Dracula [essay] by

15 August 2012

I almost forgot to post my Coursera essay on Dracula but y’all are in luck, because I have remembered:

Fear of the East, of the eastern “barbarians” was a contemporary issue in Victorian England. Dracula can be seen as that “other”. He originates in a wild unknown eastern land[1] , from a place and a people so different from English custom, as Harker points out in his opening traveolgue.

As a colonial power Britain regarded itself as better than its subjugated colonies. Inferior peoples were barbaric and needed to be civilized. Knowing this Dracula attempts to anglicise himself, he learns all about Britain and what it is to be English; he reads the business directories and interrogates Harker about Englishness. He will be an immigrant but will not appear as such[2] , instead he will become an invisible invader able to cause more damage because his differences are hidden. Indeed his ability to pass as English may even enable him to become a foreign master.[3]

Vampires are “other” not just because of their monstrous nature but also because they are foreign, they are the alien outsider[4] threatening the safety of home. Fear of immigration, even today, is often expressed as “those people” coming over here and taking “our women”, as the Count does.

Not only is Dracula an invader, but he is a conqueror, turning the civilised English into barbarians. He corrupts Lucy, changing her from a pure English woman into a horrifying creature who in turns preys upon children. He attempts to corrupt Mina in the same manner.

In the end Dracula is defeated by an alliance of the West. The civilized countries, England, the United States, and continental Europe, come together to defeat the East. Mina’s purity, and her Englishness, is restored to her. The enlightened empire has resisted the savage invader successfully. Jonathan Harker is finally able to truly escape from “this cursed land, where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet!”.[5]

Additional Works read:

Barter, Margaret L. ‘Xenophobia and Its Subversion in Darker Than You Think’

Davies, Gill. ‘London in Dracula; Dracula in London’.

Vukadinovik, Jelena. ‘Dracula and Victorianism: A Conservative Or Subversive Novel?’


  1. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. – University of Adelaide, c1897. p14
  2. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. – University of Adelaide, c1897. p36
  3. Moore, Jeffrey Salem. English Assimilation and Invasion from Outside the Empire: Problems of the Outsider in England in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. – University of Dayton, 2010. p. 18
  4. Skal, David J. V Is for Vampire: The A-Z Guide to Everything Undead. 1St ed. Plume, 1996. p222
  5. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. – University of Adelaide, c1897. p74

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4 Responses

  1. Laura Gibbs says:

    Now why does the Coursera genie not give me essays like this to read…??! It's wonderful! Plus, since I am already working on Frankenstein, I can see so many great connections between the themes you have raised here, worked out in terms of geopolitics, with some similar themes about identity and humanity in Frankenstein, but without the explicit geopolitical framework. Thanks for sharing your essay!
    Laura Gibbs´s last blog post ..Uncommunicative Communication

    • Fence says:

      Thanks Laura.

      I think you can tie some of those issues in to Frankenstein too, but at the moment I'm thinking more about a responsibility theme, or maybe the allusions of Milton's Paradise Lost. But I haven't read that since I did my leaving cert exams, and even then it wasn't the whole poem, so we'll see.

  2. Rachel says:

    I'm glad I read this essay. I noticed a thread on the forum about xenophobia in Dracula, and I didn't really pay much attention to it past the first few posts because I was busy. It's interesting to hear something intelligent on the subject. :) If I were to have written an essay, I think I would have considered the problem of whether the book was sexist of feminist. Outwardly it's sexist, of course, but I couldn't help thinking (as I drove for hours listening to the book) that Mina is clearly the most intelligent character in the book, as well as the most important character for tracking down Dracula. She's also the most technologically advanced character. Maybe we're supposed to be rolling our eyes every time her "man brain with woman's heart" was mentioned. ;)
    Rachel´s last blog post ..Dracula

    • Fence says:

      I always find the "sexist or not" discussions forget that just because a character espouses something doesn't mean the author means or believes that too :) And, as you say, Mina is one of the most prominent characters. And when the men treat her as an equal and include her their plans work. Whereas when they treat her as an inferior woman bad things happen. So is Stoker saying that women are equal to men in that?

      It is certainly an argument that *could* be made.