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Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Dracula, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Icon

Dracula isn't really a "novel" at all; it does not present itself as the work of a single author or narrator. Instead, Dracula consists of series of diary entries, letters, telegrams, memoranda, and occasional newspaper clippings, assembled and typed up by Mina Harker, with help from Seward, Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Quincey Morris, and Arthur, Lord Godalming. In a sense, then, Mina is the "author" of the book: she knits together these various accounts. This creates an intriguing "meta-narrative" effect: the characters in the novel are reading "the novel" as we, the reader, are making our way through it.

The novel is, essentially, a detective story, as the group finds out the nature of Dracula's violent activities and attempts to track him down and destroy him. The accounts knit together by Mina show how the group goes about catching the Count. Jonathan Harker's journal tells of his arrival to Transylvania, location of Castle Dracula; his eventual imprisonment there; his attempts to ward off Dracula and the Three Sisters; and his eventual escape to Budapest. Letters between Lucy and Mina track, primarily, the slow "illness" overtaking Lucy, which results in her becoming a vampire. Seward's diary contains information about the patient Renfield, an accomplice and acolyte of Dracula's, who refers to him as "lord and master." Mina's journal details Mina's own illness and refers to her hypnotic visions, which serve as a "conscious link" between the Count and Mina. Van Helsing notes down several events toward the end of the novel, including the final pursuit of Dracula; newspaper reports of supernatural events fill out the uncanniness of the narrative, from perspectives beyond those of Mina and the rest of the group.

These accounts serve a central purpose in Dracula. Journals, diaries, and other first-person accounts lend credence to events that, if they were narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator, might seem too fantastical for the reader to accept. When the novel's characters make sense of the events they have seen, and relay these events to others, via their own writing and messaging, though, it puts the characters and the readers in the same position. Van Helsing therefore comments, in a quotation referenced by Harker in the novel's Closing Note, that because these are all "accounts" and not "objectively validated" by other persons, one still must, at the end of Dracula, take the characters' word for what has happened. Despite this almost obsessive reliance on the truthfulness of the information being reported, what we have, here, is nevertheless subject to embellishment and fantasy. It is up to the reader to judge if and when such fantasy has been inserted into the narrative.

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Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Quotes in Dracula

Below you will find the important quotes in Dracula related to the theme of Writing, Journaling, and Messaging.
Chapter 2 Quotes

In no place [in the castle] save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!

Related Characters: Jonathan Harker (speaker)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Harker realizes, on arriving at Dracula's castle that, after a short span of time, he is hardly a guest at all. Dracula, in this section, behaves suspiciously, telling Harker that bleeding in Transylvania can be "dangerous." Dracula also discards Harker's mirror - something that will be explained later in the text, attributed to Dracula's fear of being caught in a mirror and therefore defeated.

Again, however, Harker cannot understand what is happening to him and around him - he is not acquainted with the supernatural powers Dracula possesses, which would cause blood and mirrors to assume such terrible significance. This section, then, is a case of dramatic irony, wherein the reader perceives more of what is happening to the character than the character himself does. This will recur throughout the text - it is, indeed, a trope of horror fiction, where the reader understands that danger lies just ahead of a particular unsuspecting person. And, of course, that person is powerless to stop the violent act - only heightening the expectation of bloodshed. 


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Chapter 4 Quotes

At least God's mercy is better than that of these monsters, and the precipice is steep and high. At tis foot a man may sleep—as a man. Good-bye, all! Mina!

Related Characters: Jonathan Harker (speaker), Count Dracula, Mina Harker
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Harker writes in his journal and hopes that his imploring might somehow make its way back to Mina, his beloved (in case he dies without ever seeing her again). He has, at this point, largely given up hope that he might survive his time at Dracula's castle unscathed. He is completely imprisoned, threatened constantly by the strange forebodings of Dracula and the Three Women, and he has come to discover that Dracula sleeps in a coffin and feeds off human blood. He is, to Harker, a "monster."

