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Home >> Blood and Soil in Stokers' Novel ...

BLOOD AND SOIL IN STOKER'S NOVEL DRACULA AND HAWKS' FILM THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD

by Gert Hans Wengel                                German version


In the Howard Hawks 1951 horror film "The Thing from Another World", a UFO from another planet crashes at the North Pole in the attempt to land on Earth and is buried in the ice. Setting out from a US research station, scientists and soldiers are looking for the crash site. Their attempt to recover the damaged spaceship fails: it explodes in an attempt to melt it out of the ice. But one of the occupants, who was apparently thrown out during the crash, is still frozen in the ice. The creature is hacked out of the ice by the Americans and brought to the research station in the block of ice, in which it is entombed, as it were. A dispute between Dr. Carrington, the head of the team of scientists, and Captain Hendry, the commanding officer of the soldiers, ensues at the station. Dr. Carrington wants to thaw out the alien immediately to examine it scientifically, while Captain Hendry wants to wait until he gets permission from his military superiors. Hendry prevails and the alien is not thawed out immediately, but kept in its "coffin of ice" in a storage room of the research station. The soldier on guard duty can't stand the horrifying sight and covers the block of ice with a blanket which, unfortunately, is an electric blanket: the creature is thawed out, rises from its frosty grave, its shadow falling on the soldier who, though he is not attacked by the alien, panics and shoots at it. The creature escapes from the research station and is attacked by sled dogs who tear out one of its arms. When Dr. Carrington and the other scientists examine this arm in the lab of the research station, it turns out that the alien is a plant and that the arm is spattered with blood from the dogs, with which the alien has fought. The torn-off arm, exposed to the arctic frost and therefore lying lifeless and rigid on the laboratory table, is defrosted in the heated room and thereby put in a position "to ingest the canine blood". This food apparently allows the arm to gain strength and come alive again, for it begins to move - "the hand became alive," as Dr. Carrington notes. So the eerie creature feeds on blood, is a kind of vampire and therefore akin to Dracula in Bram Stoker's horror classic. And this kinship goes even further. Stoker's novel and Hawks' film also have the subject of invasion in common. Dracula leaves his native Transylvania and goes to England with hostile intent. He wants to suck the blood of as many Englishmen as possible, thus turning them into vampires, his equal, and so form a dominant parallel society. In the 1951 film, the aliens, of which only one survived the crash, also came to conquer the Earth and feed on the blood of humans and animals. Stoker's Dracula therefore belongs to the genre of invasion literature, and Hawks' film can be characterized as an invasion film. Another thing Stoker's novel and Hawks' film have in common is the importance of soil, which is vital for the monsters. The focus of the film therefore turns to the soil the scientists brought to the North Pole. To enrich their diet, they need the soil to grow strawberries and various varieties of vegetables in the greenhouse, which is part of the research station. It is because of this soil that the alien gains a foothold in the greenhouse and plants the seeds it produces in it, so that its offspring can grow there in the form of numerous plants. The soil, then, is needed for reproduction, to grow an army of its own kind which is meant to conquer the Earth. His Transylvanian home soil is also vital for Dracula. He must rest in it in order to recover. Just as the researchers in Hawks' film brought American soil to the North Pole, so does Dracula bring Transylvanian soil to England. It is contained in 50 boxes, in which Dracula likes to rest, because this soil has a regenerative effect on him. It is from this soil that the vampire draws new strength for his invasion. But what is so special about this soil that Dracula couldn't survive without it in England? As Dracula proudly recounts, Transylvania's soil was made fertile in numerous wars with the blood of fallen soldiers:

… there is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders.

It is the blood from which the vampire draws the strength to survive. The soil, in which the alien in Hawks' film plants its seeds to avoid dying out on planet Earth, is also fertilized with blood, with the blood of two men who were killed by the alien for this purpose.

