You are a clever man, friend John; you reason well, and your wit is bold; but you are too prejudiced. . . . Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain. But yet we see around us every day the growth of new beliefs, which think themselves new; and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be young. . . .
Here, in Chapter XIV, Van Helsing criticizes his protégé, Seward, for being too parochial in his attempts to diagnose Lucy. Van Helsing suggests that Seward is blinded by his own reason: if reason cannot explain a phenomenon, the young doctor tends to dismiss the phenomenon rather than question the limits of his own knowledge. Van Helsing encourages Seward to open his mind to experiences that may initially seem to counter Western methodologies. In doing so, he speaks to one of the novel’s primary concerns: the consequences of modernity. In Dracula, Stoker suggests that the English find themselves preyed upon precisely because their modern knowledge, instead of enlightening them, actually prevents them from identifying the true nature of their predator. Modernity—particularly the advancements of science—has blinded the English to the dangers from which their abandoned traditions and superstitions once guarded them. Van Helsing, the only character who prizes the knowledge of both the new and the old world, advocates a brand of knowledge that incorporates the teachings of both.