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
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.
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.