Dracula By Bram Stoker Summary and Analysis Chapters 2-4

Summary

Dracula's castle is described, like almost everything else, in precise detail. Harker notes the castle's great round arches, the immense iron-studded stone doors, the rattling chains, and the clanking of massive bolts, and he compares the scene with a nightmare. Dracula himself is as mysterious as his castle is. He is an old man and is clean shaven, except for a long white Victorian moustache, and he is clad all in black without "a single speck of color about him anywhere." He speaks in perfect English and welcomes Harker inside, shaking his hand with an ice-cold, vice-like grip. His house, as he guides Harker forward, is seen to be filled with long passageways and heavy doors; finally they come to a room in which a table is laid for dinner, set beside a roaring fire. The Count's greeting is so warm that Harker forgets his fears and gives Dracula the details of the real estate transfer. Dracula explains that, at present, because of gout, he will not be able to make the journey to England himself, but that one of his trusted servants will accompany Harker back to London.

After supper, Harker enjoys a cigar (Dracula does not smoke), and he studies his host: Dracula's face is strong; his high, thin nose is aquiline, and his nostrils seem to arch peculiarly; his shaggy brows almost meet, and his bushy hair seems to curl in profusion. His mouth, thick and white, covers "sharp white teeth which protrude over the lips." His ears are pale and pointed, and his cheeks are firm but extremely thin. His breath is fetid and rank. "The general effect is one of extraordinary pallor."

Both of the men hear wolves howling from far off, and Dracula is the first to speak: "The children of the night," he says, "what music they make!" Shortly, thereafter, the two men retire, and Harker records a final entry for the day: "I think strange things which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me."

As Harker explores the Count's castle the next day, he notices a number of unusual, intriguing things: A meal is already prepared and is ready for him — and no servant is present. The table service is made of gold, the curtains and upholstery are made of costly fabrics, seemingly centuries old, and nowhere is there a mirror. To his joy, however, Harker at last discovers a vast library, and he is in the midst of perusing one of the volumes when the Count appears. Dracula tells Harker that he may go anywhere he wishes in the castle, except where the doors are locked. Then he changes the subject and reveals that he greatly fears his proposed journey to England. He feels that his mastery of the English language is insufficient. In addition, he has grown so accustomed to being a master in his own land that he dreads going to England and suddenly being a nobody. For that reason, he wants Harker to remain in the castle as long as possible in order to perfect Dracula's English pronunciation. Harker immediately agrees to do so, and thus they talk further — first, about inconsequential things, and then Dracula explains about the evil spirits in Transylvania that sometimes hold sway. There is "hardly a foot of soil" in all this region, says the Count, "that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots, or invaders."

Afterward, their conversation turns to England, and while it is evident that the Count is concerned that he shall, for the most part, be alone in his new surroundings, he is immensely pleased by the description of his new estate: It is surrounded by high walls, made of heavy stone, is in need of repair, but contains massive, old iron gates; it is surrounded by dense trees, and the only building in the nearby vicinity is a private lunatic asylum. "I love the shade and the shadow," Dracula says; "I am no longer young; and my heart, through years of mourning over the dead, is not attuned to mirth."

The two men talk throughout the night, and at the coming of dawn, when the cock crows, Dracula leaps up excitedly and excuses himself. Harker feels nothing tangibly amiss, but he confesses in his diary that he feels uneasy; he wishes that he were home and that he had never journeyed to Transylvania.

Next morning as Harker is shaving, his host's voice startles him, and he cuts himself. Then two unexplainable, horrible things occur. Harker realizes that, first, there is no reflection of Count Dracula in the shaving mirror; and second, when the Count sees Harker's fresh blood trickling from his chin, his eyes blaze up "with a sudden demoniac fury," and he lunges for Harker's throat. Instinctively, Harker touches his crucifix, and Dracula's fury vanishes. He counsels Harker to take care how he cuts himself in this country; then Dracula flings the shaving glass onto the courtyard stones below, where it shatters into a thousand pieces. Dracula vanishes, and Harker ponders about what has happened. He also wonders about the fact that he has never seen the Count eat or drink. Harker then explores the castle farther and finally concludes that no matter how many beautiful vistas which he is able to see from the battlements, the castle is a veritable prison, and he is its prisoner.

After Harker realizes that he is indeed a prisoner in Dracula's castle, he succumbs to panic and feelings of helplessness; momentarily, he believes that he is going mad, but he recovers almost instantly and tries to rationally analyze what he must do to escape and survive. More than anything else, Harker realizes that he will "need all [his] Brams to get through." Ironically, since Harker is not a religious man, he is grateful for the crucifix which was given to him; it is "a comfort and a strength."

A good night's sleep is virtually impossible for Harker, despite the fact that he has placed the crucifix over the head of the bed; thus, he paces throughout the night, looks out of his windows, and by accident, he sees Dracula, on two separate occasions, emerge from his room on the floor below, slither out, head downward, in lizard fashion, with his cloak spread out "around him like great wings." It is shortly afterward that Harker records in his diary that he fears for his sanity; he hopes that he does not go mad. His diary is his only solace; he turns to it "for repose."

One of Harker's favorite rooms in the castle is one that he feels was probably a woman's room; romantically, he likes to imagine that in this room "ladies sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad for their menfolk away in the midst of remorseless wars." It is during one moonlight night in this room that three women appear before Harker — and whether or not this is a dream, we cannot be sure. Harker's horror, however, is quite real, and that concerns us most. Two of the women are dark, and both of them have vivid, glowing red eyes; the other woman is fair. All have "brilliant white teeth," and all of them cause a burning, sexual desire within Harker. Unexplainably, Harker finds himself allowing the fair woman to bend over him until he can feel her hot breath on his neck. As two sharp teeth touch his neck, and as he closes [his] eyes "in languorous ecstasy," waiting "with beating heart," Count Dracula suddenly sweeps in and orders the women out. But before they go, Harker notices that they grab a small bag with "some living thing within it"; with horror, Harker is sure that he hears a low wail, like that "of a half-smothered child." Then he sinks into unconsciousness.

