The Final Battle

Throughout the book, the clash between the Englishmen (sans Van Helsing, Quincy) and foreigners from the eastern reaches of Europe figures prominently. Part of the terror of Dracula is his unknowability, which comes in large part from his foreignness. The entire book leads up to the slaying of Dracula, unquestionably the story’s great villain, but in the moment of truth, the only battle that takes place is with Transylvanian “peasants or gypsies of some kind,” (Stoker 397) who attempt to carry the coffin Dracula is contained in up to his castle. That Quincy, the only main character death of the novel (if you don’t count Lucy), is murdered in this conflict not by Dracula, but by the “gypsies” who stab him in his efforts to reach the coffin, is indicative of the fact that ultimately, Dracula the vampire is not the true threat to the peace of the little squad we’ve followed: the greatest threat is foreigners out of a collective “east” (the reason Van Helsing and Quincy get a degree of a pass– they’re from the Western side of the Danube).

During the final battle, the foreignness of the “gypsies” is reinforced every time the focus falls on them. Mina notes that “the leader of the gypsies” on his horse looks “like a centaur…” (Stoker 399) quite literally introducing the idea that these foreigners are half human and half beast, much like Dracula himself, who they associate with in the beginning when Harker visits by helping him carry boxes and at the end by transporting him again in the box of Transylvanian earth. The same centaur-like leader speaks “in a fierce voice” that Mina can’t understand (Stoker 399) and which further emphasizes his dangerous nature. The entire troupe is disorganized and animalistic. When the leader of their camp commands them, they “formed round the cart in a sort of undisciplined endeavor, each one shouldering and pushing the other in his eagerness to carry out the order” like a pack of dogs shoving together over a piece of meat (Stoker 399).  They are a dehumanized mass, irrelevant except to reinforce the idea that foreigners (in this case presumably Transylvanians) are dangerous, but in an inept and ultimately cowardly way, as we can see when they “instinctively cowered aside and let him [Jonathan] pass” (Stoker 400) and in their messy efforts to follow orders.

The importance of the villainy of foreigners falls on two fronts. For the audience it rings like an imperialistic argument about the inherent inferiority of non-westerners. That every “eastern” character in Dracula is dehumanized literally to the point of being like a human-beast hybrid (centaur, vampire) emphasizes the superior humanity of Western peoples. The author, it would seem, allows himself the same degree of allowance that he gives to his other non-English but Western characters, like Van Helsing and Quincy. Because he’s from Ireland (and they’re from the Netherlands and the U.S.) despite being foreign he is decidedly Western and therefore “deserves,” as the text seems to suggest, an exception to the dehumanizing effects of being an “Eastern” foreigner.