Literary researchers have found that Dracula's homeland of Transylvania either (1) stands for a country colonized by England, (2) for Ireland or for another third world country, and the blood sucking for exploitation, also sexual exploitation of the colonized by the colonizers. Dracula therefore comes to England as an avenger who turns the tables. Just as the British imperialists colonized and exploited the Irish, Indians, or Black Africans and used them for their own subsistence, so Dracula, as a vampire, exploits the English and feeds on them. Literary science therefore speaks of reverse colonization (3) and places Stoker's Dracula in the genre of invasion literature. Dracula embodies the fears and racist prejudices the English had in the face of the mass influx of poor Irish workers into expanding industrial centres such as London and Liverpool. For the Irish men were less civilized, and therefore healthier and more masculine than the effeminate upper class English men who grew up in luxury. And their abundance of children posed a competitive threat for the demographically depressed British, who had to fear that the immigrants would soon dominate England. As early as a quarter of a century before his novel Dracula was published, Stoker postulates the decline of the Anglo-Saxon race in his speech The Necessity for Political Honesty (4) and contrasts it with the vitality of the Irish, to whom the future belongs: "... the native Anglo-Saxon race is dwindling", he notes with regard to the English-speaking population of the United States and attests to its "effeteness", which can be counterbalanced by the immigrants, as the Irish, who have remained "half-barbarous amid an age of luxury", have retained their "strength" and "vital energy ".

This is how Arata and Valente capture the essence of these fears and prejudices against the Irish:

They are reckless overbreeders (remember Jonathan Harker’s agonized vision of the “new and ever-widening circle of semi-demons” to be engendered by Dracula.”  (5)

Through the vampire myth, Stoker gothicizes the political threats to Britain caused by the enervation of Anglo-Saxon “race”.

 … Dracula … is by his very nature vigorous, masterful, energetic, robust. Such attributes are conspicuously absent among the novel’s British characters, particularly the men. All the novel’s vampires are distinguished by their robust health and their equally robust fertility. The vampire serves, then, to highlight the alarming decline among the British …

The vampire’s vigor is in turn closely connected with its virility, its ability to produce literally endless numbers of offspring. … In marked contrast, the nonvampires in the novel seem unable to reproduce themselves. Fathers in particular are in short supply …
Arata speaks of “the fear of vampiric fecundity, a fecundity that threatens to overwhelm the far less prolific British men.”        (6)                        

These prejudices and fears are reflected in Stoker's novel when Dracula, as an immigrant from the Third World or Ireland, sexually assaults women of the English such as Lucy Westenraa and Mina Harker and wants to establish a parallel society with his victims, who are meant to turn into his kind and become vampires. For the colonizer not only takes possession of the land of the native population, but also of the bodies of the native-born girls and young women (7), whom he exploits sexually. This is why land and women are often mentioned as objects of colonization in the same breath. A good example is Coetzee's novel Disgrace, which describes how the effects of colonization by the whites still resonate in post-apartheid South Africa. Pollux, a young black man, rapes Lucy, the white daughter of a white professor who previously has sexually assaulted one of his coloured students, an act that is rooted in the long tradition of sexual exploitation of indigenous girls by white colonial masters. Lucy's rape by Pollux can be interpreted as revenge, as an act of reverse colonization. When Lucy refuses to abort the child and instead wants to bring it to term and raise it, this is what goes through the jealous and racist father's head:

Something about Pollux sends him into a rage: his ugly, opaque little eyes, his insolence, but also the thought that like a weed he has been allowed to tangle his roots with Lucy and Lucy’s existence.  

