Chapter 7 of Brams Stoker’s Dracula seems to be a pivotal chapter in the overall novel due to the arrival of Dracula on to Whitby. The chapter is split up into three different sections each from a different viewpoint and in a different format. Firstly there is the newspaper cutting which goes into detail on the events that occurred leading up to the ships arrival on the shore. Following that came the Log of the Demeter written by the captain himslef as he saw the events take place on board.
Finally the chapter ends with another entry into Mina’s journal. It is important to note that while all three are very unique in their own ways, there is one common link between them all and that is the fact that all three are written in a format which strictly follows Stoker’s techniques in previous chapters of the novel in which he adds authenticity to the oevrall story by writing it in different viewpoints of people who were actually there in amongst the surroundings and the plot. The story is never told from any sort of a narrative and this is seen clearly in the three examples in chapter 7.Order now
In the newspaper cut out, as soon as we read the first paragraph it is evident that Stoker is using his techniques which were used in previous chapters such as the vivid descriptions of the natural settings shown by the use of words such as ‘beautiful’, ‘grand’ and ‘splendidly-coloured’ to begin with and breaking it up by bringing in hints of menace in refrences made to the ‘coming of a sudden storm’ and the ‘absolute blackness’ as he did when Harker was describing his coach journey to the Count’s castle. By carrying out this set pattern at the beginning of the chapter Stoker gives the reader a sense of involvement in the actual plot as if the reader was actually there experiencing the storm.
Stoker frequently refers back to the theme of nature throughout the novel and this is portrayed by his description of the eery atmosphere likened to ‘the approach of thunder’, this is a powerful technique of Stoker’s as he likens a lot of scenarios with nature as it is one of the few things that every person knows and experiences and would therefore be familiar with the message and ideas that Stoker is trying to get across. Another trend that begins to appear is the frequent links that stoker makes to previous figures in history, most famously in chapter 3 where he mentions “Attila and the Huns” while in chapter 7 the significance of the ships name is apparent since Demeter was a Greek goddess invoked as the “bringer of seasons” and therefore fits in perfectly with the arrival of Dracula and “death”.
In the captains log, the previous standard form of private journals that are quite personal is strayed away from and the story is now told through a less impersonal viewpoint of the captain in his log book. This part of the story involves less emotion from the writer and resembles more of a list of events next to their date rather then a chapter of the novel. The captains lack of any real emotion is portrayed by his bluntness in saying “only self and mate and two hands left to work ship.”
Stoker does this specifically to keep all the readers attention on Dracula and the inevitability of his arrival rather then get distracted on the emotions of a minor character. Again as with all previous chapters, Stoker ends on a mysterious cliffhanger in this case being that “no trace has ever been found of the great dog” and that there still remains the “mystery of the sea”. Both of these are not as mysterious as they sound to the reader as they know about Dracula but what Stoker is trying to do here is to create the authenticity that has been everpresent throughout.
Although Mina’s entry into her journal is quite short, a lot can be deducted from it. Obviously the focus is on Mr Swale’s death and this is a very ironic event due to earlier Mr Swales commenting that “death is coming” and the simultaneous arrival of Dracula as Mr Swales “seen death with his dying eyes” in Whitby. Not only is this a sign to the reader but is also a warning to Mina and foreshadows the events later in the novel. Another focus of this journal entry is Lucy’s behaviour recently, mainly her sleep-walking habits which seem to show her as a sexually repressed woman in society which links back to Stokers focus of the role of women in society and the particular dangers of “new women”.
Mina also worries about Lucy’s ability to cope with current life situations with the repetition of ‘sensitive’ and ‘sweet’. One such instance is during the funeral when Lucy is troubled by the Dog’s behaviour and this is a very vital scene as not only does it relate to Draculas ethinity with dogs but throughout the novel animal imagery is used as a motif in this case causing an eery atmosphere and again building up the tension towards the end of the chapter.
Overall, I feel chapter 7 plays a vital role in developing the plot so that the reader can clearly see the changes in Whitby from Draculas arrival, from the newspaper cut out of the ‘mystery of the sea’ it can be seen that this is the only time the public and outside world have gotten really involved as previously the novel was told through journals and therefore must signify something significant is about to take place. Other changes shown are the sudden change in Lucy’s behaviour and probably most significantly the death of Mr Swayles, indicating probable future events.