Dracula

by: Bram Stoker

Tone

Main ideas Tone

The tone of Dracula is dark and foreboding, especially as Dracula’s threatening presence draws nearer. As the characters come to believe in the supernatural and understand the danger that Dracula poses, their accounts also become increasingly melodramatic and righteous in tone. Harker’s journal entries set the initial tone of the novel, establishing a nonchalant and observational attitude as he records the details of his trip to Dracula’s castle. Harker’s tone, however, quickly begins to oscillate between calm nonchalance and unnerved suspicion. As he draws nearer to the castle, his journal entries become increasingly laced with dark and ominous overtones. On discovering that he is Dracula’s prisoner, Harker’s tone becomes more and more desperate: he alternates between despair (“God help me!”) and fierce resolve (“Action!”), as he will continue to do across the rest of the novel.

The tonal shifts in Harker’s early journal entries establish a set of patterns that echo throughout the rest of the novel and among the other narrators. Lucy, for instance, begins by establishing an effusive and cheerful tone. Her early letters to Mina are alternately melodramatic, coyly teasing, and girlishly hopeful, especially when she narrates her courtship and engagement. Yet as Dracula’s influence grows, Lucy becomes an increasingly fearful and private narrator: her closely guarded diary entries express a desire to appear cheerful for her friends and family, while also recording her clear sense of foreboding. These fears culminate in a series of melodramatic exclamations just before her death, which also echo those of Harker in Dracula’s castle: “Good-bye, dear Arthur, if I should not survive this night. God keep you, dear, and God help me!”

Unlike Lucy, Dr. Seward displays an initial attitude of rational restraint that reflects his position as a medical man. But when he finally sees that Lucy has become a vampire, his tone transforms into one of horrified belief. “Oh god, how it made me shudder to see it!” he reflects, in reaction to seeing her as a vampire. These shifts in tone across the novel reflect the increasing threat that the protagonists face as well as the increasing urgency of their own mission to defeat Dracula. As the protagonists band together to destroy him, the righteousness in their voices becomes increasingly clear. They speak and write with a clear sense of Christian duty, seeking help and strength from God in their mission.