Bill Paley (mycroftca) wrote,
Bill Paley

Essay for F&SF about Dracula

It is my contention that in the novel Dracula, the Count is the emblem for foreign influences on English mores that are driven back by a coalition of the island's nobility, gentry and professional men, supported by American arms, and Western European knowlege, shown by Quincy Morris, the cowboy, and Abraham Van Helsing, the professor. Stoker describes the filth and depravity of Eastern European folks, brought to England by Gypsies and supported by them, debasing and ruining fine British womanhood and changing them to emulate himself. Without the strengthening of their will by the intervention of Van Helsing, and their fighting prowess by the Winchester-armed American, the Englishmen were disarmed and weepy. In the end, though, the British Empire triumphs over the evil of the East, while the Western Hemisphere is slain in support of the Mother Country.

The novel was published in 1897, when Queen Victoria reigned, and as the British Empire was reaching its zenith on the world's stage. The Count's effect on the English in the novel would be especially frightening when it appeared that the power of the United Kingdom was unassailable at sea or on land. His eerie powers, and his disgusting habits would sicken and thrill the readers of the time. Even then, though, before the events of the First World War, it was clearly apparent to the intelligentsia that the British would need the aid of the Americans were they to get involved in fighting on the European continent to be able to succeed. All non-English but Professor Van Helsing and Mr. Morris were described in disparaging terms, suggesting the prevailing views amongst the subjects of the Empire of their relative value as allies.

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