Dracula By Bram Stoker Summary and Analysis Chapters 20-23

Summary

Jonathan, through his persistent investigations, discovers the whereabouts of twelve more of the boxes of earth: Two groups of six were deposited at two different places in London. Jonathan assumes that it is the Count's plan to scatter the boxes throughout all of London. We should recall that there were twenty-nine boxes in the chapel and, added to the twelve which Jonathan discovered, they have now accounted for forty-one of the original fifty boxes. On the evening of October 2nd, Jonathan receives a note which informs him of the whereabouts of the remaining nine boxes. He also notes that Mina is lethargic and pale, but he puts it out of his mind.

That evening, all of the men meet to determine the course of action for retrieving the remaining nine boxes. Once again, Jonathan notes that Mina is very tired and pale.

Dr. Seward notes again that Renfield is remarkably lucid and, what is more, that Renfield seems to be a literate and learned man. Renfield scoffs at the notion of collecting flies and spiders. Later, however, Renfield reverts to his old ways. That night, Seward orders an attendant to stand guard outside Renfield's cell to note any aberrant behavior. Later that night there is a scream from Renfield's cell. Upon rushing to investigate, Seward discovers that Renfield has been seriously hurt — his face has been brutally beaten, there is a pool of blood on the cell floor, and his back is apparently broken.

Seward knows Renfield himself could not have administered the wounds to his own face — especially with his back broken. Dr. Van Helsing arrives, and they determine that Renfield is slipping fast; thus, they decide to operate immediately. Renfield, realizing that he is dying, tells them in an agony of despair what happened. Apparently, without identifying who it was, he says that he "came up to the window in the mist . . . but he was solid then . . . I wouldn't ask him to come in . . ." He maintains that it was "he" who used to send the flies and spiders and the rats and dogs, promising that he would give Renfield everything that lives: "all red blood, with years of life in it." Renfield refers to "him" as "Lord and Master." Last night, Renfield says, "he" slid through the window. Renfield then says that after Mrs. Harker came to see him, he knew she wasn't the same and knew that "he had been taking the life out of her." Renfield tried to attack "him," but he was "burned," and his strength became "like water." Van Helsing realizes that "he is here and we know his purpose."

They rush to Mina's door immediately, leaving Renfield, and begin to arm themselves against the vampire. Van Helsing tries to open the door, which is locked, and when they finally break the door down, the sight which greets them is appalling. Jonathan Harker is lying unconscious on the bed and, kneeling on the edge of the bed, is the "white clad" Mina. Beside her is a tall thin man, clad in black — Count Dracula himself. His right hand is behind Mina's head, and he is forcing her to suck the blood from a cut in his bare chest. When the Count raises his head to greet them, his eyes are blood-red, his nostrils white, and they see "white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth, clamped together like those of a wild beast." The Count begins to attack them, but is repelled by the sacred wafer which is wielded as a weapon by Van Helsing. The lights go out, and when they come on again they see nothing but a faint vapor escaping under the door. Suddenly, Mina Harker recovers and emits an ear-piercing scream, filled with despair and disgust. Her face is "ghastly . . . from the blood which smeared her lips and cheeks and chin." From her throat trickles a thin stream of blood.

They have difficulty awakening Jonathan, and soon all traces of the vampire are lost. Mina feels unclean and untouchable. Lord Godalming examines the house and discovers that the Count has apparently destroyed all of their records and that Renfield is dead.

In spite of the horror that the story might cause, they ask Mina to recount the entire episode as best she can remember it. She recalls the first time she saw the thin, black clad man with the strange teeth when Lucy was alive, and how he subsequently came to her in her room and placed "his reeking lips" upon her throat. Mina would swoon and not know how long Dracula was overpowering her. He told her, "You are now to me flesh of my flesh when my Bram says 'Come,' you shall come." With that, he opened his shirt, and with a sharp nail he cut himself across his breast and pressed Mina's mouth to the wound, so that she either had to suffocate or drink the blood.

