Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.
Here, in Chapter XXIV, Van Helsing summarizes the nature of their quest to Mina as they chase Dracula across Europe. To modern readers, the professor’s words sound like an exercise in hyperbole, as he draws very bold lines between good and evil. However, Stoker does, in fact, intend Dracula to be as much a cautionary moral tale as a novel of horror and suspense. Deeply informed by the anxieties of the Victorian age—the threat that scientific advancement posed to centuries of religious tradition, and the threat that broadening liberties for women posed to patriarchal society—Dracula makes bold distinctions between the socially acceptable and the socially unacceptable; between right and wrong; between holy and unholy. Here, as Van Helsing likens his mission to one of “the old knights of the Cross,” we should understand him not as a bombastic windbag, but as a product of genuine Victorian fear and righteousness.