Images of weather in Dracula

Whitby abbey

In Dracula, images of weather associate Count Dracula with the forces of nature and build in intensity as he gains strength.

Initially, the unseasonal, ‘late-lying’ snow in Transylvania creates a muted effect like a ‘white blanket’ upon the land. Jonathan Harker’s coach ride is described as ‘a boat tossed on a stormy sea’, prefiguring the Demeter’s arrival in Whitby. Within the castle, Harker’s remarks on the ‘wind [that] breathes cold through the broken battlements and casements’. When Dracula interrupts the preying female vampires, Harker experiences the Count ‘as if lapped in a storm of fury’, linked to the forthcoming Whitby scene.

The day of the Demeter’s arrival in Whitby is ‘marked by myriad clouds of every sunset colour’ but with dark areas of ‘colossal silhouettes’. These images create a feverish backdrop to Dracula’s arrival. The description of the Demeter’s approach is filled with imagery linked to the Count’s threatening status: ‘dead calm, a sultry heat, and that prevailing intensity’. After appearing to the crew during a rainstorm, Dracula creates the ‘tempest’ which accompanies his arrival, producing an ‘onrushing mist’ which be later recalled during his physical transformation into a ‘pillar of cloud’.

Before Lucy is attacked by Dracula on the hilltop, the sky is clear with a bright full moon. As Mina sees Dracula, ‘heavy black, driving clouds’ obscure her view, mirroring Lucy’s swooning confusion.

At the end of the novel, snow at first reflects Dracula’s power over the elements (‘The wind came now in fierce bursts, and the snow was driven with fury’), but as the group of vampire-hunters  gain the upper hand, the snowfall recedes. Finally, the settled snow represents a return to the calmness of the beginning of the story and represents cleanliness and purity. Quincey, seeing that Mina’s scar has disappeared, says, ‘The snow is not more stainless than her forehead!’

Submitted to Coursera as essay 03 for Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World.
Coursera peer grade: Form 3 / Content 2.5

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