October 13, 2010

Harker's Perspective

The beginning of the story starts off with the character,  Jonathan, Harker making an entry into his journal about his journey to Count Dracula’s Castle.  The reader soon realizes that they will not know anything about the character unless he makes an entry, which is a very interesting idea.  I think that by writing the book in this style Bram Stoker is not only creating suspense but also making the characters more realistic.  The reader really feels like these characters were real and going through this ordeal.  I like the fact that the characters that come later are also introduced through only letters or journals.  Again it is very interesting and makes them feel authentic.

Harker’s Perspective
Jonathan Harker starts off as a very level-headed business man on a work assignment.  While he is traveling to Dracula’s castle he is warned many times not to continue on his expedition.  “Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual.”  He seems a little worried but turning around does not even cross his mind.
Later we see quite a change in his character once Harker discovers the monster that is Dracula.  I think this excerpt from the book is a good example of how the practical Harker has changed:
                “No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.  When the sun grew so high this morning that it struck the top of the great gateway opposite my window, the high spot which it touched seemed to me as if the dove from the ark had light there.  My fear fell from me as if it had been a vaporous garment which dissolved in the warmth”

Jonathan’s medium for the book is either his journal or letters.  This means that the reader will only know what happens in the story after it happens, which actually offers some reassurance because if Jonathan is writing about a suspenseful event he experienced the reader knows he survived because he’s writing about it.

The main reason that I chose to examine Harker’s point of view is because I found his journal entries and letters the most vivid, believable, and interesting.  While reading his part of the story the book was a page turner for me.  He seems to be a very observant person who can describe his surroundings with great detail.   I also think he is a more interesting character because he is the most like a writer.  With the other characters it was more obvious that they were writing letters or making journal entries.  Harker’s journal entries read so clearly and concise that you almost forget that you were reading a journal until you get to his next entry.


  1. I've really been enjoying the journal entry format of this book so far. I guess I never really considered why that was the format chosen for the book, but when you talk about how it builds suspense, that makes perfect sense. If it was first person, it would be like someone is telling a story to you, which takes out that element of "What going to happen to him?", because he's alive and telling the story. The journal-entry approach eliminates that completely. Does anyone else know of any other famous suspenseful books that utilize the same technique? I wonder if this was a well-known technique at the time of Dracula's publication, or if it was relatively fresh.

  2. I know that I have read at least one other book that is written similarly but I really can't remember it. When I was writing this post it kept flashing across my mind but I just can't remember. If I do I will post here.

  3. I agree the style of writing about events after they occur lends nicely to the tension that the story wishes to convey. Also, in regards to Ryne T’s comment, I cannot think of any other famous literary work that uses journals as the sole basis of storytelling. That is not to say that they don’t exist, it just adds an interesting footnote to the creation of Dracula, that Bram Stoker would choose to use this style was cleary not a choice he made lightly. I have really enjoyed this book so far.

    Your larger point about Harker’s perspective is also a compelling area of the story. His transformation from, as you state, “we see quite a change in his character once Harker discovers the monster that is Dracula.” Through his journals, the reader really gets to take away the terror and utter hopelessness that he starts to feel as his time in the castle passes. By the end, even disregarding the knowledge we have through his diary, you start to wonder if or how he will ever escape Dracula’s clutches.

    Later on, I thought it was interesting how Stoker created tension by playing with the journal style to make it less predictable. I am referring to the chapters where he introduces Dr. Seward and Lucy, specifically where Van Helsing and Seward are attempting to save Lucy with frequent blood transfusions. During this section of the book, Dr. Seward’s entries are the predominant entries, but interspersed between these are passages from Lucy. Typically these occur after Lucy has been saved by yet another transfusion. It struck me mainly because the predictability of those entries was broken up.

  4. I do like the idea of understanding the narrator Harper via his journal entries. It makes you see the town and his experience with Dracula directly through his eyes. I agree it does make the book a little more exciting rather than just reading the narration from the authors point of view. I think you make a lot of good points in regard to the story and how easy it seems to flow when reading through his journal its almost like a no-no yet very intriguing to read.