Course Blog

Beware the “New Woman!”

Like most women written by men, the women in Dracula by Bram Stoker are shallow and lack character development. One can argue that Lucy is a round character, because she turns into a vampire, but is that really character development or a poke at the “New Woman” by Bram Stoker? According to Sally Ledger and Roger Luckhurst in Reading the ‘Fin de siècle,’ the “New Woman” can be interpreted/read two ways: a more positive image of sexual liberation and independence or the negative aspects of breaking social norms such as motherhood and the nuclear family.

In Dracula, Mina is a symbol of what is good about the “New Woman;” she works but is still a dutiful, loving wife, while Lucy symbolizes the moral and sexual corruption of the “New Woman.” Mina writes, “We women have something of the mother in us that makes us rise above smaller matters when the mother-spirit is invoked…” (Stoker, 245) Stoker uses the imagery of the mother to paint Mina positively according to social norms of the time; she always thinks of her husband, she wants to be a mother and she works, but not too much that she neglects her tasks as a woman. He uses the word “spirit” and “invoked” combined with “mother” to further claim that all women have this innate motherly sense, as all humans have spirits (if that is what you believe, if not call it gothic and go with it), which contrasts Lucy’s actions when she eats a child, furthering Lucy as the extreme negative outcome of the “New Woman.” 

A few pages before, Stoker writes, “She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there; pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth – which it made one shutter to see – the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity.” (Stoker, 228) Although the first quote is not a direct description of Mina, the two quotes have very different tones, clearly contrasting the women as the two aspects of the “New Woman.” Specifically, the description of Lucy’s mouth is very sexual, utilizing creepy words such as “pointed,” “bloodstained,” “voluptuous” and “carnal,” harking on the sexual corruption aspect of the “New woman.” In a long winded way, Stoker is saying Lucy is no longer pure. If the reader still did not pick up on the implicit, Stoker explicitly states, “…a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity,” creating a relationship between the evil and “sweet” Lucy. 

Through the contrast of pure Mina and corrupt Lucy, Stoker cautions against the “New Woman” in the Fin de Siècle era. Stoker uses sensationalism to provoke curiosity of the corrupt imagery of vampires and Lucy-turned-vampire to show the dangers of the abandonment of gender roles, specifically motherhood in the Victorian Era. Ledger and Luckhurst note that the double standard of the “New Woman” brought forth “..productive sites for thinking through the articulation of gender with other significant markers of identity.” (Ledger and Luckhurst, 18) So, some positive social change was made as a result of the “New Woman”, contrasting Stoker’s negative depiction of the movement in Dracula. Although Lucy is not a direct “outspoken attack on male sexuality,” as self proclaimed novelist, Sarah Grand is described as by Ledger and Luckhurst, still Lucy and her vamperic, child eating, motherhood abandoning, sexual advances are a threat to Victorian culture as Bram Stoker knows it. (Ledger and Luckhurst, 17)

Locations and their Superstitions

Locations have been a vital part of the story of Dracula so far as there are notable settings like Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania which is explained in detail by Jonathon’s time there. Of all the places the characters travel to and explore, certain locations are backed by the superstition of vampires, seeing as this is a novel focused on them. Connecting to another text, Emily Gerard specifically talks about the history of superstitions and the locations attached to them in Transylvanian Superstitions (1885). Two important elements of superstition Gerard notes are “the indigenous superstition of the country” and “the spirit of evil” (332-333), which focus on the actual location superstitions are known to appear and their evil nature.