The seed that Pollux has sown inside Lucy will thrive; the "weed" that is germinating in Lucy is Pollux's flesh and blood, his child. From the perspective of the jealous and racist father, Pollux has robbed him of his daughter, has colonized her. Other examples of fights over white women that are fought between white men of the First World and non-white men from the Third World are Shakespeare's drama Othello, which culminates in intermarriage between Othello and Desdemona. Venice's white men, of course, are not thrilled about the fact that a perfect stranger, who is dark-skinned to boot, marries the senator's daughter Desdemona, but they grin and bear it, because Othello is a capable admiral who is needed to defend Venice against the Ottoman enemy. He is irreplaceable, for Venice's world of men, these "wealthy curled darlings" (I, 2.68) who have become weak and decadent amid the prosperity of the rich commercial metropolis, cannot bring forth a soldier of his stature (I, 1.152). They have reason to be afraid of Othello as a virile and martial rival who will melt the hearts of women.
Or the 1933 film King Kong, in which a giant ape claims the young blonde Ann Darrow as his bride. Since the ape comes from the jungles of the Third World, it stands for a man from the Third World, for example a black African or black American who, while being primitive in the view of the white racists and an ape-man that is still closely related to the animal ancestors of the people (8), must still be feared as a sexual competitor. For King Kong, who comes from the jungle, embodies the primordial power of a creature not corrupted by Western civilization. The American men are no match for his physical strength. They need modern technology like gas bombs or warplanes equipped with machine guns to cope with him. The fact that the ape climbs up the Empire State Building at the end of the film has a symbolic meaning. For this skyscraper, the tallest building in New York (until the construction of the Twin Towers), embodies America's power and greatness (9) and rises, in allusion to Freud, as a pretentious phallus. This phallus is conquered by King Kong, that is, he conquers it as a mountaineer conquers a summit, together with Ann Darrow, whom he has stolen from her white fiancé - a quasi-sexual provocative act.

Back to the Stoker's novel: Dracula drinking Lucy Westraa's blood is an act of reverse colonization. He not only wants to take possession of the territory of the natives, but also of their girls and women, and with Lucy he also succeeds. By sucking her blood, he turns her into a vampire, into one of his kind, and  makes her part of the parallel society he intends to establish in England, thus removing her from the world of English men.                                                              This also applies to the alien in The Thing from Another World. Its intended victim is also a female character, so that its invasion, as in Stoker's book, can also be interpreted as a quasi-sexual act of reverse colonization, as an attack on women in conjunction with a humiliation of white men. But why do we think that the alien is rooted in the tradition of Othello, who takes Desdemona away from her white father, or of Dracula, who digs his fangs into Lucy's body, drinks her blood and makes her his own, and of King Kong and Ann Darrow? There are two women who belong to the crew of the polar station. One of them is Nikki, the attractive assistant of Dr. Carrington, with whom Captain Hendry has fallen in love. But the alien wants to rape neither of the two pretty women. Still, the alien's intended victim belonging to the polar station is nevertheless a woman. It is a mythical female being: Mother Earth. There is soil in the station's greenhouse, which the researchers probably brought from the US. It is in this earth, this American soil which the men use to grow vegetables and strawberries to enrich their diet, in which the alien sows its seed and lets its offspring grow. And the earth, which receives the seeds in its womb and like a mother brings forth fruit that nourishes humans, is female - that is an ancient idea. Three examples:
“Attic religion clearly attests to the fact that the sowing and harvesting of fruit was equated with human procreation and birth, that is to say, they were seen as one,” writes Albrecht Dieterich in his essay Mother Earth: an essay on folk-religion, still considered fundamental to this day. Of the many examples listed by Dieterich (10), one in particular is worth mentioning. In Sophocles’ drama The Women of Trachis, Deianira is the wife of Hercules, bearing his children but still feeling neglected by him, as the adventurous hero is rarely at home with her; she compares herself to a distant field, with him as the farmer:

And then children were born to us; whom he has seen only as the husbandman sees his distant field, which he visits at seed-time, and once again at harvest. (11)

The archetypal image of the field, which is female, and of ploughing, which symbolises procreation, also inspired Shakespeare, who, in his Sonnet 3, urges a handsome young man to father a son to perpetuate his own beauty, which fades with age:

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
Forwhere is she so fair whose unear’d womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

The Koran (The Cow, 2:223) also compares a wife with a field cultivated by her husband; although not expressly stated, the archetypal analogy insinuates that sex not only conduces to lust, but also procreation:

Your wives are a tilth for you; so approach your tilth when and how you like

The alien in Hawks' film is also a farmer who sows his seed in the American soil that belongs to the white men of the polar station  in order to hatch his offspring, an army of monsters who want to subdue the Earth. The alien takes possession of the earth in the greenhouse, "impregnating" and guarding it.

