Dracula Summary and Analysis
by Bram Stoker
Summary Chapter 6
Taken from the July 24th and August 1st entries of Mina Murray's journal; the June 5th, June 18th, July 1st, July 8th, July 19th, July 20th; the July 26th, July 27th, and August 3rd, August 6th entries of Mina Murray's journal.
As Mina said she would, she keeps a diary during her visit to Lucy. The two women are in the quaint seaside town of Whitby, on the northeast coast of England. She describes the beauty of the area and it's quaint provincial history. There is a ruined abbey nearby that is supposedly haunted by a "white lady." The town church has a large graveyard, but the grounds are pleasant and the view is beautiful. Many townspeople go on strolls there during the day. Lucy and Mina become friends with a gruff, no-nonsense local named Mr. Swales. He is a grandfatherly figure, speaking in dialect and full of provincial wisdom. He knows a good deal of the local history, and Mina and Lucy spend long hours talking to him about the area. However, Mina sorely misses Jonathan. He is not yet home, nor has he written in a long time.
Dr. Seward reports on the strange behavior of Renfield. Renfield is fascinated by animals that devour each other. He catches flies and feeds them to spiders, and he also eats the insects himself. He catches some sparrows and begins feeding the spiders to them, and he eventually asks Dr. Seward if he can have a kitten. Dr. Seward refuses. The next day, the sparrows are gone. Dr. Seward asks where they went, and Renfield responds cryptically that they all "flew away," but there are feathers around the room and blood on Renfield's pillow. Later, he vomits up feathers. Seward invents a new classification for Renfield, calling him a "zoophagous" (life-eating) maniac. Renfield seeks to "absorb as many lives as he can." Dr. Seward's journal reveals a wish to experiment further on Renfield, although the idea seems to trouble him ethically. And he expresses a wistful envy for Renfield, because the madman has a purpose. Dr. Seward is still depressed about his rejection by Lucy, and is trying to throw himself into work.
In Whitby, Mina is growing more worried about Jonathan and Lucy. Jonathan has not written, and Lucy has returned to her old childhood habit of sleepwalking. Lucy encounters Mr. Swales while she is out on a walk, and the old man tells her that he senses his own death is nigh. At that moment, they see a great ship out at sea, moving as if no one were at the helm.
Analysis Chapter 6
Whitby, although full of history and ghost stories, provides a strong contrast to Transylvania, continuing to express the theme of contrast between England and the East. In Whitby, the ghosts are eerie but do little more than provide local color. The white lady of the abbey is seen occasionally through a windowshe does not walk the earth and prey on the living. Whitby has a quaint graveyard through which people stroll, as well as benign ghosts that frighten people only from a distance. The town is a far cry from Transylvania, where peasants live in constant fear of the undead, and, in Jonathan Harker's words, "where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet."
Renfield's behavior parallels Dracula's need to absorb life. Renfield longs to be a being like Dracula, and later the madman will become Dracula's henchman. Dr. Seward's journal entry touches on the important theme of madness. Madness is a kind of creeping threat throughout the novelthe heroes will plan their counterattack against Dracula within the walls of Dr. Seward's asylum, a place where madness, though contained, surrounds them (Hindle xxv-xxvii). Throughout the book, madness and the supernatural are always threatening to invade the order of sane, "natural" lives. Both forces threaten the stability of the characters' normal English lives, and Seward's strange envious comment about Renfield hints at the slippery nature of the divide between madness and sanity.
