Dracula

Setting in Gothic Literature 12th Grade

Dracula’s abrupt opening declaration that Jonathan Harker “left Munich at 8:35 p.m. on 1st May” does very little in terms of setting the initial scene, though readers find the brief nature of Harker’s diary peeling away to reveal the superstitious peasants who “cross themselves” as he journeys towards Dracula’s castle. This may allow Stoker to build the reader’s anticipation, emphasizing the significance of the typically Gothic castle he finally reaches. As Botting states, “Dracula’s crossing of boundaries is relentless”—both metaphorical and physical. This may be an example of the Gothic characteristic of transgression. Like Frankenstein, the novel spans a number of locations, giving the reader a sense of the liminality as the action is not confined to one setting.

By opening the novel in a foreign country, Stoker may have been playing on the Victorian fear of the unknown and the exotic, both Gothic features in their own right. In displacing the classically British protagonist of Jonathan Harker, Stoker introduces him—and the reader—to a landscape of “jagged rock and pointed crags” and locals who “cross themselves” upon learning Harker’s destination, where the “colonizer finds himself in the position of the colonized, the...

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