Summary: Chapter VIII
Lucy attempts to sleepwalk again the following two nights, but Mina thwarts Lucy’s efforts by locking the bedroom door. Later, the two women go for a walk together. As the sun sets, they see a dark figure in the graveyard, and Lucy comments on the red glint of his eyes. That night, Mina awakes to find Lucy sitting up in bed, pointing to the window. Mina looks outside and sees a large bat fluttering in the moonlight. When she turns around, she finds Lucy sleeping peacefully. During the next few days, Lucy grows pale and haggard, and the puncture wounds at her throat grow larger. Mina worries about the well-being of her friends: about Lucy’s failing health; about Lucy’s mother, who is too ill to bear any anxiety over Lucy’s state; and about the still-missing Jonathan Harker.
Mina’s journal entry is followed by a letter from a Whitby solicitor, ordering the boxes of earth from the Demeter to be delivered to the estate of Carfax, the house Dracula has purchased. We return to Mina’s diary, where she writes that Lucy’s health seems to be improving. News comes that Jonathan has appeared in a Hungarian hospital in Buda-Pest, suffering from brain fever. Mina prepares to leave England to be with Jonathan.
The narrative shifts to John Seward’s accounts of his patient Renfield, who has grown both violent and boastful, telling the doctor that “the Master is at hand.” One night, Renfield escapes and runs to Carfax, where Dr. Seward finds him pressing against the door of the mansion’s chapel, calling out to his master and promising obedience. The attendants return Renfield to his cell, where he begs his master to be patient.
Summary: Chapter IX
Mina writes from Buda-Pest, telling Lucy that Jonathan has changed greatly. He is “a wreck of himself” and remembers nothing of his time in Transylvania. The nun tending to Jonathan confides in Mina that he often raves deliriously about unspeakable things. Jonathan is still in possession of his diary and knows that the cause of his brain fever is recorded in it. He turns the diary over to Mina, making her promise that she will never mention what is written there unless some “solemn duty” requires it. The couple decides to marry immediately, and Mina seals the diary shut with wax, promising never to open it except in a dire emergency. Lucy sends Mina a letter of congratulation.
Meanwhile, Renfield has become more docile, repeatedly mumbling, “I can wait; I can wait.” A few days later, however, he escapes again and turns up once more at the door of the chapel at Carfax. When Dr. John Seward follows with his attendants, Renfield moves to attack, but grows calm at the sight of a great bat sweeping across the face of the moon.
Lucy begins a diary, in which she records bad dreams and recounts that something scratches at her window in the night. Concerned that Lucy has become pale and weak again, Arthur Holmwood writes to Dr. Seward, asking him to examine her. Seward does so, and reports that Lucy’s illness is beyond his experience. He sends for his former teacher, the celebrated Professor Van Helsing of Amsterdam, to examine the girl. Van Helsing arrives, observes Lucy, and then returns home briefly, asking to be kept abreast of Lucy’s condition by telegram. He tells Seward that he cannot ascertain the cause of Lucy’s illness, but concurs that much of her blood has been lost.
Renfield, meanwhile, resumes his habit of catching flies. However, when the doctor comes to see Renfield at sunset, he tosses out his flies, claiming that he is “sick of all that rubbish.” Lucy seems to show improvement for a few days, as Seward’s telegrams to Van Helsing relate. On September
Analysis: Chapters VIII–IX
Dracula’s portrayal of women makes the novel seem like a fantasy of the Victorian male imagination. Women are primarily objects of delicate beauty who occasionally need to be rescued from danger—a task that, more than anything else, ends up bolstering the ego of their male saviors. Indeed, among the female characters in the novel, only Mina exercises any considerable strength or resourcefulness. The other women are primarily two-dimensional victims, pictures of perfection who are easy for Dracula to prey upon. Both Lucy and her mother are helplessly weak, and the latter is too delicate to bear even the suggestion that something is amiss with her daughter’s health.
Despite the profound political and social change that crossed England in the late nineteenth century, Stoker displays little interest in the advancement of women. Though Mina brightly—albeit briefly—considers one of the promises of feminism, the novel as a whole does not align itself with her cause. In reference to Lucy’s recent engagement, Mina writes:
Some of the ‘New Women’ writers will some day start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the New Woman won’t condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself. And a nice job she will make of it, too!
While Mina herself approaches this kind of self-reliance—after all, it is her research that later leads Van Helsing’s band to the count’s castle—she never fully graduates into the new womanhood she describes here.
Given Stoker’s obsessive concern with female chastity and virtue, it is hard to imagine him granting his female characters the degree of sexual freedom necessary to become “New Women.” In fact, these chapters make the erotic nature of Dracula’s attacks even more obvious. Lucy’s wounds suggest a virgin’s first sexual encounter: she escapes into the night and is penetrated in a way that makes her bleed. After this initial encounter, Lucy hungers for more, attempting to steal out of the house and return to the graveyard.
Although Mina does not yet realize the nature of her friend’s sleepwalking excursions, she is filled with anxiety not only for Lucy’s health, but also for “her reputation in case the story should get wind.” Already viewed to some degree as a dangerous sexual adventurer, Lucy begins her transformation from a pure maiden into a figure of female wantonness. In this sense, Dracula threatens not merely a single girl, but also the entire moral order of the Victorian world and its ideals of sexual purity.
The epistolary form of the novel allows Stoker to maintain suspense throughout, not only keeping us in the dark, but also keeping his own characters guessing at the nature of their own predicaments. Indeed, at this point in the novel, we know much more than any one individual character does. Though we understand the implications of the shipment of earth that arrives at Carfax, Dr. Seward does not, which means he has no way to explain the increasingly drastic behavior of his patient, Renfield. Continuing with this technique and permitting the events to unfold in the present tense allows Stoker to achieve an impressive amount of suspense.
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