Transitioning to Dracula, the location of the graveyard at the church is essential in chapters 15 and 16 as this is where Lucy is found to be a vampire and killed by the men of the novel. Dr. Seward described the tomb as “grim and gruesome enough…miserable and sordid than could have been imagined. It conveyed irresistibly the idea that life – animal life – was not the only thing which could pass away” (Stoker 163). Before the events concerning Lucy occurred, this description of the tomb showcases the negative connotations attached to superstitions. The final line promotes the idea that not only is this area devoid of life but it is the perfect breeding ground for vampires. An important factor is that this description comes from their visit at night whereas the next day when they revisit the tomb, Dr. Seward’s tone changes. Dr. Seward’s notes that the tomb “was not so gruesome as last night, but oh, how unutterably mean-looking when the sunshine streamed in” (Stoker 167). Although it is still mean-looking, it is not the grim and gruesome place he recounted the night before. This further supports Gerard’s explanation that it isn’t just the location but the elements of a specific superstition connected to the place.

There is also a cultural and historical factor in superstitions that we see in Dracula as Van Helsing left “garlic and a crucifix” to “seal up the door of the tomb” (Stoker 168). Garlic is used commonly throughout this novel to ward off monsters and the crucifix is an important tool to keep evil spirits away. By putting these tools specifically at the location of the tomb, rituals and religion also become a factor in what makes the graveyard a location connected to the superstition of vampires. Gerard also gives information on vampires by explaining they “will continue to suck the blood of other innocent people till the spirit has…a stake through the corpse” and “it is further recommended to cut off the head and replace it in the coffin with mouth fulled with garlic” (334). All of these techniques are used in chapter 16 when Van Helsing and the other men kill Lucy in her vampire form. With the evidence found in Dracula and Gerard’s writing, it is apparent that locations can become associated with superstitions but only if they connect to the cultural, historical, and religious elements of said superstition.

Lucy and Purity in “Dracula”

The goal of this blog post will be to analyze the similarities and differences between the description of Dracula and lucy’s mouths. Through this the reader will gain an understanding of how female character’s a sexualized and valued in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The reader is presented with several descriptions of Count Dracula’s mouth, and face. One of which comes in Chapter 21 while Renfield is describing his attack to Dr. Seward, “He was laughing with his red mouth; the sharp white teeth glinted in the moonlight when he turned back over the belt of trees, to where the dogs were barking.” (297). In these lines Stoker provides no specific of Dracula’s lips. He instead gives a broad description of healthy lips, and then goes into the aspects of the Count’s mouth which make him uncanny: the long white fangs. Rather than focus on the human aspects of Dracula, Stoker chooses instead to emphasize the features which make Dracula see odd and different to the rest of the characters in the novel.

Stoker’s descriptions of Lucy are full of sexual language regarding her mouth. On page 228 the author provides the following description:

“She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there; the pointed teeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth – which it made one shudder to see – the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity.” (228).

In both cases Stoker puts heavy emphasis on the uncanny aspects of their mouths. He quickly mentions the long fangs and the lips that look almost too red in Dracula’s case, or the bloodstains in Lucy’s.  The major difference between the illustrations is the use of the word “voluptuous” which is inherently sexual in nature. Only the descriptions of Lucy contain this sexualized language. This, in turn, changes the emphasis of the physical depiction of Lucy from one which focuses solely on the uncanny to one which is sexually charged. This is further supported by Stoker’s use of the words “carnal” and “unspiritual.” The author emphasizes Lucy’s loss of purity, or virginity in her transition into vampirism and the uncanny. This creates an interesting disparity between Lucy and Dracula, the two named vampires in the novel thus far. Stoker and his character’s lament the loss of Lucy’s “sweet purity” whereas Dracula is simply evil incarnate. His description has nothing to do with his sexuality.

These depictions of Dracula and Lucy are given from the male perspective. Lucy’s by Dr. Seward, and Dracula’s by Renfield. Time and time again Mina and Lucy’s value as people, and to the men in the novel, is based upon their purity. Through this the reader gains insight into another aspect of what makes Dracula so terrifying: he robs his victims of what society deems the most valuable part of their identity. That is not to say that Mina and Lucy are only valued because of their purity, but rather this is a critical part of their identity. The implication is that Dracula, in turning them into vampires, is stealing for them their claims to being considered proper women.

