Dracula

by: Bram Stoker

Chapters X–XI

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.”

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.”

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 III—if his power goes unchecked, all of these men will indeed “belong to [him].”