Foreshadowing is a primary literary technique of the novel, which frequently previews Dracula’s intentions and actions with numerous signs. Although the protagonists report these instances of foreshadowing in their accounts, they rarely see what is coming until it is upon them.
Several signs foreshadow Jonathan Harker’s imprisonment in Dracula’s castle and the revelation that Dracula is indeed a vampire. The people whom Harker encounters on his trip to the castle repeatedly hint that something is wrong. A landlord and his wife cross themselves and look frightened when he tries to speak about Dracula, and later the landlady bids him to take a crucifix. As he departs for the castle, he hears a crowd of people using a word that translates as “either were-wolf or vampire.” Later, Harker’s traveling companions offer him additional protective tokens. While these signs make Harker increasingly uneasy, he interprets them as local superstitions rather than legitimate concerns. Changes in the natural world also foreshadow the dangers to come. Harker’s trip is characterized by cold, growing darkness, and “ghost-like clouds” that all signal the dark supernatural forces he will soon encounter. He later finds a circle of wolves closing in around him, foreshadowing his entrapment in the castle (as well as Dracula’s continued reliance on wolves later in the novel). Harker shifts throughout his journey between reason and suspicion, clarity and confusion. While he feels alarmed by the villagers’ distress and his strange journey, he presses on nonetheless, privileging his “Western” rationality over belief in the supernatural.
Several increasingly obvious events foreshadow Lucy’s death and subsequent vampirism. Speaking with an old sailor in the Whitby graveyard, Mina and Lucy discover that Lucy’s favorite seat is the grave of a suicide victim. The sailor later tells Mina that he senses the approach of death, just as a strange ship (later revealed to be carrying Dracula) arrives in the harbor. These unfavorable signs foreshadow Lucy’s own death, which is set in motion when Dracula comes to her at the same gravesite. Later, additional signs indicate the course of events to both Dr. Seward and Mina. However, their worldviews preclude them from seeing the true nature of Lucy’s illness. Mina, for instance, mistakes bite marks on Lucy’s neck for pinpricks. She is puzzled by Lucy’s paleness and weakness, as well as her strange recollections of her night in the graveyard. Only Van Helsing reads the signs correctly, suspecting that Lucy is under the influence of a vampire. The blood transfusions that he initiates also foreshadow Lucy’s own future as a vampire, as they keep her alive by draining blood from the men who love her.