Essay on The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Essay on The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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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’ 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...


... middle of paper ...


...
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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