How important is the setting of Dracula and what does it influence?

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dtc10106 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer here is found in the shifting setting.  The early chapters take place in the very under developed town of Transylvania, Romania.  Eastern Europe is portrayed as rustic, primitive, virtually medieval.  The common person is described as quaint but highly superstitious.  These people live in fear of the undead and even cooperate with these creatures rather than confronting them.

The setting soon moves to the culturally sophisticated, scientifically advanced, and spiritually liberated 19th century London.  Here Dracula is confronted by people of science (Dr. Van Helsing and Seward), a modern women (Mina Harker), a wealthy if somwhat reckless American (Quincy), and a member of the English aristocracy (Godalming) all of whom work together against Dracula regardless of their personal and class distinctions.

What is the point?  The "Scientific Revolution" was in full sway  during this period and many notables of the period questioned whether superstition and science could co-exist.  In this context, Dracula can be seen as a novel about the primacy of human reason over superstion when dealing with the problem of evil.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. The settings of the book reflect two major traditions in horror writing, those of the older pure Gothic form and the newer traditions of the sensation novel.

The initial setting of the book in Transylvania reflects the older Gothic tradition. It is a remote and foreboding environment, foreign to the daily lives of Stoker's English readers. It creates an atmosphere of folklore, superstition, and primal horror, creating a sense of the primitive as the uncanny and threatening, with the potential to erupt into the rational ordered lives of the modern European.

The travel of Dracula to England shows the disruptive potential of the irrational erupting into an almost stereotypical vision of the peaceful ordered life of the English village. As is typical of the sensation novel, it creates horror by suggesting that even the most peaceful, orderly, rational and innocent lives are not safe from external threats.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The creepy opening of Dracula sets the tone for the novel as we travel with Jonathan Harker through the mountains and forests of Transylvania to Dracula's castle. Inside the castle, Harker experiences a growing sense of horror as he meets with his host, the Count, who only comes out at night, never eats, and can't be seen in a mirror.

The scene then shifts to England and the modern society of the time. However, when Dracula arrives by boat with bats, rats, and wolves at his beck and call, we believe in him, no matter how incredible it may seem to meet with such a creature in the rational modern world. The Transylvania setting thus creates dramatic irony: because we as readers have been with Harker in Dracula's castle, we know better than the characters in England what a threat Dracula represents.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting is very important to the novel.  It is set in Transylvania during the Victorian Era. Much of the novel takes place in Dracula's castle, which is dark, dank, eerie, and oppressive.  The people in the town are frightened of Dracula, as well.  This frightening and foreboding setting definitely adds to the mood of the novel, and it influences future events in the novel.  Quite often, settings that are dark, dreary, and frightening will be a contributor to characters' reactions, actions, and motivations.