What are the Authors of Dracula and Goblin Market getting at with their writing? Well, we can ignore the very valid meta-narrative that exists in the subtext and cultural context of the work. We could instead obsess over a postmodern interpretation, lacking real understanding and become extremely neurotic. I’d like to give a deconstruction of this apprehension and misunderstanding regarding the legitimate concerns of Victorians who by the way are human beings, not the evil monsters it seems we are so fond of making them out to be. Ironic so many are so quick to “other” Victorians over “othered bodies”.
Why is it that there is anxiety surrounding “reverse colonization” or more accurately the colonization of one’s country? Well on a material level the more people you include in your country the fewer resources are distributed to its individual citizens. The world is a zero-sum game, there are not infinite resources. So when “foreign bodies” are introduced there are more competitors for the limited resources you possess within your country. We can connect this to Dracula’s desire to move to England: he is looking for a greater pool of resources to pull from. “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. The very thought drove me mad.” (4.62). Then there is the question of sovereignty. When you accept foreigners into your society they become a part of it but not fully. They have different desires and needs and will compete with you for political power. So not only do you have to compete with your own countrymen but you also have to compete with foreigners, or maybe just people of a different ethnic or racial group. Sovereignty and political power are seldom achieved in countries where different racial and ethnic groups must compete. We can connect this to Dracula extending his power when he arrives in England, controlling people who he has corrupted. Then there is the question of purity. In every culture that existed up until the 19th century the idea of purity featured prominently. It is held as an ideal and virtue that is in many ways the embodiment of beauty and the transcendent. When you introduce foreigners into your society you destroy the purity your ancestors have bestowed upon you, a carefully guarded gift that they fought for. So you move farther from the ideal while simultaneously shame the sacrifices made for you. That is why the “goblin men” are stigmatized, because they are a disruption in the society that has been carefully constructed fro these young women.
Why might they fixate on the “monstrous bodies” of foreigners? The focus on bodies might be because of the real physical differences that exist between people. Those real differences have real consequences in the real world. Bodies are not just avatars that are interchangeable. They represent a continuation of the mother and father. They are representative of a greater people that they belong to as bodies. So the fixation on bodies may have to do what they represent. The bodies are also sublime and horrific, interesting for a writer to write about.