In Chapter 22, Jonathan Harker states that he feels compelled to either write in his journal or go mad after hearing Mina's story. Jonathan wants to stay with his wife, but since it is daylight, he knows that there is no danger to her. They go to Carfax and "sterilize" all of the boxes by placing a holy wafer within each of them. They then find a way to enter into the Count's most recent abode in Piccadilly (a prominent London square). Before they leave the asylum, they make sure that Mina is appropriately armed. As Van Helsing touches her forehead with a sacred wafer, Mina lets out a fearful scream because the wafer has seared and burned her forehead. Mina realizes that she is "unclean" and pleads with the men to kill her if she becomes a vampire.

Dracula's house in Piccadilly is as malodorous as the one at Carfax. Expecting to find nine boxes of earth, they are astonished to find only eight boxes. They do find keys to all of the other houses belonging to the Count, however, and then Quincey and Lord Godalming go off to destroy the boxes of earth in those houses.

Chapter 23 begins with Van Helsing, Harker, and Seward waiting for the return of Lord Godalming and Quincey Morris. Van Helsing, in an attempt to draw Jonathan's mind from Mina's condition, informs them of his resolution that Dracula must be killed, because, he says, Dracula is expanding his circle of power in order to harm innocent people; he cites Dracula's using Renfield to gain access to Mina. While waiting, they receive a note from Mina informing them that Dracula has left Carfax and is heading south, presumably to spend the evening in one of his other houses.

Lord Godalming and Quincey Morris return with the news that they have "sterilized" Dracula's remaining boxes, and Van Helsing suddenly realizes that Dracula will be forced to come to the house at Piccadilly soon. A short time later, they hear a key inserted into the door, and with a gigantic "panther-like" leap, Count Dracula enters and eludes their ambush. Through his diabolical quickness, the Count dodges their attempts to kill him, yet with a powerful thrust of a knife, Jonathan manages to rip open the Count's vestments, scattering banknotes and gold. As they corner the Count, he suddenly dodges away from them; then he retrieves a handful of money from the floor and throws himself out a window. As he flees, he taunts the men, reminding them that his revenge has just begun. All of them return to Seward's house, where Mina is awaiting them. Before they retire, Van Helsing prepares Mina's room against the vampire's entry.

In Jonathan Harker's journal, early on the morning of the 4th of October, he records how Mina asked him to call Van Helsing in order to hypnotize her. Under hypnosis, Mina is able to enter into the spirit of Dracula, and she becomes aware of flapping sails, the lapping of water, and the creaking of an anchor chain. Van Helsing concludes that Dracula is on board a ship that is now ready to sail. He now understands why Dracula so desperately tried to retrieve the gold coins — he needed ready cash to pay for his passage out of the country. Once again, they all renew their pledge to follow Dracula and destroy him.

Analysis

The two central incidents of these chapters involve Mina's encounter with Dracula and her coming under his evil influence. Second, these chapters are also concerned with the discovery and "sterilization" of the fifty boxes of earth which Dracula brought with him.

Since we earlier heard that a vampire can only enter an establishment if invited, we are at first surprised that he has been able to enter Mina's room, and we are inclined to wonder if she invited him in. Later, however, we learn that Dracula had used the "zoöphagous" patient Renfield to invite Dracula into the house. It is now clear why Stoker has been using the patient in the novel and also why all the principal characters are visitors in Seward's house. Later, Van Helsing uses the fate of Renfield to prove that Dracula is expanding his sphere of influence and is using innocent people to accomplish his aims — therefore, Dracula must be searched out and destroyed.

It becomes clear in these chapters that Dracula has some kind of mind control over his victims — that is, he can induce them to open windows, for example, in order to let him enter the home. Evidently Stoker was interested in hypnosis or "animal magnetism," since Van Helsing, through hypnotizing Mina, is able to learn of Dracula's whereabouts. Dracula, too, can hypnotize and, indeed, he is an individual of great personal magnetism. It is in these chapters that we learn that Stoker was, in fact, creating a gothic villain which would be similar to many gothic villains in earlier literature. Among other things, Count Dracula is a member of the corrupt aristocracy. The gothic villain/aristocrat was probably derived from Richardson's novels Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1747), in which the villain's persecution of the innocent maiden dramatized for middle-class audiences the exaggerated nature of the class struggle.

It is important for the reader to understand the dramatic and philosophical importance of the villain's aristocratic heritage; if Dracula were a peasant, the story would hardly be as dramatic.

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