Bram Stoker
Contributed by Eleanor Sherer
Chapter 19-21

Chapter XIX

The men go to Carfax. They are armed with holy objects that will protect them. They see no indication of Dracula in the chapel. However, there is a horrible stench. Also, the men discover twenty-nine of the fifty boxes of earth. They are horrified when they see rats start to fill the chapel. They use a whistle to bring in dogs that can chase the rats away. Van Helsing has high spirits in spite of the fact that there are twenty-one missing boxes. When he gets back to the asylum, he asks to see Renfield again. He hopes to use the lunatic as an information source. Van Helsing tries to interview him. Renfield refuses to go along with this, cursing angrily. Mina makes note of her growing anxiety in her diary. At the asylum one night, she awakens after hearing odd sounds coming from Renfield’s room. She discovers that her window is open even though she is sure she closed it before going to sleep. Mina looks out the window. There is a thin white streak of mist that slowly comes across the yard in the direction of the building. It seems to have a “sentience and a vitality of its own.” Mina’s sleep is fitful. She wakes up to discover a “pillar of cloud” in her room. There is a “livid white face” bending over her. She assumes that this must be part of a dream.

Chapter XX

Investigations carries out by Harker shows that twelve of the remaining boxes of earth were deposited at two London houses. He is able to trace nine boxes to a house in Piccadilly, a suburb of London. Harker’s companions are concerned about how they will be able to get into a house in such a densely populated area. Seward makes record of rapid alterations in Renfield’s behavior. The patient appears to have given up any interest in zoöphagy, yet he reiterates the desire he had earlier on, stating “Life is all I want.” Seward asks him questions, inquiring about how he accounts for the souls belonging to the lives he wants to collect. Renfield is agitated at this question. He says that he has to worry enough without taking souls into consideration. Seward comes to the conclusion that his patient worries about the consequences of his hobbies in life-gathering and that these are a burden on his soul. The following night, the asylum attendants hear a loud scream. They go into Renfield’s cell and find him covered in blood.

Chapter XXI

Renfield is dying. He tells the other men that Dracula often comes to him, promising to give him spiders, flies, and other creatures from which he can take strength. This will be given in return for the man’s obedience to the count. When Mina visited him later on, Renfield noticed her paleness. He knew that Dracula had been “taking the life out of her.” He became angry. When the count came into his room that evening, Renfield tried to seize him. He was “burned” by the vampire’s eyes and was thrown violently across the room as the count slipped away about to make his way into the rest of the asylum. The four men hurry up to the Harkers’ room. Discovering that it is locked, they break down the door. They discover a horrifying scene. Jonathan is unconscious and Mina is kneeling at the edge of the bed. The count is standing over her and she takes blood from a wound on his breast. The count turns on the men. His eyes are said to flame with “devilish passion.” Van Helsing wards him off with a sacred Communion wafer. The moonlight begins to fade and the men use a gas lamp to light the space. All that seems to be left of Dracula is a pale vapor that is exiting under the door. When Morris pursues it, he sees a bat flying away from Carfax. In the meantime, the men find that Dracula has torn about the study in his attempt to tear apart their diaries and papers. Luckily, they have maintained duplicate copies in a safe.

Jonathan and Mina regain consciousness. Mina states that she woke up that night to discover Jonathan unconscious beside her. She then saw Dracula emerging from a mist. The count said that if she made a sound he would kill her husband. He took blood from her throat, informing her that it was not the first time this had happened. He then cut his own chest open and pressed her lips against the wound, forcing her to drink. Dracula told Mina that she could be “flesh of my flesh” and mocked the men pursuing him. Mina cries in fear, “God pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril!”


Mina stands ready as Dracula’s next victim in this part of the book. When she says that “sleep begins to flirt with me,” we realize that it is the count, rather than sleep, that is seducing her at night. We see confirmation of these suspicions in Chapter XXI. In one of the most frequently debated scenes of the novel, Van Helsing and the other men barge in to find Dracula in a feeding frenzy. This scene likely shocks most readers as much as it does the men in the scene. It presents gender conventions in a number of different ways. It appears that neither man is the aggressor. Harker is sprawled on the bed and hasn’t come to his wife’s defense. Dracula is being fed upon rather than feeding himself. While the count has forced Mina into this position, the young man is in a way the instigator as she is actively taking the blood from the wound on his chest. It is here that we see Dracula presenting a bizarre mockery of a nursing mother. Instead of fostering life by giving milk, the count attempts to make sure of Mina’s death by giving her his blood. Symbols that are generally viewed as male are rendered female and vice versa. Aggression is transformed to stupor and the milk becomes blood. The whole scene stands in defiance to gender categories. Victorian audiences must have found this very troubling, as they heavily relied on rigid structures in organizing their lives. In a society governed by order and reason, the count can pose a threat no less significant than the disordering of gender norms. This feeding ritual that takes place in Harker’s room is a perversion not just of the image of a mother feeding her child but also that of the Eucharist. The Christian ritual of Communion calls for the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ through the ingestion of a wafer and wine. Depending on individual beliefs, the wafer and wine can either represent the flesh and blood of Christ or be seen as to literally be them by way of transubstantiation. By taking part in the Eucharist, some believe they are given immortal life. By contrast, the count consumes real rather than symbolic blood. While the blood gives Dracula immortality, his soul is prevented from accomplishing anything that could possibly resemble Christian grace. Renfield conducts his life in accordance with the count’s philosophy. He goes to the extent of discrediting the notion of the soul. In fact, Dr. Seward’s diary tells us that the patient “dreads the consequences—the burden of a soul.” Catholic symbolism plays a large role in Van Helsing’s arsenal in fighting the count. This includes the crucifix and the holy Communion wafer. Religious skepticism was a growing force in Victorian society as a result of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Through this novel, Stoker advocates resorting to the symbolic and superficial comforts and protections offered by the church. Stoker indicates a nation that entirely ignores religion and only focuses on scientific inquiry is doomed to terrible spiritual dangers.

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