Summary: Chapter XXII
In his journal, Harker recounts the end of Renfield’s story: before escaping the asylum, the count pays one last visit to the lunatic, breaking his neck and killing him. Harker and his compatriots go to Carfax the next day and place a Communion wafer in each of Dracula’s boxes of earth, rendering them unfit for the vampire’s habitation. Before the men proceed to the count’s estate in Piccadilly, Van Helsing seals Mina Murray’s room with wafers. When he touches her forehead with a wafer, it burns her skin and leaves a bright red scar on her forehead. Mina breaks down in tears, calling herself “unclean.”
Summary: Chapter XXIII
The men obtain keys to Dracula’s other houses around the city. Holmwood and Morris hurry off to sterilize the twelve boxes that are stored in London, while Harker and Van Helsing leave to do the same to the boxes in Piccadilly. Reaching Piccadilly, the men find only eight boxes—the ninth is missing. Mina sends a message that Dracula has left Carfax, and the men anticipate that he will soon arrive at Piccadilly in an attempt to protect his boxes. The men lie in wait, and Dracula arrives. As it is daytime, however, the count is largely powerless. Van Helsing’s crew attempts an ambush, but Dracula leaps out a window and escapes.
Despite Dracula’s taunts, Van Helsing believes that the count is probably frightened, knowing that he has only one box remaining as a safe resting place. Van Helsing hypnotizes Mina in an attempt to trace Dracula’s movements. Under the trance, Mina’s unholy connection to the count enables her spirit to be with him. Mina hears the telltale noises of sea travel, which indicates that the count has fled England by sea. Jonathan records his fears that Dracula may elude them, lying hidden for many years while Mina slowly transforms into a vampire.
Summary: Chapter XXIV
Van Helsing’s band discovers that the count has boarded a ship named the Czarina Catherine, which is bound for Varna, the same Russian port from which Dracula sailed three months before. Van Helsing delivers an impassioned speech in which he declares it necessary to defeat Dracula for the good of humankind. He claims that the group “pledged to set the world free.”
Van Helsing notes the effect that the “[b]aptism of blood” has had on Mina and insists that she should not be troubled with or further compromised by their hunt for the count. The men make plans to intercept Dracula in Varna, and Mina insists on accompanying them, saying that her telepathic connection to Dracula may aid their search. Van Helsing concedes, and Harker departs to make the necessary travel arrangements.
Summary: Chapter XXV
Before departing, Mina asks the group to pledge that they will, for the sake of her soul, destroy her if should she transform into a vampire. The men take a solemn vow to comply with Mina’s wishes. On October
As the days pass, Mina grows weaker. After more than a week of waiting in Varna, the band receives word that Dracula’s ship has bypassed Varna and docked in the port of Galatz instead. As they prepare to board a train to Galatz, Van Helsing suggests that Mina’s connection to Dracula may have enabled the count to learn of their ambush. Van Helsing insists that they not lose hope, however, -reasoning that the count is now confident that he has eluded them and will not expect any further pursuit.
Analysis: Chapters XXII–XXV
When the Communion wafer singes Mina’s forehead, the fight against Dracula’s evil takes on added meaning. The men decide that their efforts also represent a fight to restore a woman to her unpolluted, virtuous self. From the beginning of the novel, Mina has proven herself resourceful and dedicated, sticking by both Jonathan and Lucy through their illnesses and faithfully transcribing journal entries in hopes of revealing the path to Dracula. Nonetheless, Mina never truly emerges as a complex or particularly believable character. Stoker’s guiding principle in his characterization of Mina is not realism, but idealism. In Mina, Stoker means to create the model of Victorian female virtue. As contemporary readers, we are likely to find fault when Harker says, “Mina is sleeping now, calmly and sweetly like a little child. Her lips are curved and her face beams with happiness. Thank God, there are such moments still for her.” Harker’s words liken his wife to a helpless infant, whose greatest contribution to the world is merely a peaceful countenance.
The prejudices of the Victorian age partly account for Stoker’s reduction of his female characters to mere bundles of virtue. There is another reason for Mina’s two-dimensionality, however—one that is articulated by Dracula himself. Confronted by Van Helsing and his eager hunters, the count explains the planned course of his revenge, declaring, “Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine.” This statement describes the full scope of the threat Dracula presents. Van Helsing and company are not fighting for Mina’s soul because they respect female purity in some abstract form, but because Dracula’s influence over English women gives him direct access to both the minds and bodies of English men.
This threat explains the violence that the men—and even Mina—feel is justified in protecting themselves from the count’s spell. Mina urges her comrades to kill her should she slip irretrievably into a demonic and soulless state. Mina’s words—“Think, dear, that there have been times when brave men have killed their wives and their womenkind, to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy”—attempt to explain away a link between male supremacy and violence against women. Men are justified in killing women to preserve their sense of ownership and their conception of female virtue. With the promise of this power in hand, men can rest assured of the patriarchal order of their society and of their own future control.
These chapters, marked by Dracula’s flight across Europe, indicate a shift of power in the novel: the tables have turned on the count, leaving him on the defensive. The destruction of his resting places exposes Dracula’s greatest weakness, forcing him to flee back to Transylvania. This flight stands as an important though temporary victory, indicating that the count’s attempt to feed upon the English population has failed. For a time, it seems that Van Helsing’s band will capture Dracula quickly. However, his deceptive landing at Galatz enables him to elude his pursuers—a reminder that, despite his weaknesses, the count remains formidable.