Rachael Crain

The following is an excerpt from an essay on reverse colonial anxieties on the Victorian British

consciousness as seen in Bram Stoker’s Dracula which I wrote for my class on Victorian poetry

and prose.

With that in mind, a firmly related threat is illustrated after Dracula escapes a run in with

Van Helsing and the other men. Before he takes his leave, the count warns the men that their

“girls that [they] love are mine already” and that “through them” they and many others will fall

into the count’s possession as well (Stoker 347). Stoker’s inclusion of this line, even when the

fear of this colonizing by the colonized has already been established, takes the anxiety a step

further. Now there is a worry that, should this actually happen, Victorian women might start to

marry the foreign, non-Western men. Not only that, but when Dracula insists that through the

women, others will become his as well, this could very well speak to a fear that children of

mixed ancestry will be born as a result of this reverse colonizing process and as a result, over

time, the foreign culture will take even greater dominance. This is not exactly a threat of British

imperial power, but rather a threat to the British cultural conventions. In the situation described,

British men lose a dimension of social power by losing any claim they would have had to British

woman as defined by cultural conventions. Then if biracial children were to be born, British

culture is put in greater danger as these children form a generation of people whose cultural

practices and values deviate from what is strictly British. Stephen Arata addresses the idea of

British culture being threatened through Dracula’s presence, pointing out that by the Count

choosing to greaten his race though only women, vampiric and female sexuality are intertwined

and are “represented as primitive and voracious, and both threaten patriarchal hegemony” (632).

Therefore, Dracula’s invasion threatens the British patriarchy, a cultural facet, by turning British

women into hyper sexual vampires in addition to taking them away from British men. However,

the vampiric possession of women such as Mina and Lucy transcends from cultural threat to

chilling mirror of colonialism as their bodies are taken possession of, just as land might be.

Not unlike how Dracula’s attack of Mina and Lucy brings them to waste, colonialism is

a violent process that often decimates the cultures that fall victim to it. Harker describes a

scenario that sounds an awful lot like colonial destruction as he grows ever more suspicious of

Dracula during his stay in the castle. The day after the frightening encounter with the three

women, Harker writes the following about the Count:

This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to

come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new

and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. (84)

This description appears to be a metaphor for what is perpetuated by British colonialism in the

time of Stoker’s novel. Similar to Harker’s comment, the British held on to some colonies, such

as India, for “centuries”, where brutal tactics would gratify lust for power and conquest, which

isn’t too far from bloodlust. The growing “circle of semi-demons” could easily refer to the

increasing presence of British military force in a foreign country who “batten on the helpless”

native dwellers. If Harker is talking about Dracula’s invasion of Britain in a way that sounds

incredibly similar to actual imperial conquest, Dracula also becomes an impetus for mirroring the

horrors of colonialism back at the colonizers. In his essay, William Hughes makes a similar

observation by noting that Dracula is a metaphor for “imperial Britain encoded and inverted, the

invading nation invaded by its own processes of invasion and cultural infiltration” (Hughes 96).

Even by just recognizing Dracula’s method of infiltration into the city of London, with his

strategically placed earthen boxes similar to strategically placed military outposts in a soon to be

colony, as an imitation of British colonial methods, it’s apparent that colonialism is being

inverted. Furthermore, just as the colonizing process is fraught with worry and fear for those

being colonized, the British characters in Stoker’s novel struggle with the same emotions during

Dracula’s metaphoric attempt at colonialism.

Works Cited

Arata, Stephen D. “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse

Colonization.” Victorian Studies 33.4 (1990): 621-45. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Hughes, William. “A Singular Invasion: Revisiting the Postcoloniality of Bram Stoker’s

Dracula.” Empire and the Gothic: The Politics of Genre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan,

2003. 88-102. Print.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Glennis Byron. Toronto: Broadview, 1998. Print.