Dracula Chapter 5 – Background

The majority of this chapter is made up of correspondence between Mina (Jonathan Harker’s fiancee) and her best friend, Lucy. Mina works as an assistant school teacher, although she is training to become a secretary so that she can help Jonathan in his business. She frequently mentions writing in “shorthand,” which was an old system for recording information quickly before the widespread use of recording devices.

An example of shorthand.

Her friend Lucy, on the other hand, certainly does not need to work for a living, as she is a part of England’s aristocracy. Click here for an article of what Lucy’s life would have been like, along with some pictures of real young ladies during the Victorian era in England.

At the end of this chapter, we hear briefly from Dr. Seward, the head of the asylum/sanatorium right next to Lucy’s home and Lucy’s rejected suitor. Institutions for individuals suffering from mental illness prior to our modern era were some of the grimmest places imaginable; today, we would consider that sort of treatment to constitute abuse. Here are some resources to get a sense of what that world was like:

And below, you can watch a BBC documentary about how the asylums were shut down:

Click here for Reading Guide 5 –> Dracula Reading Guide – Chapter 5