Reverse Colonisation, Dubious Parentage and Refusal of Closure in Dracula

Rob Shepherd

In “Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic, and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis,” Kathleen L. Spencer argues that the urban Gothic novel was a cultural space where a particular set of contemporaneous social anxieties could be dealt with in a supposedly “safe” manner. For Spencer the Gothic novel, as a cultural form, was perfect for reasserting boundaries because, in most instances, by the end of a Gothic text: “the violating element is characteristically expelled and the mimetic world, the status quo, is re-established” (208).  Spencer goes on to apply this argument to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, arguing that the text reaffirms the status quo because: “in the end Dracula is killed, the alien element expelled and the ordinary world restored” (209). However, I argue that the anxieties expressed in Dracula cannot be as easily contained as Spencer suggests, and as a result the text resists closure. In particular I will be focusing on the issues of imperial decline and reverse colonisation that manifest themselves within Dracula and how the text’s inability to practice closure, as far as these themes are concerned, can be observed in the numerous ambiguities that surround Quincey Harker.


Reverse Colonisation and the Racial “Other”

A particularly strong anxiety which pervaded British culture and society in the fin de siècle was that of national decline; as Stephen Arata notes: “Late-Victorian fiction in particular is saturated with the sense that the entire nation – as a race of people, as a political and imperial force, as a social and cultural power – was in irretrievable decline” (622). Arata goes on to argue that one of the most important narratives of decline was that of reverse colonisation, and that Dracula in particular is emblematic of this kind of narrative: “Dracula enacts the period’s most important and pervasive narrative of decline, a narrative of reverse colonization. […] The fear is that what has been represented as the ‘civilized’ world is on the point of being colonized by ‘primitive’ forces” (Arata 623). In Arata’s reading of Stoker’s text Dracula thus functions as an agent of reverse colonisation, threatening to supplant the decadent and declining moral forces that constitute late-Victorian Britain with a more primitive and atavistic social order.

As an agent of reverse colonisation Dracula is depicted as being racially “other” from the start, certainly in terms of appearance: “Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point” (Stoker 25). This is compounded by Harker’s perception of “the East” (Stoker 7) as being essentially “primitive,” something seen in Harker’s travel diary, which takes an essentially orientalist standpoint with regards to its descriptions of the people and customs of the “East.” We read not only that the people are superstitious and lacking in enlightenment rationality–“I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians” (Stoker 8)–but that they are also disorganised and unable to keep their trains running on time–“It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?” (Stoker 8). Throughout Harker’s diary then the culture of the “East” is positioned as both “other” and as being more “primitive” than that of the “West” and, by extension, Britain. This cultural “otherness” is then reinforced by the physical differences of Dracula. The implication seems to be, as evidenced by Harker’s immediate reaction to Dracula–“a horrible feeling of nausea came over me” (Stoker 25)– that “otherness,” on both a racial and cultural level, is something repulsive and, ultimately, to be feared.

Dracula is, however, not just a threat because he embodies racial and cultural differences, but also because he is a competitor to British expansionism and imperialism, for, as he says himself, he is by nature and lineage a “conqueror”: “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back?” (Stoker 36). The fact that Dracula’s links to conquest are related to his lineage is particularly important because it robs him of rational motivations for his actions. The implicit suggestion seems to be that Dracula acts as he does as a direct result of his “primitive” cultural and racial background. In other words, he behaves in the way he does because it is in his blood. The reader is thus presented with an image of Dracula diametrically opposed to the civilised values of the British in that his motivations are not guided by rational and enlightened values but are instead predicated on baser and more animalistic impulses. Indeed, the depiction of Dracula as a “primitive” animalistic force directly underpins the “Crew of Light’s” campaign against him. Van Helsing even compares Dracula to a tiger at one point: “Your man-eater, as they of India call the tiger who has once tasted blood of the human, care no more for the other prey, but prowl unceasing till he get him” (Stoker 341). This, of course, is in marked contrast to the rational “Western” Europeans who make up the pompously named “Crew of Light,” who, as their name suggests, claim to act in a wholly “enlightened” manner. Indeed, Van Helsing implicitly highlights the “enlightened” nature of the “Crew of Light” and all that they represent in his claim that “He [Dracula] is clever and cunning and resourceful, but he be not of man stature as to brain. He be of child brain in much” (Stoker 362-363). The text thus firmly establishes that Dracula is ultimately an unworthy challenger to the claim of hegemonic power because of his reduced intellectual capacity and less “evolved” brain, or as McKee puts it, because he is “incapable of the abstractions that universalize Western knowledge” (50).