Summary Chapter 7
This chapter is taken from clippings in the local paper (pasted into Mina Murray's journal). The clippings include the log of the Demeter, the ship seen at the end of Chapter 6. Also taken from the August 8th entry of Mina's journal. The Russian ship Demeter is washed ashore by a terrible and sudden storm, and it is discovered that the entire crew was missing. The only body found is that of the captain, tied to the wheel and grasping a crucifix. A huge dog is seen running from the ship; the animal escapes into the woods. The ship's cargo, a great number of large wooden boxes, are handed over to a local solicitor. The log reveals an ill-fated journey: the ship started from the Russian port of the Varna, and ten days into the voyage a crew member disappeared without a trace. Another sailor claimed to have seen a tall man who was clearly not a member of the crew. The men searched the ship but could find no one, and a few days later another sailor disappeared. Sailors continued to vanish, one by one, and the first mate began to go mad. When they were within reach of England, an impenetrable fog enveloped the ship, causing the vessel to lose its way. Only four men were left by then, but the two sailors soon vanished and the first mate was driven completely mad. After an encounter with Dracula, he chose to die in the sea. The captain initially believed that the first mate was the murderer, but shortly afterward he saw the vampire and resolved to go down with the ship. He tied himself to the wheel and held on to a crucifix. He died long before the ship reached land. The people of Whitby who find the ship treat his body with reverence; they plan to give him a large funeral. The dog that ran from the ship is nowhere to be found, although a local dog has been found brutally killed by another animal.
In her journal Mina wonders about Jonathan's fate and reports the events of the day. On the day of the sea captain's funeral, Lucy is restless. She has been sleepwalking constantly, and is in a terrible state. Mr. Swales has been found dead, his neck broken, his face frozen in an expression of terror. At the funeral, the dog of one of the locals becomes furious and then terrified. Mina notes the strange behavior, and the effect it has on the sensitive Lucywho looks at the dog in "an agonized way."
Analysis Chapter 7
The terrifying events of the voyage form a story within a story, a frightening foretaste of what is to come and one of the novel's great successes. Dracula destroys the entire crew, allowing them to live only long enough to facilitate his voyage to England. The ship's name, Demeter, is an allusion to the Greek earth goddess whose sorrow for her missing daughter causes winter. The name fits the vessel, which transports the earth that Dracula needs for his sleep. The story of the goddess has certain parallels to what is to come: Demeter's daughter Persephone, a beautiful and virtuous young woman, was taken and forced to wed Hades, lord of the Underworld. Demeter's mourning for her daughter, who must spend a certain part of the year in the realm of the dead, is the cause of winter. Like Persephone, Lucy and Mina are two virtuous and beautiful young women. Like Persephone, they will be forced to enter a kind of marriage with a lord of the Underworld. And like Persephone, they will dwell partly in the world of the living and partly in the world of the dead. Note also that during the sea voyage, Dracula (or Stoker) operates in a way that is very conscious of hierarchy: he kills the sailors first, and leaves the first mate and captain for last. Dracula's method on the voyage is consistent with the contempt of peasants he expressed to Jonathan Harkerhe kills off the subordinates first, saving the higher-ups for last. On the other hand, rather than act as commentary on Dracula's predilections, the valorization of the captain and the one-dimensional victim status of the common sailors may say something about Stoker's conceptions of class and leadership.
We see more of the extent of Dracula's powers: he conjures the great fog and the storm that sends the ship ashore. He also is immune to the knife of the first mate, who tries to attack him. He apparently has the power to transform himself into animal form: note that the captain's log makes no mention of a dog on board the ship, and yet a dog is seen fleeing from the vessel.
Lucy's behavior indicates that she is already a victim. In her strange sleepwalking she seems to have a place where she wants to go, but she gives up peacefully if someone stops her. It is as if she wants to reach a place without being discovered. When she witnesses the incident with the frightened dog at the funeral, she seems to understand why the dog is behaving so strangely. One interpretation is that Lucy has already seen Dracula and that the dog, in both its fear and its very being, hints at things that Lucy cannot really (and would rather not) remember: Dracula is part of the time in dog or wolf shape, and these chapters at least suggest the idea of bestiality. At the very least, the lust the vampires feel and incite is animal-like. In the Francis Ford Coppola film version of Dracula, these suggestions of bestiality are made explicit in a scene where a werewolf-like Dracula copulates with a willing Lucy.
Summary Chapter 8
Taken from the August 8th, August 11th, August 12th, August 13th, August 14th, August 15th, and August 17th entries of Mina Murray's journal. Also includes correspondence between Samuel F. Billington and Son, Whitby solicitors, and Messrs. Carter, Patterson, and Company, of London, in business letters dated August 17th and August 21st. Taken again from the August 18th and August 19th entries of Mina Murray's journal. Also contains the letter from Sister Agatha to Mina Murray, dated August 12th. Closes with the August 19th entry of Dr. Seward's diary.
