Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Close Reading Questions for Dracula, Chs. XVII-XXIV (pp.225-307)

(at left: Whistler's Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (1875), a work which captures the mysticism and nocturnal deeds of the novel)

1. Van Helsing theorizes about Dracula quite a lot in these passages, speaking at one point of the “mighty brain and…iron resolution [which] went with him to his grave” (Chapter XVIII, pg. 245), and later on, that “in some faculities of mind he has been, and is, only a child; but he is growing, and some things that were childish at the first are now of man’s stature” (Chapter XXIII, pg.300). How is Dracula both mighty and childish—and how is he growing to a “man’s stature”?

2. How does Renfield develop as a character in these chapters? How might Stoker position him against the vampire hunters and ally him with Mina?

3. Chapter XXI contains one of the most disturbing scenes in the book—that of Dracula forcing Mina to “feed” on his blood. Consider how this passage is written and witnessed, and why this might be among the most uncanny (and nightmarish) scenes in the novel.

4. How do the men’s (and specifically Van Helsing’s) relationship with Mina progress in these chapters? Does she become one of the gang—and integral member of the vampire hunters—or is she left on the margins as a woman to be protected? Why do the men come to either conclusion—what makes them either accept or banish her from the fold?

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