Dracula

by: Bram Stoker

What role does Mina play in the plot to defeat Dracula?

Main ideas What role does Mina play in the plot to defeat Dracula?

Mina plays a pivotal role in the plot to defeat Dracula, contributing skills and insights that complement those of her male counterparts. Not only does she express an earnest desire to be “useful” to her companions, but Mina repeatedly advances their cause through her foresight, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. While the novel ends with a battle scene in which four men (Morris, Holmwood, Dr. Seward, and Harker) overpower the caravan that bears Dracula to his castle, this display of physical strength would not have been possible without several equally important instances of Mina’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. Mina intuitively understands the importance of documenting her experiences, and she realizes early on that such information will be valuable to Van Helsing. Transcribing both her diary and her husband’s journal, she enables the others to become “master of all the facts.” Mina’s documentary instincts even influence other characters, as Van Helsing reveals that Lucy also began a diary “in imitation of” Mina. Lucy’s diary, in turn, provides the group with crucial information about the nature of her death.

Mina’s care for the facts ultimately leads her to arrange all the available materials (including newspaper clippings) in chronological order. It would not be too far to say that Mina becomes the leading “editor” of this narrative. She is responsible for the survival of their written records, and Harker credits her in such terms: “[I]t is due to her energy and brains and foresight that the whole story is put together in such a way that every point tells.” Van Helsing and Dracula also highlight the importance of these documents. The former returns to them repeatedly in search of clues, while the latter destroys all the copies he can find. Mina’s cleverness and foresight extend into other realms as well. Her knowledge of the train schedules, which she first developed in order to support Harker’s work, becomes crucial to the pursuit of Dracula. She readily supplies details about train departures during the final chase. Her analytical skills also prove key in the chase to Castle Dracula—working logically through the the written evidence, including transcripts of her own speech under hypnosis, she figures out Dracula’s most probable path forward.

Mina’s reserves of ingenuity and resourcefulness continually impress her companions, who tend to see these as masculine qualities. Van Helsing, for instance, says that Mina has “a man’s brain” alongside “a woman’s heart.” While this description reflects a traditional Victorian sensibility about gender roles, it also frames Mina as uniquely endowed with a range of necessary skills that no one else in the group fully represents. Indeed, Mina does have a sympathetic and compassionate nature that balances out her companions. She becomes a sort of mother-figure to the men, providing emotional support to both Holmwood and Morris after the death of (vampire) Lucy. Likewise, she cares tenderly for a weakened Harker after he escapes his captivity in Castle Dracula. Perhaps most importantly, Mina expresses sympathy for Dracula himself. She reminds the men that their mission is one of Christian salvation, not vengeance, and encourages them to feel compassion for Dracula. True to her word, Mina later expresses gladness to see a peaceful look spread over Dracula’s face in the moment of his death. In this way, Mina is the moral bedrock of the group: her message of Christian sympathy tempers other perspectives, including her husband’s passionate hatred for the vampire.

Given Mina’s obvious skills and insights, it is ironic that her companions continually underestimate her importance to their mission. In their desire to protect her from harm, the men initially attempt to shut her out after she transcribes all the documents. When she later develops a mental connection with Dracula, they try to shut her out again, this time in fear Dracula will learn their plans through her. In fact, the opposite proves true: her connection to Dracula is crucial to their quest, and Mina (of course) is the first to realize this fact. She encourages Van Helsing to hypnotize her and inquire into Dracula’s location, providing information they need to follow and destroy him. Mina’s role is essential to the novel, which frames her as a blend of essential traits: resourcefulness, ingenuity, sympathy, and compassion. These traits make her essential not only to the mission, but to the roles of Christian wife and mother that she will fulfill by the novel’s end.