerous if you have no ideas that link to the past. History is very important and the irony that the reader comes to understand way before the characters of what has happened to Lucy is a way in which he portrays this idea of history being important.

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  11. In a close examination of how language plays a part in Dracula, I think it is important to compare the language of everyone involved. The way that they speak to one another and to themselves via diary. they lack formality , which I believe makes the story more authentic and less polished. While being cautious to the line of editing, its important to acknowledge how our characters communicate and understand ( or do not understand) one another. Seeing page 158, as Arthur declared his love for Lucy, ” If only you knew how…Understand…”, is a great example. while it is a declaration of his ” love ” he lack the shine that comes with many other fictional declarations. Perhaps, its one of the things that makes these characters great; their informality makes them more believable. Their behavior in their assigned roles, their humanity when facing monsters makes them great. Page 217, the telegram from Mina to Helsing, is bizarrely informal especially to a man who was not her husband. They are human and embody that in many of the decisions they make through out this text. Humanity in the face of monsters and monstrous circumstances, in a text where beauty, courage and sexual freedom is shown as evil makes this text. The informality in the face of this evil gives it life, makes the text seem alive, now whether or not the text is an evil or good living thing depends on what side of the social spectrum you stand on. if proper one might think an abomination of all of it but if you are in the lower class you could see those who think of themselves as ” higher up” closer to you and how you think. In the face of a monster they are the same as you and rationalize like you would.

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  12. I want to focus on how Mina’s character enables Stoker to depict two different conception of women’s place and role in society. From the start, Mina and Jonathan’s marriage is presented as based on partnership and trust rather than on the Victorian conception of marriage and its conventional dynamics between husband and wife. Here, Jonathan and Mina’s relationship is clearly progressive compared to Victorian standard. They are depicted as partner since Mina has learnt shorthand in order to be her husband’s secretary, and even come to work as a team when sorting out the gathered informations related to the Count: «I heard the click of the typewriter. They are hard at it. Mrs Harker says that they are knitting together in chronological order every scrap of evidence they have.» (263); «the transcript of the various dairies and letters which Harker and his wonderful wife had made and arranged.» (271). Through her hard work, Mina comes to be recognized as an invaluable asset and is praised by the other male character as a clever and capable woman, not only a wife: «She has a man’s brain […].» (274).
    However, what I find interesting here is how quick they are to find an excuse to exclude her from their little group, the excuse is simply her being a woman, though this contradicts and event revoke all that has been said about her previously. For instance, Jonathan for whom a marriage has to be based on trust ( «you know, dear, my ideas of the trust between husband and wife: there should be no secret, no concealment.» 140) and who didn’t view his wife as a frail woman to be protected ( «I think I never saw Mina so absolutely strong and well.» 287), appears to easily change his mind and attitude towards Mina: «It is too great a strain for a woman to bear. I did not think so at first, but I know better now.» (293); «It is strange to me to be kept in the dark as I am today; after Jonathan’s full confidence for so many years […].» (296).
    Interestingly, Mina starts to be viewed and treated differently once that she symbolically takes Lucy’s place in this group, which I’de like to refer to as a brotherhood. When Lucy was alive, this brotherhood was united by her, now Mina appears to be playing this role by being such a good transcriber and secretary. She comes to be treated by them as Lucy would’ve been, and thus as a frail woman to be protected: «You will let me be like a brother, will you not, for all our lives – for dear Lucy’s sake?» (269); « ‘‘Little girl!’’ – the very words he had used to Lucy, and oh, but he proved himself a friend! » (270); «She looked so appealing and so pretty that i could not refuse her […]. » (271).
    In my opinion this is why Mina comes to be excluded for the men’s brotherhood and treated as a woman when she used to almost be their equal ( «we unconsciously formed a sort of board or committee.» (275). In their group, she comes to be associated with Lucy who was the embodiment of the conventional Victorian woman: «her heart may fail her in so much and so many horrors […]. » (274); «it would in time infallibly would have wrecked her.» (295).

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    • I also think it is very important to focus on Mina’s role in the novel and her relationship with the other men. When reading the most recently assigned section of the novel (pages 329-384) I was struck by the group dynamic. Not only is Mina the only woman, surrounded by multiple men, but she is adored and looked up to by these men. Even though Mina is infected, “unclean” and sick in this section, she does not heavily rely on the men for help. Instead, the men rely on her—using her strong connection to the Count to plan their attack on him. Instead of being the sick, weak, helpless wife waiting at home for her husband’s return, Mina insists on going with the men and helping them catch Dracula. I agree with your statement that Jonathan and Mina’s relationship is “clearly progressive compared to Victorian standard” and that they are more “depicted as partners.” Jonathan seems to highly respect and care for Mina; he values her opinions and lets her take control of situations—stepping back and letting her lead the men by telling them what to do. The repeated reference to Mina’s “man brain” is interesting because even though the men see her as an intelligent woman with many capabilities, this has to be explained by stating her brain must really be a “man’s brain.” Even though this section seems progressive and Mina seems to be challenging the role of the typical Victorian woman more, she is still a far from achieving equality. I like how you said that Mina symbolically takes Lucy’s place in the group. However, Mina and Lucy have/had very different roles in the group, with Mina seemingly being represented as much more strong and intelligent. I would like to further explore the differences between Mina and Lucy and the differences in their infections/sicknesses.

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  13. The themes of science and superstition are greatly mentioned in chapter seventeen and eighteen. Stoker comments on the fact that the system of beliefs that had governed England and other countries for centuries are slowly fading maybe due to political and economical changes and technological advances such as phonograph, typewriter, telegraphs trains, etc. When Lucy falls victim to Dracula, neither Mina nor Dr. Seward, both devotees of modern advancements was equipped even to guess at the cause of Lucy’s quandary. Van Helsing on the other hand understands modern medical techniques and has been tempered with being open-minded about ancient beliefs and non-Western remedies, “All we have to go upon are traditions and superstitions. These do not at the first appear much, when the matter is one of life and death— nay, of more than either life or death.” Van Helsing not only a learner and a teacher of modern Western methods, but he also incorporates the ancient and foreign beliefs and thoughts that the modern West dismisses. “After all, these things— tradition and superstition— are everything.” Van Helsing understands the importance of traditional beliefs and remedies and throughout chapter seventeen and eighteen, he points out that there is a consequence from advocating only to contemporary currents of thought. Without an understanding of history and different ideas and/or beliefs, the world is left terribly vulnerable for such things as a spread of disease or a terrifying and unknown evil like Dracula.

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