Dracula Summary and Analysis of Chapter 21-24

Summary Chapter 21

The October 3rd entry of Dr. Seward's diary.

Renfield's face is bashed and bleeding and his back is broken. The attendant wonders how the straitjacketed Renfield could have injured himself this way: if his back was broken, he wouldn't have been able to beat his own face against the floor, and if he mangled his face before throwing himself off the bed, blood would have been left where he landed. Seward sends an attendant to fetch Van Helsing. Van Helsing performs an emergency operation to relieve the pressure brought on by the skull injuries, so that Renfield can tell them what happened. The dying Renfield tells them that on the night the men went to investigate Carfax, Dracula appeared and offered him countless lives to feast on if Renfield would fall down and worship him. The madman gave the vampire the invitation he needed to enter the asylum; after that, the vampire did not give Renfield any of the promised lives. Two days later, Renfield saw Mina and realized that she had been drained. So tonight, when Dracula entered, Renfield tried to fight with him. The vampire's eyes burned him and deprived him of his strength, and Dracula flung him across the room.

The men rush upstairs to the Harkers' room. They find it locked and are forced to break down the door. When they enter, they see Jonathan Harker unconscious and Mina Harker being forced to drink blood from a cut on Dracula's chest. The vampire throws Mina aside and prepares to attack, but Van Helsing brandishes a holy wafer, and the men advance with their crucifixes. Dracula draws back, and the room is enveloped in darkness as a cloud obscures the moon. He becomes mist and escapes. Mina screams with horror and despair. They wake Jonathan, who is terribly confused, and Mina keeps crying that she has been made unclean. Arthur and Quincey, who left to pursue Dracula, return to report that the vampire destroyed the study‹including the papers compiled by Mina and Jonathan. Fortunately, another copy is hidden in the safe. The two men went to Renfield's room and found him dead. Quincey reports that he saw a bat flying from Renfield's window, though not back in the direction of Carfax.

Mina tells the men that she woke to see Dracula standing there, her unconscious husband beside him; he threatened to kill her husband if she screamed for help. Assuring her that it was not the first time he had drained her, he then drank from her throat. Dracula then promised that she would be "flesh of my flesh" and "blood of my blood," telling her that she would soon become his companion and helper. When he calls, she will have no choice but to come. He then forced her to drink the blood from a wound he made in his chest.

Analysis Chapter 21

Now, the reasons for Renfield's request for release are clear, as is the cause of his anxiety about consuming souls. He has provided the invitation Dracula needed to enter the asylum, and Mina has consequently been violated. Dracula's attack against Mina has obvious sexual overtones: he forces her to drink from a wound on his bare chest, and speaks with glee about being rewarded for his exertions. When he promises that she will be "flesh of my flesh" and "blood of my blood," his language suggests both sexual union and the sacrament of the Eucharist. Both things are perversely distorted by the vampire, who becomes an evil counterpart to Mina's husband and her God. This attack fits the pattern of the old Gothic themes: Gothic novels often feature decadent aristocracy preying on vulnerable women of the lower classes. Remember that Mina was an orphan, and by her own words she had a very humble upbringing. She has now been horribly violated. In drinking his blood, Mina has been polluted by the vampire. Her cherished purity is at risk.

Summary Chapter 22

From Jonathan Harker's journal, the October 3rd entry. The group plans their attack. All of the houses must be raided in one day, with all of the boxes sterilized and made unfit for Dracula's habitation. First, they will raid and destroy the lair at Carfax. Then, all of the men should go to the house in Picadilly, where the two doctors and Jonathan will remain while Quincey and Arthur go to the houses in Walworth and Mile End. Before they leave, Van Helsing protects Mina's room with communion wafers, but when he lays one on her forehead, the Host burns her, leaving a terrible scar. She has been polluted by Dracula, and holy objects now harm her.

The men go to Carfax and place a communion wafer in each box. They then move on to Picadilly, where Arthur and Quincey secure a locksmith to help them break into the house. After a thorough search, they conclude that only eight of the nine expected boxes are there. They find keys to the other two houses, and Arthur and Quincey rush off to destroy the lairs there.

Analysis Chapter 22

The mark on Mina's forehead drives home the urgency of their quest. Mina will grow more and more like a vampire with time, unless the men find Dracula and destroy him. The battle will be not just for Mina's life, but for her soul. The group has great success on this day, sterilizing all but one of the boxes, but the missing box is all of the space that Dracula needs to survive.

Summary Chapter 23

Includes the October 3rd entry of Dr. Seward's diary; and the October 3rd/4th and October 4th entries of Jonathan Harker's journal.