In this message, Harker hints that perhaps the only way to escape Dracula is to kill himself - to throw himself from the walls of the castle-prison. Harker, nevertheless, plans to escape the fortress by crawling along its side, the same way Dracula does. Harker has noticed that Dracula is capable of moving in these strange, inhuman ways, especially at night - that Dracula assumes, essentially, the form of a bat in the evening. But Harker at this point does not fully understand Dracula's supernatural powers - he knows only that the Count is not of this earth, and that there is little he, Harker, can do to defeat him outright. He must instead escape him through cunning - or if he fails to escape, he must end his life on his own terms, and thus remain a "man" rather than being corrupted and transformed into a "monster." 

Chapter 5 Quotes

I am very, very happy, and I don't know what I have done to deserve it. I must only try in the future to show that I am not ungrateful to God for all His goodness to me in sending to me such a lover, such a husband, such a friend.

Related Characters: Lucy Westenra (speaker), Arthur Holmwood
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy is painted, at this point in the novel, as a model of purity, chastity, and "polite" female desire. She loves Arthur, and she claims that she will do anything for him - she is utterly devoted to him and believes herself lucky for having found so suitable a husband. With perhaps a touch of condescension, she tells her friend Mina that perhaps there is another man for her - Dr. Seward - although it is clear that Mina is committed to Harker, who is, at the time of this writing, still imprisoned in Dracula's castle.

Stoker takes pains to establish Lucy's purity in large part to undercut it later on. When Lucy is stalked by Dracula, and has her blood drunk at night, her behavior becomes impossible to predict. She blushes and appears more ravenous, more sexually and physically - more disposed to passionate fits that defy society's rules of female modesty. Stoker therefore uses Lucy as an example of what vampiric "infection" can do to even the most morally-upright of individuals. 

Chapter 7 Quotes

Early this morning a large dog, a half-bred mastiff belonging to a coal merchant . . . , was found dead in the roadway opposite to its master's yard, It had been fighting, and manifestly had had a savage opponent, for its throat was torn away, and its belly was slit open . . . .

Related Characters: Mina Harker (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another instance of the haunting violence that appears to be afflicting those on the English coast, near Mina, Lucy, and their friends. This dog may or may not have been the same dog that escaped from the deck of an abandoned ship that washes up in the nearby harbor. The locals do not fully understand what is happening in their community, but they do sense that a violent foreboding is pervading everything - exciting, especially, the animals nearby to fits of odd behavior.

The parts of the dog that are maimed are not by accident. As will be revealed later, Dracula focuses on the necks of his victims, all the better to suck the blood from them in order to nourish himself. And the belly, too, is another symbolically-powerful location - hinting both at earthly hunger and at pregnancy, which in the context of the novel is shot through with dark notions of the integrity of the female body and the protection of sexual purity. 

Chapter 9 Quotes

I want you to do me a favor. Lucy is ill; that is, she has no special disease, but she looks awful . . . I told her I should ask you to see her . . . and she finally consented.

Related Characters: Arthur Holmwood (speaker), Dr. Seward
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

Arthur is put in the position of requesting help from the doctor on Lucy's behalf. Lucy argues that she is okay, although clearly she has trouble completing even the most basic of waking tasks, and frequently must be confined to bed for long stretches. Arthur is worried about his fiancee, although at this point, he does not seem to suspect that anything out of the ordinary is wrong with her.

The conference between Seward and Arthur is an indication of another dynamic in the novel - that of men working among themselves to protect the health and security of women. Seward and Arthur feel they are in a position to insulate Lucy from whatever problem might be besieging her. Men and women outside this friendship circle seem to recognize that it is the responsibility of these men to care for Lucy. And, indeed, because Dracula presents himself as a male menace, Arthur and Seward are the men - so they style themselves - who will defend Lucy's honor and try to help her to survive. 

Chapter 11 Quotes

How good they all are to me. I quite love that dear Dr. Van Helsing. I wonder why he was so anxious about these (garlic) flowers. He positively frightened me, he was so fierce. . . . There is peace in its smell; I feel sleep coming already . . . .

Related Characters: Lucy Westenra (speaker), Abraham Van Helsing
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy discusses, via her journal, how it feels to be protected by some of the supernatural charms Van Helsing and Seward have prepared for her. She does not necessarily understand their purpose, and in fact their presence is in some sense terrifying to her - because it points to something "beyond the normal," or beyond the medical, about her current situation. Lucy seems to understand that she is in the throes of no ordinary illness.

