Atmosphere of Terror

Count Dracula is one of the most famous characters of all time, a vampire story that has lived on for a little over a century now. So what is it about Bram Stoker’s Dracula that created such an iconic monster that has been continually recreated and inspired other vampire stories to come about. Bram Stoker uses a lot of gothic elements in his writing in order to create the eerie and enjoyable story of Dracula. The use of landscape in Bram Stoker’s novel is one of the most important gothic elements used to create this classic. The atmosphere created by Stoker perfectly produces fear and terror in this novel. On the way to the castle, Jonathan hears a lot of different strange noises like the wolves howling which causes the horses to become scared, and in turn allows fear to creep into Jonathan’s mind. In Harker’s journals about the castle, the use of this setting creates a very eerie space for the reader. Towards the end of Chapter 2, Jonathan writes in his Journal “But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!” (33). This passage comes after Jonathan eats breakfast alone and notes how weird it is that he has not seen the Count eat with him yet. Stoker sets an incredible setting and atmosphere for a gothic book. Between the desolate castle with endless bolted doors, the aspects of the nature around the castle including wolves and a vast forest, the gloomy weather and constant thunderstorms, all add an atmosphere that allows for the fear of Dracula to grow.

6 thoughts on “Atmosphere of Terror”

  1. I totally agree with you! I think that atmosphere is such a huge part of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” from the count’s manor to the town in which Lucy meets her demise. I like your mention of weather as nature helping to providing the eerie backdrop as well, because not only does it add to the ambiance, but it also advances the plot at certain points in the book- such as when the storm on the harbor leads to the discovery of the dead ship captain.

  2. The Gothic Carfax estate alone is chilling, and similar homes repeatedly appear in Victorian novels but this is only the second time that we have seen such emphasis on locks. While Wilkie Collins’ lock was fastened to keep out the evil that the main character feared (however falsely), Dracula himself fixed the locks himself. Since locks are the things that are supposed to protect us from the threats of the outside world, these depictions raise questions about security: they are secured falsely, and by the evilest of beings on Earth. That said, what else do or should people fear?

  3. You make an interesting point about how the atmosphere makes the novel more intriguing to the reader and how it plays a really important role in making the reader almost fear/be unnerved by what could happen. I also think not only in Dracula’s castle does the atmosphere or setting create this almost “ominous doom” feeling but also later in the book when they’re dealing with Lucy’s tomb. The descriptions give the reader more suspense and clues even as to what may happen to them. The idea that the setting or the atmosphere may be foreshadowing what could be happening next in the book could also be something that Stoker is trying to get across.

  4. I have not thought very deeply into the impact an atmosphere has on these gothic novels. You are right that through Jonathons Harker’s adventures, there is an emphasis on the scene. This can also be seen in other victorian novels, like Lady Audley’s Secret, where Audley Court holds an emphasis on the setting and impact of the mood. As someone mentioned before, while there is an emphasis on scene in other gothic novels, we do not see the emphasis on locks, which is also very interesting. In my mind, locked rooms and doors are inherently odd and creepy, they add a mysterious aspect to what may be behind the door. I am interested to see if more of the victorian stories/novels we read contain locked rooms.

  5. I also noted the emphasis on the description of the settings in this story. I agree that it is intentionally dreary and dark to add to the story, but I also think that bring these scenes to life for the reader. The way this story is written through journals and personal accounts, the reader, unlike in other stories we’ve read, doesn’t really know much more than the characters do, so I think that the emphasis on describing the settings adds to the experience that the reader is having, and creates the terror feeling through the pages almost.

  6. I completely agree with you. I have also thought that throughout the story the atmosphere has brought a sense of terror and horror to the story. I talked about Dracula’s true terror and what it does to people and I think that the atmosphere plays a big role in his terror. I also talked about Jonathan’s fear when he was at Dracula’s castle and how that played a big role in his character while he was there.

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