Who knew that we’d be getting such a great example of mesmerizing/dangerous spectation here in Dracula? I’m beginning to realize that when Matthew Baldwin decided on Dracula as the next book he had an inkling of the ways we would end up talking about IJ and Dracula together.
My first reaction to Chapter 7 – the news article about the storm and the ship’s arrival in Whitby was much like Infinite Detox’s. Then as I read on and realized that there was a “mass of people on shore” I thought – what the hell are all those prim Victorians doing out in the teeth of a howling gale? Enjoying the Sublime? Honestly, given the description of the storm we can understand that the intrepid reporter is out there doing his duty, but all these spectators out there staring into the inky darkness cheering as each boat arrives safely? He goes on to describe how the men with the new searchlight spot the schooner then keep the light trained on the entrance to the harbor where all expect to see the ship dashed to bits. Once the ship does come up onto the shore the mass of people take off from the cliff to race down to investigate.
Now, we know they’re not out there in their all weather gear from the trendy outfitter’s and they don’t have the lovely big windproof golf umbrellas we use here in Florida during storms. So think about it – a crowd of Victorians, most probably on holiday at the seashore, lured out of their lodgings to stand in the midst of a tremendous storm. Are they mesmerized by the Sublime? By the power of Dracula? I’d say it was simply the age old pull of the horrible – the people who stop to look at wrecks, etc. – if not for the intensity of the storm. Something is compelling those folks to be out there risking harm to themselves, up on the cliffs in the tempest. I don’t have the time now to really research this, so if anyone has thoughts on if this was more of a common occurance of the times, chime in. Perhaps it’s as simple as this was the most exciting thing to happen during their summer vacation and weren’t about to miss it because the weather was bad!