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How does the writer create an atmosphere of fear and horror in the opening chapter of Dracula?

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Introduction

How does the writer create an atmosphere of fear and horror in the opening chapter of Dracula? The novel of Dracula is written by Bram Stoker It was written in the early 19th century and at this time there was much mystery and suspicion surrounding such places as Transylvania where the book is set. The book's form is that it's written as a journal by the main character, Jonathon Harker. The fact that it's written as a journal makes the whole book seem more believable, and it's as though he's actually writing his experiences as they're happening, and his thoughts and feelings make it seem more personal and seem more realistic. The opening chapter begins with a na�ve traveller, not knowing a lot about where he is and where he is heading. This is shown in the book when Harker comments, " I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle of Dracula". This creates an atmosphere of fear as Harker knew as little about what was happening/going to happen as the reader, creating suspense and making the reader want to read on, as they want to know what will happen. Jonathon Harker seems uneasy very early on in the book. This is depicted in the book when he writes, "I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams". ...read more.

Middle

However, as they travel, Harker is beginning to describe the scenery differently and the writer is obviously beginning to describe some gothic horror landscapes. Examples of this are "great masses of greyness", "gloom of the trees". Words such as "gloom" and "great masses" emphasize the murkiness of the place. The writer uses simile's such as "ghost-like clouds" which gives the reader an image of a spooky looking skyline behind the hills, and as they are heading towards a castle, the whole book is increasingly becoming a typical gothic horror story; which keeps the reader in suspense. Stoker uses the image of Harker driving through forestry as it is a stereotypically scary and mysterious place where anything could happen. By setting the novel around an old castle images of horror can be created in a readers mind before he even reaches it, as it is generally a terrifying place to be, whether it be occupied or unoccupied. The mystery of a castle is a definite factor in this novel as we later find out that it has several secret passages and hidden staircases. As they are travelling steadily closer to the castle, the writer describes how the mountain range had "separated into two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one" this creates terror for the reader as it seems as though they are heading towards danger. ...read more.

Conclusion

He continues to describe his reactions as "afraid to speak or move" which causes the reader to feel an atmosphere of fear as Harker feels unable to physically move or make a sound due to his apprehension. Here Stoker has exaggerated Harker's terror as his fear as grown throughout the chapter and now he has now become irrational; he has now lost his sensible manner which he had previously had in the chapter. When Harker finally reaches the castle the chapter has reached its highest point of suspense as they reach their destination. Its gothic horror as the castle turns out to be a "vast ruined castle" with "tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky". Stoker describes the vast ruined castle as rundown, and gives the reader anticipation as it obviously has a history, as it is battered and run down. By describing the windows as "tall black windows with no ray of light" Stoker has created an atmosphere of darkness, this is mirrored with Jonathon's darkening outlook as he realises what he has gotten himself into. This ends the chapter with a creepy picture in the readers mind. It creates an atmosphere of suspense and scariness, and the reader is urged to keep on. The build up of tension throughout the chapter gives the reader feelings of terror and horror. A typical gothic setting with good description of reactions, thoughts and feelings are well written and believable, and Bram Stoker successfully achieves to create an atmosphere of fear and horror. ...read more.

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