Significantly, Harker awakens in his own bed. Perhaps the women and the gruesome bag were only part of a bad dream. Thus he steels himself for others "who are — waiting to suck [his] blood." Harker waits, and while he does so, he notices gypsies who are driving wagons filled with large, square, empty boxes. Later, he hears the muffled sounds of digging, and again, he sees the Count slither down the side of the castle, lizard-fashion, wearing Harker's clothes and carrying "the terrible bag." A howling dog cries far below in the valley. The horror overcomes Harker; locked in his prison, he sits down and cries.

It is then that he hears a woman below, crying out for her child, tearing her hair, beating her breasts, and "beating her naked hands against the door." Within moments, a pack of wolves pour "like a pent-up dam" into the courtyard. Then they stream away, "licking their lips."

Harker has no choice; he must try to encounter Dracula during daylight. Therefore, he crawls out his window and descends, perilously, until he reaches the Count's room. Oddly, it is empty, and it seems "to have never been used"; everything is covered with dust, including a "great heap of gold in one corner." Seeing an open door, Harker follows a circular stairway down through dark, tunnel-like passages; with every step, he becomes more aware of a "deathly, sickly odour, the odour of old earth newly turned."

In the vaults below, Harker discovers fifty boxes, and in one of them, he finds the Count, apparently asleep, even though his eyes are "open and strong." Horrified, he flees to his room and tries to decide what he must do.

On June 29th, he reveals the full extent of his terror. He is terribly afraid; if he had a gun, he would try to kill the Count, but at this point, he believes that the Count is supernatural and that bullets would have no effect on him. Yet when the Count appears, he bids Harker goodbye, assuring him that a carriage will take him to the Borgo Pass and from there, he will be able to return to England.

Later, Harker opens his door and sees "the three terrible women licking their lips." He throws himself on the floor, imploring heaven to save him until he can escape the following day.

Not surprisingly, Harker wakes early, scales down the wall, and once more he finds the Count laid out in one of the large wooden boxes. Curiously, the old man looks "as if his youth [had] been half renewed." The reason is clear. He has been renewed by blood. On his lips are thick blotches of fresh blood which trickle from the corners of his mouth and run over his chin and neck. Dracula is gorged with blood, "like a filthy leech." The thought of Harker's assisting this monster to travel to England and satiate his lust on unsuspecting English men and women so horrifies Harker that he seizes a shovel and slashes madly at the Count's "hateful face." The Count's mad eyes so paralyze Harker, however, that the blow only grazes the Count's forehead. Hearing voices, Harker flees to the Count's room, where he hears the boxes below being filled with earth and the covers nailed shut. Then he hears the sound of wheels in the driveway, the crack of whips, and a chorus of gypsies. Now Harker is convinced that he is absolutely alone, a prisoner, and Dracula is off for England to wreak his evil. Yet Harker is still determined to at least try and escape and take some of the gold with him. He is sure that this castle is a nest for the "devil and his children," and he cannot remain in it a moment longer. The precipice which he must confront is steep and high, but he must attempt it at all costs. The last entry in his journal, at this point, is desperate: "Good-bye, all! Mina!"

Analysis

These three chapters set the tone for all subsequent treatments of the Dracula legend. That is, whereas many works based on Count Dracula will alter the story significantly, most of the subsequent treatments of this legend will have some of the incidents found in these chapters. They include (1) an emissary (sometimes the pattern includes unsuspecting travelers) who is in a foreign land to contact the mysterious Count Dracula, who has bought some property in England. The young man, therefore, has come to finalize the arrangements with Dracula. (2) The setting is always someplace in Transylvania, a land sparsely populated and filled with howling wolves. It is also often remote and strange and unfamiliar, with no main roads to enter or depart by. (3) Everything is strange, even the language, which prevents the emissary from communicating with the natives (The natives are always of peasant stock and extremely superstitious and often xenophobic). (4) The representative usually stops in some remote inn, without such modern conveniences as telephones, where a carriage with an inscrutable driver will take him to the Borgo Pass. (5) The peasants will offer him various charms to ward off vampires, a word that strikes fear into the peasants. (6) The Borgo Pass is well known for mysterious happenings and the emissary usually arrives about midnight, a time when evil spirits have free reign in the world. (7) The emissary is met by someone working for the Count and is taken to the Count's castle. (8) The castle is a decaying edifice, located at the top of a tall mountain amid a desolate area, where one can gain access to the castle only by a steep, narrow road. The castle is a landmark, but few people tour the place. (9) Everything is old and musty in the castle. (10) Count Dracula is seen only at nighttime, and the emissary never sees him eat anything even though there is plenty of freshly prepared food. (11) The narrator usually sees Count Dracula performing some act which would be considered supernatural, such as slithering down the sheer precipice of the castle in a "bat-like" manner. (12) Often there is the presence of a female vampire (or vampires), who will attempt to seduce the narrator. (13) Usually the emissary is imprisoned in the castle and must effect his own escape.

Other factors of a lesser nature can be included, factors such as the narrator's explorations of the castle and his discovery of many coffins or boxes of dirt or the proliferation of bats about the castle, the eerie noises, and the mysterious absence of mirrors (since vampires do not cast a reflection in a mirror), and sometimes there are the cries of young babies and the presence of blood at unexpected places. Therefore, the individual writer can utilize as many of the above archetypical patterns as he or she so chooses.

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