Anti-Semitism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula:

Dracula represents the anti-semitic beliefs that existed in Victorian England during the 1890s, for Dracula, along with other characters in the novel, embody the Jewish stereotypes that were emphasized at the time. In 1897, the British feared “reverse colonization,” a potential decline in England’s race, morals, and spirituality. They were specifically threatened by the people from the “east,” which is represented by the inhabitants of Transylvania (Arata 623). However, Dracula represents, more specifically, Victorian England’s fear of the Jews, for “his peculiar physique, his parasitical desires, his aversion to the cross and to all the trappings of Christianity, his blood-sucking attacks, and his avaricious relation to money, resembled stereotypical anti-Semitic nineteenth-century representations of the Jew” (Halberstam 333). Furthermore, there are other instances that suggest Dracula’s representation of the Jewish stereotypes. For example, while Jonathan Harker goes to Whitby to find out that Dracula has shipped fifty boxes “of common earth” to London, he asks one of the carrier’s men about the cargo. The man remarks, “… There was dust that thick in the place you might have slep’ on it without ‘urtin’ of yer bones; an’ the place was that neglected that yer might ‘ave smelled ole Jerusalem in it” (Stoker 243). According to the carrier’s man, the house smelled of Jerusalem, implying that the old, repulsive smell is associated with Jewishness. The foul odor represents the Jews’ disapproved presence in England, as the smells “marked them out as different and indeed repugnant objects of pollution” (Halberstam 341).

There are also stereotypical Jewish references near the end of the novel when Jonathan, Dr. Van Helsing, and Dr. Seward attempt to track down Dracula’s one remaining box. Jonathan finds out that the box was received, upon request, by a Jewish man named Immanuel Hildesheim. Jonathan reports:“We found Hildesheim in his office, a Hebrew of rather the Adelphi Theatre type, with a nose like a sheep, and a fez. His arguments were pointed with specie… and with a little bargaining he told us what he knew” (Stoker 371). There are many anti-semitic implications in this passage. It is noteworthy that it is specifically a Jew who helps Dracula retrieve the box, as it implies that a Jew would act as an ally for Dracula and his evil plans. Furthermore, Hildesheim exhibits Jewish stereotypes: his nose “like a sheep” and his particular interest in money were common anti-semitic beliefs. This further suggests that Jews were viewed as a threat to the Victorian English society, as the Jewish stereotypes are present throughout the novel.