Dracula

by: Bram Stoker

Style

Main ideas Style

Dracula’s style is epistolary, which means the novel is composed of diary entries, telegrams, letters, and memos. While Stoker utilizes several different first-person narrators, their narrative styles often sound remarkably similar. They all speak straightforwardly, recording events in complete sentences with great detail. They also tend to narrate events in an episodic manner, recording them in their letters and journal entries shortly after they have occurred. This gives the novel a sense of immediacy, heightened in particularly dramatic moments through a more exclamatory style. At times of great stress, the narratives tend to become filled with exclamation points, ellipses, and melodramatic language. Jonathan Harker’s diary, for instance, becomes increasingly frantic after he realizes that he is trapped at Castle Dracula: “To-morrow! to-morrow! Lord, help me, and those to whom I am dear!”

At the same time, slight variances do appear in the styles of individual narrators. Dr. Seward, for instance, speaks in a more clinical style, utilizing scientific terminology that reflects his identity as the logical doctor. After Lucy rejects his proposal, Seward writes, “If I don’t sleep at once, chloral, the modern Morpheus—C2HCl3O.” He oddly blends scientific language (“chloral”) with romantic language (“the modern Morpheus”), reflecting his status as both doctor and would-be lover. In a similar way, style also distinguishes the English characters from the non-English characters. Although Harker confirms that Dracula speaks English “excellently,” the vampire’s style is highly formal and at times features grammatical oddities. “I would that you tell me when I make error, even of the smallest, in my speaking,” he asks Harker, when “even the smallest error” would be more standard. These slight irregularities signal that Dracula is an outsider in London, where, as he points out, “none there are who would not know me for a stranger.” Dracula’s preoccupation with style and intonation highlights the importance of language to his successful assimilation in English society. Meanwhile, Quincey Morris speaks with a heavy dose of what Lucy calls “American slang.” In a letter to Mina, Lucy renders his speech full of colloquialisms and stereotypically “American” turns of phrase (for instance, “I know I ain’t good enough to regulate the fixin’s of your little shoes”). The narrators’ stylistic differences clearly identify characters who come from different social strata and parts of the world.