The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1042 Words5 Pages
Gothic Literature

Mini Assignment

Compare and contrast the way the writers use plot, character and

setting to increase tension and atmosphere in the opening chapter of

‘Varney the Vampire’ and ‘Dracula’.

Both ‘Varney the Vampire’ and ‘dracula' class='brand-secondary'>Dracula’ create a tense and suspenseful

atmosphere in their opening chapters as the typically gothic language

(“solemn tones”, “air thick and heavy”) and imagery immediately

incites in the reader a sense of foreboding and unease. This is

particularly true of a modern audience familiar with the conventions

of the genre; the old castles adorned with “curious carvings” and the

dank, dark settings of musty “antique chambers” in ‘Varney the

Vampire’ are highly suggestive of imminent encounters with

unimaginable evil. Stoker echoes these conventions as he juxtaposes

the familiar backdrop of the Carpathian Mountains with the unnerving

superstitions of the local peasants; these strong supernatural

elements continue as Harker travels along the murky and desolate

mountain pass (“weird and solemn”) with alarming haste and endures a

terrifying ride to Dracula’s “vast ruined castle”, leaving the reader

with a feeling of doom and dread, eager to read on.

‘Varney’ opens with a very “ominous calm” immediately followed by an

all-consuming storm which invades the solitude and stillness of sleep;

the town is untimely awoken by this but return to sleep unaware of the

menacing figure looming over the girl’s window; this pathetic fallacy

alerts the reader to the horror about to be unleashed and heightens

the tension as his victim remains innocently oblivious to his

presence. The rich attention to detail in the descriptions of both

the storm and the room prolongs the tension as the sinist...

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... writing it, but his accurate and detailed memory of each mysterious

sound, temperature and smell of the journey illustrates how deeply he

must have been affected by events. His devotion to his dear fiancée

Mina, a quintessential Victorian woman embodying all the morals and

ideals of the age (purity, obedience to males, respect, politeness) is

presented as a beautiful and mutual love, pure and enduring; a

complete contrast to the erotic imagery used to describe the “bed in

much confusion” as the girl tosses and turns restlessly in ‘Varney’.

The scene is very clumsy and chaotic, almost as if she might fall out

of the bed at any second; this suggestion of a loss of innocence and

the “world of witchery” in her mouth make her more susceptible to the

wiles of the Undead, whilst from Jonathon’s descriptions at least, we

presume that Mina will retain her purity.
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