An Epitaph Not for the Dead

An epitaph is a brief set of words that are in memory of someone who has passed, usually on their tombstone. However, Amy Levy’s “Epitaph” is not only for the dead, but for the living as well.

Her poem begins with a description of a man decomposing in his grave. Gruesomely, the poem goes to list his appearance; he lays with “dust in his throat”, “worm in his eyes”, “mould in his mouth”, and “turf on his breast”. Even with such a strong description, the poem claims that this is the best. To support this claim, the poem reads almost thankfully, “Never again will he smile and smile / When his heart is breaking all the while.” Though his end may seem ghastly, his life was more strenuous and painful than death. Selective word choice by Levy creates an emotional reaction in the reader. Words and phrases like “ache” and “breaking” along with hints of hunger in “Never ask for bread, get a stone instead” perpetuate a constant state of pity. The poem continues and delves into his mundane and unremarkable life. Despite all of his efforts to create a better life for himself, the poem makes a point in saying he his better dead and calm, then alive and stressed.

This is where, I claim, that Levy writes an epitaph, not just for the man who died in bed, but for an alive England, at the time. Using a New Historicist lens to analyze her poem, many aspects of the poem are brought to life. As we discussed in class, Amy Levy was raised Jewish and continued practicing her faith during her adult life. She continued pursuing higher education, and was the first Jewish woman to attend Newnham College. Upon publishing many of her works, she faced many criticisms, which led to her struggle with depression, ultimately causing her to take her own life at 27. Knowing this about the author, the dark themes of bleakness and overall harsh nature of her writing, correspond with the adversities she faced in her lifetime. In England, the New Woman feminist movement began shortly after Levy’s death. This “New Woman” was one who was independent, able to work, and stay on par with men, blowing the minds of men across England, who were dismissive of women’s potential. Levy, though incredibly talented, was heavily criticized simply for being that: a talented woman. The dark and dismal message conveyed by “Epitaph” is reflective of Levy’s attitudes towards the social state of England and predicts a dejected future for those men who wish to criticize the New Woman. While she may not have been aware of her value at the time, she was admired by Oscar Wilde, a man who created some ripples in England himself, changing the way Victorian Era literature is viewed today.

On first glance, “Epitaph” by Amy Levy seems just another emo and gray poem of the 1800’s, but I feel that it’s so much more than that. A warning signal and a glimmer of hope for the new women to come.

Your favorite crime,

Jay Walker

Complex Women: Duality of Mina Harker

During the fin de siècle, the concept of the New Woman challenged traditional Victorian ideals of femininity. This movement celebrated women’s intellectual capabilities and independence, often in stark contrast to the prevailing notion that women were physically and intellectually inferior. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we find a fascinating exploration of these ideas, particularly in the character of Mina Harker. The Longman Anthology of British Literature introduces us to the prevailing Victorian notion of femininity, which placed women on a pedestal as nurturing and selfless beings that were primarily dedicated to serving others. This idealized woman was expected to be domestic, pure, and devoid of ambitions beyond her role as a wife and mother (Henderson & Sharpe 1061). Mina Harker, a central character in Dracula, challenges these traditional ideals. In a passage from the novel, Professor Van Helsing remarks, “Mina! She has man’s brain—a brain that a man should have were he much gifted—and a woman’s heart. …We men are determined—nay, are we not pledged?—to destroy this monster; but it is no part for a woman” (Stoker 250). This quote highlights the tension between Mina’s intelligence and her perceived role as a woman. The notion of Mina having “a man’s brain” is significant. It suggests that she possesses intellectual capabilities traditionally reserved for men. This aligns with the New Woman’s assertion of their right to intellectual pursuits and ambitions that extended beyond the domestic sphere. Van Helsing’s comment encapsulates the societal conflict of the time. Despite recognizing Mina’s exceptional intelligence, he questions her involvement in the quest to destroy Dracula, implying that her gender should limit her role. This reflects the prevailing belief that women were unsuited for activities demanding strength, rationality, and determination. The juxtaposition of “a woman’s heart” with “a man’s brain” emphasizes Mina’s dual nature.