Nevertheless, despite Van Helsing’s claim that “his intellect is small and his action is based on selfishness” (Stoker 364), Dracula does pose a threat to the British because the text positions him specifically and vampirism generally as portents of imperial collapse and conflict. Van Helsing notes this indirectly when he says: “He have follow the wake of the berserker Icelander, the devil-begotten Hun, the Slav, the Saxon, the Magyar” (Stoker 254); thus linking the appearance of Dracula to manifestations of war and imperial collapse. Arata argues that the connection between imperial collapse and vampirism is also highlighted by Stoker’s decision to locate Castle Dracula in the Carpathians, an area that for the late Victorians held very specific connotations of strife, conflict and upheaval: “By moving Castle Dracula there [the Carpathians], Stoker gives distinctly political overtones to his Gothic narrative. In Stoker’s version of the myth, vampires are intimately linked to military conquest and the rise and fall of empires” (627). The implicit suggestion in having Dracula relocate from the Carpathians to London is thus one that signals a turbulent and fractious future for the British Empire.

This fear of Dracula as a portent of imperial collapse dovetails with the Victorians’ fears that this fall will be precipitated by moral decay, decadence and degeneracy; as Spencer notes, there was “tremendous public anxiety at the end of the century about the condition of the British Empire and the warnings that, like its Roman predecessor, it could fall, and for what were popularly perceived as the same reasons – moral decadence leading to racial degeneration” (204). It is for this reason that the true threat posed by Dracula as a colonising force is his ability to infect the social order of Britain with vampirism. There is a constant fear expressed within the text that Dracula will find a way to spread vampirism and thus be able to re-perpetuate himself within British society. This threat is established very early on, before Dracula has even been labelled a vampire, when Jonathan Harker discovers Dracula sleeping in his coffin and notes in his diary that “This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless” (Stoker 60). This fear of Dracula re-perpetuating himself is reaffirmed a number of times within Stoker’s text, particularly in Dr. Seward’s remarks that Dracula is “the father or furtherer of a new order of beings” (Stoker 322). It is then not so much Dracula himself but the progeny that he is capable of fathering and the racially ”othering” condition of vampirism which he is able to spread that comprises the real threat to the established order within the novel.

Furthermore, vampirism is a potent threat to the established order because it allows Dracula to transpose his racial identity and “otherness” onto his victims. This is something most fully demonstrated by the fate that befalls Lucy Westenra. As Jennifer Wicke notes in “Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and its Media,” in many ways Lucy’s fate is predicated on her racial identity: “Lucy’s white westernness becomes totemic in her vamping; the crepuscular universe she inhabits is a twilight of the gods of Western hegemony” (482).  In this sense it is the very qualities that Lucy possesses as a paradigmatic and idealised version of “Western” femininity which mark her out as prey for Dracula. By infecting Lucy Westenra with vampirism, Dracula essentially transposes the values and characteristics that have been projected by the “West” onto the racial “other” of the “East” and actively re-inscribes them back onto the racial identity of the idealised (or civilised) “Western” woman. As Edward Said points out in Orientalism, throughout the Imperial period, the racial “other” was connected with dangerous sexuality: “everything about the Orient […] exuded dangerous sex, threatened hygiene and domestic seemliness with an excessive ‘freedom of intercourse'” (167). Thus the text explicitly foregrounds the replacement of the constructed feminine decorum of the civilised “Western” woman with that of the amoral and dangerous fecundity of the racial “other”: “the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity” (Stoker 228). In this description of Lucy as a vampire we thus see the western quality of “sweet purity” inverted and replaced with a dangerous sexuality. Lucy is in some senses the personification of the British racial identity and by extension the project of imperialism; predicated as both are on enlightenment values, her conversion to vampirism can be seen to constitute an attack on a whole range of assumptions connected to the innate superiority of the European. Her conversion thus runs the risk of corrupting the myths which underpinned imperialism. This is particularly evident when we consider Lucy’s name; as Wicke notes: “If one considers her name, Luce, light and illumination, emanating out of the West-enra, she is clearly an overdetermined being, more than a woman, a civilizational cause” (481). Essentially then, Lucy Westenra as an individual is colonised by the racially “other” identity of Dracula, and it is for this reason, to stop the corruption of “Western” values with those of the “East,” that she must die. In killing the un-dead Lucy, the “Crew of Light” is thus able to make sure that the repressed stays repressed, and to reassert the culturally-constructed boundaries that separate the “Westerner” from the racial “other.”

The Threat from the “New World”

I hope to have briefly highlighted the challenges to British hegemony that Dracula represents. Not only can he be perceived as a conquering force able to invade and conquer the British, but he also constitutes a corrupting and insidious presence, simultaneously able to supplant and infect the very fabric of British national identity causing it to collapse from within. Given all this, a superficial reading of Dracula might suggest that, with the Count’s defeat, a traditional form of closure is practiced. The threat embodied by Dracula as a competing and invading power would seem to be dissipated by the destruction of his body: “It was like a miracle; but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our site” (Stoker 401).  Similarly, the threat posed by Dracula as an agent of infectious “othering” would seem to have passed with the removal of the mark of impurity from Mina’s forehead: “the snow is not more stainless than her forehead! The curse has passed away!” (Stoker 401). However, the sentences that follow Dracula’s defeat pose a number of questions which the text itself never answers, and leaves the impression in the mind of the careful reader that the disruption brought to bear on “modern” Britain by Dracula lingers on, particularly when we realise that Dracula is not the only agent of colonisation within the text.

This other agent of colonisation in Dracula is Quincey Morris. The first narrative event to take place, following the demise of Dracula, is the death of Quincey Morris as a result of a stab wound: “And to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died a gallant gentleman” (Stoker 401). Morris’s death is telling because he cuts an ambiguous figure throughout the text and is implicitly linked to Dracula on numerous occasions; as Arata notes: “A shadowy figure throughout, Morris is linked with vampires and racial Others from his first appearance” (641).  This shadowy ambiguity is primarily predicated on the fact that Morris is not British, or indeed European like Van Helsing, but an American. Thus, while Morris stands together with the “Crew of Light” against Dracula, there are many implicit suggestions throughout the text that the rest of the characters are never entirely sure whose side he is actually on. Indeed, Mina’s assertion that “he died a gallant gentleman” (Stoker 401) carries with it the implicit suggestion that had his death occurred at another moment, it may have not been seen as quite so gallant.

Morris is thematically connected with Dracula because, as an American, he embodies many of the cultural anxieties felt by the British at the end of the nineteenth century about the rise of United States as a world power. Just as the characters fear that Dracula will usurp British hegemony, so too do they fear this of the United States. There are many instances in the text where this connection between Dracula and Morris is foregrounded. Morris’s blood is the last to be used in the many transfusions received by Lucy Westenra. Seward and Van Helsing even consider the blood of the servant women before that of Morris. Ultimately though, being working class and of uncertain stock (thus raising the spectre of degeneracy and racial impurity which Dracula himself embodies), the servant’s blood is ultimately considered unsuitable, with Van Helsing saying, “I fear to trust those women, even if they would have the courage to submit” (Stoker 159). However, Morris’s blood is ultimately only used because he offers it in an unequivocal manner, interrupting Seward and Van Helsing’s conversation with the words “What’s the matter with me, anyhow?” (Stoker 159). Seward and Van Helsing take up Morris’s offer, but there is something peculiar about Van Helsing’s assertion that “A brave man’s blood is the best thing on earth when a woman is in trouble. You’re a man, and no mistake. Well, the devil may work against us for all he’s worth, but God sends us men when we want them” (Stoker 160). Indeed, it could be argued that Van Helsing’s words are less an assertion of fact than a statement designed to allay his own fears regarding the suitability of Quincey’s blood. This suitability is further brought into question when Lucy dies not long after this final transfusion.

There are a number of other instances in the text where an implicit link is made between Quincey and Dracula. For example, at the Westenra house, Dr. Seward records in his diary that “Quincey Morris said nothing about his intention, but I knew all night long he patrolled round and round the house” (Stoker 164). In this sense he directly mirrors Dracula, for while the Count seemingly prowls (or flaps) around the exteriority of the house, Morris patrols around the interior. Furthermore, just as Dracula’s intentions remain largely unknown, only really being partially revealed by the empirical study that the main protagonists make of his prior movements and Mina’s psychic link, so too do Quincey Morris’s, as Dr. Seward’s statement above highlights.

There are other moments at Dr. Seward’s asylum when the connection between Dracula and Morris is strongly implied. As Arata notes, at one point Quincey disappears from the room where the assembled Europeans are discussing their strategy only for their conversation to be interrupted by “the sound of a pistol shot” (Stoker 257). Mina then describes how “the glass of the window was shattered with a bullet, which ricochetting from the top of the embrasure, struck the far wall of the room” (Stoker 257), resulting in much shock and confusion amongst the assembled characters. It is then revealed that Quincey fired the shot attempting to kill a “big bat” (Stoker 257) he had seen at the window. Arata argues that this scene shows us that “Stoker wants us to consider the American and the Roumanian together” (642), because “Morris [is now] standing outside the window in the place vacated by Dracula, looking in on the assembled Westerners who have narrowly escaped his violence” (642). This mirroring is further compounded by the dubious nature of Morris’s act, which seems at best careless and at worst sinister, given the possibility that he could well have hit someone in the room. Once again then, the text implicitly raises concerns about the trustworthiness and true motivations behind Morris’s actions.

This connection is reaffirmed a few pages later when Dracula is discovered in Mina and Jonathan’s bedroom. While Van Helsing and Seward tend to Mina, Morris runs off in pursuit of Dracula. However, Seward observes Quincey from the bedroom window and notes, rather pointedly, that “There was much moonshine; and as I looked I could see Quincey Morris run across the lawn and hide himself in the shadow of a great yew tree. It puzzled me to think why he was doing this” (Stoker 302). The implication here is a strange one as it suggests, once again, that there is something untrustworthy about Morris, particularly as Seward feels the need to explicitly record his befuddlement at finding a satisfactory explanation for the likely motivation behind Morris’s actions. Furthermore, the fact that Morris hides behind a yew tree also links him to Dracula, given that species of tree’s association with death and graveyards. This ambiguity is further built upon by having Dr. Seward’s attention drawn away from Morris’s puzzling behaviour: “but at the instant I heard Harker’s quick exclamation as he woke to partial consciousness and turned to the bed” (Stoker 302). The effect is to make the reader feel that there is more to Morris’s behaviour than meets the eye, and implies that, once again, he is not to be wholly trusted. Morris’s actions in this scene are never really explained and his later account of what happened only adds to the ambiguity. When Morris returns he replies to Van Helsing’s question, “And you, friend Quincey, have you any to tell?” (Stoker 304), in a rather cryptic manner, saying, “A little […] It may be much eventually, but at present I can’t say” (Stoker 304). While these words could imply that the information Quincey has obtained may be important, once added to the facts the group already know about Dracula, they also suggest the deliberate withholding of knowledge.

