Dracula

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Dracula Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mina Murray's Journal. July 24. Whitby. The narrative jumps forward; Mina has traveled to Whitby, on the northeastern coast of England, to meet Lucy, her friend, and to stay with Lucy and her mother in The Crescent, a resort hotel. Mina describes the beauty of Whitby, the small river nearby, and scenes of the ocean and the harbor.
Mina and Lucy are clearly of sufficient economic status and means to be able to take long vacations in the English countryside, near the sea. Although it is never stated outright, it is strongly implied that all the major characters in the novel, including Dracula, are quite wealthy, and capable of supporting themselves without working.
Themes
Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Icon
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Mina reports of an old man named Swales with whom she converses, overlooking the harbor at Whitby. Although his dialect is very thick, Mina reports his speech; the old man is about to talk about the olden days of whaling at Whitby before he interrupts himself and says he has to return home. Mina promises to record more of her adventures in the coming days in her journal.
Swales, the old man introduced here, is an interesting counterexample to the novel's predominant economic status—he is most certainly not educated, nor is he wealthy, and his knowledge of town custom provides a window onto the town Lucy and Mina otherwise would not possess.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Mina Murray's Journal. August 1. Mina reports another conversation she and Lucy have with Mr. Swales, the old man she met previously above the harbor, and two other old men from near Whitby. Swales tells some of the tales of goblins and ghouls known to inhabit the ruined abbey of Whitby, then dismisses these tales as rubbish. Mina and Lucy are excited to hear these stories.
It is not clear whether Swales believes the tall tales and legends he tells to the girls, or whether he is simply teasing them in the hopes that he might scare them. This, in juxtaposition to Swales later comments about the cemetery, in which he senses that something terrible has come to Whitby (namely, Dracula).
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Swales, his friends, and Mina and Lucy walk through a graveyard nearby and look at names on the graves. Swales says graves and tombstones are unnecessary, mere trifles, but Mina wonders whether they aren't a service to the family the dead leave behind. Lucy and Mina sit for a moment on the grave of a man Swales informs them to be a suicide, despite the flowery language on his tombstone. Swales takes this as evidence of tombstones' unnecessary use, and their potential for hypocrisy—hiding the truth about those who lie beneath them.
Swales believes that cemeteries tend to lionize their dead, rather than the tell the true stories of those that lie beneath their soil. Lucy and Mina, on the other hand, believe that cemeteries exist in order that families might revere their dead and find some solace after the deaths of their loved one's. This is an interesting scene of foreshadowing, as Lucy's death and burial, in a tomb, will form an important part of the novel's plot.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
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Later that day, Mina comes back up to the graveyard to journal alone. She writes that she has received no word from Harker for some time, and she worries that some accident has befallen him. She wonders if Jonathan is thinking of her, wherever he is in the world.
It seems reasonable that Mina would be worried about her fiancé, from whom she has heard very little. But under the circumstances Mina appears to take Harker's lack of communication in stride, perhaps attributing this lack to the great distance between England and Transylvania.
Themes
Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Icon
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. June 5. Seward reports in his diary of his interactions with Renfield. Here, Seward notes that Renfield appears to have a great love of animals, including flies, but Seward does not understand for what purpose Renfield keeps the flies, or how he disposes of them.
Renfield's interest in animal subjects begins with one of the lowliest of animals—the common fly. That Seward doesn't understand Renfield's the reason behind Renfield's interest suggests that the reason will become important/
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. June 18. Seward reports that Renfield has acquired spiders, which he feeds the flies he has previously been given (presumably by the staff at the asylum).
Renfield considers spiders to be the next step "up" on the evolutionary ladder. Spiders, of course, also feed themselves on flies.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. July 1. Seward reports that Renfield's spiders and flies are becoming a nuisance. Seward observes Renfield catching and eating a fly, which Renfield claims is full of "strong life." Seward believes Renfield eats his spiders and flies rather than "disposing" of them. Renfield also takes furious notes on his practices and studies of "animal life," which Seward does not read.
The introduction of the concept of "life" and "life force" in the novel. What is not entirely clear here, or elsewhere in the novel, is whether Renfield develops this philosophy first, and finds out that Dracula, too, shares it, or if Renfield learns somehow of Dracula's power and wishes to follow in his way of life.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. July 8. Seward notices that Renfield has begun keeping a pet sparrow, and that the number of spiders in Renfield's room has decreased.