It is also notable that Mina’s intelligence and independence are not portrayed as negative qualities. Instead, her intellect and resourcefulness are celebrated and valued by the other characters. This is in contrast to other literary works of the time, where intellectually capable women were sometimes portrayed as evil or dangerous. Mina’s character provides a positive example of a woman who is both intelligent and virtuous. In contrast to Mina, the character of Lucy can be seen as a more traditional representation of femininity. Lucy is described as beautiful, pure, and submissive, embodying the ideal Victorian woman. However, her portrayal changes drastically after she becomes a victim of Dracula’s vampiric blood-sucking. Her vampire form becomes sexually aggressive and behaves in a manner that is deemed inappropriate for a Victorian woman. The men of the novel feel that she must be spiritually saved at all costs because of her change in character. I was really interested in the idea presented in class about the men’s feelings on Lucy’s transformation being interpreted as a punishment for her deviating from the conventional expectations of femininity. It suggests that while women are starting to evolve for the better, the society of the time was not ready to accept such drastic changes in gender roles and sexuality. While Lucy adheres to the traditional ideals of femininity, Mina represents the emergence of a new kind of woman who is independent, intelligent, and capable.

Van Helsing Is a Drama Queen

In Chapter 13, Van Helsing and Seward share a moment of vulnerability after Lucy’s burial that reveals the representation of emotional expression in men and between men within the novel. In the train carriage, Seward witnesses Van Helsing’s breakdown into a “fit of hysterics”, which Helsing denies and insists it was his “sense of humour” under “terrible conditions” (186). Seward then draws the blinds of the carriage so that onlookers would not make a judgment of them. This passage demonstrates the way in which the men in this novel reserve their emotional intimacy for the women in their lives, upholding gendered behavioral distinctions. The laughing and crying over the death of an innocent girl and feelings of compassion and pity for her widower as a father and a husband are regarded as feminine in this passage and behaviors that require a stern response from another man. Additionally, the use of “stern” for how Seward attempts to “comfort” Helsing in his emotional state, while noting that sternness is how one would attempt to console a woman in these circumstances, also hints at the relationship of the sharing of emotions between men, which its displays seem to be a discomfort to Seward as Helsing continues to cry and laugh despite Seward’s efforts. This instance of vulnerability as Helsing pours out his pain for Arthur is noted as something “a woman does” which reveals Seward’s association with emotional intimacy, compassion, and comfort as womanly tasks or responsibilities. The tasks of men on the other hand involve the protection of women, or the killing of if they see fit, violence, and danger, as later they take on the responsibility of saving Lucy (pg 186). 

This passage felt like an attempt to convey camaraderie between the men in the novel to set up the later banding-together-to-kill-the-monster while also making note of the differences in weaknesses and strengths between men and women and distracting from deeper emotional male relationships that are more acceptable between women (186). In this passage, Seward is concerned about others judging Helsing’s display of “hysterics” after the funeral, which would be a fairly normal response to someone’s death, and consoles him in the way “a man would” when a woman, who is implied to be the typical perpetrator of hysterics, would have an emotional breakdown such as this. However, later on this same page, Helsing reveals how he feels emotionally compelled to feel pity for Arthur as both a father and husband which causes him to “yearn to him (Arthur) as to no other man” (186). Here, the novel reveals that the men are capable and willing to express emotions towards each other despite their belonging to women, but are veiled beneath reiterations of comforting one another in the form of shielding them from judgment by others or encouraging them to repress their emotions in order to maintain the strength and focus to complete their more difficult and acceptable tasks, being that of protecting women, such as Mina, from danger, and taking the responsibility of braving the murder of “Lucy”. Additionally, the subsequent band of men determined to destroy the monster in Lucy’s body is formed both from the desire to protect, but also to bring Arthur peace and the ability to truly say goodbye to his wife. Again, there are expressions of compassion and love between the men, but they are manifested in either stern repressions of emotion, like Van Helsing and Seward, or through acts of violence to distinguish them from the warm and delicate embraces of women like Mina who rather cradle Arthur in her arms as he cries. Ultimately, the major crux of the group’s success in saving Lucy resulted from the men’s compassion towards Arthur as they pity his pain at the loss of his wife and support him as he saves her body through gruesome violence; again asserting the differences in which men emotionally express themselves and emotionally support each other in comparison to women in the novel.