In the middle of the night, Mina wakes up with a sense of dread and finds Lucy's bed empty. Frantically Mina searches for him, first through the house and then outside. She goes to the Church, thinking that Lucy might be at their favorite seat in the graveyard. From a distance, Mina sees her there: Lucy is half-reclining, while a shadowy figure with red eyes bends over her. When Mina reaches her, Lucy is alone, asleep, and breathing with difficulty. Later, Mina discovers puncture wounds on Lucy's throat, but she believes the wounds were caused by her own clumsiness while fastening Lucy's shawl. The next few nights, Mina locks their door so that the sleepwalking Lucy cannot get out. One day, while the two women are out on a walk, Lucy murmurs, "His red eyes again! They are just the same." Looking out at the graveyard spot where Mina found Lucy, Mina thinks she sees a shadow with red glowing eyes, but after a moment it seems to be a trick of the light. That night, Mina comes home and from outside sees Lucy asleep at their window, sitting on the sill with the window wide open and something like a large bird sitting next to her. By the time Mina gets upstairs to their room, Lucy is sleepwalking back to bed, clutching at her own throat. Mina continues to worry: as the days pass, Lucy grows paler and weaker. Mina also learns that Lucy's mother is dyingMrs. Westenra reveals to Mina that her heart is weakening, but asks that Lucy not be told. Mina continues to find Lucy sitting on the sill at night, and the puncture wounds on Lucy's throat grow larger.
Letters between solicitors in London and Whitby reveal that the fifty boxes of earth are to be delivered to Carfax. They are to be placed in the old ruined chapel of the mansion.
In Mina's journal, she reports that Lucy grows more haggard, although her spirits are high. Lucy even speaks of the night that Mina found her in the graveyard, telling Mina that she had an out-of-body experience and a strange, blissful feeling. And finally, Mina hears news of Jonathan. Sister Agatha of the Hospital of St. Joseph and St. Mary in Budapest sends a letter to Mina, reporting that Jonathan has been found and has been terribly sick with brain fever. He made it to Budapest by train, but has been ill and has ranted constantly of demons and wolves. Mina goes to join Jonathan and to help him return to England.
Dr. Seward reports that Renfield's behavior has been even more bizarre. He speaks constantly of a coming "Master," in cryptic phrases that parallel many of the statements about Christ made in the New Testament. On a night when Dr. Seward, still depressed by Lucy's rejection of him, is contemplating taking chloral hydrate to help him sleep, Renfield escapes. He is found at nearby Carfax, pressed against the door of the ruined chapel, pledging allegiance to his Master. They return him to his cell after a vicious fight. Amazed by Renfield's ferocity and strength, Dr. Seward orders that he be chained and put in a straitjacket.
Analysis Chapter 8
Lucy's seduction by Dracula parallels sexual seduction. The virgin is ruined by the aristocratic vampire, in keeping with a common Gothic theme of the aristocracy preying on women of non-aristocratic blood. His penetration of her parallels the penetration of sex, and Lucy is unable or unwilling to save herself from him. Lucy is far more vulnerable than Mina to Dracula's seduction: because of her flirtatious nature, she is an easier target for the vampire. Although she is still basically innocent and pure, Dracula will eventually corrupt her. She describes her sensations in the graveyard as blissful, and during her out of body experience the imagery she employs continues the theme of penetration: she says that during her out-of-body experience she felt that the "West Lighthouse was right under me." Then she feels " a sort of agonizing feeling, as if I were in an earthquake." Intentional or not, the lighthouse is a powerful phallic symbol, and the earthquake could arguably symbolize female orgasm. Here again, we see the theme of desire coupled with fear. The vampires are a grave threat to female purity, and so they are a threat to Victorian culture and order. The graveyard as the site of the seduction foreshadows Lucy's future status as one of the undead.
Briefly we see a dark side to Dr. Seward, who has been using the sedative chloral hydrate to aid his sleep. He resolves not to let the use of the drug grow into a habit. His conflict over the drug provides a glimpse of his character's darker side, and contributes to the ambiguous depiction of his asylum. The asylum is a place where darkness is contained and subjected to the analysis of science, but also where darkness surrounds and threatens the world of the sane. His anxiety over chloral hydrate hints at the threat of drug addiction and indicates the heavy toll his work takes on him. The asylum's proximity to Dracula's new estate also symbolizes the permeability of the barriers between the supernatural, the threat of madness, and the rational world of Victorian science and everyday life.
