“The Castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree-tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.” Stoker, Chapter 3
The passage starts with a vivid description of the landscape surrounding Castle Dracula. The detailed imagery of a “terrible precipice” and the abyss beyond, “a sea of green tree-tops,” reflects the Victorian fascination with nature. The Victorians often portrayed nature as both sublime and threatening, emphasizing its power and potential for mystery and terror. This passage immediately sets the mood and atmosphere of the novel. It establishes the dark and mysterious tone that pervades the entire story. The description of a stone falling “a thousand feet without touching anything” foreshadows the perilous journey that Jonathan Harker is about to embark on, which I think is a metaphor for the descent into the unknown and the abyss of evil that is represented by Count Dracula. By emphasizing the dramatic and sensational nature of the setting, the passage aligns with the novel’s overall gothic and sensational themes. The landscape surrounding the castle can be seen as symbol of the unknown and the supernatural. This exactly complements what I’m trying to claim here. Sensational novels like Dracula are heavily dependent (or too dependent!) on the natural world to uphold its supernatural aura. If you were to remove the essential aspects of nature that convey the atmospheric and emotional feelings in “Dracula,” the story would lose its depth and intensity. Nature plays a crucial role in setting the mood, foreshadowing events, and reflecting the characters’ psychological states. Without these elements, the narrative would become less vivid and engaging.
I also found recurring themes within passages in chapter four “The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner! The ground is full of grooves like ruts that come from the wheels of heavy wagons.” Similar to the first passage, this excerpt also conveys a sense of imprisonment through the imagery of nature. Jonathan Harker is confined within Castle Dracula, and he describes it as a “veritable prison.” This mirrors the feeling of captivity and isolation found in the earlier passage. Both passages maintain a foreboding and ominous atmosphere. In this passage, Harker senses trouble and danger. The mention of the “heaviness of doubt and fear” in the air aligns with the dark and mysterious mood established in the previous passage. When comparing these differences across these similarities, the first passage describes the external surroundings of Castle Dracula, highlighting the nature and isolation of the castle’s location. In contrast, the second passage focuses on Harker’s internal experience within the castle, including his confinement and the sense of being watched. Harker’s feeling of imprisonment is more intense in this passage from chapter four. He explicitly refers to the castle as a “veritable prison,” indicating a deeper sense of entrapment. This intensification of the confinement adds to the growing tension in the story which is again conveyed through metaphors and imagery of nature.