How does stoker help us to suspend disbelief in chapter one of Dracula?
The novel commences in a non-fictional tone, taking the format of a typical journal. This particular format is often associated with an individual’s reality and truth of their day to day activities, creating the illusion of reality directly through the configuration Stoker uses. Not only is it a journal, it is also technical and specific as demonstrated on page one, “Munich at 8.35 p.m on the 1st of May”, which in addition emphasises the illusion of reality. There is further emphasis on every life during Jonathon Harker’s daily description, in which he describes his environment and journey specifically along with the meals he ate and his enjoyment, “ I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red peppers”. These are experiences to which the reader can relate to, creating the appearance of verisimilitude, accompanied with existing places which are brought in to context such as “London”, “the British museum” and “Transylvania”. The fact that the reader cannot deny that these places exist creates a factual illusion of authenticity which inevitably suspends the disbelief arguably appears towards the end of chapter one.
Harker’s disbelief is also used in order to suspend our disbelief. He uses the phrase “I read that every know superstition”, which allows the reader to not to believe its unbelievable. Even when fear is introduced by the wariness of those surrounding him, Harker’s attitude is somewhat comforting to the reader and allows further disbelief to be applied when he himself uses the expression “very ridiculous”, on page five. He allows the reader the opportunity to disregard the abnormal behaviour existing around him in order for us to continue suspending our doubt.
However we must note that the journal format may not be all together reliable, as we are entrusted only with the re-counted events that Jonathon Harker experiences. The reader may be wary of exaggeration and miss-told experiences, as well as memory loss and his tired state of mind from all his travels, which may influence what he interprets to be real.