Renfield's ravings and his new position as Dracula's henchmen continue to develop the perverse parallels between Dracula and Christ. Much of Renfield's language borrows and reshapes scripture: "The bride-maidens rejoice the eyes that wait the coming of the bride; but when the bride draweth nigh, then the maidens shine not to the eyes that are filled." Renfield becomes an evil version of John the Baptist, one who prepares the way for a greater Lord. And at Carfax, as at Dracula's ancestral castle in Transylvania, the Count sleeps in a ruined chapel. He turns a Christian place of worship into a lair of evil, instating himself as the chapel's new Lord.
Summary Chapter 9
Taken from letters between Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra, dated August 24th and August 30th; the August 20th and August 23rd entries of Dr. Seward's diary; the August 24th and August 25th entries of Lucy Westenra's journal; letters and telegrams between Arthur Holmwood and Dr. Seward, dated August 31st, September 1st, and September 2nd; a letter from Abraham Van Helsing to Dr. Seward, dated September 2nd; a letter from Dr. Seward to Arthur Holmwood, dated September 3rd; the September 4th entry of Dr. Seward's diary; telegrams from Dr. Seward to Abraham Van Helsing, dated September 4th, 5th, and 6th.
Mina writes to Lucy, telling her that Jonathan can remember almost nothing of what happened to him Transylvania. He believes his journal contains the secret of the origins of his brain fever, but he is afraid to read it. He gives Mina the journal, giving her permission to read it but asking that she never tell him what is written there. Jonathan and Mina decide to marry immediately. Mina wraps Jonathan's journal, ties it, and seals the knot with wax, resolving to never read the book unless for Jonathan's sake or because of "some stern duty." Lucy sends a letter congratulating Mina and telling her that Arthur has joined her at Whitby.
In Dr. Seward's diary, we learn more about Renfield. Locked up, he continually murmurs to himself, "I can wait." He escapes again, and is found once more at the door of the chapel of Carfax. As the attendants try to subdue the enraged madman, Renfield grows suddenly calm at the sight of a giant bat flying across the sky.
Lucy begins to keep her own diary. She is back from Whitby, but her health is still failing. At night, her sleep is disturbed by the sound of something scratching at her window. Her throat hurts terribly.
Arthur writes to Dr. Seward, asking that he come and see Lucy. Her health is deteriorating, and Arthur is worried. Although concerned about his fiancée, he is suddenly called away to the side of his father, who is very ill. Dr. Seward goes to Lucy and reports to Arthur that he can find no cause of her illness. Dr. Seward writes a letter to his old mentor Abraham Van Helsing, a brilliant doctor with a vast knowledge of obscure diseases. Van Helsing makes a brief visit, unable to pinpoint the cause of Lucy's illness but visibly disturbed by Lucy's symptoms. He tells Dr. Seward to alert him to any changes in Lucy's condition.
Renfield is back to catching flies and eating them, using sugar as bait. But then he has a sudden change of heart, saying that he is sick of his old peculiar behaviors.
On September 4th and 5th, Dr. Seward sends telegrams saying that Lucy's condition is improving. On September 6th, he sends an urgent telegram saying that there has been a terrible change. He tells Van Helsing to come right away.
Analysis Chapter 9
For much of the novel, Stoker indulges the reader with dramatic irony, meaning that the reader knows the significance of events long before the characters do. When Mina seals Jonathan's journal, she does not realize that she is causing a costly delay in understanding the force that is attacking Lucy. Because of the structure of the epistolary novel, the reader is able to assemble all of the narrative fragments before the characters do, making the reader, along with Dracula, the only person who understands everything that is happening. The wounds on Lucy's neck, Jonathan's diary, the bat that swoops across the skythe novel is replete with objects and events of which the characters lack full understanding.
