The prompt for March is the setting. I have been reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, which has a number of settings from Eastern Europe to North Yorkshire. I have chosen to look at the first major setting-Castle Dracula.
The story of Dracula is told through the journal entries, telegrams and letters made by Jonathan Harker (solicitor); Mina Murray (Harker's fiancee); Lucy Westenra (Mina's friend); Dr Seward, Quincey Morris and Hon. Arthur Holmwood (Lucy's suitors), and Professor Van Helsing. It begins from Jonathan Harker's journal, a solicitor sent to deal with Count Dracula's purchase of an estate in England. He journeys from Vienna to Budapest by train, coach, and then by caleche through the Carpathians to Bukovina, Romania.
I'm not sure that I'd want to be travelling in the Carpathian mountains in this, but it was the mode of transport at the time-late Victorian.
|BRAN CASTLE (source)|
'everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom-apple,
plum, pear, cherry. And as we drove by I could see the
green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals.'
This description seems to foreshadows the fate of the women.
In the beginning of the book we are led on sensual journey: this continues throughout the book. Initially, Harker writes happily about the food he has eaten, the friendly people he has met, which mirrors the pleasant May weather, and visual description of his surrounds. As he nears his destination, the locals behave with suspicion, making him anxious, he leaves the company of his travellers to go on ahead with just his driver. The night draws in, the wolves make their presence known, and the castle looms over him. By the time he reaches the castle it is dark. Harker is left alone, in the cold, to gain entry into Castle Dracula.
|'I stood close to a great door, old and studded with large iron nails, |
and set in a projecting doorway of massive stone.'
The morning after his arrival, Jonathan eats breakfast alone and notices the oddities in the house. There is evidence of wealth: gold wrought table service, expensive fabrics that upholster the furniture, and made into curtains, but there are no servants.
|CASTLE DRACULA-TUDOR STYLE (source)|
Harker likens the look to Hampton Court.
Castle Dracula is cold, remote, and built in the Carpathian mountains on the edge of a precipice. It is a superior, unobtainable fortress, that is viewed with mystery and suspicion. This more or less describes Dracula. The Gothic, medieval house represents Dracula. He states he is from an old family and that a new house would kill him. This leads me to believe that the house and the man are akin.
The tension builds as the once welcoming Count abandons Harker in the house (during the day), leaving him cut off from the world. He has become a solitary man in a large, empty house. It is Dracula's lair: his rat trap.
'Doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all bolted...
...The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!
The setting and mood changes again as the story moves to England. I will leave it up to you to find out how this effects the story. Having read the book I was surprised at how involved I became with the characters, as I was compelled to continue with them, on their journey of discovery. And I'm glad I did.