A blood transfusion is the transference of some of a person’s blood directly into the circulatory system of another. This is done to replace lost blood or to treat blood diseases, and in many cases is a life-saving procedure.
When Dracula was written, blood transfusions were still a relatively new procedure, and were often unsuccessful. This was because scientists had not yet discovered blood groups, as is evident from the fact that Lucy is given the blood of four different men without testing! It is essential to ensure the donor and receiver’s blood types are compatible when transfusing, as otherwise the blood can clump or agglutinate, with fatal consequences. It wasn’t until 1901 that Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups (A, B, AB, O), for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Fibrin is a protein formed from fibrinogen in the blood, strands of which glue platelets together to create a blood clot. Fibrin is therefore essential to stopping bleeding (haemostasis), but it can also cause unwanted clots inside blood vessels (thrombosis) and will cause blood taken for transfusion to coagulate unless steps are taken to prevent it. One such step is defibrination.
The first human-to-human blood transfusion was performed by James Blundell in 1818. He found that blood could be transfused successfully, even via a syringe, if the operation was concluded swiftly. Any delay risked coagulation. Various devices were invented to address the problem, including J.H. Aveling's direct transfusion apparatus (1872), but the use of defibrinated blood became the favoured solution. Typically, blood was defibrinated by constant agitation in a container full of glass beads.
The idea of "blood so pure that we need not defibrinate it" appears to be medical nonsense.
The jugular veins carry deoxygenated blood from the head to the heart.
The external jugular can be seen on the far right of the drawing.
In Greek mythology, the flowers and fruit of the Lotus plant brought apathy and forgetfulness to those who ate it. In the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey, Odysseus and his men visit the land of the Lotus Eaters. There, some of his men quickly come under the strange effects of the Lotus plant, and he has to drag them forcibly back to the ships.
The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that restores the youth of those who drink from it.
In the 16th century, a conquistador (one of the Spanish soldier-explorers who conquered much of the Americas in the 15th-19th centuries) named Juan Ponce de León searched for the fountain in Florida.
Garlic has been used by many different societies throughout history as a powerful ward against evil. The garlic flowers, bulbs and juice can all be used for apotropaic effect, and are commonly prescribed in folklore as protection against evil spirits, witches, revenants (animated corpses) and vampires. In Romania, garlic was sometimes smeared on doors and windows, hung in wreaths inside the house or at gates and doorways, or even rubbed onto the horns of cattle. If a corpse was suspected of being in danger of becoming a vampire, garlic would be stuffed into the mouth and other orifices. The deceased body might also be anointed with a mixture of oil, fat, gunpowder and garlic. In Serbia, garlic under the pillow was thought to offer protection from witches in the night.
Other folkloric wards against vampires include branches of the wild rose and hawthorn plants, mustard seeds sprinkled onto the roof of a house, holy items, running water (vampires cannot cross it), piercing the skin of a bloated corpse (to prevent it transforming or rising), and in some regions of Germany a lemon placed into the mouth of the corpse.
Ophelia is a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This line is spoken by the priest, describing her dead body laid out with garlands (crants) and strewn flowers (strewments) at her funeral.
Draped with wreaths of white garlic flowers and laid out on the bed, suffering from an unknown illness that severely weakens her, Lucy compares herself to a garlanded corpse. Before Ophelia died she had also gone mad; perhaps Lucy feels as if she too is losing her sanity in the face of the strange events and effects of her illness.
Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty: her death was doubtful;
And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
Till the last trumpet: for charitable prayers,
Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her;
Yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.
Act V, Scene 1
The Pall Mall Gazette was a London evening newspaper founded in 1865. It merged with The Evening Standard in 1923.
Pall Mall is a prestigious street between Trafalgar Square and Green Park.
Given the amount of Hamlet quoted in Dracula, there is a twentieth century connection that Bram Stoker would have enjoyed in the 1987 movie Withnail & I, at the end of which Richard E. Grant poignantly recites Hamlet to the London Zoo wolves.
Bersicker is a fine name for a Norwegian wolf under the control of a malign influence. It brings to mind the Berserkers, Norse warriors who seemed to descend into a furious and mad frenzy when they fought - possibly as the result of psychological rituals or even drugs taken before battle. The Úlfhéðnar are of particular interest here, for their habit of wearing wolf skins in battle. The word berserker comes from the old Norwegian for bear-shirt.
On one occasion, Jamrach famously wrestled with an escaped tiger to save the life of a small boy (pictured). His own account of the event can be read here.
Although Jamrach had died by the time of Dracula's publication, two of his sons kept the business going until 1919.