Dracula

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Dracula Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Seward's Diary. October 3. In Seward's office, Van Helsing explains to Seward and Harker that Dracula used Renfield, whom he considered a weak and "mad" mind, to enter Seward's home, which is also the insane asylum—for Dracula cannot enter a new home unless invited in by someone. Thus Renfield's invitation to Dracula, earlier in the novel, was sufficient for Dracula to gain admittance to Seward and Mina. When Van Helsing and Seward have finished consoling Harker, who is terribly worried about Mina's fate after her encounter with Dracula, they receive a telegram from Mina, which says that Dracula has left his Carfax estate (as she has observed) and headed south, perhaps looking for the five men.
Now the action of the remaining part of the novel picks up steam. Once Mina realizes that Dracula is no longer at Carfax, but is probably coming toward the group, there is a sense of impending doom that has been building, slowly, since the death of Lucy. Once Dracula leaves Carfax, he will never return; at this point in the novel, Dracula is on the run and will be until he heads to Romania, where a final confrontation with the group will take place.
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
Morris and Arthur return, saying that they sterilized six boxes in each of the two houses—this means that, in all, 49 of the 50 boxes have been sterilized—the group must find Dracula's final box. When the five men are in Seward's office, with Mina down the hall, Van Helsing tells them to prepare for Dracula, whom he believes to have made the rounds of London that day, in search of boxes in which he might "rest." Van Helsing believes Dracula is now poised to attack the group to keep them from sterilizing his 50th and final box.
As might have been predicted, the group has found all but one of the boxes, meaning that Dracula is keeping one last box and is taking it to an undisclosed location. Stoker has marshaled the book's resources to narrow to this very circumscribed search—the group will attempt to find Dracula and sterilize his last box, thus allowing them to defeat Dracula once and for all.
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
All of a sudden, Dracula leaps into Seward's office, crashing through a window, and confronts the five men. Harker attempts to stab Dracula with a knife but narrowly misses; Seward, holding a crucifix, drives Dracula back out the window and into the courtyard of the asylum, where Dracula promises that he has a final box, or resting place; that he can fight the five men for a long time; and that he "already" has possession of Lucy and Mina, the women of the group.
Just as the reader expects that Dracula is on his heels and running away, however, Stoker has Dracula leap into the house and present himself, in all his horror, to the group. Here, Dracula explicitly states that he will continue to terrorize the women, including Mina, as he sees fit, and that he plans to do everything he can to elude the group.
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
After Dracula runs away, however, Van Helsing tells the shaken member of the group that the group has the upper hand, and that Dracula appears afraid. Van Helsing also notes that a good amount of the gold stored in the Carfax basement was not there when they sterilized the boxes, meaning that Dracula appears ready to flee. The group members go to check on Mina.
An important and interesting parallelism. Just as Harker took some of Dracula's gold before Harker fled the Castle in Transylvania, here Dracula takes some of his own gold from Carfax before fleeing England and heading back to the land of his birth.
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
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Mina, however, has not been touched by Dracula, and appears proud of the men that they have repelled him successfully—at least for now. The men and Mina have supper and prepare to go on watch, for the night, to guard for the Count, as they formulate a plan to find him out, and the final box, and to destroy both.
For the first time, Dracula has been caught in the act, and the group has managed, through Seward's quick thinking with the crucifix, to keep Dracula away from her—at least for the time being.
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
Jonathan Harker's Journal. October 3-4. Close to midnight. During the night, Harker is awakened several times by Mina, who tells him she think she hears something. But the other men of the group, on watch, seem to guard successfully against Dracula, as no one attempts to enter the house.
Harker and Mina, as recent victims of Dracula, remain nervous. But the other men, now united in knowledge and purpose, are able to guard against Dracula's incursions. Dracula is no longer able to prey on their lack of knowledge or refusal to believe in "superstition.
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
Later that night, Mina calls for Van Helsing, as she has an idea to discuss with him. Van Helsing comes into the room, and Mina asks him if he can hypnotize her—she feels that, since she is now "connected by blood" to Dracula, perhaps she can be hypnotized into a state in which she communes with the Count, or at least has knowledge of his whereabouts. Van Helsing proceeds to hypnotize Mina, as Harker watches.
Dracula's link to Mina is supposed to give him power, is supposed to mark her as his and in so doing emasculate the men. But Mina is able to use that link and to use occult practices such as hypnosis—voluntarily putting herself in a trance rather being put into a trance by Dracula—against him.
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
In her hypnotized state, Mina says she can see only darkness and hear the lapping of waves—this causing Van Helsing to think that the Count is attempting his escape, with the final wooden box, aboard a boat somewhere. He and the rest of the group resolve to find out where this boat might be headed, and Van Helsing, waking Mina up, has Harker stay with her to watch over her, in case Dracula returns.
Mina's idea works! Now the roles have reversed, and Mina and her friends are hunting Dracula, as opposed to the other way around.
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