The numerous question marks and ambiguities that surround Quincey Morris thus lead to an implicit reading of the text which parallels and potentially allies Morris with Dracula. In “The Dialectic of Fear,” Franco Moretti gives a very bald interpretation of these ambiguities stating that, “The American, Morris, must die, because Morris is a Vampire” (75-76). What Moretti means by this is that both Dracula and Morris embody late-Victorian fears regarding the collapse of the British Empire and its replacement with a new power. Dracula embodies the fear of this new power coming from some ethnic and racial “other,” while Morris embodies the fear that it will be the United States that supplants Britain. It is for this reason that Moretti suggests that while Morris and Dracula are linked, they are not necessarily always allied: “So long as things go well for Dracula, Morris acts like an accomplice. As soon as there is a reversal of fortunes, he turns into his staunchest enemy” (76). In Moretti’s reading, Dracula and Morris are thus personifications of competing geo-political entities. Both wish to topple the British Empire, but naturally they are also in competition with each other to be its successor.

The sense in which Morris acts as a personification of the United States is also evident in the scene where Dr. Seward introduces Van Helsing, Holmwood and Morris to Renfield. It is noteworthy that while he congratulates Holmwood in relation to his lineage: “I had the honour of seconding your father at the Windham” (Stoker 259); Van Helsing in relation to his scientific achievements: “an individual [who] has revolutionized therapeutics” (Stoker 260); and refers to Dr. Seward (with whom he is already well acquainted), in terms that mark him out as an exemplary member of the rational middle-classes: “humanitarian and medico-jurist as well as scientist” (Stoker 260); his remarks to Morris all focus on his nationality rather than his character. In many senses Renfield is Dracula’s herald, and in this scene much of his speech seems to vaguely approximate that which might be spoken by someone involved in the diplomatic service trying to supplicate and potentially strike an alliance with a foreign power:

Mr. Morris, you should be proud of your great state. Its reception into the Union was a precedent which may have far-reaching effects hereafter, when the Pole and the Tropics may hold alliance to the Stars and Stripes. The power of Treaty may yet prove a vast engine of enlargement, when the Monroe doctrine takes its true place as a political fable. (Stoker 259)

All of Renfield’s remarks in this speech explicitly link Morris to the project of American expansionism. Firstly, Renfield’s speech links Quincey Morris explicitly by name to the architect of the Monroe Doctrine, John Quincey Adams. The Monroe Doctrine being, as Kate Thomas notes,, “an anti-European manifesto: it asserted United States sovereignty on the American continents over and above colonizing claims from European powers” (186). Furthermore, by then going on to mention the absorption of Texas into the Union acting as a “vast engine of enlargement” with regards to American power resulting in “far-reaching effects hereafter,” Renfield implicitly suggests a site of conflict between the United States and the British Empire. Indeed, as Thomas goes on to note,, “Renfield’s specific reference to Texas and the Monroe Doctrine raises the spectre of conflict between the two powers and begins to make clear how Stoker relates United States expansionism to British Imperialism” (186). The anxiety over the relationship between the United States and the British Empire is further suggested by Renfield’s suggestion that in time “the Pole and the Tropics may hold alliance to the Stars and Stripes.” Given that Renfield makes no mention of this being the pole and the tropics of the Western Hemisphere, as laid out in the Monroe Doctrine, the words carry the implicit suggestion that he is actually suggesting the United States will one day be the dominant global power; as Thomas suggests,, “Renfield’s commentary associates the United States with a future dominance that usurps the place of the British as an imperial world power” (186).

It is as a result of the implicit threat he represents to the status quo of British geo-political dominance that it is Morris’s death which marks the end of the main narrative; as Arata notes,, “Without at all dismissing the powerful anxiety that the Count produces, we can say that Stoker’s attention to Dracula screens his anxiety at the threat represented by Morris and America. Stoker insistently directs our gaze East, all the while looking back over his shoulder” (263-264). The ambiguous relationship between Morris and the British characters in Dracula is representative of the uneasy relationship that existed between Britain and the United States, and it is for this reason that he conveniently dies at the text’s close; as Moretti notes,, “For the good of Britain, then, Morris must be sacrificed. But Britain must be kept out of the crime whose legitimacy she cannot recognize. He will be killed by the chance knife-thrust of a gypsy (whom the British allow to escape unpunished). And at the moment when Morris dies, and the threat disappears, Old England grants its blessing” (76). Both Dracula and Quincey Morris die because they represent different kinds of threat to British hegemony. While Dracula, as the product of alien and “primitive” culture, is directly opposed because of his inherent otherness, the British response to Morris is more complicated. American values are ostensibly descended from those of Western Europe and so Stoker does not position Morris as distinctly opposed to the Europeans of the text. Rather, he is allowed to die in a gallant manner that reaffirms British ideals of gallantry and heroism, while he himself is liquidated (with passive acquiescence from the British) as a threat to their imperial power.

