Dracula And Colonialism Analysis

Great Essays
A Postcolonial Interpretation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”
Analysed passage: Page 26 “In the library I found, to my great delight..” - Page 29 end. (Penguin Classics Reissue)

Post-colonialism is the discourse that reflects upon and reacts to the legacy of colonialism and imperialism within literature and culture. In the late 1800’s at the time when Dracula was written, there was a growing sense of cultural decline within Britain - many feared that people were losing sight of what it truly meant to be British, and this lead society to question the authority and control of the British white male. The decay of British global influence, the decrease in overseas markets for British goods, and the economic and political growth of both Germany and
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Dracula understands that to conquer the British people he must first become learned in their culture and customs. Carol Senf suggests that Dracula manifests “the threat of the primitive trying to colonize the civilised world”. In his essay “The Occidental Tourist”, Stephen D. Arata notes that the Romanians were significant for the way in which they could “dissolve” the identities of those that they came into contact with, their conquering power was perhaps their most notable skill. Interestingly vampires themselves are an isolated force of evil in that unlike other ghouls they do not seek to simply kill their victims, but arguably to “colonise” their bodies by subverting the host culture and life within and strengthening their own as a result. Arguably if "blood" is considered symbolic of race, then Dracula effectively displaces the racial identity of his victims. This mirrors Victorian fears of the colonised masses using British intellect and skill against their coloniser to reverse the roles of the enslaved, and the enslaver, as well as fears regarding miscegenation or “race-mixing” which are reaffirmed within John Allen Stevenson’s article “A Vampire in the Mirror”, where he puts forward the idea that Stoker uses Dracula to convey British fears regarding …show more content…
When reading Dracula through a postcolonial lense, knowledge of existing prejudices against the East and the foreign “Other” serve to amplify our suspicions surrounding Dracula 's scrutiny of British culture from the very beginning of the novel. Dracula’s longing to share in London’s “life...and its death” reads not as a love of British culture and life, but as an express desire to conquer the colonising and superior nation through the accumulation of knowledge, land, and bodies, and in this way Stoker effectively captures the widespread climate of Western paranoia that defined the time in which he was writing. Postcolonial theory is in many ways advantageous, perhaps its value lies most within the insight into Western anxieties during the late 1800’s that it provides the reader with, as well as the fact that it allows us to reflect upon the lasting impact of imperialism within literature and culture. On a more sinister level the ethical dangers of applying postcolonial theory to literature is that it may lead the scholar to form quick prejudices against the foreign man, perhaps causing us to misjudge characters through a learned association with evil

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