To Conquer or to be Conquered?

After finishing Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I’ve come to the conclusion that Stoker incorporates reverse colonization into the plot as a result of Victorian era politics inducing feelings of guilt and pride.  As the excellence and superiority of Britain begins to come under question, many Victorian authors turn their colonizer characters (white British people) into the victims.  In Stoker’s book, Jonathan and Mina Harker, Dr Seward, and other protagonists are under attack by a foreign entity, or Dracula.  Dracula is portrayed with many of the imperialistic traits associated with Britain at the time.  For example, when Jonathan hears about the vampire’s family history, Dracula describes his people as a “conquering race” as he lists their bloody victories (Stoker 36).  He and his bloodline are written to be imperialists, and Dracula’s plan to move to England and feed on its people makes him the conqueror of the story.  The choice to make such a character the antagonist reveals that many Victorians feel guilt over defeating other countries to grow their empire.  Hence, the traits Britain possesses are seen in evil characters.  However, rather than admit to this fault, I believe Victorians manifest this guilt as fantasizing about being the victim.  And so, in the world of fiction, where anything is possible, Stoker makes his British characters the “good guys” who are justified in defeating their enemy because he deserves it.  He gives them an excuse to be the conqueror once again.  In this way, Stoker and other Victorian era authors smother their guilt by desperately justifying the actions of British characters as a result of their pride.  According to Stoker, Britain may be imperialistic, but only because they are superior and others deserve it.

Because of the nature of the antagonist, it seems as though Britain views imperialism as a negative and evil trait, however, it does not hide the fact that in the end, the white British characters come out on top.  Stoker’s pride far outweighs his guilt.  At the end of the novel, the British protagonists are the ones who “shear through the throat” of Dracula, birth a baby and are each “happily married” (Stoker 400) (Stoker 402).  Of course, with the one non-British character dying an honorable death.  Although Stoker allows some of the Victorian’s cultural guilt to seep into the book via Dracula’s characteristics and family history, when Victorian era Britain’s superiority is waning, Stoker’s pride inflates, as if to compensate for it.  Consequently, he cannot bring himself to suggest that British people could possibly be the bad guys, much less the losers.  He wants Britain to retain its image of grandeur, and uses this novel to reach that goal.

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