Jonathan's brain fever develops the theme of the threat of madness. Jonathan literally goes mad, raving incoherently and then unable to remember anything of his experience. The theme of the threat of madness plays itself out in different ways throughout the novel: anxieties about the possibility of madness at times make characters doubt their own senses or the senses of those they trust. Jonathan's madness might come in part from the shock of having everything he thought he knew thrown into question. In his case, real madness may have been a protection against what he had witnessedthe idea of madness operates in the reverse direction later, when other characters use the possibility of madness to avoid the conclusion that the supernatural is at work.
The theme of madness fits well in a novel about vampires. Perhaps the greatest horror of the vampire is that it does not merely kill: its victims eventually lose themselves and become members of the undead. As in madness, there is a loss of self. In dealing with vampires and the insane, the greatest fear is not that you might be killed by a monster, but that you might become one.
Summary Chapter 10
Including a letter from Dr. Seward to Arthur Holmwood, dated September 6th; the September 7th, September 8th, and September 9th entries of Dr. Seward's diary; the September 9th entry of Lucy Westenra's diary; and the September 10th and September 11th entries of Dr. Seward's diary.
Dr. Van Helsing arrives and examines Lucy, who has grown even more haggard. He performs a blood transfusion from Arthur to Lucy, and then sends Arthur away. Van Helsing instructs Seward to stay up with Lucy, and then the older man returns to Amsterdam to retrieve some necessary books and supplies. The next day, Lucy is much refreshed. She writes in her diary that she feels as though Arthur's presence is with her at night, and that she feels safe in the presence of these men. Seward is exhausted from staying up with her the past two nights, and Lucy insists that she is well enough to sleep without his watch. Seward sleeps on a couch in a room adjacent to Lucy's. The next morning, the returned Van Helsing wakes Seward. The two men are horrified to discover that Lucy is worse than ever: she has lost an incredible amount of blood, and her gums have shrunken back from her teeth. Van Helsing performs another transfusion, this time using Seward as the donor. The next day, a package containing garlic flowers arrives for Van Helsing. He makes a wreath for Lucy to wear and hangs flowers all around the room, smearing them around all the exits. Lucy is allowed to sleep alone that night, but she instructed not to remove the wreath or open the door or window.
Analysis Chapter 10
Some critics have claimed that in Dracula, modern science is represented as useless against the vampire's primal evil, and that only the old knowledge of superstitions and folklore provide any kind of defense. But a close look at Van Helsing reveals this position to be an overstatement: although the Victorian mindsets of the characters makes it difficult for them to recognize that they are up against a vampire, science and rationality, when employed properly, become powerful weapons for fighting Dracula. Van Helsing is able to correctly diagnose Lucy's condition. In him, seemingly contradictory modes of knowledgeEastern and Western, ancient and modernare combined. He is a rational scientist, but he is also a student of the occult. His blood transfusions, the products of modern medicine, help to buy time for Lucy, and the methods of scienceobservation, experiment, analysisare staples of Van Helsing's strategy. Combined with these tools, Van Helsing also uses the old superstitions and Christian faith. Seward, still unaware that a vampire has caused Lucy's illness, remarks that Van Helsing's use of the garlic is unlike anything from a medical book; Van Helsing is more than just a modern Western medical practitioner. Van Helsing's national origin is a symbol of this combination of different modes of thought: he is from Amsterdam, which is geographically located between England and Transylvania. The theme of East versus West rises again, with the science of the West and the superstition and folklore of the East playing themselves out as two different forms of knowledge. Van Helsing is a bridge between these two very different worlds.
Van Helsing's combination of modern science and superstition suggests a critique of an unimaginative scientific outlook that leaves no room for the spiritual. While science and rationality are useful and powerful tools, there is a place, suggests the novel, for older and non-rational forms of thinking. Christian symbols and faith will be mobilized as the most important weapons against the vampire. In these ways, the novel suggests that science and reason must be tempered by deep humility before the unknown and by respect for forces beyond man.
Dracula Essays and Related Content
- Dracula: Essays
- Dracula: E-Text
- Dracula: Questions
- Dracula: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Bram Stoker: Biography
- Dracula Summary
- About Dracula
- Character List
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1-5
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6-10
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 11-15
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 16-20
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 21-24
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 25-27
- Related Links on Dracula
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources