Bram Stoker’s Dracula draws upon Victorian fears, asking ‘what happens to vulnerable women’ when the “foreign” become immersed within society. In laying out this argument, the vulnerability of women is perhaps best captured by Stokers’ depiction of Lucy on the East Cliff; a scene in which Mina is determined to reach her sleepwalking friend (101).
Stoker’s utilization of a binary between the “white” and “black” elements within this scene helps to accentuate the stark contrast between the purity and goodness of Lucy and the evil and darkness of an unknown figure (whom unbeknownst to Mina is Dracula) (101). These light and dark elements intersect when the “long and black,” figure of Dracula is depicted “bending over the half-reclining white figure” of Lucy, a moment that may warrant an interpretation suggesting that Lucy’s purity has been corrupted and that some sort of defilement has occurred (101). At this moment, Mina calls out to Lucy and sees the “white face and red, gleaming eyes” of the figure that had been standing over her, introducing a secondary purpose of Stoker’s use of the black and white binary (101). Specifically, the contrast between the “black” and “white” used to paint the scene and Dracula’s “red” eyes makes this moment climactic. Stoker is not only able to justify the “shadowy” figure of Dracula while keeping his “beastly” features hidden from Mina, but he is also able to elicit a strong sense of fear in the minds of Victorian readers – a fear linked to the threat of things foreign (101).
In a time of Imperialism and superiority, the Victorians were afraid of foreign ideas becoming inseparable from their own practices. Dracula’s ideas of normalcy (i.e., sucking the blood out of vulnerable women like Lucy) are likely representative of Stoker’s take on a (hopefully) “foreign” Victorian custom that – through vampirism – has the potential to permeate within Victorian practices. Additionally, Stoker’s choice of Mina as the narrator was likely intentional. Mina moves from first being confused between seeing Dracula’s figure as a “man or beast” (equating beastliness to Dracula’s foreignness) to being primarily concerned with protecting Lucy’s “poor condition” from being witnessed (101). One may argue that Mina, in attempting to protect Lucy from Dracula, was both looking out for her safety, but as importantly her Victorian virtue and values. Perhaps Dracula finds he cannot be both a “stranger” and a “master” after all (27).