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The Epistolary Form and Binary Oppositions in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Bram Stoker’s nineteenth century epistolary novel, Dracula, recounts the story of a vampire attempting to relocate from Transylvannia to London with the help of solicitor, Johnathan Harker. The story is told in a series of diary entries, letters, and newspaper clippings, which detail several characters’ quotidian and supernatural experiences. Although the entirety of the novel is twenty-seven chapters long, this essay will focus on the first four chapters and mainly Johnathan Harker’s experience in order to focus on the role of the narrative, fundamental dualities, and its impact on the story as a whole. By writing the novel in the epistolary form, Stoker allows readers to follow the novel in concurrence to the events; and thus, presents an otherwise largely and thus unbelievable subject in a narrative that weaves a sense of immediacy and authenticity to the plot. The establishment of a genuine narrative and narrator in a sensationalist and improbable plot creates a binary opposition, dividing Johnathan Harker even further from Count Dracula; consequently, it is the severing between the mortal and the immortal, the existent and the improbable, that sets the platform to organize and interpret later chapters creating textual unity.
Dracula opens with Harker’s diary entry detailing his arrival in Bisritz where details of his initial experiences not only helps establish the believability and urgency, but also establishes the dualities that will be explored throughout the novel. Upon arriving in Bisritz, Harker begins his diary entry in short punctuated sentences as he takes in his new surroundings: “3 May. Bistritz. – Left Munich at 8.35 p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late” (Stoker 9). The first few lines of the entry contain grammatical inaccuracy and the incomplete sentences that are not found in the rest of Harker’s...