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Chapter 13

Stanley Stepanic, Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Virginia, explains Chapter 13 in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.

Dracula | Chapter 13 : Dr. Seward's Diary | Summary

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Summary

The woman who prepares Lucy's body for burial, Seward reports, is amazed by her beauty in death, saying, "It's quite a privilege to attend on her." Lucy and her mother are to be buried together. Seward handles the details, but Van Helsing—also a lawyer—helps with paperwork. Before they retire, they look again at Lucy's body, which now has all its former beauty. Van Helsing somberly brings more garlic to the room, places a gold crucifix, which he had been wearing, on Lucy's mouth, and covers her face. He asks for surgical knives for a procedure. Seward, who has waited long for answers, objects to the mutilation of Lucy's body, but Van Helsing gently insists he has reasons for all he does.

As Seward leaves Lucy's room, a maid enters it. He's impressed by her devotion. But in the morning, Van Helsing says he can no longer perform the procedure. He holds up his golden crucifix, which the maid stole from Lucy's body. Again, Van Helsing says, they must wait for what happens next.

Mr. Marquand, the Westenras' lawyer, arrives to say that Holmwood, now Lord Godalming, inherits most of Mrs. Westenra's estate; he leaves to inform Holmwood. Seward and Van Helsing wait in the death chamber, where both bodies lie, to comfort the heartbroken young man. Holmwood thanks Seward for his help and embraces him. Seward lets him cry and then leads him to Lucy's body. "God! how beautiful she was," Seward thinks as Holmwood marvels at her ruddiness.

At dinner Holmwood begs Van Helsing not to address him as Lord Godalming. Van Helsing admits he thinks of Holmwood almost as a son. As he did with Seward, he instructs Holmwood to trust him, come what may. Someday, he'll understand everything and bless Van Helsing. He asks permission to read Lucy's letters and diary. That night, Seward and Holmwood sleep, but Van Helsing keeps vigil by Lucy's body while the stench of garlic fills the room.

Meanwhile, as Mina records in her journal on September 22nd, she and Jonathan return to Exeter after the burial. While they were in London, Jonathan suffered an attack, and she wants to note the details while they're fresh. As they walk in Hyde Park, Jonathan turns pale and clutches Mina's arm. She sees what has alarmed him: a tall, thin man paying too much attention to a pretty girl in a carriage (a "Victoria"). His gaze is cruel, and his teeth are fanged. "It is the man himself!" Jonathan says. A man joins the pretty girl in the carriage. When they drive away, Dracula follows in a hired cab (a "hansom"). Mina leads her distraught husband to a secluded bench, where he sleeps. When he wakes he has forgotten the event, and Mina says nothing for fear of a relapse. The time has come, she decides, to read his notebook.

At home in Exeter, they find a telegram from Van Helsing, whom they don't know, informing them of the deaths of Mrs. Westenra and Lucy.

Seward writes, on September 22nd, of his relief—the funeral is over. Holmwood has gone home, his staunch friend Morris at his side, and Van Helsing is resting before returning to Amsterdam. At the funeral Holmwood confessed he believed Lucy to be "his wife in the sight of God" because his blood was in her veins. Afterward, Van Helsing succumbs to an odd fit of half-laughter, half-tears. Lucy's beauty-in-death drives him to laugh, as does the futility of the religious service. Even funnier, he says, is Holmwood's claim. Since she received four transfusions, it follows that pure, innocent Lucy is married equally to Holmwood, Seward, Morris, and Van Helsing. He asks Seward to forgive his outburst.

Now Seward is alone. He closes his diary and recommits himself to his work, though it seems pointless.

The chapter ends with two ominous newspaper articles from the Westminster Gazette, dated September 25th. They report that children in Hampstead have gone missing until late at night or overnight, lured from home by a "bloofer [beautiful] lady." The children treat this as a game, but they return with "slightly torn" throats. Police are on alert for stray dogs. A child with the same wounds was found sick on the heath and also reported having been enticed away by the bloofer lady.

Analysis

Readers today are likely unaware of the hasty and socially awkward nature of Lucy's funeral. Victorian funeral and mourning customs were elaborate. Class, family connection, and wealth dictated funeral styles and periods of formal mourning, which could be quite long. Seward comments on the "disordered state of things" in the Westenra house, now bereft of both its mistresses, and worries because he is "unable to notify anyone who should have been bidden." Lucy is the daughter of a wealthy house, engaged to the new Lord Godalming. Holmwood himself is absent from the arrangements because his first duty is to his father, not his beloved fiancée. All these details signaled to Victorian readers that Lucy's death, like her illness, is somehow wrong. The improprieties add to the disgust Victorian readers (and readers today) likely felt at Van Helsing's plan to mutilate her body. These are touches of horror that escape many modern readers.

Modern readers should also know that Holmwood's excessive grief and tears were not considered unmanly by Stoker's original readers. Seward's subtle but heartfelt response is also appropriate—"a grip of the hand, the tightening of an arm over the shoulder, a sob in unison." But readers then and now are likely equally shocked by Van Helsing's disrespectful behavior during the burial. His hysterical laughter, barely suppressed in the churchyard, strikes Seward as shameful and womanly; a man should control such emotions under duress. But Van Helsing's explanation is more shocking in its disrespect for proper behavior. Not only does he cackle over the blood for four men (five, if readers consider Dracula) in Lucy's body, but he derides the priests who wear "the white garments of the angel" while pretending to read the ceremony of the dead over a woman who, Van Helsing knows, isn't dead. And if blood unites a man and woman as spouses, Van Helsing is a bigamist because by church law, he and his wife are still married even though she has lost her mind and is thus "dead to [him]." These thoughts are as alarming as Lucy's heretical (and apparently prophetic) desire to marry all the men who love her.

Meanwhile, Dracula makes an appearance again, moving casually through London (in daylight, readers notice, though he prefers night and must wear covering clothing during day), causing Harker to relapse and setting in motion Mina's decision to read the journals. And a new vampire, the "bloofer lady," moves almost as freely around Hampstead, where children are at play. With Lucy a newly made vampire and clever Mina about to enter the fray, the stage is being set for the grand conflict between Van Helsing's band of heroes and Dracula.

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