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Study the extract from Jonathan Harker's Journal in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. How does the writer create an atmosphere of mystery and horror?

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Introduction

Study the extract from Jonathan Harker's Journal in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. How does the writer create an atmosphere of mystery and horror? '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. ...read more.

Middle

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. ...read more.

Conclusion

The view from the castle is said to be 'magnificent'. The castle is on the 'edge of a terrible precipice' and as far as the eye can see 'is a sea of green tree tops' occasionally broken by a chasm or the 'silver thread' of a river. This idea of dramatic natural landscape typifies the genre. The beautiful scenery however shows that the castle is far away from civilisation, Harker is alone. Stoker uses the repetition of the word 'doors' to emphasise Harker's despair and increase the tension. He feels he is a prisoner, 'I am a prisoner!' the personal pronoun conveying to the reader a feeling of helplessness and lack of control. The exclamation mark again emphasises his despair and fear about what is happening to him. In conclusion, in Chapter 2 Bram Stoker uses a variety of different techniques to create an atmosphere of mystery and horror. He uses many ideas that typify the genre of gothic horror, ranging from pathetic fallacy to the description of gothic architecture. Stoker utilises all of mankind's greatest fears in this classic, and the story of Dracula is sure to strike fear into people's hearts for years to come. Stephen Dole 10NW - 1 - ...read more.

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