Throughout Stoker’s classic novel, doorways function as liminal spaces in which either side of the threshold represents an alternate reality. In literature, liminal spaces symbolize a sense of uncertainty about one’s transition from the present to the future. In the following examples, Dracula in a doorway functions within this context.
The narrator describes Dracula at the door of his castle, saying, “Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere. He held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door.” This quote appears in chapter 2. Based on this description, Dracula is a mysterious figure who evokes a sense of death. The black clothing and colorlessness of his person are both associated with mortality. In addition, once Jonathan enters into the castle, his fate will be sealed.
Moments later, Jonathan remarks, “He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed cold as ice, more like the hand of a dead than a living man.”
This further indicates Dracula’s association with death. In addition, the comparison to a statue suggests that Jonathan notices something odd about Dracula. In other words, his first impression, that Dracula is pretending to be normal but is so obviously not, makes Jonathan feel uneasy. Dracula’s apparent delight at getting Jonathan to enter of his own accord indicates that the Count has plans for his new guest.
In chapter 4, Dracula pretends to let Jonathan return to England when he unlocks the great door of the castle. However, Jonathan hears and sees the wolves that seem to be under Dracula’s control: “But still the door continued slowly to open, and only the Count’s body stood in the gap.” In this quote, the Count serves as a barrier between imprisonment and escape. Escape, however, also means tortuous death, in this case. Dracula uses doors as a way to conceal and control, even using himself as part of the liminal space in this example.