The sparrow, again, is considered even more complex, and powerful, than the spider, because the sparrow eats the spider.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. July 19. On Seward's next visit, he sees that Renfield now has a large number of sparrows, and relatively few flies and spiders. Renfield begs Seward to give him a cat, but Seward says this won't be possible. Seward notes that he believes Renfield is a homicidal maniac, based on his desire to have larger animal eat smaller ones.
And the cat would eat the sparrow. Seward realizes that Renfield is concerned with chains of power and feeding among animals—Renfield relates one animal to another based on that animal's ability to feed on another.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
The same day, at 10 p.m., Seward finds Renfield once again begging for a cat, and brooding in the corner. Seward again refuses.
Renfield tends to alternate periods of alertness with periods of terrible gloom, indicating he might have what is now called bipolar disorder.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Dr. Seward's Diary. July 20. Seward walks in to find only masses of feathers and a speck of blood on Renfield's pillow—the birds are gone. An orderly tells him, later that morning, that Renfield has simply eaten all the sparrows, raw.
Another reference to blood. It appears that Renfield has not just consumed the blood of the sparrow, however—he has eaten the entire thing, without cooking it (much as Dracula feasts on living people).
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Later that night, at 11 p.m., Seward realizes exactly what Renfield desires. Seward decides to refer to the patient as a zoophagus, or life-eater—Seward believes that Renfield wishes to gain the life-essence and power of the animals he eats, and that, in graduating to larger animals, Renfield is pursuing a kind of experiment in "life-power." Seward vows to continue observing Renfield.
Because Seward is a man of science, he develops a theory regarding Renfield—that Renfield believes he can harness the life-power of animals by eating them raw. Again, Seward develops this theory in parallel to his interactions with Dracula—only later in the novel does Seward link the Dracula- and Renfield-plotlines.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
Mina's Journal. July 26. Mina writes that she is worried about two people: Jonathan and Lucy. Of Jonathan, Mina has received word from Hawkins—a one-line note saying he is leaving the castle. Mina believes this note doesn't sound at all like Jonathan, and worries something has happened to him. Mina also learns that Lucy has been sleepwalking—Lucy's mother is upset by this, and Mina fears for Lucy, since Mina has heard that sometimes sleepwalkers can walk off cliffs, or do other dangerous activities in the night, without their knowing.
The introduction of Lucy's sleepwalking. After Harker's brush with hypnotic states while at the Castle Dracula, now Lucy is the next character in the novel to be afflicted by a state of neither waking nor sleeping—an intermediate zone not dissimilar from undeadness. Mina worries that Lucy's sleepwalking might be an indicator of a deeper-seated illness.
Themes
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Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Mina's Journal. July 27. Mina has been looking after Lucy, whom she believes to be in stable condition, even though her sleepwalking has not completely stopped. Arthur cannot visit the two at Whitby, because his father is sick in London; Arthur must tend to him there. Lucy awaits Arthur's arrival in Whitby and is excited for their wedding in the fall.
A good deal of parallelism exists in the novel, with regard to sickness and caretaking. Mina cares for Lucy's illness; Mina cares for Harker's; Harker later cares for Mina's; Arthur cares for his father's; Lucy cares for her mother's.
Themes
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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
Mina's Journal. August 3. Mina notes that Lucy's sleepwalking is continuing, and that Jonathan still has not written. Mina is beginning to fear for Jonathan's life.
Only now, after some weeks, does Mina fear outright that something terrible has happened to Jonathan.
Themes
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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
Mina's Journal. August 6. Mina notes that the weather over Whitby has been severe of late, and that the sky and everything around has achieved a shade of gray, as though a storm is coming. Mina meets with Swales, the old man, on the high rocks above Whitby, when Mina is walking—Swales apologizes for his jokes, earlier, about the dead in the Whitby graveyard. Swales says there is a wind or storm coming that "smells and looks like death," and he says he is prepared for it, even if it means his own death. Mina is horrified by Swales' comments.
Swales' shift in temperament here is quite notable. He seems to sense, in the air, that something demonic and terrifying is headed to Whitby. Here, Stoker seems to participate in one of the standard tropes of the horror genre—that of the "sage" figure who understands that something is wrong, and who is killed for sensing this evil before it arrives. Swales, in this sense, is a rather underdeveloped, if interesting, character.
Themes
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Swales leaves Mina, and a coast-guardsman arrives to tell Mina that a Russian ship appears to be swinging into the port at Whitby—it looks as though no one is piloting the vessel as it approaches the harbor.
Sure enough, just as Swales finishes speaking, Mina hears that a strange ship has arrived in the port—and the narrative shifts to include the tale of this vessel.
Themes
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Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon