One of the gothic horror images fixed in my imagination is the shadow of Dracula lurking behind Jonathan Harker as he writes in his diary. He is a prisoner in Dracula’s castle and fears he will never return to England. He is afraid Dracula will kill him, or worse, leave him alone in the castle to die.
Dracula was first published in May 1897. The book was written by Bram Stoker, an Irish writer and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London. The novel is shaped by a series of narratives in the form of journal and ship’s log entries, and letters.
Jonathan Harker, the main narrator, writes in his diary as he travels across Europe from England to Transylvania. He describes the day’s events, local superstitions, and tries to make sense of his bad dreams and supernatural encounters.
His diary has its roots in Bram Stoker’s own journal-keeping. The last entry in his 1881 diary hints at a major character he would use in Dracula.
Renfield is an asylum inmate who has delusions that compel him to eat living beings, including spiders and flies, in order to gain their life force. In his jounal, Stoker wrote, “I once knew a boy who put so many flies into a bottle that they had not room to die.”
Stoker’s interest in the supernatural shows up in other journal entries. “A man builds up his shadow on a wall bit by bit by adding to the substance,” he wrote. “Suddenly the shadow becomes alive.”