While waiting for Quincey and Arthur to return, Van Helsing tries to use wise words and compassionate advice to sooth an increasingly angry and wild Harker. The three men receive an ugent message from Mina: Dracula, in human form (it is daytime, and he is without his powers) has left Carfax and is headed their way. A half hour later, Quincey and Arthur return and report that they have sterilized the twelve boxes at the other two houses. Van Helsing reasons that Dracula has not been expecting them to move so quickly, and that he left Carfax to go to other houses in London. Once he sees those lairs have been rendered useless, he will come to them in Picadilly.

The Count enters the house, and although he is now only a mortal man, he is still exceptionally strong and quick. He manages to evade all of them, and escapes through a window. Before fleeing, he taunts them, promising that all of them will be his servants with time‹through their women. The men are unable to track him, and they must return home in disappointment.

When they return, Mina thanks them for their efforts, and reminds them that Dracula, too, has a soul. In killing him, they must remember to do so not out of hate. By destroying him, they will be doing an act of mercy. Harker reacts with anger, and Mina reminds him that one day she might need the pity of those she has victimized. That night, Mina wakes suddenly and asks Jonathan to get Professor Van Helsing at once. She asks Van Helsing to hypnotize her now, while it is still dark. She believes that the connection between her and Dracula will allow her to see where he is hiding. Van Helsing does as she asks, and they learn that Dracula is asleep in one of his boxes on board a ship at sea. Van Helsing is determined to find out where the ship is headed. Mina asks why they must find him now that he is fleeing, and Van Helsing responds that Dracula is immortal while she is only mortal. He confirms that if they do not hunt the vampire down and destroy him, when Mina dies, even if it is years from now and no more attacks have taken place, she will become one of the undead.

Analysis Chapter 23

Dracula's escape shows that he is still formidable and cunning, even during the hours of daylight. Without his powers, he is still able to escape from a room of armed men. But his flight shows also that he is afraid; he boards a ship because he is being hunted and London is no longer safe for him.

Jonathan Harker is a changed man. He has a burning hatred for Dracula, and he thirsts for revenge. His anger is so extreme because he was made incapable of protecting his wife at the crucial moment; his hatred comes in part from his own failure. Part of Dracula's fearsomeness‹and his ability to excite so much hatred from the men‹is his sexual power (Hindle xxvii). He does not merely violate and conquer women: in transforming them into lustful vampires, he makes his female victims eventually enjoy their sensuality in a way that bourgeois Victorian husbands cannot (Weissman 76). In conquering these women, he is also indirectly conquering their husbands. It is significant that when Dracula escapes and taunts the men, he tells them that he will conquer them all by conquering their women first‹this is true in two ways. First, through their wives and lovers the men will be transformed into vampires and be conquered indirectly by Dracula. Second, in conquering their wives Dracula has already conquered the men. The parallels to sexual union provide reason for Jonathan's anger. As her husband, Jonathan should be the one who is "flesh of Mina's flesh." The vampire, in a way, has cuckolded him. His attack has endangered Mina's soul as well as Jonathan's masculinity.

Mina, on the other hand, continues to show that she is the model of Victorian purity and Christian forgiveness. She asks the men to remember that Dracula has a soul, and that they are to be the instruments of God's mercy. In insisting on mercy even for Dracula, she remains true to her Christian faith. It is an important victory for her‹and inspiration for all of the men. Additionally, the inventiveness of her intellect is proven when she suggests the method for discovering the vampire's whereabouts.

Summary Chapter 24

Includes a message left for Jonathan Harker by Van Helsing on Dr. Seward's phonograph; the October 4th entry of Jonathan Harker's journal; the October 5th entry of Mina Harker's journal; the October 5th entries of Dr. Seward's diary; and the October 5th and October 6th entries of Jonathan Harker's journal.

The group learns that the Count and his box are en route to Varna, the port on the Black Sea from which he left Eastern Europe. Van Helsing, invigorated and determined to hunt Dracula down, plans to travel by land and intercept the box at port. Quincey Morris suggests that they bring Winchester rifles to help deal with wolves, and Van Helsing agrees. The old professor believes that the vampire's retreat is not permanent. Now that the Count has tasted London, with its vast population of potential prey, he will want to return. The vampire can afford to bide his time, but the group cannot. They must go East, like "the old knights of the Cross," and hunt the monster down.

