Dracula

Dracula Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jonathan Harker's Journal, May 8. (continued). The journal picks up where Harker left off—he realizes he is a prisoner, but after a brief period of vocal despair (Dracula is gone during this part of the day), he realizes he must keep his wits about him in order to survive and, eventually, escape. Harker plans not to let on to Dracula that he, Harker, knows he is a prisoner. When Dracula returns for the day, Harker sees him making a bed in a room in the castle, thus proving Dracula is the only other person there.
This scene indicates that Harker, though he gives in to a small amount of grief, believes it is necessary to resort to his "rational mind" in order to fight Dracula and free himself from the Castle. This behavior is repeated by Seward and Van Helsing during the course of their hunt for Dracula—each believes, at a certain point, that he is going crazy, yet each marshals his rational mind and proceeds in his actions as methodically as is possible.
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
Harker also realizes that, if there are no servants, then Dracula must have been the strange driver of the carriage, as well. This means Dracula possesses incredible strength—and this adds to Harker's fears of the Count. Harker thinks back to the items given him by the Romanian locals in Bistritz—namely the crucifix and the garland of garlic—and wonders whether there is something in these charms, something chemical or physical, that can protect Harker from Dracula. Harker vows to himself to learn more about Dracula, perhaps by encouraging the Count, that night, to speak of his life.
Now that Harker has accepted his imprisonment and that there is something sinister and maybe unnatural about Dracula he begins to wonder whether the peasants superstitions might in fact be real occult knowledge that can aid in withstanding Dracula. The crucifix is easy enough to understand, as Dracula hates the light, too—he hates anything that opposes the demonic darkness of his own soul, and of course Christ's love falls into this category. Garlic, however, has long been considered a folk remedy against demons and other ill will—perhaps the intense smell of the bulb is enough to ward off evil.
Themes
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May 8. Midnight. Harker writes of his conversation that evening with Dracula—the Count spoke about Transylvanian history, explaining battles in so minute detail that it seemed, to Harker, that Dracula was present for all of them. To this, Dracula explained that, for Transylvanian nobility, the events of one's family are so important as to remain "eternally present" to current generations. Harker then relates, in his journal, some of what Dracula explains of his family history.
At this point, Harker believes simply that Dracula is proud of his family's exploits, and that Dracula has kept meticulous records of his family's involvement in famous battles of the past. He doesn't realize Dracula experienced these battles first-hand. Harker is not exactly aware of the nature of Dracula's powers. He thinks Dracula might be a magician, a religious fanatic, or simply a madman.
Themes
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Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
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Dracula goes into some detail about the Szekelys race, from which his family sprang. This race repelled the Turks, Hungarians, and other tribes from the borders of Transylvania in the Middle Ages. Later in medieval times, however, the Turks and then the Hungarians held some parts of Transylvanian land, and members of the Dracula family helped to repel these invaders after a long series of battles.
Just as English, or Western, society is opposed to Eastern, superstitious, barbaric, Transylvanian society, so is Transylvania considered the Westernmost outpost of Asia, in a certain sense. Dracula's family had to fight against the Turks, coming from the east, bringing with them a different religious and cultural background—and it is against all these battles that Transylvanian society is defined and forged. Transylvania, then, is a potent symbol of the clash between West and East, which the West saw as a clash between the civilized and rational and the mystic, obscure, and occult.
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But Dracula says, once again, that he must leave off his story at the crowing of the cock, marking dawn. Harker remarks in his journal, in a note to Mina, his fiancée, that it is odd how Dracula must always leave Harker when dawn approaches.
Again, Harker does not realize that Dracula's desire to leave before dawn is not just a personal preference, but a physical requirement of Dracula's vampirism.
Themes
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May 12. Harker begins this part of his journal by relating a conversation he and Dracula had, between the 8th and the 12th of May, in the evening, concerning Dracula's newly-purchased property, Carfax. Dracula asks Harker whether Dracula might be able to have one solicitor manage his property in London, and another manage certain shipments of other property from London to ports in England. Harker says this is of course possible, especially of the contracting party (here, Dracula) does not want a solicitor to know his entire business. At this, Dracula is pleased.
Dracula is here preparing to ship an unknown cargo, of his own volition and without much external interference, from a port in England (later revealed to be Whitby, where Lucy and Mina happen to be staying) to London. Harker, once again, senses that Dracula's interest in this shipping arrangement is rather strange and secretive, but because Harker does not know the rules and nature of Dracula's vampiric condition, Harker cannot know that the wooden boxes Dracula ships are the coffins in which he must sleep to avoid the sun.
Themes
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Dracula asks if Harker has had a chance to send any letters to the outside world while at the castle. Harker replies that he hasn't, save for a very short note to Hawkins just after Harker's arrival. Dracula tells Harker he is to write to Hawkins and to "any other friends," to say that he (Harker) will leave Castle Dracula in one month. Dracula orders that Harker's letters contain only references to business, and cheerful generalities about his life in the castle.
Dracula is, in effect, censoring Harker's communications, so that Harker can only say to the outside world what Dracula commands him to say. Thus Harker's ability to communicate with Mina, for example, is severely curtailed by Dracula. This causes an interesting wrinkle in the novel's overall thematization of communication and miscommunication—Harker cannot describe events as they happen, because Dracula is watching.
