Dracula

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Dracula Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Seward's Diary. September 29. (continued). The four go to Lucy's tomb that day around midnight. Before they open the tomb, Van Helsing asks Seward to verify that Lucy was present the last time they visited—Seward says yes, and when they open the tomb, they discover it is once again empty. Morris asks whether Van Helsing is playing a practical joke, but the Professor says that Lucy is, in fact, Un-Dead, and that she has been roaming in the night, searching for fresh prey.
Morris does not seem worried by the problems of vampirism, but instead feels that, if Seward and Van Helsing are playing a joke on him, that would be an affront to his manhood. In this way, Morris's gentlemanly nature is represented as being typically American, or cowboy-like—Morris is the most "manly" of the men of the group, and also the least willing to be taken for a fool.
Themes
Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Icon
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Van Helsing then takes up garlic and communion wafers, crushing both, and rubbing them as a paste to line the door-jambs and other crevices of the tomb. When the rest of the group asks why Van Helsing is doing this, he replies that he is keeping Lucy from re-entering the tomb—meaning that they can trap her outside of her vampiric "home."
One wonders what the looks on the faces of the other group members are, when Van Helsing takes this bizarre paste and streaks it on the tomb. There are moments when the preparations against vampires approach kitsch or humor, and these moments tend to be downplayed by Stoker, who does not wish to interrupt the horror of his narrative.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Suddenly, Lucy, in Un-Dead form, appears, moving towards the group as they assemble just outside the door of the tomb (which they have exited). Lucy drops of a child she has just bitten on the neck—the child is alive and only slightly wounded, sitting dazed in the corner of the scene—and Lucy, sighting Arthur, begins to refer to him as her "love," and to beckon him to come with her. Arthur is flabbergasted and horrified, as are Morris and Seward, but Van Helsing seems to have expected exactly this.
No one is laughing, however, when Lucy actually returns to them in the shade of her former self. Lucy's vampirism does seem slightly different that Dracula's, perhaps because she is only a recent "convert" to undeadness—while Dracula appears as a man, Lucy, on the other hand, is more of a wraith or ghost, haunting the cemetery in which she was entombed.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Van Helsing asks Arthur whether they may go ahead with their plan—releasing Lucy from her vampiric state—and Arthur, in shock at Lucy's Un-Deadness, agrees readily. Van Helsing takes away a bit of the crumbled host-and-garlic lining one chink in the doorway to the tomb, and Lucy, since she is a spirit, now, in human form, passes through to the inside, and back into her tomb. The group (minus Van Helsing, again) is shocked. Van Helsing then seals the tomb once more with garlic and the host, and the group leaves the cemetery for the night.
It is not clear why Van Helsing decides they need one more day to plan, but perhaps he and the rest of the group simply don't have the supplies necessary to carry on with the "true killing" of Lucy. Van Helsing might also want to give Arthur more time to make sure he is ready to "release" his fiancée from the terrible fate forced upon her her by Dracula.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Get the entire Dracula LitChart as a printable PDF.
Dracula.pdf.medium
Seward's Diary. September 29. Night. The next night, the group once again gathers in the cemetery and visits Lucy's tomb. She has been "kept inside" by the garlic-and-host which line the cracks and crevices of the tomb—there Van Helsing asks the group, especially Arthur, if they are reading, finally, to release Lucy from her vampiric state. The group agrees they are ready.
This scene, in which Lucy is freed from her vampiric form, is one of the most chilling and bizarre of the novel, and Stoker's restraint here is admirable—the sober way in which the events are described, from this point until the end of the chapter, makes the events seem all the more plausible and real.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Van Helsing asks Arthur to do the dubious "honors" of releasing Lucy, since they were to be married, and this will allow Arthur, finally, to be freed of the horrors of not knowing whether Lucy is alive or dead. After some hesitation, Arthur agrees, and on Van Helsing's signal, drives a wooden stake into Lucy's heart with a hammer. Lucy writhes for a moment and appears ghastly and horrifying, shrieking loudly, then "truly dies"—her soul is released to heaven. Arthur wavers and sweats greatly, exhausted that the ordeal is over.
Lucy's peace is disturbed, initially, by the stake into her heart, but this is only the demonic shout of the shade which has infected her soul—her true and pure soul, however, is released and is allowed to live in heaven, with other Christian souls. This final Christian consolation is what causes Arthur to believe that it is right to drive a stake into Lucy's heart. All of this also establishes that the vampires are themselves trapped—it's not just that the original person has turned evil, but rather that they have become infected by evil and forced to stay within the now-evil shell of their body. In the logic of the novel, vampires, in the moment of being killed, actually find freedom and peace.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Van Helsing then quickly cuts off Lucy's head, leaving it also in the casket, and stuffs Lucy's mouth with garlic, to ensure that she is truly freed from her vampiric state. Van Helsing asks the group members, when this is completed, whether they will help him in the final task—finding the Count, and doing the same to him. All four agree that they will do so until "the bitter end," if necessary, to make sure they and their loved ones are safe from Dracula.
Again, here the description of the terrible violence done to Lucy's body is quite clear and written in a matter-of-fact style, which only makes its gruesomeness all the more chilling, especially considering that this violence is enacted upon her by her close friends and acquaintances. At the same time, there is an extent to which it is hard to not to see these events as a metaphor for how Victorian England treated women who had sex out of marriage—they were cut off by family and friends, and thrown out of society.
Themes
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon