Claire Zulkey's Journal

Damn All Thick-Headed Dutchmen! (And Englishmen and Americans)

10.21.09 | 15 Comments

I am reading the edition of Dracula that includes a forward and commentary by Joseph Valente. In his intro, Valente bemoans just how idiotic the vampire hunters are at times in the book and we’ve just gotten to the place where Van Helsing et al are starting to behave like a bunch of dumbasses. It’s almost as if the team’s combined intelligence crumbled at the first sight of a vampire, as things started to get silly at Lucy’s mausoleum.  Van Helsing could have killed vampire Lucy when he had the chance but he decided he had to drag Arthur back to see her, thus giving her ample opportunity to suck the blood of another kid. Nice going.

The team’s biggest folly to date, obviously, is deciding that Mina is suddenly too delicate to keep up with all things vampires, even though Van Helsing declared that “She has a man’s brain.”  Even though she had been an integral part of putting together the puzzle pieces, Van Helsing and the rest decide that the best thing for her is to treat her like a child–in fact, a child that you don’t respect that much.  What’s the best thing for her? To go to bed, all the time.

What disappoints me the most is Jonathan’s newfound desire to keep things from Mina.  Even though, after his return from Transylvania, they made a vow of honesty in their relationship, even though she could obviously handle the truth when she read his journal, now he gets all buddied up with Van Helsing and the boys and it’s suddenly “Ooh let’s not bother the poor woman with the truth.”  Meanwhile while they’re off playing with the terriers Mina’s getting her blood sucked, and she’s not just “fatigued” and “pale”, she’s crying because Jonathan revoked his trust.  Guys, next time you go hunting vampires, take your womenfolk with you and don’t leave them behind in the insane asylum. They might complain but it’s for their own good.

What’s interesting, not to bring this back to the women/men thing in the book once again, is that the more Mina is treated like a weak helpless woman, the more she feels and hence acts like one. She now keeps things to herself in order to avoid upsetting Jonathan and the gang, she goes to bed when they tell her to and she considers her discomfort around Renfield “a new weakness.” I highly doubt she’d be questioning herself this much if she were as much a part of the adventure as she was when all her records were of such necessity to Van Helsing. But now they used what they needed and she’s fading away in more ways than one.

Men! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t drive stakes through their hearts.

Side note: I didn’t know that terriers were enemies of Nosferatu.  Gives even more meaning to that classic song “God Loves a Terrier.