An Unseen Invasion: Vampirism as Contagion in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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RumeliDE Dil ve Edebiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi, no.32, pp.1460-1468, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier


As creatures that come back from the dead to haunt and hunt the living, vampires represent the fear of an uncontrollable, mysterious, foreign threat. Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel Dracula (1897) presents vampirism not only as a curse that resurrects the dead human body as an undead monster, but also as a metaphor for a contagious disease. Transgressing boundaries between life and death, human and animal, past and present, the vampire breaches Gothic purity by contaminating the individual. Arriving as an elusive, unseen disease to the English soil and subject, Dracula exposes his victims to his contaminated blood in his quest to invade Victorian England. Consuming the body by feeding on the life giving blood, contaminating the victim by causing illness and death, and transforming the human into a vampire, Dracula embodies a contagion upon Victorian society. Accordingly, the aim of this paper to explore the links between the Victorian vampire and infection, looking closely at the role of blood in the creation of the monstrous threat. To that end, this paper aims to analyse how vampirism as a disease and Dracula as an agent of contagion reflect Victorian anxieties regarding the individual identity, social changes, fears of degeneration, and invasion of a foreign Other bringing destruction within.