Considering one or two passages, discuss ways in which Stoker's description of settings contributes to the effectiveness in "Dracula".

Essay by superier1 October 2006

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A novel which to this day remains a fascinating study of popular attitudes towards sex, religion, and science at the end of the nineteenth century, Bram Stoker's "Dracula" has been applauded from various ends of the literary world- Gordon Melton describes it as "one of the truly great horror stories of Western fiction". The gothic elements which enhance and shape the novel are manipulated by Stoker's descriptions of settings- which are instrumental throughout the novel. The fact that the novel adopts a polyphonic structure enhances the readers perceptions of different settings, viewing the same setting through different characters is a hugely effective device which Stoker uses to great effect, the whole novel is written in first person, and thus, perception and interpretation are key elements of the novel. Stoker uses multiple settings-Transylvania, London, and Whitby- to great effect. The vivid descriptions of settings throughout are essential for the progression of the novel, as the weather, surroundings, symbols and people are all brought together by Stoker's excellent use of settings, which largely add to the overall effectiveness in Dracula.

Stoker through discrete and vibrant descriptions of setting is able to create suspense within the novel. Chapter Two provides a clear example of this when Jonathan Harker describes, with immense detail, Castle Dracula. He describes how "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! "The juxtaposition of natural beauty of the landscape with the evil of the castle demonstrates Stoker's mastery of the conventions of the Gothic novel: evoking the ruined castle, the beautiful but overpowering landscape, and the mounting sense of dread, the juxtaposition of all three elements adds to the tension which has constantly been built up throughout the chapter. The evident beauty...