 Resistance to Closure

It would seem then that with the death of both Dracula and Quincey Morris, the fears that both characters represent, of reverse colonisation and the usurpation of British geo-political power, have been safely contained within the text. However, such a reading is undermined by the final “Note” from Jonathan Harker that concludes the narrative. While at a first glance Harker’s words would appear to be included in an attempt to tie-up narrative loose ends by describing a traditional “happy ending,” this is far from the case. Instead, the “Note” raises a number of questions and ambiguities which result in Dracula ultimately resisting closure.

These ambiguities primarily revolve around the dubious nature of Quincey Harker’s parentage. As Jonathan Harker explains, his and Mina’s child has been named after all the male members of the “Crew of Light”: “His bundle of names links all our little band of men together; but we call him Quincey” (Stoker 402). In this sense, each of the men can be seen as a figurative or symbolic father for the child. Indeed, his introduction at the very end of the text positions Quincey as the symbolic embodiment of the status quo the “Crew of Light” is trying to protect and maintain (that of British cultural and hegemonic power). Thus, this final image of a child would seem to show a future where the ability of the British to re-perpetuate themselves and their “civilisation” has been assured. However, as Arata suggests, this triumph is of a dubious and precarious nature, stating that, “Harker proudly notes that his son is named after each of the men in the novel, making them all figurative fathers, yet Quincey’s multiple parentage only underscores the original problem. How secure is any racial line when five fathers are needed to produce one son?” (632). It seems then that even though the British are able to project themselves into the future through the production of an heir to empire, that this projection is a somewhat pyrrhic victory, and one which is surely unsustainable. Yet, even Arata’s reading of the text fails to hint at the full range of ambiguities and problems that surround Quincey Harker’s parentage.

Firstly, of all Quincey’s figurative fathers, it is Morris who achieves primacy. It is by Morris’s name that the child is known, and as Harker remarks, “our boy’s birthday is the same day as that on which Quincey Morris died. His mother holds, I know, the secret belief that some of our brave friend’s spirit has passed into him” (Stoker 402). It seems that given this statement it is primarily Morris who has secured an heir. As such, it could be argued that it is the forces of the “New World,” embodied by Morris, who are implicitly positioned as being truly victorious at the end of Dracula. In this light Moretti’s claim that “Morris enters into competition with Dracula; he would like to replace him in the conquest of the Old World. He does not succeed in the novel but he will succeed, in ‘real’ history, a few years afterwards” (76), seems somewhat premature. Indeed, the text, in its suggestion that Morris’s spirit and name will live on through the character of Quincey Harker (presumably long after the other characters in the text have died), seems to implicitly suggest a future when America will indeed supplant Britain and the Old World as the seat of “Western” power.

