Dracula: Bram Stoker Chapter 1

In chapter one of Dracula, the story is told through Jonathan Harker’s  journal.   Harker is travelling from London to Transylvania on business to visit Count Dracula.  The count lives in the ominously named “Castle Dracula”.  As he is travelling he remarks on the interesting and different people he encounters.  The beginning of his train trip it is quite uneventful with Harker mainly writing about the food (in which he goes into at great length).

Harker’s trip begins to take a turn when he arrives in Klausenburge.  He has “queer dreams” that night, and he hears dogs howling under his window.  After that he leaves for Bistritz which is only a coach ride away from Castle Dracula.  In Bistritz, Harker meets an elderly couple and stays at their inn.  They seem nervous and scared at any mention of the count, and both crossed themselves upon hearing his name.  Just before Harker leaves for Castle Dracula, the old women comes into his room.  She begs Harker not to go and warns him it’s St. George’s Day which means all the evil things are coming out that night.  When he refuses to delay his trip, she gives him a crucifix and begs him to wear it for his mother’s sake.  Before getting on the coach, Harker sees the local people talking about him, crossing themselves and making signs to “guard against the evil eye.”

Soon forgetting his problems and the warnings of the town’s people, Harker marveled at the beauty that the countryside even as his fellow travellers in the coach continued to cross themselves.  On the sides of the road, there were many people praying at crosses.

At some point after nightfall they arrived at the spot where they were to meet the carriage that was to bring him to the doorstep of Castle Dracula.   When the other passengers saw the carriage they crossed themselves and many screamed.  Even after witnessing this, Harker got into the carriage. The driver of the coach he was on looked at the carriage and said “for the dead travel fast”.  Harker was left feeling uncomfortable and lonely.

Riding through the mountains in the night, Harker fears become stronger as he realised he was passing the same point again and again.  Dogs began to howl and were soon joined by wolves as well.  The night began to grow colder, and snow began to fall. The wolves sounded as if they were closing in on them, but the driver remained less than afraid of either the night or the howling.

Both Harker and the driver saw a blue light in the distance.   The driver dismount, goes to the light, comes back, and then drives off without explanation.   They keep on seeing blue lights, and the driver does this over and over again leaving Harker confused and scared. “I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back it’s sort of like an awful nightmare.”  At one point the driver walked further afield than he had done before and the wolves surrounded the carriage.   Harker did not know what to do. “For myself, I felt sort of paralysis of fear”.  He tried everything to scare away the wolves, shouted for the driver to return and banged on the carriage.  When the driver did return, he seemed to cast away the wolves with a sweep of his hand.  Then they went on their way as if nothing had happened.

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