Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Doubt in Dracula

Stoker’s use of the different mysteries in Dracula draws attention to the doubt and uncertainty that troubled the minds of many Victorians.  Throughout the last couple chapters, Lucy’s condition seems to be getting worse and worse and the trained medical professionals don’t seem to be able to do anything about it.  In his letter to Arthur on page 121 and 122, Dr. Seward expresses the uncertainty he feels by saying, “I am in doubt and so have…. written to my old friend.”  This could be interpreted as the idea that people might not be able to trust the seemingly most reliable people in their lives, such as their doctors.  There is also self-doubt that plays out in the novel in Dr. Seward’s diary.  He uses phrases like “strange and sudden change” on page 110 and “… but what it is I do not yet know” on page 77 to demonstrate his confusion about the proceedings of the madman at his asylum.  It appears as though Dr. Seward at times is quite confused about the patient and how to help him, questioning his own medical talent.  Many characters are flooded with self-doubt and confusion, which could potentially persuade readers to believe that stronger powers (like the supernatural or in potentially religion in Victorian culture) are really in control and ordinary people can do little about it.  There is also evidence of this on page 171 when Dr. Van Helsing says, “She is dying.  It will not be long now…”.  The men have worked tirelessly to try and cure Lucy, but ultimately it is out of their control and she is going to die no matter what.

2 Comments

  1. This fear of female sexuality that you pointed out in the vampiric women of the novel becomes even more apparent during Lucy’s final death scene. Her transition into an evil vampire turns her into a sexualized woman who has lost her purity. Her “voluptuous wantonness” frightens the men, and it is Lucy’s impurity and lust that drives Dr. Seward into feeling hatred towards her (Stoker 226). The sexual language used to describe Lucy in her final moments suggests that the men murder her out of punishment for her wantonness, and, similar to what you mentioned, it is a way to exert power over her in her unhonorable state.

  2. Science is rendered useless in the fight against Dracula, despite all of the new technologies victorians possessed they relied on crucifixes and garlic in order to defeat vampires. On top of this the trained Dr. Seward seems to be much worse at talking to his patient than Mina. In chapter 18 it seems like Mina is the only person Renfield, and she influences him so much that he even goes against his master. Stoker chooses to have an untrained women posses more influence than a Doctor, and he chooses to render all modern technology useless in order to put more doubt in his victorian readers.

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