Fear of the Foreign

A prominent theme in many of the texts that we have read this semester is the Victorian fear of the foreign: whether it’s foreign people or animals. Often, this manifests itself in making whatever is foreign something that is dangerous and can harm the protagonists of the plot. This fear of the foreign is seen in Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market”. This poem revolves around two sisters who are trying to resist the temptation that comes from these little goblin men and the fruit that they sell. One of the many reasons that the sisters try to not give in and buy the fruit is that they say that they don’t know where the soil that grows the fruit has been, they fear this unknown. Early in the poem Laura tells Lizzie “We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits; Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry thirsty roots?” (Rossetti). In these lines, the fear of foreign and the unknown that comes with foreign things can be seen. While the goblins inhabit the orchard, they are creatures that are not from the area, making them foreign to others. The fear of the foreign is evident when the sisters are wary about the growing conditions of the fruit. If the fruit was being sold by some non-foreign person, I bet that the sisters would not have fears about what the fruit was grown in, but since these goblins are foreign creatures, they have doubts.

The fear of the foreign and foreign places can also be seen in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula travels from Transylvania to England and unleashes chaos onto the unsuspecting British people. Not only does Dracula have physical characteristics that differ from other “non-foreign” characters, Dracula acts as a symbol of the “threat” that foreign influence may have on British people and society. When Harker is staying at Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, Dracula tells Harker, “We are in Transylvania; and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things” (Stoker, 28). Dracula openly admits that his ways are foreign to Harker, and while Harker is unaware of it at that time, Dracula’s different ways are more sinister than Harker could imagine. When in England, Dracula’s foreign ways causes chaos and death. This causes fear within those who experience the horrors that Dracula brings and reinforces the idea that foreigners will only harm British society. At a time when the idea of the foreign caused great fear within Victorian England, the fear and anxiety that was felt manifested itself in works of literature.


Cloudy with a Chance of Dracula

When I sit back and think about vampires, specifically how they are portrayed in film and literature, a few characteristics stick out to me. Besides copious amounts of blood, large sharp fangs, and pale skin, I also think about how there always seems to be some sort of storm or fog going on when the vampires are present. Whether it’s the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker or the Twilight series, there always seems to be a mysterious fog or a dangerous storm when the vampires are present. When Dracula firsts arrives in England via ship, the port where Dracula enters suffers from a sudden but violent storm as the ship sails into the port. Before the start of the storm, there is an eeriness to the atmosphere. The newspaper reports that before the storm, “the stillness of the air grew quite oppressive, and the silence was so marked that the bleating of a sheep inland or the barking of a dog in the town was distinctly heard” (Stoker, 86). While the newspaper said that the storm came on without warning, I see this foreboding weather as an omen of the grave events that will result from Dracula’s arrival. Even before Dracula arrived in England, the ship that unknowingly transported him experienced strange events and bad weather before Dracula landed on English soil. In the log of the Demeter, the ship that Dracula used to get to England, it was written that “there seems some doom over this ship. Already a hand short and entering the Bay of Biscay with wild weather” and “four days in hell, knocking about in a sort of maelstrom, and the wind a tempest” (Stoker, 93). Prior to Dracula’s appearance on the ship, things were running smoothly, but, after Dracula decided to stow away on the ship, strange events happen to the crew. Crew members start to disappear, and the ship seems to be constantly sailing through bad storms and fog. I believe that even before people are aware of Dracula’s presence, bad weather is used as a physical way of warning people about Dracula’s presence. It could even be used to show the danger to others that Dracula brings with him. Even with strange events happening, the weather solidifies the fact that something is wrong, as the weather often suddenly turns violent when Dracula is present.

Lucy Audley- Murderer?

“‘You shall never live to do this,” she said. “I will kill you first. Why have you tormented me so?… Do you know what it is to wrestle with a madwoman?” (273).

As volume two comes to an end, readers can gather more knowledge about the mystery behind George’s wife Helen and George’s disappearance. After Robert confronts Lucy about his theory, it becomes clear that she is hiding something big. Throughout the book, Lucy is often described as having childlike manners, but, as Robert continues to aggravate Lucy, she begins to show a side that we as readers haven’t seen before. Even though Lucy claims innocence during her talk with Robert, her actions suggest otherwise. Lucy acts aggressively towards Robert once he tells Lucy about his theory. Her aggressive manner continues to build throughout the confrontation and comes to a head when Lucy says that she would kill him before he could tell anyone about what he knows about her past. Personally, if I was being accused of murder and living a double life, I would not threaten death to my accuser. This ‘new’ side of Lucy reveals that there is something more sinister under her childlike actions.

Slowly throughout the book, Lucy started to show her true nature, beginning with her manipulation of the Audley’s. Lucy was easily able to convince Michael to not have George over while he was visiting. Later, Lucy planted the idea in Michael’s mind that Robert was mad and belonged in an asylum, even though he had his doubts about the validity of this “fact” when Lucy first brought it up. But her true nature really comes to light when she threatens Robert. I believe that throughout the book, these hints about Lucy were dropped so that readers could see that Lucy isn’t what she says she is. Now that she has revealed that she would be willing to kill Robert to protect herself, I think that others may start to see what Robert saw in Lucy during their talk. I think that Lucy did play a role in George’s disappearance and that she might carry out more sinister acts to hide whatever secret she has. The duality of her personality has started to show, and I think that her childlike appearance will start to fade away.

The Secrets of the Black Ribbon

 “She wore a black ribbon round her neck, with a locket or a cross, or a miniature, perhaps, attached to it; but whatever the trinket was, she always kept it hidden under her dress” (Braddon 14).

Even though Lucy always wears this ribbon around her neck, she does not disclose what hangs from the ribbon. It is only revealed to be a ring wrapped in paper when Phoebe looks around in Lucy’s things. The secrecy of the ribbon connects to the previously established patterns of secrecy, which were especially detailed on page 9. The narrator describes this grassy area as the perfect place for a hidden meeting, whether between lovers or conspirators. However, this area is only 20 paces from the house, putting this ‘private’ spot in a delicate balance of secrets and public knowledge.

I think that the black ribbon reflects on this contrast between secrets and yet the proximity to being revealed. Even though the ring hides behind the neckline of Lucy’s dresses, one small slip up and the secret would be out as it is so close to being prominently displayed on Lucy’s chest. I believe that this ribbon is a physical representation of Lucy’s past that she is clearly trying to be kept out of the spotlight. But, since the ring at the end of the ribbon is on the verge of being seen, I believe that this means that there is a threat of Lucy’s secret being revealed. While Lucy may believe that her secret that manifests itself in the ring at the end of the ribbon will never be revealed, there is a looming danger that could expose Lucy’s lies. Since Phoebe was able to discover the ring kept on the ribbon, I believe that this acts as foreshadowing, meaning that the tightly woven secret that Lucy is hiding will soon start to unravel.