The new searchlight, combining a carbon arc lamp with a parabolic reflector, is another of the innovative technologies that Bram Stoker showcases in this story of science versus superstition.
Searchlight development was largely driven by military application. Weak and unfocused limelight searchlights are thought to have been trialled in the Crimean War, and a searchlight was used by a Union warship during the American Civil War. Limelight was soon replaced by electric arc lights, which were employed in the Siege of Paris (1870-1871) to deter German sappers. Silvered reflectors were introduced by 1876, and searchlights were used in battle by Austrian and British naval vessels during the 1880s. The first 60 inch carbon arc searchlight was built by General Electric and exhibited in 1893. Shortly after the publication of Dracula, searchlights were used in the Boer War, aboard trains and in besieged towns. Searchlights would later take on particular military importance with the advent of night bombing raids in World War I and then the mass aerial bombardment campaigns of World War II. They were also used to signal, and to blind enemy naval and air crews.
Civilian uses of searchlights included lighthouses and, later, movie premieres.