Abracadabra: Language, Memory, Representation


The Collation continues...

Just before meeting to discuss the mass of papers they have before them, Van Helsing asks Mina to include the intervening days' entries-- even though they contain little more than Arthur's sobbing and Morris's hand-kissing. But Van Helsing knows they are all "family" now, by blood or by diary...

The business meeting is the first time we are introduced to any positive knowledge about vampires. Pages 209-211 contain Van Helsing (and Stokers) strange amalgamation of rules and beliefs. Van Helsing insists that

"all we have to go on are traditions and superstitions...A year ago which of us would have received such a possibility, in the midst of our scientific matter-of-fact nineteenth century...[but the vampire] is known everywhere that men have been." p. 211

The meeting is interrupted... hunting

Is Quincy acting strange? Why does he say nothing, leave the room and then shoot towards the building? Who's insane here?

A database, some money, a good reputation, and "the Count's key basket."

The first part of the dracula hunt is strict accounting. Where the boxes are, how many, and how to get at them. Despite this manifestly secretarial endeavour, there is much action: swarming rats, trips to the docks and bribing of workers. Harker tracks down several workers and finally a real estate agent to discover the Count's three other London hiding places.

  • Why is the Picadilly residence the important one?
  • How do they use/abuse Arthur's title?
  • What is the difference between Dracula's use of money, and of title, and of the protagonists? Are there two different versions of capitalism here?

Renfield's madness

Everyone wants to meet the lunatic. Mina is first, and instists on seeing him because what Seward has said "interests me so much!" When Seward is called to go see Renfield, Van Helsing insists that his case "bears on our case" and Arthur and Qunicey are quick to say "Me too." Jonathan is the only one wh doesn't ask to come, and is not greeted by Renfield, and yet makes clear in his diary that he was also present.

Renfield shows charm, recognizes everyone, and generally proves his sanity to all involved. Yet they do not believe him. It is once again their downfall that they are two suspicious, too knowing. Renfield, on the other hand, will not tell them why he must leave. Does he want to run to the Count, or from him?

"By all that you hold sacred-- by all you hold dear--by your love that is lost-- by your hope that lives-- for the sake of the Almighty, take me out of this and save my soul from guil! Can't you hear me, man! Can't you understand? Will you never learn?" p. 218

Later, Van Helsing will visit again, only to be insulted and rebuffed.

As Seward questions him, he becomes convinced there is "some new scheme of terror afoot!" But it is too late, Dracula will destroy his servant, and leave him for dead...

Excluding/Including Mina

Mina's professionalization is cheered by everyone, she is the consumate secretary and organizer, she is New Woman, with all the positive attributes of the beginnings of Women's liberation. When do things start to go wrong?

Well, when the men go off to hunt, and they exclude her.

"and now for you Madam Mina, this night is the end until all be well. You are too precious to us to have such risk. When we part tonight, you must no more question. We shall tell you all in good time. We are men and are able to bear; but you must be our star and our hope, and we shall act all the more free that you are not in danger, such as we are." p. 213-4.

On September 30, she is visited by the Count.

Seward and Van Helsing play at being pained to exclude her, but are ready with justifications:

"Mrs. Harker is better out of it. Things are quite bad enough to us, all men of the world, and who have been in many tight places in our time; but it is no place for a woman, and if she remained in touch with the affair, it would in time infallibly have wrecked her. p. 225.

Mina says: "It is strange to be kept in the dark as I am today." She will keep her diary so that Jonathon knows her heart someday. Meanwhile she relates in detail, as if a dream, her first visit from the count-- only to be known by herself, for there is no more transcription, the secretary stays at home.

It is not until two days later at Renfield's attack-- when Van Helsing makes Renfield speak through trephination, as if plugging directly into his battered brain-- that they learn of Mina's attack, and run upstairs to discover the worst...

The diaries have all been destroyed! Dracula is on to them, he has destroyed all of the evidence. Oh, and Mina is now a defiled servant of the undead, too.

Arthur is at once concerned about the loss, and afraid to reveal it to Mina:

Van Helsing said gravely: "Go on friend Arthur. We want here no more concealments. Our hope is now in knowing all. Tell Freely."

Finally, they decide to include her again:

When the question began to be discussed as to what should be our next step, the very first thing we decided was that Mina should be in full confidence; that nothing of any sort--no matter how painful-- should be kept from her.

Dwight Fry
	  as Renfield Dwight Fry as Renfield

Christopher M. Kelty
Last modified: Mon Apr 21 09:54:16 CDT 2003