However, even a reading of the text which positions Morris as the ultimate “victor,” the text does not account for another final question mark hanging over young Quincey. For if Mina believes that part of Quincey’s spirit could have passed to their son, then it is equally possible that so too could some of Dracula’s; as Hindle notes in his “Introduction” to the Penguin Classics edition of the text, “even if the life of the new young Quincey has indeed been blessed with something of Morris’s brave American spirit, around the body of this as yet innocent boy flows the tainted vampire blood of Dracula” (xxxvi). Indeed, given that Mina has ingested Dracula’s blood, an event which sees him explicitly invoking his kinship with her “flesh of my flesh; blood of my blood; kin of my kin; my beautiful wine press for a while” (Stoker 306), and that she subsequently becomes a demi-vampire herself, the idea of Quincey Harker at some point becoming (very literally indeed) the site of the return of the repressed seems a strong possibility. This is particularly so given the fear expressed throughout the text that Dracula will find a way to re-perpetuate himself,  as previously noted in Seward’s description of Dracula as “the father or furtherer of a new order of beings” (Stoker 322). Therefore the conclusion to the text, by explicitly invoking the birth of a child, deliberately subverts its own attempts at closure. If the implicit goal of Dracula throughout the text has been, as Seward suggests, the creation of a “new order of beings” then the text can only truly provide closure once the reader knows what kind of being Quincey Harker turns out to be. This is particularly so when said child’s parentage is obscured with spiritual inheritances and numerous figurative father-figures. Indeed, if the “Crew of Light” is inextricably linked in young Quincey’s bundle of names, then so too is Dracula.

Furthermore, the “Crew of Light” seems bizarrely premature in its belief that the threats and anxieties embodied by Dracula have been dissipated and expelled. Van Helsing constantly reiterates the fact that time is no issue for Dracula, “He find in patience just how is his strength, and what are his powers” (Stoker 341), and that he is persistent, “He come again, and again, and again. Look at his persistence and endurance” (Stoker 341); and yet at the text’s end seven years seems sufficient time to dismiss any threat of Dracula ever returning. This premature sense of victory would also appear to be mirrored in the novel’s abrupt ending; as Spencer notes, “the novel ends quite abruptly, barely a full page after Dracula’s death” (217). This fact, is actually used to highlight the failure of closure that the text is about to enact. Indeed, by closing down the narrative so quickly Stoker emphasises the ambiguities and question marks that permeate the text in a way that a less swift ending would have obscured.

Stoker’s text ends then with the image of a child, but, given the many unusual qualities and circumstances that surround that child, the text cannot be said to truly affect closure. Instead, the text avoids giving a definitive answer to these questions. While the deaths of Quincey Morris and Dracula would seem to provide closure to the anxieties that their characters embody, this closure is only partial and limited, with these themes potentially finding new expression in the Harker child. Instead of affecting closure the text merely attempts to temporarily displace the themes, issues and anxieties with which it is concerned. Thus the anxieties of reverse colonisation and imperial decline that permeate Dracula seem to have merely been deferred to the next generation of which Quincey Harker is a part. Indeed, the suggestion seems to be that the kind of man into which young Quincey grows will be the ultimate determinant of the future of British “civilisation.” The point at the end of Stoker’s text therefore seems not to be to allay these fears, but to suggest that it is only the wider cultural, political and historical currents beyond the text which can definitively answer the anxieties with which the text of Dracula is concerned. Indeed, it seems that rather than being exorcised from the text at the end of the novel, the cultural anxieties that Dracula (and Morris) embody simply pass into a different representational realm.

Works Cited

Arata, Stephen D. “The Occidental Tourist: ‘Dracula’ and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization.” Victorian Studies 33.4 (1990): 621-645. Print. 

Coe, Richard M. “It Takes Capital to Defeat Dracula: A New Rhetorical Essay.” College English  48:3 (1986): 231-242. Print.

Hogle, Jerrold E. “The Gothic in Western Culture.” The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Ed. Jerrold E. Hogle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 1-20. Print.

McKee, Patricia. “Racialization, Capitalism, and Aesthetics in Stoker’s “Dracula.” NOVEL: A Forum On Fiction 36.1 (2002): 42-60. Print.

Moretti, Franco. “The Dialectic of Fear.” New Left Review 136 (1982): 67-85. Print.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Penguin Books, 2004.

Schaffer, Talia. “‘A Wilde Desire Took Me’: The Homoerotic History of Dracula” ELH 61.2 (1994): 381-425. Print.

Spencer, Kathleen L. “Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic, and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis.ELH 59.1 (1992): 197-225. Print.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Ed. Maurice Hindle. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Print.