The two adversaries, the alien and the Americans at the polar station, are not least fighting for the earth, without which the intruder could not unfold its overwhelming fertility. This also applies to the adversaries in Stoker's novel, Dracula and the English vampire hunters. Like the Polar explorers in Hawks' film, who brought along soil from America to grow vegetables and strawberries in order to make their stay in this outpost on their journey to the North Pole more pleasurable, so does Dracula bring along Transylvanian home soil in his invasion of England in order to draw renewed strength from it for his conquest of the imperialist metropolis. The vampire hunters put consecrated hosts on Dracula's earth in an effort to sterilize it and ensure that the vampire can no longer draw any regenerative power from it. Since "sterilizing" means to make someone or something barren, Arata is right in interpreting this act as an attack on Dracula's sexual potency and fecundity, which is so menacing to the English men: "The vampire's vigour is in turn closely connected with its virility, its ability to produce literally endless numbers of offspring. Van Helsing’s concern that the earth in Dracula’s boxes be 'sterilized' underlines the connection between the Count’s threat and his fecundity" (12). An attack on the potency and fecundity of the alien is the fact that the sled dogs tear out an arm, which according to Freud can be interpreted as castration, especially as the arm, which stands for the severed penis, has a phallic character: the seeds Dr. Carrington sows in the soil in his laboratory grow in the palm of the alien's hand, so that its offspring are growing from it - the severed arm is a source of sperm! Count Dracula embodies an avenger who comes to England from a colonized Third World country. Or from a country that is not so far away, but belongs to the British Isles: from Ireland.                                                                                                    This also applies to the alien in The Thing from Another World. The other world from which it comes to take revenge when it encounters the Americans could be Africa - this is suggested by an allusion at the very beginning of the film, when one of the American air force soldiers, who are later threatened by the alien, recounts the time he was stationed in Accra in Ghana:

We met at Accra … the women hardly wore anything at all. Very intelligent of them. You just lie there in a hammock while three of them fan you.

The soldier was in the role of the colonial master who let himself be pampered by the indigenous women. Like slaves, they fanned him with cool air and were virtually naked, that is, sexual objects for the soldier of the imperialist power. The alien can therefore be interpreted as an African who haunts the polar station, an outpost of American power that also extends to the North Pole, as an avenger by sexually taking possession and impregnating a female being there: Mother Earth.                                                                                                     However, as with Dracula, one can also imagine that it does not come from a distant country, but from a world that is different but is quite near. Thus, when a crew member of the polar station sees the soldiers, who are armed with axes and rifles, looking for the alien, he calls out in surprise:

What’s up? Looks like a lynching party.

Just as one can imagine Dracula as an Irish man, so one can imagine the alien as a member of the black population in the US, which has so often been victimized by mob violence. This is also in line with what Dr. Carrington, who is obviously an anti-racist leftist and someone who advocates a culture of welcome and humane treatment of the immigrant, says about the alien:

… remember it’s a stranger in a strange land. The only crimes were those committed against it. It woke from a block of ice, was attacked by dogs and shot by a frightened man.

