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Most Significant

“…my [i.e. Jonathan’s] ideas of the trust between husband and wife: there should be no secret, no concealment.”

Jonathan violates this principle repeatedly. Always for Mina’s own good, of course!

Bryan Alexander

Yes. I do enjoy how Stoker rounds out some of the characters.

Most Significant

All too real, sadly!

Most Significant

"All the resolution has gone out of [Jonathan’s] dear eyes, and that quiet dignity which I told you was in his face has vanished. He is only a wreck of himself… He has had some terrible shock, and I fear it might tax his poor brain if he were to try to recall it…[Sister Agatha] tells me that he raved of dreadful things whilst he was off his head…[She said his] fear was of great and terrible things, which no mortal can treat of….”

Jonathan probably experienced a psychotic episode (aka brain fever, nervous breakdown, mental breakdown). If so, how reliable is the journal that he kept at Castle Dracula?

Much of what he wrote in his journal about was later corroborated by others' observations of the Count in England and when Van Helsing and the rest were in Transylvania, but not everything. Some of what he wrote might be the result of psychosis.

Jonathan is between 21 and 30 years of age (21 being the minimum age for a solicitor). A first episode of psychosis usually (80% of the time) occurs between ages 18 and 30.* Extreme stress, major sleep disturbance, and social isolation all can contribute to the onset of psychosis, and those things were definitely part of Jonathan’s time at Castle Dracula.

Psychosis is characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Auditory hallucinations are the most common type of hallucinations (“hearing voices”). The only possible example of this in Jonathan’s journal was at the very end of his stay at the castle, when he heard the voices of the Count and the vampire women outside his door. This was also shortly before Jonathan fled the castle and ended up in Sister Agatha's care.

Delusions of persecution are also very common in psychosis. The Count seems to have imprisoned Jonathan, but beyond that, he did not harm him; in fact, he protected him from the vampire women. Jonathan seemed extremely upset at discovering most of the castle’s interior doors were locked (8 May), and didn’t consider that it was perfectly reasonable for the Count to do that for reasons of privacy, security, or safety--for all we know, some parts of the castle were structurally unsound. (If Jonathan had been my houseguest, he also would have found the exterior doors to be locked at all times, but for commonplace security reasons.) He did not ask for the main exterior entrance to be unlocked until June 29. This is the same night on which he writes that he fears that “no weapon wrought alone by man's hand would have any effect on [the Count]”, which sounds more than a little paranoid.

To be fair, Jonathan's extremely negative interpretation of the locked doors, from a very early point in his stay, was surely influenced by prior strange incidents: the blue flames seen from the calèche, the shaving incident, and seeing the Count's descent down the castle wall. This last one, however, may be the product of Jonathan's fevered imagination, for why would the Count climb down a wall head-first when he could more easily fly as a bat? On the other hand, this would be a visual hallucination, which is much less common in psychosis than auditory ones. It also occurred very early on in Jonathan's stay, which makes it more likely to be something he actually saw.

It is also hard to explain how Jonathan could have seen wolves as licking their lips as they streamed away from the castle--and away from him. Perhaps this small detail was only in Jonathan's mind. It may even have been added years later, when the manuscript was prepared for publication. In the hospital, Jonathan spoke of ghosts and poison to Sister Agatha. Neither was mentioned in his journal, nor seen later on.

No matter what Jonathan’s mental health may have been like when he left Exeter, the distressing events of his journey to Transylvania and his stay at Castle Dracula were bound to create mental strain which probably led to psychosis. Psychosis is pretty upsetting in itself. No wonder, then, that Jonathan wants to forget about the whole episode.


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