One of the most terrifying experiences someone could go through would be walking through a graveyard, or even more frightening, entering a tomb at night. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, many Gothic elements, such as strong descriptions, polarities, and foreshadowing, are used to create a fearful, spine-chilling mood when characters visit Lucy’s tomb.
Dr. Seward and Professor Van Helsing pay the first visit to Lucy’s tomb. In this scene Stoker uses Gothic descriptions and strong words to set the tone. When Seward and Van Helsing first enter the tomb, Seward is appalled. He describes the place as gruesome in comparison to how it looked when wreathed with fresh flowers in the day-time. “The flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns” p. 207. The words Seward uses just to illustrate the flowers in the tomb give the reader a vivid description of the setting, and they really cause the reader to feel the dark mood in this scene. Another element Stoker uses to help the reader sense the tone is isolation. As Seward and Van Helsing approach the tomb, they encounter fewer and fewer people.
Extreme polarities between good and evil are an additional Gothic element Stoker applies to produce a mysterious tone. When characters are heading into Lucy’s tomb, the setting is very dark and gloomy. This contrasts greatly with the picture given of the setting once they exit Lucy’s tomb. Seward describes it as “fresh and pure in the night air” p. 220. This change in the atmosphere makes the reader associate an eerie feeling with Lucy’s tomb, which causes them to feel anxious whenever the characters venture into the tomb. The reader also feels anxious because of foreshadowing which Stoker uses while the characters are at Lucy’s tomb.
The night is explained as “dark with occasional gleams of moonlight between the rents of the heavy clouds that scudded across the sky” p. 219. This explanation foreshadows that something frightening is about to occur. This creates an apprehensive feeling in the reader, and increases suspense in the book. Another time when Stoker includes foreshadowing is when Seward comments, “Never did tombs look so ghastly white; never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom” p. 222. This illustration leads the reader to believe something strange will happen soon, and forces them to keep reading.
Stoker uses many Gothic elements when describing Lucy’s tomb to enforce the tone of the scene. This is necessary because once the reader feels what the tone of the setting is, it enhances their understanding of the scene.