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Dracula | Chapter 25 : Dr. Seward's Diary | Summary

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Summary

On October 11th Seward writes in his diary on behalf of Harker, who wants the details of recent events recorded but is too traumatized to write. Just before sunset Mina asks to speak with the men; before sunrise and sunset are the times she's most herself and most able to speak. She thanks the men for letting her accompany them to Varna despite her weaknesses. She knows that if she killed herself or was killed, they could do to her body what they did to Lucy's and save her soul. She is willing to die before hindering or harming them; it's the only asset she has left to offer. She asks them—even Jonathan—to be willing to kill her when she becomes "so changed that it is better that I die that I may live." She feels what Van Helsing calls the "baptism of blood" taking slow effect. Morris responds first, vowing to perform this duty if necessary, and is joined by Seward, Holmwood, and Van Helsing. Harker objects, but Mina reminds him that in past wars men have killed their wives rather than let the enemy have them. As Holmwood had priority with Lucy's release from evil, so Mina would prefer that her husband strike the blow to free her. Then she warns the men that she may change suddenly and be forced to ally with Dracula; they must not hesitate to kill her. Finally, she asks Jonathan to read the burial service over her. He protests that she is far from death, but she insists because she already feels buried under feet of earth. Words fail Seward as he tries to describe the scene—a funeral service for one yet alive—and the strange comfort they all felt.

Harker writes on October 15th in Varna. They traveled to Paris on the 12th, took the Orient Express overnight, and checked in at their hotel late on the 15th. Harker can't recall details from the trip; his mind is obsessed with their task. Mina seems stronger and ruddier, though she sleeps a lot. Van Helsing often hypnotizes her to get updates on the ship's progress. Holmwood receives regular telegrams from the ship's insurer, too, so he'll know when it docks. The men plan to visit the Vice-Consul to get permission (via bribery) to board the ship immediately when it arrives. If they board during daylight, Dracula will be trapped in the box; he is not permitted to cross the water as a bat, and he can't change to his human form while the crew is near. On the 16th Mina still hears water and wind; the ship is still at sea. By the 17th all plans are in place. They hope to destroy Dracula unseen so that, when his body becomes dust, no charges of murder can be brought; but they're willing to face those charges if necessary. Perhaps their transcripts, in that case, would save them from hanging.

On the 24th a telegram reports that the ship has entered the Black Sea. Seward writes on that day; he finds using a pen irritating, but the phonograph is back at the asylum. Excitement is high, as for men preparing for battle, but Mina is more lethargic than ever, and also stronger. They expect the ship to dock early in the morning. At noon the next day, Seward adds to his report. They were up early, expecting word on the ship, but none has come. All the men but Harker are antsy; but Harker coldly waits, sharpening his knife's blade. Mina was agitated during the morning but has fallen into a sleep from which they can't wake her. Later, she wakes and seems more energetic. Under hypnosis she makes the same report—wind and waves. The men expect to hear of the ship's arrival at any moment.

But on October 27th, they've still had no word on the Czarina Catherine. Mina hears the waves more faintly, though, and Van Helsing confides to Seward his fear that Dracula may have escaped. On the 28th Holmwood receives a telegram from the Vice-Consul. The Czarina Catherine is in the port of Galatz. Seward reports the men's surprise; they were so sure the ship would dock at Varna. When Harker asks when the next train leaves for Galatz, Mina knows: 6:30 the next morning. Even under duress, she's studied the train tables to be of use to her husband. Van Helsing assigns tasks; they'll depart for Galatz in the morning. The men take it as a good sign that Mina feels more like herself, but Van Helsing and Seward realize Dracula has loosened his psychic grip on Mina to escape detection. Her partial recovery is, for the mission, a setback. As Van Helsing reviews the record she updates, he has a brainstorm. Dracula, he asserts, has a criminal's brain, an "imperfectly formed mind," as Mina puts it. He repeats patterns rather than innovating when conditions change. When alive, he retreated to his castle after losing a battle to regroup and attack again. Now, driven out of London, he's doing the same thing. Dracula thinks he'll be safe in his castle, but in fact it's the trap where they'll catch him.

Analysis

Chapter 25 conveys feelings of anticipation and frustration that plague the band of heroes, who quickly make their way to Varna, only to have to wait ... and wait. The longer the Czarina takes to arrive, the more time Dracula's blood has to work in Mina, who changes ominously, sleeping more by day but gaining strength and ruddiness—not, in this case, a sign of health but, as with Lucy, a sign that potent vampire blood is at work. Yet at the same time, Mina makes hard demands of the men to act, when she is "dead in the flesh," destroying her as they did Lucy. Mina knows the gory specifics, even the detail requiring her husband, if possible, to strike the fatal blow. "Our souls are knit into one, for all life and all time," so by saving Mina from damnation, Jonathan will save part of himself as well. In a sense Mina takes the Victorian feminine ideal, that a woman gladly sacrifices her needs to serve her husband and children, to its extreme. She will sacrifice her life and even the dignity of proper burial to serve her friends. Mina considers this euthanasia, as Seward names it, a foregone conclusion, so she thinks it reasonable and proper to have the words and prayers commonly used in burial services read over her.

Mina grows stronger physically but more distant, often lost in thought and placid when the others are excited over new information. She's harder to hypnotize, almost as if she's rebelling against Van Helsing's commands in favor of Dracula's. Yet Mina is still herself—the "train fiend" who memorizes train schedules everywhere she goes, in case her husband needs to know them, the "wonderful woman" ready to add to the records and organize new information. (Stoker, himself a talented manager and consummate organizer in his role with the Lyceum Theatre, may have endowed Mina with the traits he found admirable in his mother.) Mina grasps Van Helsing's line of thought about Dracula's criminal brain before the men do, and then asks forgiveness for her presumption. As Van Helsing says, while Dracula, as criminals do, falls back into former behavior rather than innovate in the face of new challenges, Mina expands her mind by taking in new information and synthesizing it into new ideas to be added to the all-important records that guide the hunt. He flees to the comforting past; she looks to future progress. In this chapter Dracula is overconfident, selfish, and careless; but Mina and the men are devoted to each other. In every way but supernatural strength and long life, they are at least Dracula's equals if not his superiors.

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