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Most Significant

“…replaced the book and pen in my pocket…”

Some commenters (Leatherdale, Klinger) have felt that Jonathan was lucky to have found an inkwell in this abandoned room, to use with his dip pen. However, a law student / solicitor’s clerk / solicitor was unlikely to rely on other people for ink. Travelling inkwells seem to have been fairly common at this time, and surely would be a necessity for anyone who made their living through writing.

c.1890 travel inkwell and pen nib wipe: https://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique/antique_english_travel_inkwell__pen_nib_wipe/as584a1035

c.1880 leather-covered brass travelling inkwell: https://www.sellingantiques.co.uk/189406/handsome-victorian-leather-and-brass-travelling-inkwell-c1880/

Another c.1880 leather-covered brass travelling inkwell: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-travelling-inkwell-campaign-541896526

Victorian leather-covered brass travelling inkwell: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-victorian-travelling-inkwell-1777477067

Most Significant

“I determined not to return to–night to the gloom–haunted rooms, but to sleep here, where, of old, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad…”

I hadn’t really appreciated the irony here. Jonathan is afraid to sleep in his assigned bedroom, because of its associations with the Count, and decides to sleep in this room instead, because its feminine associations soothe him. However, it turns out to be much more dangerous, because of three women.

Most Significant

Significant Other recently asked me how Jonathan described Dracula’s “brides”. I would not have noticed this oherwise!

Harker writes:

“In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, *ladies by their dress and manner*.”

This suggests something very different from the movies! To a Victorian man, “lady” implies a great deal about the women’s dress and decorum. They would not be wearing thin or otherwise revealing clothing, and it would not be in obvious disrepair or unfashionable. Indeed, the main thing he would see in the moonlight would be the silhouette, which fashion historians use as an indicator of the time period.

Fashion silhouettes of Victorian era: https://ageofsteam.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/victorian20and20edwardian20shapes20by20lady20of20crow.jpg

More on 1890s fashion: https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/Womens-Fashions-of-the-1890s

Conventional dress would make their unconventional behaviour even more shocking!

We could, however, visualize them in somewhat more revealing (but still respectable) evening wear:


Most Significant

“Two [of the young women] were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count…”

Some commenters have suggested Jonathan was seeing a family resemblance. However, given the time period, it is equally possible that he thought it was an ethnic similarity: they were his countrywomen, Szekelys.

Most Significant

“There was something about [the women] that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.”

When Mina finally came face to face with the Count, she only admitted to being afraid. But then, she was telling her story to her husband and three other men, rather than confiding in her journal.

Most Significant

“But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning. I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury.”

Jonathan experiences this when he is lying with his eyes shut. If he has some psychic sensitivity, that might explain his forebodings from the very beginning of his journey, and his seeming over-reaction to the Count and the castle.

Most Significant

“If my ears did not deceive me there was a gasp and a low wail, as of a half–smothered child.”

Last year, I said that if the Count was known to be stealing infants and young children to supply the vampire women, the villagers would soon rise up against him. Bryan quite properly raised the example of Gilles de Rais.

We are also talking about a time without reliable birth control, and with high infant mortality. Add poverty into the mix, and it’s not impossible that the Count might have been buying infants (particularly girls) from their own parents. It’s more profitable for the parents than committing infanticide.

Bryan Alexander

MS, thank you for all of these observations!

Man, those inkwells...

Most Significant

I’m thrilled to have another crack at the Draculablog, Bryan!

As for travelling inkwells, this is my favourite, but I think it’s a bit elaborate for our Jonathan.

Travel inkwell, blotter, and sealing wax taper holder (?): https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/victorian-travel-inkwell-roller-470812706

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