How does Bram Stoker portray Jonathan's journey as beyond an ordinary Victorian reader's reach in Dracula?

Quick answer:

Stoker's descriptions of the unfamiliar locations in which Jonathan finds himself acquainted the reader with a part of the world they may never have encountered.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his 1897 classic of gothic literature, Dracula , Bram Stoker wastes no time introducing his readers to a world few would likely have encountered first-hand.  While residents of Great Britain were fairly well-traveled, their infamous empire have stretched over much of the world, Stoker's story, particularly as depicted in...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

"The Journal of Jonathan Harker," involves travel into areas of the Balkans that the average Victorian reader would not likely have encountered.  The first indication that Jonathan is traveling in a direction few if any of his contemporaries have emulated appears in the very first journal entry, wherein he writes regarding his journey's transition from the more cosmopolitan world of London and Paris to which he was likely more familiar to the approaches to a more distant and alien part of the continent:

"Buda-Pesth [or Budapest, as much of the world knows the capital of Hungary] seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through . . . The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East . . ."

And, further on in the same journal entry:

"Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania . . ."

Evidence of Jonathan's journey deeper into unfamiliar terrain follows in his journal entries:

"I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. . .I was not able to light on any map or work giving the ex- act locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own . . ."

Stoker had clearly done a great deal of research on the geography of the Balkans, as his descriptions, provided in Jonathan's journal, include copious attention to detail in describing the different ethnicities and character traits prevalent throughout that portion of the region included in his novel.  Notations like "Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians," for example, suggest a depth of research out of proportion to the subject matter and risks undermining the credibility of his character who is, after all, a young, inexperienced solicitor from London.  The use of correspondence and journal entries as the avenue through which to convey his story is one of the novel's more innovative techniques, but using Jonathan's journal entries to provide  such detailed background information detracts from the narrative flow at times.  Nevertheless, Jonathan's journal does provide considerable information on a part of the world his friends and family, especially his fiancé, Mina, can only imagine.

Approved by eNotes Editorial