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In what ways does Stoker set the scene and establish the atmosphere in the opening pages of Dracula?

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Introduction

In what ways does Stoker set the scene and establish the atmosphere in the opening pages of Dracula? The first part of Dracula is Jonathan Harker's Journal. This travel journal instantly draws the reader into the book; the effect of using a journal instead of the usual narrative is to make the prose seem more realistic and intimate. "3 May. Bistritz." Is the first sentence that the reader would see. To contemporary reader this is just a place name; however, to Victorian reader this name would conjure up connotations with the border of the mysterious and dangerous East and the civilised west. It was where paganism met Christianity and where the boundaries of the known and the unknown merged. ...read more.

Middle

The suspense begins when Harker cannot "put any light on the exact location of Castle Dracula", as contemporary readers are views of Dracula as a whole allure to Halloween and vampires, whereas a Victorian reader would be in the dark of the story so would not jump to conclusions as the modern reader is inclined to. This idea also applies to Harker who presumes that Dracula is but an aristocratic count. A few paragraphs later Harker mentions the Carpathian Mountains as a horse shoe formation; this formation is used as a military tactic, there is a small gap to get into the horse shoe that is easily closed so it is an entrapment. Easy to get into but hard to escape, isolation is a classic theme in Gothic novels. ...read more.

Conclusion

language to create fear "He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter and that's all he knew" the landlord is clearly scared to even talk about Dracula. They refuse to tell Harker about themselves and cross themselves almost desperately. Religious iconography is a common feature of gothic novels, the original being "The Monk". This helps to build up suspense as the reader wonders what is going on. It is at this point that Harker is clearly starting to worry "for it was all very mysterious and by not any means comforting". In conclusion in the first couple of pages Stoker manages to set the scene using many different methods, it is clear that the novel will be gothic by Stokers descriptions. The foundations of suspense have been laid, and the reader is eager for more. ...read more.

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