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Dracula | Chapter 19 : Jonathan Harker's Journal | Summary

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Summary

At five a.m. on October 1st, Harker writes that he goes to Carfax with less anxiety because Mina, having made her contribution, agrees to let the men handle the work. Still, Renfield's warning has shaken the men. Seward defends his decision to keep Renfield locked up because Dracula might be able to use a lunatic as he does wolves and rats, but the idea Dracula will invade the asylum itself never occurs to Seward. Van Helsing distributes their weapons: crucifix, garlic wreath, knife, gun, and small electric lights to clip to their clothing, and what remains of the communion wafer. As Seward opens the old lock with a skeleton key, Van Helsing invokes God's protection, and they enter the dusty house. Van Helsing takes up keys from a table and asks Seward, who knows the floor plan, to lead them to the chapel. There, an indescribably foul odor assaults them: "all the ills of mortality ... the pungent, acrid smell of blood," and loathsome decay. Of the 50 boxes of earth, 29 are in the chapel. As the men search for more boxes, the room swarms with rats. Holmwood blows a silver whistle, and three fierce terriers race into the chapel to drive the rats away. The men lock the outer door and explore further but find nothing. Van Helsing is pleased with their progress. Not only do they know that Dracula has 21 hiding places somewhere else in England, but they also know that his power over lesser creatures is incomplete, since the rats fled the dogs.

When they return to the asylum, they hear an inmate screaming and Renfield moaning, but Mina is safely sleeping, though Harker notes that she seems pale. He decides to protect his wife by withholding new information, at least until Dracula is destroyed. Harker returns to his entry later to say that the exhausted men oversleep, yet he wakes before Mina, who despite hours of sleep seems dazed and complains of tiredness. But Harker's attention is on the 21 missing boxes.

Seward also records events on October 1st. Van Helsing wakes him about noon. He wants to speak with Renfield and hopes to learn more from a foolish lunatic about zoophagy than from what wise men have written, but Van Helsing returns after Renfield tells him to take his "idiotic brain theories" elsewhere.

Mina's journal entry for October 1st records her discomfort with Jonathan's secrecy about the night's work. She knows he acts out of love for her, yet she cries over this breach. She keeps up her own journal so that, someday, they can tell each other all. Mina cries again, blaming herself for Lucy's death, but determines to hide her sorrow so Jonathan won't worry.

Mina can't recall falling asleep the night before. She heard dogs barking and Renfield's shouted prayers; then an odd silence fell, prompting her to look through the window. She saw a stream of mist moving purposefully toward the asylum's windows. Renfield became frantic until attendants subdued him, and Mina, frightened, hid under the blankets, covering her ears. She dreamed that her body was heavy and that she could see, through her closed eyes, the strange mist seep around the closed door and form a whirling column in which she saw glowing red eyes like those Lucy saw in the churchyard and like the eyes of the vampire women Jonathan saw. Then darkness overwhelmed her as a white face bent toward her.

Mina's entry for October 2nd reports a calmer night with no nightmares, yet she feels weak and spends the day reading and resting. Renfield asks to see Mina, to kiss her hand and ask God's blessing on her, which causes her to cry. She resolves to hide her weakness from the men. Agitated, Mina asks Seward for a sleeping draught. But as she feels it taking effect, she realizes her mistake: now she can't wake up if she needs to.

Analysis

Chapter 19 opens with Harker's comments on his wife. The young couple is in love; they've already endured hardship together, and Harker has consistently been open with his wife and has encouraged her abilities. Yet he misreads her badly at this moment, thinking he's "never [seen] Mina so absolutely strong and well" and grateful she's agreed to stay out of the fray. He realizes that Mina's "energy and brains and foresight" brought the records together so that "every point tells" something important while dismissing any future contributions. In Chapter 18 Van Helsing describes Mina as a woman unlike others, whom God made with a "brain that a man should have were he much gifted—and [a] woman's heart" for a particular purpose. But even Harker has difficulty seeing Mina as different from other women, who are naturally retiring and somewhat timid, despite his deep love for her.

Refusal to share information, a problem earlier in the novel, approaches a crisis point in this chapter. Each man who could end the secrecy by objecting to Mina's exclusion from the war councils fails to for his own reason. Van Helsing, who admires Mina's intellect, seems to have a fatherly regard for the young woman, as he does for Holmwood. Harker knows her and her particular abilities best, but not only does his duty as her husband drive him to protect her, he's the only living character with personal experience with Dracula. He himself hasn't fully recovered from the horrors he saw. The other young men, though they are fond of Mina, have no special authority over her and simply class her with other women. Mina is surrounded by well-meaning, affectionate men, none of whom can understand her or protect her.

So they tell her nothing of the thrilling scene inside Carfax, with its traditionally Gothic dust, spider webs, gloom, and rats. They don't mention the stench, as if, Harker says, Dracula's own breath had "clung to the place and intensified its loathsomeness." They don't tell her about the 21 missing boxes that mean the hunt is far from over. The men can consult with each other, debriefing and puzzling together, but Mina is alone and clueless because they decide, as Seward puts it, that this fight is "no place for a woman" and that the facts would "infallibly have wrecked her." Perhaps this is why they continue to miss vital—and sometimes obvious—clues: Renfield's wailing and Mina's exhausted paleness. And Mina isn't the only one to suffer from lost confidence. The men miss her. Harker in particular feels cut off from her, and she cries in frustration and guilt but hides her anxiety from him and worries he'll no longer trust her. The most poignant moment in the chapter comes at its end, when dinner is over and the men send Mina, for her own good, to bed. She writes, "I knew that they wanted to tell each other of what had occurred to each during the day," and she sees that Jonathan in particular has something of importance to share—but not with her.

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