To be attacked by dogs of the whites is part of the traumatic collective memory of black Americans.
                                                                                                      The monster "from another world" is thus a black person from the Third World or from the parallel society of blacks in America, who saw themselves as Third World people living in internal colonies of the US. And the earth it impregnates stands for a white woman, since she belongs to the white garrison and hatches the fruits, strawberries and vegetables they have sown. The fact that it now sows its seed into this earth reflects the whites' fear of intermarriage, which was still prohibited in many states in 1950-1951, when the film was made. At that time, the racist tradition of white women being a forbidden fruit for the black man was still commonplace, and this conviction is also reflected in the polar station, for the greenhouse and the things growing in it, such as vegetables and strawberries, are symbolic: the door to the greenhouse is tightly locked, and above it a sign reads: KEEP DOORS CLOSED, because - according to one of the men - the Eskimos had a weakness for strawberries and would steal them otherwise. The strawberries therefore symbolize the forbidden fruit of which Adam and Eve partook in the Garden of Eden, and for which they were expelled from paradise and couldn't go back because the gate to it was closed to them and strictly guarded. The people of the Third World, here at the North Pole the Eskimos, are excluded from this paradise, while it is open to white people. The fruits of this paradise, vegetables and strawberries, are reserved for the whites, and the film shows how one of the white men is picking and eating a strawberry, one of the fruits forbidden for the indigenous people.
If the earth, which the alien "impregnates" with its seed, is interpreted as a white woman, then the enmity between Man and the alien that prevails in the film as well as in Stoker's Dracula is all about sexual jealousy. This also fits with the fact that the arm, which is torn from the alien, can be interpreted as a phallic symbol. Castration of the victim was often a part of lynchings in the US. In Stoker's vampire novel and in The Thing from Another World, white men fear the other as a sexual competitor. So Dracula, as an Irishman, is less civilized than the English. He has also been made less effeminate by civilization and, not to put too fine a point on it, has remained an untamed savage, a barbarian who as such is more virile and sexually potent than the English. Lucy Westenraa, who represents the world of British women, is therefore not only afraid of his attempts at sexual conquest, but also longs for them in her subconscious mind. The literary scholar Kathleen Spencer has found that Lucy is guided by her longing for sex with the virile Dracula in her sleep or at times she is sleepwalking, when the power of her controlling consciousness is diminished. This is why she removes the cloves of garlic in her sleep, which the vampire hunter Van Helsing has put around her neck to keep Dracula away from her. And when sleepwalking, she leaves her house and walks to the cemetery where Dracula lives in an empty tomb and waits for her (13). The white men have every reason to be afraid of Dracula! And since Dracula is more attractive because of his manliness, Lucy Westenraa is driven by the unconscious desire called "going native" - ​​she wants to belong to Dracula's people.

Men from the Third World are not only more masculine and potent, they also have more children. This is also why whites fear that they could become the dominant force in the state and society, and this fear is also reflected in Hawks' film. In his laboratory, Dr. Carrington has sown the seed from the torn-off hand of the monster in the soil and fertilized it with blood. The numerous plants that grow from it, and in which the offspring of the alien are maturing to grow into an army of monsters who want to dominate the world, illustrate the superior reproductive capacity of the alien - the whites, whose birth rates were already stagnating in 1951, therefore have every reason to be concerned. And it's not only blacks that triggered fears in white Americans of being swamped by strangers; the same can be said of the abundance of children produced by Chinese and Japanese immigrants - as evidenced by the catchword "yellow peril"! - which created a fear of being defeated in a war of births. For example, as early as 1920, the American racist Lothrop Stoddard complained about the fertile Japanese picture brides in his book The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy:

The California Japanese settle in compact agricultural colonies, which so teem with babies that a leading California organ, the Los Angeles Times, thus seriously discusses the matter:
‘There may be a time when an anti-Japanese land bill would have limited Japanese immigration. But such law would be important now to keep native Japanese from possessing themselves of the choicest agricultural and horticultural land in California. For these are now more than 30,000 children in the State of Japanese parentage, native-born; they possess all the rights of leasing and ownership held by white children born here … The birth statistics seem to prove that the danger is not from the Japanese soldiers, but from the picture brides. The fruitfulness of those brides is almost uncanny… We are threatened with an over-production of Japanese children. First come the men, then the picture brides, then the families. If California is to be preserved for the next generation as a <white man’s country> there must be some movement started that will restrict the Japanese birth-rate in California. (p. 288)

