The Stigmatization of non-English people

While reading Dracula, I have noticed a common theme arising in the novel. With each turning page, a story of xenophobia has become more and more pronounced. In Dracula, Bram Stoker has depicted those who are not English as unusual in their habits and qualities. After all, it is in Central Europe where Jonathan Harker succumbs to inconsistent train schedules, the prevalence of the crucifix, and mythical oddities. Effectively, Transylvania is where our Englishman has many terrible experiences–ones our author depicts as unlikely in England. In this way, I believe Stoker has created this tale to demonstrate the stigma the English associated with non-English people. 

The first incident of this stigmatization arises early in the novel, when Harker encounters a recurring object: the crucifix. A women who warns him of the perils of St. George’s Day provides him with cross, saying that “for [his] mother’s sake” he should take it (p. 11). Not only this, but during his travels, Haker crosses lined the roadside and his companions all carried crucifixes themselves. In taking this all in, Harker wrote in his diary that he “did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous” (p. 11). Because of this confliction with his religion, he looked onto the cross judgingly, without any recognition of what it or the women’s warning meant. In this way, Harker’s view of non-English Church practices as inept resulted in his failure to recognize his impending danger. Only during his stay with the Count did Harker realize that these forewarnings were legitimate and his danger severe.

This stigma is one that the Count has noticed himself. While sitting with the Count in his library, Harker applauds him for his fluency in English. However, Dracula is quick to dismiss his compliment, stating that “none there are who would not know me for a stranger” (p. 27). Coming from a position where “the common people know” him and he is a “master,” the Count hopes to preserve that or a similar position in England. Dracula recognizes that the English stigmatize the non-English for their ways. As such, Dracula fears being viewed as a stranger because it carries such a low social status. To avoid such a fate Dracula goes to extremes to under all of England’s intricacies, such as reading anything written in English or holding an Englishman prisoner in his palace. Dracula requests that Harker teaches him the English intonation, so that he may speak as fluently as a native speaker. In this way, the negativity directed towards non-English people is one well recognized by the stigmatizers and stigmatized alike.