But, nevertheless, Lucy does what she can to soldier on despite the circumstances. She remains positive and, in her journal, thanks those around her for caring about her. Her confinement does nothing to alter her fundamental belief in God and in the goodness of people. She refuses to give in to the fear that surrounds her, even as she notes the concern on the faces of those charged with caring for her. Lucy achieves an almost saintly level of calm in this section of the novel - a state that will be horrifyingly contrasted with her violation by Dracula and her transformation into an un-dead being.

Chapter 14 Quotes

Now that you are willing to understand, you have taken the first step to understand. You think then that those so small holes in the children's throats were made by the same that made the hole in Miss Lucy?
I suppose so.
Then you are wrong . . . . It is worse, far, far worse.
In God's name, Professor Van Helsing, what do you mean?
They were made by Miss Lucy!

Related Characters: Abraham Van Helsing (speaker), Dr. Seward (speaker), Lucy Westenra
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

Van Helsing recognizes that Lucy's illness, already thought to be caused by a supernatural infection brought on by continued bites from Dracula, is worse that he initially imagined. It is not just that Lucy has been infected with the vampiric illness - she is now an active vampire herself, and she requires the blood of others to survive. Perhaps Van Helsing was aware that this was a possibility before meeting with Lucy in person, but now he is convinced that the vampiric illness is one that is spread through bites - and that those bitten become those that bite.

The symbolic influence of this form of infection is clear. Van Helsing and Seward recognize that Lucy is not just in danger herself - she, potentially, can also bring great harm to others. In this way, vampiric infection is similar to any other kind of transmissible disease, including venereal (sexually-transmitted) disease. Those who have been infected can transfer that infection to others - meaning that the disease must be stopped in its tracks, through finding the initial vector (Dracula) and through quarantining those infected (like Lucy). Furthermore, the "disease" is presented as a kind of perverse passion - previously, Lucy had been saintlike and pure, but now she has been corrupted by Dracula's sexually-tainted affliction, and so she holds that same unholy passion and lust for blood.

Chapter 19 Quotes

Last night I slept, but did not dream. I must have slept soundly, for I was not waked by Jonathan coming to bed; but the sleep has not refreshed me, for to-day I feel terribly weak and spiritless.

Related Characters: Mina Harker (speaker), Jonathan Harker
Related Symbols: Bats
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Dreams are an important part of the narrative. Because they exist outside of waking life, they are a means of tapping into whatever supernatural or spiritual energies flow beneath life's surface. They are also a window into other consciousnesses - and when Dracula is present, dreams allow the dreamer to see him, perhaps to confront him or flee from him. That is why Mina reports that she does not remember her dreams - she does not remember having contact with Dracula at that time.

But Mina also notes that the sleep she slept did not possess characteristics typical of sleep. That is, it did nothing to restore her. It was not a respite from anything - it was a way of coming closer to Dracula's dangerous energies, even if she does not remember them. Sleep, in the novel, is therefore not a way of refreshing the body. It is instead a plane on which supernatural forces can act, without regulation of the conscious mind in waking life. 

Chapter 25 Quotes

He has so used your mind; and by it he has left us here in Varna, whilst the ship that carried him rushed through enveloping fog up to Galatz, where, doubtless, he has made preparation for escaping from us.

Related Characters: Abraham Van Helsing (speaker), Count Dracula, Mina Harker
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel closes with a chase scene. In many ways, the chase for Dracula has occurred throughout - the novel is structured as a sequence of scenes in which Dracula appears and is then repelled, either by chance or by the concerted efforts of the vampire hunters. The plot is not so much a web of intrigue as it is a set of plans that are put into place to trap Dracula, and, after he escapes, to find him again.

In this closing sequence, then, Dracula is chased back into Transylvania, his ancestral homeland. Thus, although a good part of the middle of the novel takes place in England, the beginning and the end occur abroad, in what is now Romania. The "otherness" of these scenes, surrounded by fog, strange animals, and forbidding castles, is a counterpoint to the "home" that is described in and around London, where modern life goes on more or less uninterrupted, even as Dracula attacks.