The quote also shows that the fear of being overrun by strangers is often accompanied by the fear that migrants take possession of land, that it may literally come to a kind of "land seizure". In Stoker's novel, this is reflected in the fact that Dracula buys an estate, a stately home on a vast plot, in the Purfleet neighbourhood of East London. The high wall that surrounds it gives it a fortress-like character - it is meant to serve Dracula as a stronghold, a base from which he wants to colonize England. Such an Irish immigrant who acquired landed property produced more fear and discomfort among the English than his many penniless countrymen who mainly had to live in the East End of London in miserable tenements which were not theirs, and who were fleeced by horrendous rents. Another house Count Dracula acquired in London is characterized as a "mansion" by the broker who arranged the purchase. The thought that migrants can be transformed from exploited proletarians into land and real estate owners is a horror for many locals.
The notion that the homeland, which supports and nourishes the people like a mother, is acquired by immigrants from a foreign culture by purchasing the land in order to take root, strengthen their status and gain in power is not only discomforting to right-wing racists such as Lothrop Stoddard, but also to leftists such as the German Ralph Giordano, who as a Jew was persecuted by the Nazis and fought his entire life against racism. He saw the construction of the stately DITIB mosque in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne as "a land seizure on foreign territory" and a "declaration of war"; he saw this mosque as a base from which the Turkish head of state Erdogan, who controls the DITIB organization, can wield his influence on Germany, as an ostentatious building that embodies the claim to power of a patriarchal parallel society characterized by oppression of women and anti-Semitism. Many Germans also felt uneasy about the minarets of the Great Mosque, which rise to the sky like phallic symbols and are reminiscent of the potency and abundance of children of the Islamic immigrants. In Switzerland, a referendum imposed a ban on the building of minarets, which according to Freud can be interpreted as a symbolic castration.
In Hawks' film, this fear of land seizure by immigrants from the Third World with many children is reflected in the "colonization" of the soil in the greenhouse and in the lab by the offspring of the sexually potent alien.

This also becomes clear at the end of the film, when the alien has been destroyed and the crew of the Polar Station can breathe a sigh of relief. The soldiers' military superior, Captain Hendry, is in love with Dr. Carrington's secretary Nikki, an attractive young woman who returns his love. She wants to marry him, but he is not entirely thrilled about the idea, because he is fond of his independence as a bachelor; his inner resistance to marrying and starting a family, which everyone expects of him, can be clearly noticed. In reference to this impending marriage, two of his soldiers are joking:

He’s had two things on his mind. We’ve only had one. Our worries are over, while our captain…

This is followed by allusions to Captain Hendry's imminent married life, in which he will have to make financial sacrifices, which would however be tolerable because of the child benefits he would receive - the blessings of many children is once again alluded to. What is striking about the remarks of the two soldiers, who want to be funny, is the fact that the Captain's two worries, his worry about the monster which has been successfully resolved, and the impending start of a family which is just now beginning, are mentioned in one breath - as if Nikki was just as much of a challenge for the captain as the monster. The film does not answer the question if this will indeed be the case, but these two challenges for the captain, the monster that impregnates American soil, and Nikki, who expects him to father many children, are connected: the alien, who is remarkably fertile and able to produce an impressive number of offspring, is eliminated as an enemy and competitor and the tilth has been liberated from him and his seed, so that it can be cultivated by white American men like Captain Hendry. May he prove to be a capable farmer!
Jonathan Harker, one of the vampire hunters in Stoker's novel, is in a similar situation as Captain Hendry, who will still have to prove himself as a man in married life. His fiancée Mina, to whom he will soon be married, is waiting for Harker at home in England while he is staying at Dracula's castle at the beginning of the plot. Not only will he have to prove himself as the founder of a family, but also in his profession. For Hawkins, his gravely ill employer whose retirement from working life is foreseeable due to his age, wants him to be his successor. He is to replace him as head of a prestigious law firm. In light of this twofold challenge, Jonathan cuts a very weak figure as a man. For example, he delays his return from Transylvania to England, where he is to stand his ground, and gets stuck half-way in Budapest, where a nervous breakdown ties him to a hospital bed for a long time. He writes to his employer that he will return in a few weeks, because he wants to recuperate in a sanatorium in the Hungarian mountains after his hospital stay, but this does not matter because his energetic fiancée Mina is on her way to Budapest (at the time it was quite unusual for a woman to undertake such a journey) and takes him home to England, since he lacks the energy to do so on his own.
Back home in England, his employer soon dies, Jonathan becomes his successor and feels overwhelmed; Mina writes in her diary:

Jonathan is greatly distressed. It is not only that he feels sorrow, deep sorrow, for the dear, good man who has befriended him all his life, and now at the end has treated him like his own son and left him a fortune which to people of our modest bringing up is wealth beyond the dream of avarice, but Jonathan feels it on another account. He says the amount of responsibility which it puts upon him makes him nervous. He begins to doubt himself. … and now, married to Jonathan, Jonathan a solicitor, a partner rich, master of his business, Mr. Hawkins dead and buried, and Jonathan with another attack that may harm him …

This attitude, that is putting off facing his challenges out of cowardice instead of vigorously tackling them, obviously also applies to Jonathan's sexuality. Not until the very end of the novel, seven years after the hunt for Dracula, does he announce that he has become a father:

Seven years ago we all went through the flames; and the happiness of some of us since then, we think, well worth the pain we endured. It is an added joy to Mina and to me that 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. His bundle of names links all our little band of men together; but we call him Quincey.

