This sample of an academic paper on Dracula Essay reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
‘Dracula’ was written by Bram Stoker in 1897. It falls within the genre of gothic horror. Gothic horror consists of novels and tales that developed as a reaction to the Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, and dominated English literature from 1764 with The Castle of Ortanto by Horace Walpole into the early 19th century. The characteristic theme of gothic horror is the stranglehold of the past upon the present or the encroachment of the dark ages of oppression upon the “enlightened” modern era.
Enclosed and haunted settings (castles, crypts, convents, mansions), gloomy images of ruin and decay, episodes of imprisonment, cruelty, and persecution are used to express this. This essay looks at how Stoker creates an atmosphere of mystery and horror in Chapter 2, which is written in the first person and forms part of Jonathan Harker’s journal. The use of personal pronouns throughout allows emotions to be conveyed strongly, by directly addressing the reader, making them feel they are part of the story.
The chapter opens with Stoker’s use of grandiose language, evident in quotes such as ‘great round arches’ which creates a sense of gothic splendour, and an atmosphere of great age and history. As said above, this typifies the genre of gothic horror. In the second paragraph, Stoker uses the simile ‘His hand actually seemed like a steel vice that could have crushed mine’ to describe the driver, creating an impression of great, monstrous strength. Steel is cold and unfeeling, and the word ‘vice’ shows Harker is now trapped here. The idea of being trapped is later developed through the words ‘a great door, old and studded’ its strength illustrates that it is made to keep something in, or out. The repetition of the words ‘massive’, ‘great’, and ‘large’ when talking about the building adds to the sense of gothic splendour. When the ‘trap and all disappeared down one of the dark openings’ it shows that he is all alone.
Dracula Research Paper
The walls are described as ‘frowning’. This use of personification exemplifies the unwelcoming nature of the castle. ‘Dark window openings’ seems to defy the natural order, windows are supposed to give out light, yet here they give out darkness. It shows darkness has won the battle against the light in this place. Personification is further used when Harker states ‘I felt doubts and fears crowd upon me’ which reiterates the feeling of oppressiveness. Stoker then uses rhetorical questions to emphasise Harker’s confusion.
Harker describes his experience as ‘a horrible nightmare’ which is used to create an atmosphere of horror. A nightmare is when all your worst fears are played out, fears too strange to be real and too terrible to articulate. The fact that Harker feels he might be asleep shows how horrible the events are. He feels he will wake up ‘with the dawn struggling in through the windows; this uses personification to show the battle between light and dark. The light is being stopped from reaching him. That Harker feels he must wait ‘to wait the coming of morning’ also uses light imagery, but this time the light is used to show hope.
In the next paragraph Stoker uses onomatopoeia with lines such as ‘the sound of rattling chains’ and ‘the clanking of massive bolts’ to herald the ominous presence of Dracula. It also draws the reader in by creating a picture in our minds. This portrays strong emotions, as the reader visualises himself in that situation. We now come to the first descriptions of Dracula. He is ‘clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.
This is symbolic of the blackness of his soul. He has ‘a long, white moustache’ which together with his black clothes uses colour imagery to portray that his character is lifeless, there are no real colours about him, only monochrome. Dracula is described as an ‘old man’ and is holding an ‘antique silver lamp’. This gives an impression of great age. This lamp throws ‘long quivering shadows’ using personification to make the darkness seem alive. Also, the lamp is said to give out shadows, showing the ever lurking presence of darkness.
Dracula welcomes Harker with a dramatic statement ‘Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!’ This highlights that Harker enters of his own free will. Dracula is described as standing ‘like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone.’ emphasizing Dracula’s lack of emotions – he has a heart of stone. Harker then shakes Dracula’s hand, which seems ‘cold as ice, more the hand of a dead than a living man’, the simile suggesting something monstrous, he has no warmth in his soul.
When Dracula asks Harker to ‘leave some of the happiness you bring’ it suggests there is great sadness in the place. The fact that Harker feels that Dracula may be the driver ‘whose face I had not seen’ creates an atmosphere of mystery, why did Harker not see the driver’s face, and who is this person at the doorway? Pathetic fallacy is used when Dracula says ‘the night air is chill’, the chill of the night reflecting the chill of Dracula’s soul.
References to gothic architecture with lines such as ‘up a great winding stair’ again emphasize the sense of gothic splendour. They enter a ‘well-lit room’ with ‘a great fire of logs’, Stoker uses to keep the reader’s attention with a series of anticlimaxes. The warmth and sanctuary of the room also forms a stark contrast with the chill horror of Dracula himself. We now come to the second description of Dracula.
His face is described as ‘a strong, a very strong, aquiline’ and he is said to have ‘bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion’, his ‘ears were pale’ and ‘the tops were extremely pointed. This animal imagery gives a cruel, wolf-like impression of the protagonist. Dracula is said to have ‘sharp, white teeth’ which ‘protruded over the lips’. This gives an impression of fangs, he is monstrous. He is said to be ‘of extraordinary pallor’, the paleness hints towards death and bloodlessness. It also reiterates the impression of great age. His paleness shows he does not go out into the sun, instead hiding in the dark and the shadows.
Dracula’s hands are said to have ‘hairs in the centre of the palm’ giving a beastlike impression. Having hairs in the palm of your hand is also said to be a sign of madness. His nails are ‘long and fine, and cut to a fine point’ almost as though they are claws. This conveys the idea of violence, as well as again reiterating the beastlike impression. His breath is said to be ‘rank’ giving an animal like impression, as if Dracula is a carnivore. This also gives a picture of sickness and death hanging around him. Dracula is said to have ‘a grim sort of smile’ showing the reader he has no real emotions.