Notes on Dracula Themes

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Dracula Topic Tracking: Superstition

Chapters 1-4

Superstition 1: Jonathan's research, even before his trip begins, shows that Transylvania is full of superstition. He believes in the Western, Judeo-Christian God, and not yet having experienced Dracula's castle, does not understand the validity of superstition.

Superstition 2: This research is backed up when peasants along the way start giving him good luck charms. They have lived with vampires, and indeed Dracula himself, for centuries, and have incorporated superstitious protection devices into their religious culture.

Superstition 3: Dracula explains away the blue flames as local superstition; the peasants themselves are too afraid of Dracula to go out on that night.

Superstition 4: Jonathan becomes the first 'logical' Westerner of the novel to heed the superstitions when he puts the crucifix above his bed. Van Helsing and the others later use myth-based tactics.

Chapters 5-8

Superstition 5: The sailors, who are all Eastern, are immediately wary of a strange presence on the ship. The captain and first mate, struggling to regain order, at first deny the existence of a monster. Later, they are forced to change their way of thinking.

Chapters 9-12

Superstition 6: Van Helsing, a brilliant doctor, uses garlic and other superstitious methods when trying to 'treat' Lucy. He has already decided, due to extensive research, that myth must replace medicine in this case.

Chapters 13-16

Superstition 7: After Lucy's death, Van Helsing suggests to Seward that they cut off Lucy's head and fill it with garlic. He has not yet explained why this may be necessary.

Superstition 8: When Van Helsing is ready to present his theory to Seward, he does not simply tell him, but forces Seward to come to the conclusion on his own. Van Helsing wants Seward to stop thinking in medical and Western terms and open his mind to the wisdom of peasant logic.

Chapters 21-23

Superstition 9: Mina and Van Helsing both see a 'magic' connection between her and Dracula, and they exploit that connection, opened by the Count, for their own ends.

Chapters 24-27

Superstition 10: In the end, Van Helsing and others decide to use both modern and superstitious methods to defeat Dracula. They employ such modern devices as guns and trains, yet rely on the myths about vampires and the superstitious objects such as rose branches and garlic once it comes time to destroy him.

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