This final comment leads to the conclusion that Harker's son was born at the earliest one year after Morris's death. So he also takes his time in this respect, and in this he is the opposite of the male daredevil Dracula, so that Stephen Arata comments ironically on his belated paternity:

The vampire’s vigor is in turn closely connected with its virility, its ability to produce endless numbers of offspring. … In marked contrast, the nonvampires in the novel seem unable to reproduce themselves. Fathers in particular are in short supply … Thus … the arrival of little Quincey Harker at the story’s close signals the final triumph over Dracula, since the Harker’s ability to secure an heir – an heir whose racial credentials are seemingly impeccable – is the surest indication that the vampire’s threat has been mastered. Even this triumph is precarious, however. 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?    (p. 631f.)                                                                                     

He is unsuccessful in fathering a son until Dracula, his sexual competitor, is vanquished, which he cant accomplish on his own, but only with the help of five other men.


The fact that the alien in Hawks' film is slaughtering white men and fertilizing his offspring with their blood is not only an expression of the fear of whites of the greater number of children produced by people from the Third World, but also of feelings of guilt. This can also be proven by comparing the film with Stoker's novel. Dracula says to Mina, whom he has attacked to turn her into one of his kind, a vampire:

And you, their best beloved one, are now to me, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, kin of my kin, my bountiful wine-press for a while, and shall be later on my companion and my helper.

Mina is to be Dracula's winepress. What does that mean? It is an allusion to scripture, Isaiah 63, 1-6, where God slays the people of the Edomites to punish them for their sins:

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

God crushes these sinful people like grapes in a winepress, so that their blood is spattered on his garments and poured on the earth. Mina, then, is supposed to become a vampire and slay the English at Dracula's side, as God slays the Edomites, by sucking their blood to punish them for their imperialist misdeeds. Since blood sucking stands for exploitation, even sexual exploitation, Dracula's attacks on the English are reverse colonization. Isaiah 63: 1-6 is also alluded to in another English invasion novel, that is in Wells' War of the Worlds. This science-fiction novel also describes an invasion of England, though not by vampires, but by Martians who colonize England and also feed on the blood of the English, which makes a clergyman think of God's wine-presses:

"It is just, O God!" he would say, over and over again. "It is just. On me and mine be the punishment laid. We have sinned, we have fallen short. There was poverty, sorrow; the poor were trodden in the dust, and I held my peace. I preached acceptable folly—my God, what folly!—when I should have stood up, though I died for it, and called upon them to repent—repent!… Oppressors of the poor and needy!… The wine-press of God!"

The poor and the wretched here are not (or not only) the English industrial workers in the Marxist sense, but nature, that is, animal and plant life, as well as Third World natives who live in harmony with nature and are colonized, exploited, corrupted, and even exterminated by the British imperialists - as H.G. Wells clearly says in his novel:

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?

The imperialist English therefore deserve to be slain like the Edomites and to bleed for their sins. This is the moral of the novel, which HG Wells also expresses clearly when he describes how the invaders absorb the blood of their victims:

They did not eat, much less digest. Instead, they took the fresh, living blood of other creatures, and injected it into their own veins. I have myself seen this being done, as I shall mention in its place. But, squeamish as I may seem, I cannot bring myself to describe what I could not endure even to continue watching. Let it suffice to say, blood obtained from a still living animal, in most cases from a human being, was run directly by means of a little pipette into the recipient canal.… The bare idea of this is no doubt horribly repulsive to us, but at the same time I think that we should remember how repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent rabbit.

