Summary: Chapter 10

Seward and Holmwood are concerned about Lucy’s suddenly failing health. When Van Helsing arrives to find Lucy terribly pale and unable to breathe easily, he transfuses Holmwood’s blood into Lucy. The doctors examine the punctures on Lucy’s neck. Though Seward is convinced that these wounds caused her severe loss of blood, he can offer no explanation for them. Van Helsing orders Seward to stay up with Lucy that night. The young doctor does so, and Lucy awakes feeling much restored.

The following night, however, the exhausted Seward falls asleep on his watch. The next morning, he and Van Helsing find Lucy pale and completely drained of strength, her gums shrunken and her lips white. Seward performs another transfusion, this time providing the blood himself. Attempting to sleep, Seward wakes to thoughts of the punctures on Lucy’s neck and the ragged appearance of their edges. That afternoon, a large package arrives for Van Helsing. It contains white garlic flowers, which Van Helsing orders Lucy to wear around her neck. Under the skeptical gaze of Seward, Van Helsing places garlic flowers all around the room and leaves Lucy, assuring Seward that she will now be able to sleep safely.

Summary: Chapter 11

In the morning, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward return to the Westenra residence. They are greeted by Lucy’s mother, who tells them that during the night she removed all the “horrible, strong-smelling flowers” from Lucy’s room and opened the windows to let in fresh air. After Mrs. Westenra leaves the room, Van Helsing nearly crumbles. He and Seward rush to their patient to find her near death. Only another blood transfusion from Van Helsing resuscitates her. Van Helsing warns Mrs. Westenra never to remove anything from Lucy’s room again. For the next four days all is well, and Lucy reports that she feels much better.

A clipping from the Pall Mall Gazette reports that a large wolf escaped from the Zoological Gardens. The animal returns the next morning, covered in broken glass. Seward’s September 17 diary entry reports that Renfield attacks the young doctor in his office, and cuts the doctor’s wrist. Renfield proceeds to lick up the blood, and repeats, over and over, the phrase, “The blood is the life!”

Van Helsing telegrams Seward that day, advising him to spend the night with Lucy, but there is a delay and the message does not arrive until the following morning. On September 17, the night of the wolf’s escape, Lucy awakens, frightened by a flapping at the window and a howling outside. Mrs. Westenra is also scared by the noise and comes in and joins her daughter in bed. Suddenly, the window shatters and the head of a huge wolf appears. Terrified, Lucy’s mother tears the garlic wreath from her daughter’s neck and suffers a fatal heart attack. As Lucy loses consciousness, she sees the wolf draw his head back from the window. The four household maids enter, horrified by the sight of their dead mistress. The women go into the dining room to have a glass of wine, but the wine is drugged and they all pass out. Left defenseless and alone, Lucy hides her latest diary entry in her bodice, hoping that “they shall find it when they come to lay me out.”

Analysis: Chapters 10 & 11

Seward’s inability to diagnose or stem the progression of Lucy’s illness demonstrates the effectiveness of Dracula’s assault on Victorian social order and also exposes the limits of Western science and reason. Only legend and superstition—not reason and science—are effective in fighting Dracula. Even the many advancements of medical science prove useless. Maintaining an open mind and acknowledging the power of superstition, Van Helsing challenges the rigorous confines of Victorian thought. Although Van Helsing proves himself a competent modern surgeon by performing one blood transfusion after another, neither his methods nor his knowledge are restricted to the teachings of Western medicine. As he places garlic flowers around Lucy’s room, he steps outside the role of doctor and becomes more of a “philosopher and a metaphysician.” One of the main ironies of the novel is that the Londoners are made vulnerable to Dracula’s attacks precisely because they live in a world that encourages them to dismiss such supernatural predators as powerless in a civilized society such as Britain.

Read important quotes about modernity’s tendency to dismiss the supernatural.

Though Lucy’s blood transfusions occur so frequently as to seem almost comical, they serve two important metaphorical functions. First, the transfusions confirm the moral purity of the men who submit to them for Lucy’s sake. If there were ever any doubt about the moral righteousness of Van Helsing and his compatriots, Stoker means to dispel it here. The blood itself is characterized as morally outstanding: preparing Holmwood for the first transfusion, Van Helsing points out that his patient “is so young and strong and of blood so pure that we need not defibrinate it.”

Read important quotes by and about Professor Van Helsing.

Second, the transfusions hint at a kind of sexual intimacy that societal constraints prevented Stoker from writing about openly in the 1890s. The transfer of the men’s blood into Lucy’s veins has physiological effects similar to those of sexual intercourse: afterward, the men feel spent, but the act brings a revitalized flush of color to Lucy’s cheek. More important, the characters themselves suggest a parallel between the two acts. Van Helsing not only says that it might be improper for Arthur to learn that other men have donated their blood to his fiancée, but also makes a direct connection between blood and sexuality: “No man knows, till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves.”

Read more about how the transfusions foreshadow Lucy’s fate.

Van Helsing’s comments could well be the words a popular romance novelist rather than a medical professional. However, the link Van Helsing makes is crucial to establishing the scope of Dracula’s threat. As Dracula repeatedly drains Lucy of her transfused blood, he comes to possess not only Lucy’s body, but also the bodies of all the men who have offered her their blood. In this way, the count begins to make good on his threat to the three weird sisters in Chapter 3—if his power goes unchecked, all of these men will indeed “belong to [him].”

Read an explanation of the quote above and other important quotes by Count Dracula.