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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dracula: Lucy's Funeral Flowers

Lucy's youth and beauty is restored after her body is attended to by the undertaker in such an amazing restoration that Dr. Seward and her fiance Arthur can hardly believe that she's dead. Only Dr. Van Helsing knows the gruesome secret of her unnatural transformation. As they leave her coffin where she's swathed in drapery and decorated with lilies, roses and garlic flowers, Dr. Seward writes in his journal:

"Van Helsing did not go to bed at all. He went to and fro as if patrolling the house and was never out of sight of the room where Lucy lay in her coffin, strewn with the wild garlic flowers, which sent, through the odour of lily and rose, a heavy, overpowering smell into the night."

Earlier in Dr. Seward's journal when he reports that Lucy's beauty and youth have returned as she lay in her coffin, Van Helsing lifts the sheet away from her mouth to lay his gold cross over her lips. The mention of the sheet reminded me of the drapery mentioned in Catherine Earnshaw Linton's funeral arrangements when Nelly arranges it around her face in Wuthering Heights.

Mostly the visualization of all the flowers in the candle lit room with young beautiful Lucy's corpse in the coffin and then the strong odor of the garlic overpowering the scents of lilies and roses is so intense, I can almost smell it myself. Stoker's strong description of the scent of flowers and garlic, without using words, points out to the reader that there is absolutely no natural odor of decomposition, which is what the flowers are used traditionally to mask. Regardless of the beauty and aroma in the room, there's something very mysterious and unnatural as well.

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