Van Helsing confides in Seward that time is running out. Mina is already changing; her teeth grow ever sharper, and at times there is a hardness in her eyes that was never there before. The scar left by the holy wafer is still there, a constant reminder to the men of what is at stake. Van Helsing also worries that Mina's spiritual connection to Dracula will work against them; just as Van Helsing was able to use hypnotism to see Dracula's plans, perhaps Dracula can use Mina to learn everything she knows. Van Helsing proposes that they keep her ignorant of their plans from now on. Independently, Mina excuses herself from the meetings with the group, and she asks Jonathan to keep her in ignorance of what the men plan. But later, she also asks that she be allowed to go with the men. She reasons that she can be of use, since Van Helsing can hypnotize her. More importantly, she must go because if left on her own with no one to guard her, she must go to the Count if he summons her.

Analysis Chapter 24

The idea of the East is an interesting and complex theme that plays itself out in different ways throughout the novel. While Van Helsing might be said to use a synthesis of Eastern and Western knowledge, and many of the weapons used to combat the vampire are from Eastern lore, there is still something sinister and dark about the "East." Especially considering that here, the East means anything to the east of Austria, the East seems to symbolize all that is unknown or unfamiliar. When Van Helsing compares the heroes to the Crusaders, and says that like them, they must journey "towards the sunrise" (i.e. towards the east), he is likening them to a group of Western invaders who must attack an Eastern foe. He is characterizing the invaders of the West as holy warriors (he is uncritical of their aggressive actions against the Moslem world) who traveled to a world that held both dangerous evils and sacred truths. The atmosphere Stoker creates in the chapters set in the East is often fairly dark: grim peasants, demons that walk the earth, wolves, dramatic moonlit forests. At the same time, the landscape is beautiful and many of the peasants are depicted in a sympathetic manner‹even if Stoker and his characters are at times condescending to the "quaint" peasants of the East.

According to some interpretations, Stoker's novel has strong strains of xenophobia and imperialism‹the story, after all, can be read as the tale of a very bad immigrant. Dracula is a foreigner from the East who attempts to "invade" London, and his primary targets are virtuous Victorian women. Racist and xenophobic fantasies often include anxieties about miscegenation (interracial/interethnic coupling). A commonly expressed fear (in bigoted anti-immigrant tracts of all eras, including our own‹consider the xenophobic complaint of conservative American politicians that by 2050, the "white race" will be a minority in the United States) is that the native stock will be out-bred, becoming minorities in their own homeland. The vampires make an excellent metaphor for this process. Every person killed by a vampire, under the right conditions, becomes a vampire. It is easy to imagine normal humans quickly becoming outnumbered by the undead‹and this process parallels the xenophobe's paranoid fantasies about immigration and miscegenation. In the novel, the remedy is for a band of Western heroes to drive Dracula out of England, track him down, and destroy him in their own "invasion" of his homeland. Dracula's xenophobia is also apparent in Stoker's depiction of gypsies. Significantly, the gypsies are Dracula's allies, although it is unclear if they know that the Count is a vampire at the start of the novel, or if they are transporting a vampire at the end of the novel. Gypsies were migrant peoples of Eastern European origin who traveled all throughout Europe. They were one of the most hated minority groups in England‹constantly defamed in both journalism and literature as dangerous criminals and savages, or merely as an uncivilized ethnic nuisance. In continental Europe, they were later targeted as an "undesirable" group during the Holocaust. In the novel, the gypsies are servants of Dracula, although there is ambiguous evidence regarding their knowledge of his true nature. When analyzing the xenophobia of the text, another element worth considering is Stoker's fascination with physiognomy. Physiognomy was a nineteenth and early twentieth century pseudo-science that tried to correlate personality traits and attributes to skull and face measurements/proportions. There were deeply racial concerns throughout the pseudo-science's development‹for certain scientists in the field, the emphasis was on establishing empirical proof, through skull shape, that the white race inherently possessed the traits necessary for progress and achievement. At a few points, Van Helsing draws on physiognomy when he classifies the Count as one with "a child's brain"‹cunning, but with serious blocks in its development. Although this summary has tended to emphasize more positive readings of Stoker's text (synthesis of opposing forms of knowledge, rather than subjection to scientific and pseudo-scientific discourse; Christian virtue, rather than Victorian repression; Victorian sexual anxiety, rather than xenophobic paranoia), no general analysis would be adequate without mentioning these important and compelling readings. These interpretations remind us that Stoker and his text are products of a specific time and place; their more critical stance helps to put Dracula in the context of imperialism and emerging nineteenth century discourses on race and ethnicity. Most importantly, these readings make us aware of the politically problematic assumptions and fantasies at work even in seemingly "innocent" texts, whether those texts were produced in past centuries or our own.