Gothic Conventions Essay

Topics: Vampires

Gothic conventions consist of writing that would scare and excite the reader. Gothic writing was popular during the late 18th, early 19th century. Gothic features include supernatural forces, medieval castles, dungeons and darkness. The type of language is very melodramatic in its style of stereotyped characters. Gothic characters typically include spectres, monsters, demons, corpses, skeletons, evil aristocrats, vampires and Dracula.

A Goth is one of a German tribe who invaded Eastern and Western Europe. They are normally barbarous, foul and uncouth.

Gothic conventions usually involve journeys, quests, strange creatures and sinister buildings. Gothic novels are created to frighten their readers. In Gothic productions imagination and emotional effects exceed reason. Dracula was first published in 1897, other versions have adapted from the original. The main characters in Dracula include Jonathan Harker, Mina and Van Helsing.

Throughout the story, Bram Stoker uses Dracula’s abilities, actions and appearance to create suspense for the reader.

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The novel opens with an extract from Jonathan Harker’s journal relating to his journey.

In the journal Jonathan Harker expresses his feelings; these include his worries and fears as he travels to Castle Dracula. Bram Stoker uses strange customs and sights to generate anxiety in Jonathan Harker’s journal to the reader.

‘I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams’, this creates fear to the reader because it explains there was weird existence during the sleep because it caused discomfort that was not visible. ‘Sometimes we saw little tows or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods’ Jonathan Harker describes the strange sights and interpretations of his journey which can create suspense for the reader.

‘The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cowboy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. ‘ A very descriptive view of the Slovaks, gives the reader a clear understanding of what Harker saw during the journey. When Jonathan Harker arrives at his destination he is greeted curiously by the innkeeper, ‘He and his wife, the old lady who received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way’.

Harker discovers the innkeeper has an odd relationship with Dracula, ‘When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. This creates suspense for the reader by implying the innkeeper knew Dracula but was frightened to admit it as he may not be allowed to or may know something secreted.

Later in the novel, Bram Stoker describes Dracula’s abilities to create suspense as they are beyond nature. ‘This vampire which is amongst us is of himself so strong in person as twenty men’, this specifies how strong and threatening Dracula can be. ‘He is of cunning more than mortal, for his cunning be the growth of ages’, Bram Stoker uses a comparison with mortals to be more accurate for the readers understanding, Stoker also uses a particular type of language that is complex to an extent to create tension.

‘He is brute, and more than brute, he is devil in callous, and the heart of him is not; he can, within limitations, appear at will when, and where’ Bram Stoker explains Dracula’s abilities in great detail using comparisons and metaphors to excite the reader regarding Dracula’s abilities. Strange creatures defy logic, therefore are most likely to be scary or beyond nature. In the novel, Bram Stoker uses Dracula’s abilities to create disturbance towards the reader. He uses language to make a vivid picture.

Gothic conventions usually include sinister buildings to produce suspense in the atmosphere. An example of this can be found of Dracula’s crypt. A crypt is an obvious location to set action related to death and suspense. The crypt is not a place the living normally spend time in, it is a place where the dead are at home. Bram Stoker sets the scene for Dracula’s crypt by using ‘dark’ language to explain the atmosphere, ‘the whole place was thick with dust’ gives the sense that the place is old and has been isolated for a long time.

‘The floor seemed inches deep’ explains the extent of how long the place has been remote. ‘The walls were fluffy and heavy dust, and in the corners were masses of spiders’ webs, whereon the dust had gathered till they looked like old tattered rags as the weight had torn them partly down’, Bram Stoker uses very descriptive language to illustrate the atmosphere, Stoker uses similes to make the image more clear to the reader consequently creating a more mysterious understanding.

Bram Stoker creates tense situations which cause the reader to feel to feel insecure. He creates tense situations by using descriptive language to express the atmosphere. The language he uses involves elements of mysterious and creepy surroundings, ‘through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate’. The reader shares a sense of fear with Jonathan because Stoker uses the first person narration to make the reader feel involved.

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Gothic Conventions Essay
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