The setting of Dracula takes places within the Victorian Era of England. During this point in time, society was governed by high social standards of methods of conduct and morality. It is also characterized by the fear of change and the unknown. Stoker’s story emphasizes these ideas throughout its plot by demonstrating how people follow strict codes, which open their society up for disaster.
Dracula remains consistent with the stereotypical Gothic genre conventions. The conventions and motifs employed by Dracula are consistent with the Gothic genre, these include: dislocation through the use of fragmented structure, using more than one narrator, letters and diary entries, journeys to unknown places, supernatural elements of vampires and werewolves, eerie shadows and howling winds and much more.
Stoker relies heavily on the conventions of Gothic fiction, which traditionally include additional elements such as: sublime landscapes, and innocent maidens threatened by ineffable evil. Although, he modernizes this tradition in his story by moving from the conventional setting of Dracula’s ruined castle to the stir of modern England. He demonstrates the collision of two contrasting worlds through Dracula’s ancient castle in Transylvania and the protagonist’s society in England. He exposes a lot of the anxieties that were characterized in his time: the dangers of female sexuality, consequences of abandoning traditional beliefs and the repercussions of scientific advancement.
Bram Stoker wrote his novel to create a sense of fear, suspense, excitement and anguish in the reader. The story is very complicated, as it is told my many different characters throughout the course of the novel, which include: Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker and Van Helsing.
Strange and supernatural creatures manifest in the form of Count Dracula. This dark entity is initially placed in the story to give a sense of horror and uncertainty. Stoker explains Dracula as not having a: “single spec of colour about him anywhere,” which shows that Dracula is enigmatic and a potential villain.
Supernatural occurrences continue as the clouds seem to constantly cave in when Mina looks for Lucy. This gives the reader a sense of uneasiness because the clouds cause the shadow to shut down the light and make it tough to see. It is as if the shadow meant to hide the location of Lucy from Mina.
Another supernatural occurrence presented itself as Mina woke up suddenly with a horrible sense of fear upon her. She had a sixth sense that something was amiss. This occurrence causes the reader to be uncertain about Mina’s connection to Dracula. Mina realizes that there was not a soul in sight and the town seemed dead.
Old, Ancient Castle
The first mention of the word, ‘castle’ instantly tells the reader that this gothic feature will be present in the novel. Castles create a key idea of the features of a haunting and provide a ghostly atmosphere. Castles hold a lot of history and mystery, which is why they are commonly found in Gothic novels.
The main building in Dracula is the ancient, sinister castle of Count Dracula. His castle has many turrets and towers; it is dark, mysterious and separate from civilization. It is set high on a mountain top and seems to be timeless. It is if there was no distinction between day and night because it is always dark.
The building is not a welcoming place, “bell or knocker there was no sign; through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate" (Stoker). This castle can be compared to a prison or dungeon because it can both keep people out, or keep people in. This is the reason Harker has such difficulty escaping.
The castle produces a claustrophobic feeling, especially in the 'stone stairs to the hall'. Jonathon Harker roams down its corridors and encounters many unexplainable occurrences.