I Know He Might Be Dying, But Do You Think He Likes Me??

Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” effectively utilizes the gothic tenant of the uncanny to urge his readers to reflect on the value they place on their own domestic lives. Following Mina’s reunion with her now recovering fiancé, Jonathan, she enquires about his health to the nurse who has been looking after his treatment.  

The nurse’s immediate reaction is to her questioning is to assure Mina that Jonathan has remained faithful to her while she was abroad saying “you, as his wife to be, have no cause to be concerned. He has not forgotten you or what he owes to you. His fear was of great and terrible things, which no mortal can treat of” (114 Stoker). Her first comment is a direct reference to the domestic of Jonathan and Mina’s relationship status, emphasizing his loyalty through the allusion to the marriage laws of the time period with the statement “he has not forgotten you or what he owes to you” (114 Stoker). By doing this, the nurse asserts that not only has he remained faithful, but his illness will not impede their plans for marriage as he has previously pledged to carry out. This is then used as a backdrop for the following phrase of “his fear of great and terrible things, which no mortal can treat of” (114 Stoker). The escalating language of “great and terrible” being used to describe his experiences abroad, paired with a reference to the presence of the supernatural in this moment with the description that “no mortal” can help his malady. The use of the phrase “no mortal” implies the existence of other worldly forces at odds with Jonathan. The juxtaposition of the concern over Jonathan’s fidelity and his terrifying experiences with the supernatural is almost comical. The readers know that Jonathan has just been through a series of traumatic events and yet his partner is more focused on his loyalty to her than his wellbeing. This comparison draws attention to the real-life domestic’s concern with seemingly trivial subjects in light of such a situation. I believe that Stoker is using this moment to point out societal unrelenting focus on interpersonal relationships even in the chaos of constant change that typified the Victorian era.            

One thought on “I Know He Might Be Dying, But Do You Think He Likes Me??”

  1. This is a very interesting take on this scene and Victorian marriage anxieties. I interpreted the nurse to be making an incorrect assumption that Mina was inquiring about her husband’s health for the sole purpose of marriage. However, we know that Mina is genuinely worried about the health of her husband through her anxiety when she received word that Johnathon was sick, and when they did not get married immediately after.

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