Thomas, Kate. Postal Pleasures: Sex, Scandal, and Victorian Letters. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Wicke, Jennifer. “Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and its Media.”  ELH 59.2 (1992): 467-493. Print.

Willis, Martin. “‘The Invisible Giant,’ Dracula, and Disease.” Studies in the Novel 39.3 (2007): 301-325.  Print.


Footnote 1.

In many ways Dracula can also be seen as a narrative that actively attempts to undermine the distancing techniques traditionally employed by the Gothic novel. While texts such as The Mysteries of Otranto and The Monk locate terror in the foreign romance countries of the past: “Gothic fictions are traditionally distanced somewhat from the world of their audience, set back in time and ‘away’ in space – preferably in Spain or Italy during the Inquisition – making the stories more plausible (to an English audience) by the superstitiousness of their settings” (Spencer 200), more modern Gothic tales such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, locate terror in contemporaneous urban settings: “the new authors insist on the modernity of the setting – not on the distance between the world of the text and the world of the reader” (Spencer 200). Dracula too primarily unfolds in urban London, but in its move from the remote and superstitious Carpathians to “modern” London actually dramatizes the dissolution of the traditional distancing techniques of the Gothic novel.

Firstly, Dracula is able to surmount the temporal distance traditionally interposed between the reader and narrative events in his ability to transcend death, and the passage of time: “The vampire live on, and cannot die by mere passing of the time” (Stoker 254). Secondly, thanks to a complex of “civilised” values connected to modernity and the project of the enlightenment, including: technological developments (telegrams, trains etc.), tourism, imperialism, global trade and the rise of the middle-class, Dracula is able to transcend, relatively easily, the spatial distance between himself and the heart of the
modern” British Empire. As noted by Willis, it is ultimately rationalist capitalist values that bring Dracula to Britain in the first place: “Harker’s middle-class appropriation of power and status is the vehicle by which Dracula spreads the disease of Vampirism across Britain” (319). If as Hogle argues in “The Gothic in Western Culture,” the Gothic can be seen as: “how the middle class disassociates itself, and then fears, the extremes of what surrounds it” (9), then Dracula makes use of these diametrically opposed fears (of excessive superstitiousness and modernity) to enact a dialectic, which ultimately allows the text to neutralise the traditional distancing techniques of the Gothic and visit Dracula on ”modern” London.

Footnote 2.

A further mystery revolves around the replacement of the sherry with laudanum; “someone has drugged” (Stoker 155) the servants – presumably for all their untrustworthiness the servants did not do this themselves – but who exactly this “someone” was is never revealed.

Footnote 3.

As Thomas notes,, “eighteen months before Dracula was published in June 1897, political hostility between Britain and the United States was running so high that many, especially the British, believed that the two countries would have to go to war” (186).

Footnote 4.

It is also pertinent to ask what kind of child is likely to be produced by the union of Mina and Jonathan Harker in the first place, given the gender ambiguities that surround both characters. Mina Harker, for all her denouncement of the new woman at the start of the text–“I believe we should have shocked the ‘New Woman’ with our appetites. Men are more tolerant, bless them” (Stoker 99)–is a character who crosses gender boundaries throughout the text. Indeed, Van Helsing explicitly foregrounds Mina’s transgression of gender roles in the lines, “Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina! She has man’s brain, a brain that a man should have were he much gifted, and a woman’s heart” (Stoker 250). Jonathan Harker, on the other hand, is implicitly feminised by the text. Not only is he, as noted by Schaffer, the object of “Dracula’s declaration of homosexual desire” (404), as seen in the words: “This man belongs to me” (Stoker 46), but given his lucky escape from the female vampires at Castle Dracula is also really the only male character in the text who can be said to be at risk of contracting vampirism. Given Coe’s suggestion that “He [Stoker] associates all those who are vulnerable to the vampire with women” (Coe 233), the implicit suggestion is that Harker is a somewhat un-masculine character. This fact is further compounded by his subsequent “violent brain fever (Stoker 110), which given Victorian ideas regarding mental illness and hysteria, also suggests an implicit questioning of Harker’s masculinity.