Summary: Chapter XXVI
Seward writes a diary entry while on the train from Varna to Galatz. He notes that Mina’s trances reveal less and less, but are still of some value. Mina hears the sound of lapping water, so the band knows that Dracula remains somewhere close to water. The men hope to reach Galatz before the box is unloaded, but they are too late. The captain of the Czarina Catherine informs them that a businessman named Immanuel Hildesheim picked up the box and passed it on to a trader named Petrof Skinsky. Shortly thereafter, Skinsky’s body is found in a graveyard with his throat torn out.
After Mina investigates the possible routes that the count could take to return to his castle, the band splits up and spreads out. Mina and Van Helsing take a train; Holmwood and Harker hire a steamboat; and Seward and Morris travel across the countryside on horseback. Van Helsing hastens toward Dracula’s castle, hoping to purify the place before the count’s arrival.
During their journey up the river, Jonathan and Arthur hear of a large, double-crewed boat ahead of them and decide this vessel must be Dracula’s mode of transport. Seward and Morris rush on with their horses. Meanwhile, Mina records that she and Van Helsing have reached the town of Veresti, where they are forced to take a horse and carriage the rest of the way to the castle. Mina thus travels through the same beautiful country that her husband sees on his journey months before.
Summary: Chapter XXVII
Van Helsing pens a memorandum to Seward, writing that he and Mina have reached the Borgo Pass. As they climb the trail toward the castle, Van Helsing finds that he can no longer hypnotize Mina. That night, fearing for her safety, he encircles her with a ring of crumbled holy Communion wafers. The three female vampires who visit Harker months before reappear. They try to tempt Van Helsing and Mina to come with them and literally frighten the horses to death.
Van Helsing leaves Mina asleep within the circle of holy wafers and proceeds on foot, reaching the castle the next afternoon. He finds the tombs of the three female vampires and is nearly paralyzed by their beauty, but forces himself to perform the rituals necessary to destroy them. Van Helsing then finds a tomb “more lordly than all the rest . . . [and] nobly proportioned.” The tomb is inscribed with Dracula’s name, and the professor cleanses it with the Communion wafers. Finally, he seals the castle doors with wafers to forever deny the count entry.
Mina and Van Helsing leave the castle and travel east, hoping to meet the others. There is a heavy snowfall, and wolves howl all around them. At sunset they see a large cart on the road below them, driven by Gypsies and loaded with a box of earth. From a remote location, Mina and Van Helsing watch Seward, Morris, Harker, and Holmwood close in on the Gypsies. With the sun rapidly sinking, the men intercept the cart, and the Gypsies move to defend their cargo. Harker and Morris muster incredible strength and force their way onto the cart. Harker flings the box to the ground, and Morris is wounded, but together they manage to pry open the lid. Seward and Holmwood aim their rifles at the Gypsies.
From her vantage point, Mina sees Dracula’s hateful expression turn to a look of triumph. At that moment, however, Harker slashes through Dracula’s throat just as Morris plunges his knife into the count’s heart. Dracula dies, and as his body crumbles to dust, Mina notes in his face “a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there.” Morris is fatally wounded, but before he dies he points out that the scar has vanished from Mina’s forehead.
A brief coda follows, written by Harker seven years later. He and Mina have a son named Quincey, and both Seward and Holmwood are happily married.
Analysis: Chapters XXVI–XXVII
Stoker reiterates the threat of rampant female sexuality by reintroducing the three vampire women who threaten to seduce Harker in the novel’s opening chapters. The women pose two distinct threats. First, they stand ready to convert Mina, sapping her of her virtue and transforming her into a soulless vixen. Second, the women threaten to undermine men’s reason and, by extension, the surety with which they rule the world. As Van Helsing faces the voluptuously beautiful vampires, he is nearly paralyzed with the desire to love and protect them: “She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man in me, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, made my head whirl with new emotion.” Even the righteous and pious doctor is susceptible to the vampires’ diabolical temptation.
In these final chapters, we see a number of opposing forces meet for final battle. These oppositions include not merely a conflict between Victorian propriety and moral laxity, but also one between East and West, and one between Christian faith and godless magic. The Gypsies who escort Dracula’s casket to his castle represent the powerful and mysterious forces of the East, of a land ruled not by science and economics but by traditions and powerful superstitions. Determined to defend the vampire against these Western invaders, the Gypsies are part of a landscape that is dark, foreign, and nearly ungovernable to the English. Storms and wolves bedevil Mina and Van Helsing as they make their way to the count’s lair, and the professor loses his power to hypnotize Mina.
Despite the hostility of the landscape and its natives, the invasion is successful. Van Helsing is able to cleanse Dracula’s castle and kill the three vampire women, returning them to an eternal state of purity and innocence. Stoker creates considerable drama and suspense when the band finally catches up to the count in the novel’s final pages. With the terrifying sunset ominously approaching, the Englishmen’s success hinges on a matter of seconds. They race against time, emerging victorious only after great effort and mortal sacrifice.
As Dracula dies, Mina notices a look of peace steal over his face. This moment in the novel speaks to one of Stoker’s overarching ideas, that of Christian redemption. Though Dracula can be discussed endlessly as a novel of Victorian anxieties, it is also a novel of Christian propaganda. It strictly adheres to Christian doctrine, which offers eternal salvation for those who have cleansed themselves of evil. Worrying that her scar will bar her from receiving God’s grace, Mina prays, “I am unclean in His eyes, and shall be until He may deign to let me stand forth in His sight as one of those who have not incurred His wrath.” In this prayer, Mina voices the wish of each of the other members of the band, whose struggle has been one of good against evil in an orthodox Christian context.
The short coda, which describes how the documents have been arranged, mirrors the Author’s Note that opens the novel. It is designed to reinforce a feeling of authenticity, assuring us that the events we have read are a matter of documented historical fact rather than fiction. In this way, Stoker hopes to bridge the gap between the real and the fictional, the natural and the supernatural worlds.