The tables are turned: the aliens feed on the humans much as these feed on rabbits. And this also applies to the monster in The Thing from Another World. It is a plant that feeds on human beings much as these feed on plants; Dr. Carrington gets to the heart of it:

He has the same attitude toward us as we have toward a field of cabbages.

What is exploited and corrupted by the white man, nature and the Third World, is striking back. Wells puts his countrymen in the position of rabbits who are slaughtered and eaten, and Hawks puts the polar explorers in the position of vegetables that are being consumed - both are driven by the guilt of the Westerner. Westerners hate themselves because they no longer live in harmony with nature like Indians, ancient Germanic peoples or poor medieval peasants. This is the original sin in which they have been living for many generations, their original crime which they also repeat and spread by colonizing, that is to say subjugating, exploiting and corrupting uncivilized or less civilized peoples and alienating them from their natural way of life or even eradicating them. Hence this feeling of guilt towards nature, plants and animals and towards less civilized people from the Third World.
In The Thing from Another World, the imperialistic impulse of the white man is directed at the North Pole, at one of the few regions of Mother Earth that has not yet been colonized, a last part of nature that has remained unexplored and unspoiled due to its inhospitableness, its forbidding arctic cold and inaccessibility, into which the Americans are nevertheless advancing. By growing vegetables and strawberries at the North Pole, the Americans are crossing a line set by nature; they unnaturally force Mother Earth to produce fruit where she wants to remain sterile and virginal - which is related to the behaviour of the white conquerors of North America, which was condemned by the Indian Sitting Bull as a sacrilege:

They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbours away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse. They compel her to produce out of season, and when sterile she is made to take medicine in order to produce again. All this is sacrilege.

And the more civilized, the more decadent Westerners become, the stronger their conscience is haunting them because of their original crime, the more indebted they feel towards immigrants from less decadent countries. In Stoker's novel and Hawks' film, this feeling of guilt is suppressed and the avenger is demonized and made a monster. But suppressing and demonizing is wrong - it would be better to admit guilt. However, it is also wrong to go to the other extreme, as happened in Rotherham, for example. There, English social workers, police officers and other representatives of the power structure stood by for 16 years as men from former colonies sexually exploited very young white children from the countryside. Here, too, feelings of guilt and a need to be punished may provide an unconscious motive: the sexual exploitation of women and children by the colonial masters in the colonies, indeed the exploitation of nature, from which the white man has become estranged, must be atoned. This is how the police officers, social workers and other mostly left-wing but powerful people ease their conscience, but at a the cost of others, again in an exploitative way, for it was not their own daughters, but girls of the lower classes which they handed over to a vengeful Moloch as an atoning sacrifice.


1) Stephen D. Arata: The Occidental Tourist: “Dracula” and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization. In: Victorian Studies Vol. 33 No. 4 (Summer 1990)

2) Joseph Valente: Dracula’s Crypt. Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood. 2002, especially p. 60 et seq.

3) See Arata, p. 623: “Dracula enacts the period’s most important and pervasive narrative of decline, a narrative of reverse colonization. …  In whatever guise, this narrative expresses both fear and guilt. … As fantasies, these narratives provide an opportunity to atone for imperial sins, since reverse colonization  is often represented as deserved punishment.”

4) The “Address”, held at Trinity College in 1872 and printed in: Bram Stoker: A Glimpse of America and other Lectures. Interviews and Essays. Edited and Introduced by R. Dalby. Quotes on p. 45.

5) Valente p. 61

6) Arata p. 629 et seq.

7) See Arata, p. 630: “Horror arises not because Dracula destroys bodies, but because he appropriates and transforms them.”

8) See Fatimah Tobing Rony: The Third Eye. Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle, S. 157-191

9) Rony, p. 186: “Completed in 1932, the Empire State Building was, at the time of the film, the ultimate U.S. symbol of progress, technology, and Civilization. Like the Eiffel Tower at the turn of the century, perceived as embodying French greatness…”

10) Dieterich, p. 46

11) Translated by Richard C. Jebb

12) Stephen Arata: The Occidental Tourist… ; p. 631

13) Kathleen Spencer: Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic, and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis. In: ELH Vol. 59, No. 1 (Spring 1992), p. 211

   
 
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