DAVID SAUNDERSON continues counting down the days until his Transylvanian holiday by reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. Today, he discusses Chapter 7!
This chapter most reminds me of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922), in particular, the scene where Dracula (alias Dracula) disembarks the plague ship. Here’s why:
This chapter is told by newspaper clipping recounting the Demeter ship washing up on shore at Whitby in England following the terrible storm.
When the ship lands, a large dog jumps off and runs off into the distance. The crew is nowhere to be seen and the ship’s captain dead, clutching on to a crucifix, tied to the wheel. The only cargo on board are large wooden boxes, which are delivered to a Whitby solicitor.
We discover from the captain’s log that the trip to England from the Russian port of Yarna had not been an easy one. Crew members had been going missing throughout the trip and there was the fear of death all over the place. Lots of mysterious stuff happens, including the sighting of a tall thin man on board, who can’t be accounted for.
We learn quite a lot from the ship’s log but not enough to work out what’s going on. (Well, of course, we know what’s going on but the poor saps reading it originally didn’t.)
The first film based on Dracula – Nosferatu (1922) – makes much more of the vampire’s travel from his homeland to Whitby (or Wisborg as it is in the 1922 film) than other Dracula films. There’s lots of iconic scenes on the boat, with Count Orlok looking all sinister. The book is different – Dracula actually disembarks the ship in the form of a large dog – but Nosferatu still has more ship in it than most of the films.
In other news from this chapter, Mina is still writing her journal that she is worried for Jonathon and her friend Lucy who is still sleepwalking.
On a sad note, the old sea dog, Mr Swales (the one with the thick Yorkshire accent) was found dead with a broken neck and the look of terror on his face.
Chapter 7 is a real adventure tale. Unlike recent chapters, it’s not a Victorian romantic soap opera. There’s a real feel of dread about it and some great action on the high seas to boot!
What I’ve learned from this chapter: I didn’t learn it from this chapter, per sé, but interesting thing this week. Spooky Isles interviewed vampire academic Kaja Francks for our podcast and she made a wise point. Dracula turns into a dog, or wolf, in this chapter, which means he is just as much a werewolf as his is a vampire!
Favourite Quote: From the ship’s log, “4 August. Still fog, which the sunrise cannot pierce,I know there is sunrise because I am a sailor, why else I know not. I dared not go below, I dared not leave the helm, so here all night I stayed, and in the dimness of the night I saw it, Him! God, forgive me, but the mate was right to jump overboard. It was better to die like a man. To die like a sailor in blue water, no man can object. But I am captain, and I must not leave my ship. But I shall baffle this fiend or monster, for I shall tie my hands to the wheel when my strength begins to fail, and along with them I shall tie that which He, It, dare not touch. And then, come good wind or foul, I shall save my soul, and my honour as a captain. I am growing weaker, and the night is coming on. If He can look me in the face again, I may not have time to act… If we are wrecked, mayhap this bottle may be found, and those who find it may understand. If not . . . well, then all men shall know that I have been true to my trust. God and the Blessed Virgin and the Saints help a poor ignorant soul trying to do his duty…”
DAVID SAUNDERSON is the founder and managing editor of The Spooky Isles. In the daylight hours, he works in marketing. By night, he organises ghoulish and frightful ghost tours and events with Spooky London.