Decadence in Poetry

The decadent poems read in class offered interesting views on life, death and decay along and how that pairs with the scientific and fantastical world. One poem that stuck out was Epitaph by Amy Levy which is centered on a man being on his death bed connecting it to the decadence movement because its actively focusing on death and how the process goes. The opening lines state that “This is the end of him, here he lies: The dust in his throat, the worms in his eyes” (373). The focus of this sentence is the “end” of the man and his resting place, but it’s paired with the more grotesque details of dust and worms being present. Then when placed in context of an Epitaph which is on a common person who died in bed, it places the man’s manner of death in context of his social class too. One line that reveals the influence of social standing in relation to how you die is “Never ask for bread, get a stone instead, Never pretend that the stone is bread” (pg 373). By placing bread and stone in a same sentence as if they’re comparable, this could be perceived as a commentary on social classes because wanting “bread” yet, receiving stone could be perceived as lack of access to what one may want and need. The advice of “never pretend that the stone is bread” shows that one which is lifeless and hard can’t be replaced for the other which is nourishing and supports life. It could also mean don’t settle for the minimum in which you are given especially as a commonplace person because ultimately the time will come in which dust and worms will infiltrate your body and you will decay having missed out on the brighter days passed. This is supported by the following lines which cautions to “Never sway and sway ‘twixt the false and true, weighing and noting the long hours through” (pg 373). This line is similar to the bread versus stone lines as it warns not to take one thing as a place holder for another. In this instance that would mean believing time can be counted as if its endless when its truly finite. This relates to death because there comes a time when a person’s hours are up and the sway of time in noting hours comes to an end. Ultimately this extends to the Ledger and Luckhurst article titled Reading the ‘Fin De Siècle, in which they frame this manner of literature as “a burgeoning secondary literature explaining the ways in which the theory of degeneration moves from biology through to sociology, criminology, psychology and ethics” (pg 23).  Meaning that degradation is expansive to multiple other aspects of human life and study. Therefore, Amy Levy’s Epitaph can be read as equally social, and science focused in terms of death and the process of decay. It serves as stark reminder of how most common people will die regretful and succumb to their return to the dust, worms and more.

Devils in Disguise

Prior to reading Dracula, I had many preconceived notions of what the novel would be. All I knew of Dracula was the not quite scary, often-times very normal acting, pop culture figure that haunted halloweens, picture books, and Sesame Street. A mere six pages into the novel Dracula, and it became apparent to me that the original Count Dracula was a being that truly struck fear into the hearts of the religious folk of the novel. When Jonathan Harker leaves for the last leg of his journey, the carriage ride that would take him to the Count’s castle, the people of the village beg him to stay, but when it becomes obvious that Harker will be making the trip no matter what, the people switch tactics. They begin making crosses with their fingers, one woman going so far as to put a rosary around Harker’s neck, saying “For your mother’s sake,” (6). This kickstarts underlying religious themes that become more and more prevalent throughout the novel, informing my opinion that the Count Dracula is a physicalization of religious terror and guilt.

