Chapter 22, of Bram Stoker’s Dracula reveals the anxieties of the time period that Bram Stoker lived in. Through the entire progression of the Dracula text Bram Stoker shines a spotlight on the fear of the unusual. Despite the fact that unusualness is what fuels a horror novel, it is the unusualness that follows one of the main characters, Dracula, throughout the novel. Stoker writes, ”And now, my friends, we have a duty here to do. We must sterilize this earth…”(Stoker 317). In this scene from page 317 Dr. Van Helsing is telling the others about the need to eliminate Dracula. At base level this excerpt seems to only be about the removal of a monster that goes against the beliefs of the church, however, with knowledge of what Dracula is a symbol of the meaning changes. Dracula is a symbol of fear of foreigners. Dracula’s character drives the fear that makes this novel a horror novel not through gore and blood only but by playing with the internalized fear of Europeans in this time period and reverse colonization.
Bram Stoker’s utilization of the words “duty” and “sterilization” have more meaning than what can be seen on the surface. At face value “duty” means a job and “sterilization” means to destroy or get rid of completely. The utilization of this diction with regard to the killing of Dracula puts emphasis on an almost “clinical” side of the group’s view on Dracula. Dracula is foreign to the group, and in this time period the idea of foreigners also brought the idea of disease into mind. Not only does this bring in the idea of disease into mind but specifically the spread of foreigners like a disease. The idea of Dracula colonizing England through his bite is parallel to the fear of reverse colonization in England at this time. Dracula’s actions have the effect they do on a reader of this time period as they target a fear of the normal becoming abnormal.
Bram Stoker, et al. Dracula. London, Penguin Books, 2019.