Dracula: Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Summary: Seward and Van Helsing arrive at Lucy’s home the morning of September 13 to find, much to Van Helsing’s distress, that Lucy’s mother, finding the smell of garlic in her daughter’s room oppressive, removed the flowers from Lucy’s neck while Lucy slept and also opened the bedroom window for fresh air. Finding Lucy again weakened, Van Helsing again arranges for another blood transfusion, donating his own blood to Lucy this time. For the next several nights, Lucy sleeps peacefully; she is no longer even afraid of the flapping bats outside her window.
Over a week later, on September 17, a large wolf escapes from the Zoological Gardens (in Regent’s Park). The zookeeper reported seeing “a tall, thin chap… with a ’ard, cold look and red eyes” at the wolf’s cage prior to the animal’s escape; remarkably, the stranger was able to scratch the wolf’s ears with no danger to himself. The zookeeper also saw “a big grey dog” on the grounds the night of the wolf’s escape. Just before midnight, the keeper found the wolf gone, the bars of its cage mangled. Berserker returns the next day to the Zoo on his own, “his head all cut and full of broken glass.”
Meanwhile, also on September 17, Renfield breaks into Seward’s office and has slashed his caretaker’s wrist. Renfield laps Seward’s spilled blood from the floor, stating to the attendants who come to restrain him, “The blood is the life.” That night, having received no word from Van Helsing, Seward resolves to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, a telegram to Seward from Van Helsing was delayed by nearly a full day, in which Van Helsing implored Seward to stay with Lucy that night, since Van Helsing could not. During that night, left alone, Lucy is wakened by the flapping sound at her window. Hearing her awake, her mother enters her room to comfort her. As they lie together, “a great, gaunt grey wolf” (presumably Berserker) crashes through the window; startled, Lucy’s mother clutches at the ring of garlic flowers around Lucy’s neck, tearing it away, before, with a horrible gurgling sound in her throat, she dies. Feeling as though she is caught in a desert wind, Lucy loses consciousness. When she regains it, she hears her maids in the hall, and calls to them. They are terrified to discover Mrs. Westenra dead. Lucy instructs the maids to go to the dining-room for a drink of wine to steady their nerves. The door momentarily opens, then closes. Further frightened, the maids leave. Surprised at their long absence, Lucy goes to look for them. She discovers her maids all unconscious on the floor, the wine spiked with laudanum (a “sedative hydroalcoholic solution concerning either 1 percent morphine or 10 percent opium,” Wolf, p. 184 n30). Lucy uses what little strength she can summon to write down the night’s events in a note for whomever arrives to discover.

Analysis: Stoker again displays his ear for dialect (here, a Cockney accent) as, in this chapter, he presents the Pall Mall Gazette reporter’s interview with Thomas Bilder, keeper at the Zoological Gardens. More importantly, however, the zoo episode again demonstrates Count Dracula’s connection with and mastery over wild animals. Stoker also again shows his fine use of dramatic irony (achieved via chronological interlacing) in having Seward’s statement of relief that he can get some much-needed sleep immediately followed, in the text, by Van Helsing’s delayed telegram: “Do not fail to be at Hillingham to-night” (p. 181). The two men’s cooperative (albeit unintentional) failure to be with Lucy the night of September 17-18 proves a crucial turning point in the narrative action.