The concept of vampires and the myths surrounding them stem from religious ideals, or in most cases, the church’s concept of the Devil. Emily Gerard’s “Transylvanian Superstitions” highlights these religious themes, stating that most of the superstitions and myths surrounding Transylvania stemmed from the Devil – the vampires, witches, and dragons were more like assistants to the Devil, doing his bidding. This puts the scene where the villagers are all making crosses into perspective, for in their eyes, Jonathan Harker is about to enter the Devil’s den; they are trying to protect him with the religious symbols that they know to protect against the Devil. Further, Gerard also writes that there are two kinds of vampires, the living and the dead. She writes that “The living vampire is in general the illegitimate offspring of two illegitimate persons,” (Gerard), illegitimate meaning not recognized in the eyes of God. This can be viewed as a religious cautionary tale, one that warns against the creation of bastard children, as that child could grow up to birth a vampire. Count Dracula is quite literally a physicalization of these religious fears that people of the time held.

When, in the novel, Dr. Van Helsing discovers Lucy’s undead nature and invites Arthur, Dr. Seward, and other colleagues to observe Lucy’s empty coffin at night, he goes prepared with not only a crucifix, but also communion wafers believed to be the body of Christ. Dr. Van Helsing uses both of these religious symbols to fend off Lucy in her undead state and to keep her from re-entering her tomb, proving that vampires are a religious enemy, one in connection with the devil. Besides the wooden stake and the garlic, all measures taken by Dr. Van Helsing against Lucy have religious meaning, furthering this idea that vampires are almost like devils or demons in their own right. Lucy as well as the count are frequently likened to or labeled as demons, Arthur even asking of Lucy’s body “Is this really Lucy’s body, or only a demon in her shape?” (286). I believe that that is what is so frightening to the characters of the novel, all of whom are religious – vampires are devils in disguise. Religion is one of, if not the, central theme in this novel, and the myth of vampires would not exist if it hadn’t been born out of religion.


Van Helsing’s Critique of Certainty and Modernity

Bram Stoker’s Dracula highlights the “ambivalence of modernity” described in Ledger and Luckhurst’s chapter on the ‘Fin de Siècle’ (Ledger and Luckhurst, xiii). We see the fear of uncertainty played out in Harker’s journal, where he expresses that “it was the doubt as to the reality of the whole thing that knocked [him] over,” not his harrowing experience with the Count (Stoker, 200). In an age of uncertainty, people need to find things that they can place their trust in, such as science; however, it is this search for certainty that Van Helsing pushes against in his conversation with Dr. Seward.

When Van Helsing shows Dr. Seward the newspaper article about the children whose throats had bite marks like Lucy’s, Dr. Seward infers that there may be a correlation between the bites on Lucy’s neck and the bites on the children’s necks; however, Van Helsing already believes that the bites “were made by Miss Lucy” (206). He criticizes Dr. Seward of being “too prejudiced” because he is listening to what he believes, not what the evidence is showing him (204). However, for Dr. Seward to listen to the evidence rather than his beliefs would result in him ignoring what science has shown to be possible. Van Helsing takes this opportunity to deliver a message critiquing “the authority of science” which is so crucial to the Fin de Siècle (Ledger and Luckhurst, xv).

Van Helsing argues that “there are things old and new which must not be contemplate by men’s eyes, because they know – or think they know – some things which other men have told them” (Stoker, 204). He seems to be discrediting science as being only something “which other men” have created. This statement puts science on similar grounds as religion; that is, it is something that has been told to us by others and that we then believe. As discussed in class, the crisis of faith at this time was concurrent with the permeation of science – how can one have faith if science has disproven the biblical story of creation? Van Helsing’s direction to have “an open mind” seems to be the response to this question, and one that encourages a sense of uncertainty (206).

Van Helsing believes that “it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain” (204). By claiming that the problem with science is that it desires to have an answer for everything, Van Helsing seems to be arguing that there is not, in fact, an answer for everything. Acknowledging that there isn’t an answer for everything and that no one knows everything creates a sense of uncertainty. This uncertainty is placed in conjunction with modernity when Van Helsing describes that “we see around us every day the growth of new beliefs” (204). Growth is quintessential of modernity, but the idea of “new beliefs” sparks an interesting debate as to what constitutes a belief for Van Helsing.

