Looking through the windows in Stoker’s Dracula

They simply seemed to fade into the rays of the moonlight and pass out through the window, for I could see outside the dim, shadowy forms for a moment before they entirely faded away.” (Stoker, 1997: 71)

As he first catches sight of Castle Dracula, Jonathan Harker’s first impression that he shares with the reader is rather claustrophobic; even from the carriage, he can see “a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the sky” (Stoker, 1997: 44).

The windows take up a central role even as the building first manifests itself in our imagination. And it is certainly no coincidence that, moving forward, the apparently insignificant windows become a symbol of particular significance throughout the book.

A lot of the main discoveries that Jonathan makes within the walls of the Count’s home begin with a window. The scene that sees Jonathan witnessing the Count climbing up the outside walls of his own mansion is among the most harrowing, as well as a defining moment for the narrator in the discovery of the very nature of the vampire. Images of windows paint a perfect picture of horror and discomfort throughout the whole novel, enriched by several elements of Gothic imagery.

This is a guest post for the University of Birmingham’s CLiC Fiction. Keep reading here.

(cover image: Front cover of the 1919 Dracula edition (source: Wikimedia Commons)

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