Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Show Me My Narrative Foil

Dracula is mired in juxtaposition: Dracula and Van Helsing, Jonathan and Harker, Mina and Lucy, Lucy and the three vampire women. Stoker uses these comparisons to convey who or what is “good” or “right” in the world.

As we have thoroughly discussed in class, Dracula is obviously the bad, terrible, not good side of imperialism: the consequences. He is conniving, evil, and preys on society’s most vulnerable (women, obviously); worst of all, he’s a foreigner. He brings Jonathan to his castle to help him practice English until he is “content if [he is] like the rest”, AKA until nobody can tell he is not from England. Dracula is a personification of the perceived threat of reverse colonization.

Van Helsing, on the other hand, is kind, wise, and of a far more acceptable old age than Dracula. His goal is to kill Dracula and prevent from inserting himself into British life. He saves Lucy’s soul and helps our merry band of Englishmen (plus one American and one woman) enact revenge on her tormentor. He comes to England on an invitation from Dr. Seward (Stoker 122). Despite not saying everything at the beginning, Van Helsing is very honest in his intentions and actions. Because of his opposition to Dracula, Van Helsing is the “right” kind of foreigner: He helps protect England, maybe even improve it by sharing his knowledge of vampires.

Keeping in mind Stoker’s origins in mind, I think the addition of Van Helsing to Dracula’s imperialism metaphor adds another layer by implying that it is okay for foreigners to land on British soil as long as they do it legitimately. Illegal immigrants like Dracula will snatch up available real estate property, assault good British women, and create a threat to British children. However, invited foreigners are allowed and welcome, especially if they help root out their illegal counterparts. This helps balance Stoker’s status as an Irishman living in England with the obvious xenophobia in Dracula because he himself was a contributing member of British society.

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