In his statement about what people “know – or think they know” because of what “other men have told them,” Van Helsing suggests that knowledge and science are beliefs held by people who have been told what to believe (204). Perhaps, the “beliefs” that he is referring to in his comment about “the growth of new beliefs” are the same developments of “psychology, psychical research, sexology, and eugenics” that Ledger and Luckhurst outline as “‘new’ human sciences” (xiii). In these few passages, Van Helsing calls out the new “knowledge” and developments of modernity as creating a false sense of certainty and truth that prevents Dr. Seward from seeing the reality of Lucy’s situation.

Dear Luver,

Trapped in Castle Dracula, Jonathan Harker writes in his journal: “Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last. It is nineteenth-century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill” (Stoker 43). This moment comes after Jonathan has witnessed Dracula’s lizard-like descent down the castle walls, which marks a tonal shift from mere eeriness to something decidedly sinister. With this journal entry, Jonathan reflects on the relationship between modernity and ancient times within the castle, considering an imagined “fair lady” who may have sat at the very same desk centuries before. This fictional woman is the paragon of innocence and poses no threat to Jonathan; she is simply writing a love letter, wholly guided by her feminine emotions. In fact, with the inclusion of her letter being “ill-spelt,” Jonathan frames this lady as his inferior. While she was just some silly woman, blushing and scribbling out a love letter (which she can’t even spell correctly), he is using the modern invention of shorthand to record a journal of his experiences. He is professional, scientific, and formal – clearly far more advanced than this ancient woman. This comparison emphasizes the idea that the modern Victorian man is superior to the people of the past, a belief which has carried Jonathan confidently through the events of the novel thus far. Jonathan’s explicit reference to the time period – “It is nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance” – stresses this point.

However, this fundamental belief is subverted with the final line of the entry, signaled by the words, “And yet.” Jonathan cannot deny that the very things which he is recording in his modern journal with his modern shorthand expose the threat of the ancient world that he is beginning to uncover. He writes, “unless my senses deceive me,” which invokes the conflict between what knowledge science necessitates and what one sees with his own eyes. With the following line, Jonathan admits that “the old centuries” are much more than the “fair lady” composing a sloppy love. History is not all quite so benign.

Thus launches Jonathan’s inner turmoil: he is grappling with the realization that modernity does not carry all the answers. Jonathan is the hallmark of the modern Victorian man – he is educated and sophisticated; he is training in a respected career; he is engaged to a proper, devoted woman – and yet all this does not grant him security. All throughout his journey to Castle Dracula, he was met with warnings and signs of danger which he ignored because he thought himself untouchable. In his eyes, his modernity placed him far above the peasants of Transylvania and would thus keep him safe.

In fact, I think the country of Transylvania as a whole represents this idea of the “old world” within the novel. Despite its noted eerie features, Jonathan never felt truly threatened because he came from London, the century of technology and science, the most advanced society in the world (in his mind). Why should an Englishman fear any part of the primitive, heathen country of Transylvania? Jonathan even saw himself as Dracula’s savior, tutoring him to be a proper Englishman and helping him to emigrate from an inferior nation. Although Dracula is a high-ranking individual, Jonathan sees the entire Transylvanian social hierarchy as beneath the Englishman.

To return to the journal entry, I argue that this moment marks when Jonathan begins to question his confidence in modernity, and not just modernity but in Britain as an empire. What he has witnessed in Castle Dracula causes him to doubt his assumed superiority and, more imminently, his untouchability. Not only is he realizing that his education, his technology, and his social heritage do not make him superior – they also do not make him safe. With the line “The old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill,” Jonathan admits the immediate threat of the ancient world. The specific wording of “had, and have” invokes the Victorian fear that the barbarism of the past which society has strived to rise above can still tarnish the world of the present. The word “kill” makes these “powers” real, tangible threats, something that must be physically stopped. And, of course, that threat is made physical in the form of Dracula.