Themes
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Harker realizes that Dracula has the power to make him send these letters, as Harker is the Count's prisoner in the castle. Dracula hands Harker paper and envelopes, and Harker realizes that, whatever he writes, Dracula will read before the letters are sent. Harker writes a long, formal letter to Hawkins, following Dracula's instructions above, and another to Mina, his lover, using shorthand, which Mina can read and Dracula cannot. Dracula also writes his own letters as Harker writes his.
Although communication with the Castle is difficult, both Harker and Dracula rely on written messages to speak with the outside world. As was indicated previously, Dracula subscribes to a great many English journals, meaning that it was at least possible, at this time, to exchange information between Transylvania and England, if one had sufficient monetary means to pay for these letters.
Themes
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Dracula then leaves the room and his letters. Harker sees four letters of Dracula's: they are addressed to a man named Billington, in Whitby, England; Herr Leutner, in Varna (in Europe); Coutts and Co., in London, and two bankers, Klopstock and Billreuth, in Budapest. Before Harker can read the notes, however, Dracula returns, and tells Harker he is retiring to rest. Before he goes, Dracula warns Harker that Harker must only sleep in his bedroom, and not in another room of the castle, as "things could happen to him" in those rooms for which Dracula would not be accountable. Harker grows even more afraid.
A further injunction—not only must Harker not visit other rooms in the castle, other than his own chamber, but Harker must not be tempted to sleep in any of these other rooms, either. Again, this seems intended by Dracula to stoke exactly Harker's interest in these other rooms. Also, since Dracula leaves Harker alone much of the day, it seems only natural that Harker would wish to take a tour around the Castle.
Themes
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Later. Harker places a crucifix over his bed, when he returns to his room that night. Before sleeping, Harker walks up a small stone staircase in his room and looks out a window, onto a window of Dracula's bedroom. Harker sees Dracula climbing, face-down, out of his window and down the stone wall of the castle, gripping the stone "like a lizard." Harker is horrified by what he sees, and begins to think that Dracula must be some kind of monster.
The first reference in the novel to one of Dracula's explicitly superhuman abilities. Harker himself, later, is able to scale the walls of the Castle, but not face-down, like an animal. Harker has realized Dracula is sinister and possibly something more than sinister. Now the "something more" is starting to be revealed.
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May 15. Harker sees Dracula again leaving his room in his "lizard-like" fashion, and notes that Dracula is probably far away from the castle. Harker takes this opportunity to look for a means of escape. He tries several doors, including the main door to the outside, but finds them locked. Another door, at the top of the main staircase, is not locked, however, and Harker enters.
Again, Dracula appears to have lured Harker into just the kind of investigation of the Castle that Dracula warned Harker against. Harker, like Pandora of Greek myth, cannot help himself—he must see what is hidden in a place he is not permitted to go.
Themes
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Harker finds that this room is well-appointed with furnishing from many centuries before, although they are now covered with a thick dust and grime. Harker believes that this wing of the house was used by ladies, as it contains implements for grooming, and soft cushions and drapes, characteristic of a woman's chamber. Harker writes this journal entry from within these "ladies' rooms."
Thus far in the novel, the action has focused largely on men, with the landlady and brief references to Mina being the only exceptions. Here, Stoker introduces female characters—relations of Dracula's—who will haunt Harker and other characters throughout the novel.
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Later—the morning of May 16. Harker is upset, and references a line from Hamlet, "My tablets! quick, my tablets! / ‘Tis meet that I put it down," meaning that he is in a hurry to document the morning's events in his journal. Harker reports that, the previous night in the women's room, after making his journal entry, he fell asleep, only to awaken to the sight of three women—two with dark hair, resembling the Count, and one with fair hair.
The notion of three evil sisters has deep literary referents, and the allusion to Hamlet in this section is no accident, as Shakespeare, in another great tragedy (Macbeth), includes three wicked sisters, who seem to plot the downfall of the main character. Here, the Three Sisters wish to lure Harker with promises of lust and romantic fulfillment.
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The women argue over who gets to "kiss" Harker first, and they all three approach him, smacking their lips and appearing as though they want both to eat Harker and to make love to him. In this moment—to which Harker submits in "ecstasy"—Dracula returns to the room and, throwing the women aside, declares that they can only "kiss" Harker when he, Dracula, is done with him.
Harker's "ecstasy" will be mirrored by Mina's strange interaction with Dracula, back in England, while Harker lies sleeping not far away. Both characters respond similarly to their tempters—they wish to pull away, but find they cannot. It is worth noting also just how much of a shock the three sisters would have been to a reading audience in Victorian England, where any behavior by women that was not virtuous, chaste, and in moderation was seen as profoundly bad. The three sisters—with their sexual aggression that seems a lust so great they want not just to make love but to consume the object of their desire—was a kind of nightmare vision of Victorian women.
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The women accuse Dracula of never loving anyone, but Dracula dispels them, saying he has loved in the past. Harker sees that the women fade into the moonlight. In a swoon of horror, Harker sees Dracula advance toward him, and faints.
Dracula appears to save Harker, but is in fact only "preserving" him for his own use—although this use is not yet explained.
Themes
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Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon