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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > Dracula - Week 2 (Chapters 6-10)

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Welcome to week two of our discussion of Dracula, Chapters 6 through 10.

One theme is the conflict between science and the irrational. How does Dr. Seward’s style of writing in his diary characterize him as a man of science?

Why do you think Stoker shifts to a newspaper account to describe the
arrival of the Demeter as opposed to Mini, Lucy, or Seward describing it?

With regards to Renfield, Seward calls him a “religious maniac.” What is
Seward’s evidence? Why do you think Stoker introduces the theme of religion?

To save Lucy, Van Helsing resorts to blood transfusion. This is common
today but was considered an exotic, desperate technique when Stoker
wrote. Why do you think Stoker repeatedly uses blood transfusions in the
story? How does it relate to the folklore theme that “blood is life”? Also,
how does this therapy relate to the theme of science versus the irrational?


message 2: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 46 comments ❀✿ Gem ✿❀ wrote: "Welcome to week two of our discussion of Dracula, Chapters 6 through 10.

One theme is the conflict between science and the irrational. How does Dr. Seward’s style of writing in his diary character..."


"Why do you think Stoker repeatedly uses blood transfusions in the story? How does it relate to the folklore theme that 'blood is life'?"

"The blood is the life" is actually a BibIical quotation (or paraphrase: see Leviticus 17:11, 14), but one with echoes, or agreement, in folk belief. It may have given a little (a very little) religious support to the story for Stoker's Biblically-literate early readers.

However, I agree that Stoker used transfusions largely to further the impression that up-to-date science was being used against a supernatural power (without much effect).

Writing a bit before blood-typing was even thought of (circa 1900), Stoker seems to have had no notion of how dangerous transfusions could be: or he may have glossed over the point in the interest of story-telling.

(On the early history of blood-typing and transfusions, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_La... and follow links there for fuller story.)

Back in 1975, the science-fiction writer Fred Saberhagen went over much of the story from the vampire's point of view, in The Dracula Tape. He had the Count protest that Van Helsing had given Lucy blood from several different donors, none of them even related to her, so an adverse reaction was almost certain.


Roman Clodia I haven't (re)read this section yet but on Ian's point about modern science, we've also seen Jonathan taking photos with his 'Kodak' last week, as well as Mina using her typewriter and Dr Seward recording his journal on a dictaphone - all technologies used, like the transfusion, in the fight against the age-old power of the vampire.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill Kupersmith | 175 comments Mina’s becoming a ‘stenographer’ would show her as an independent ‘new woman’ & contrast with the very ‘old world’ flavour of vampire lore.


Roman Clodia Ch.6-7 excellent on the portents leading up to Dracula's arrival, especially the storm at sea.

Does anyone else find Renfield creepier than Dracula himself?


message 6: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Roman Clodia wrote: "Ch.6-7 excellent on the portents leading up to Dracula's arrival, especially the storm at sea.

Does anyone else find Renfield creepier than Dracula himself?"


I don't know about creepier (after the Harker talks about Dracula climbing the walls lizard like) but certainly just as creepy. I had forgotten about the flies, spiders, and birds from my previous read.


message 7: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "Mina’s becoming a ‘stenographer’ would show her as an independent ‘new woman’ & contrast with the very ‘old world’ flavour of vampire lore."

That's a great point that I completely glossed over.


message 8: by Deborah, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Just finished this section. I remembered about the flies but since this is a first time read for me, I wasn’t sure it would be in the book.
I also had the same reaction to the transfusion. But then I thought about the readers in his time. They must have amazed or disbelieved you could revive somebody in that way.

Stoker has done a wonderful job in placing creepy elements throughout. Dracula’s actions, Renfield, the partially destroyed house. He brings religion into the story before Renfield with the crucifix in the dead ship captain’s hands. We know from that the characters are seeking religion as protection from the supernatural. Yet religion is apparently being compromised by the use of the partially destroyed chapel in the abandoned house.


Karol Interesting points, Deborah and everyone about the idea of religious protection in the story and the use of what were the modern technologies of the day.

This novel is so creepy. Renfield, Dracula, the wolves . . . not to mention the evil sisters who live in Dracula's castle (from the earlier section of the book).

The use of the blood transfusions was both starling and intriguing to me. There is the issue of blood type compatibility that struck me, but I found fascinating Van Helsing's assertions that Lucy would benefit from the blood of a strong man as if all the physical (and maybe emotional?) attributes of the donor himself would transfer with the blood to Lucy.


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