What’s Up With the Ending?
Some folks complain that the final chapters of Dracula are dull – after all, the "chase" really just involves Van Helsing, Jonathan, Mina, Arthur, Dr. Seward, and Quincey Morris twiddling their thumbs in Varna while waiting for Dracula's ship to come in. Most readers tend to think of this break in the action as Stoker's way of building suspense – it's the calm before the storm.
But whether you're bored by the "chase" or not, no one will deny that the final fight scene is pretty dramatic: Mina and Van Helsing have already killed off the three sexy vampire brides and are hiding out behind some rocks, protected by Van Helsing's sacred circle, watching the action unfold. We, the readers, are basically positioned with them, watching the final fight from behind the rocks.
The wagon carrying Dracula's body in its box comes up the hill, driven by a group of Szgany (an ethnic group native to Romania) who are loyal to Count Dracula. Quincey Morris, Arthur Holmwood, Jonathan Harker, and Jack Seward ride up on horseback! The Szgany are armed only with knives, but our guys have an array of weapons, ranging from modern Winchester rifles to Bowie knives and, of course, crucifixes, garlic, and sacred wafers for vampire killing. The conflict begins. Quincey Morris gets knifed in the side! He dies… but not before stabbing Dracula through the heart while Jonathan slashes the vampire's throat.
Dracula's death gets glossed over pretty quickly – it's described in a couple sentences, and then Stoker moves on to describe Quincey's last words and heroic death. This brings us to the main question about the ending of Dracula: why does the vampire's death seem like an afterthought? And why does Quincey have to die at all?
The novel is called Dracula, and sure, Count Dracula, as the antagonist, is the unifying element of the novel. The good guys have relatively little in common, besides their desire to kill Dracula. Considering that the novel is named after him, though, Dracula himself makes relatively few appearances after Jonathan leaves Castle Dracula at the end of Chapter 4. It seems that Stoker realized that the main point of the novel should be the relationships that develop between the good guys, or the "Crew of Light," as they come to be called. So, at the end, Dracula's death is of relatively little importance – it's all about Quincey and the others.
So why, if one of them has to die, does it have to be Quincey? Well, there are several possible reasons. First of all, he's the character we know least about. He never records a journal, so we never hear his point of view. We never meet any of his family members, or even hear of their existence. He seems hardly to have a history at all, beyond his past exploits as a hunter and outdoorsman, and his longstanding friendship with Jack Seward and Arthur Holmwood. He's also the only American character – perhaps, by killing off the American, Stoker is betraying a sense of rivalry between Great Britain and the United States. After all, at the turn of the twentieth century, Great Britain's power in the world was dwindling while the US economy was growing. Why does Quincey die? Is it because he's the only one who doesn't have a family to be upset about it? Because he's an outsider? Because he's American? Or because he's the character the readers are least attached to? What do you think?