Dracula Essay Sexuality

Sexuality In Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Sexuality in Bram Stoker’s DraculaBram Stoker’s Dracula, favorably received by critics upon publication in 1897, entertained its Victorian audience with unspeakable horrors such as vampires invading bedrooms to prey on beautiful maidens under the guise of night. The novel’s eroticism proved even more unspeakable. Received in the era of repression, it remains questionable whether Dracula’s readership perceived the sexuality flowing from the page.

An advocate for the censorship of sexual material, Stoker himself may have been unconscious of his own novel’s sexual qualities. Perhaps if he knew of the Dracula criticism written in the last thirty years, he would turn in his grave from personal horror. Since the 1970s, with its conglomerate of feminist critics reveling in the sexual revolution, Freudian psychoanalysts, and marginal sex groups, Dracula’s sexuality continues as an issue of great debate, attracting more attention from its centennial anniversary in 1997.

More titillating than the novel itself, numerous sexual interpretations exist from key scenes in Dracula: the trio of female vampires attacking Jonathan, Lucy’s vampiric transformation and subsequent staking, and Mina’s forced drinking of Dracula’s blood. Critics debate whether these crucial scenes reveal men’s fear of female sexuality, the dualism of Victorian sexuality, the threat of foreign sexuality, Oedipal fantasies, sexual repression, Bram Stoker’s sexuality, and homosexuality.

The list of sexual topics is endless. The popularity of Freud’s theories of sexuality makes Freudian analyses of Dracula’s sexuality almost impossible to avoid. Even feminist critics who resent Freud’s misogyny, find his sexual observations difficult to ignore, especially in regard to Dracula’s sexual content. The fact that Stoker and Freud are contemporaries writing at the same time legitimizes the critical use of Freud’s psychoanalysis to explore Stoker’s novel.

More importantly, critics can easily apply with little work Freud’s theories to Dracula’s medley of sexually repressed characters, aggressively sexual women, and sexual symbolism. Upon the publication of two largely influential criticisms, 1972 exists as a pivotal year for psychosexual interpretations of Stoker’s novel. Charles Bierman, a psychiatrist, sets the critical trend for the psychoanalysis of Dracula’s sexuality by focusing on “an analysis of the novel’s oral sexuality” (57).

In spite of his detailed account of biographical influences, especially Stoker’s childhood, Bierman fails to fully utilize the text for support, supplying only plot summary; his essay relates more to biography than literary criticism. Roy Bentley’s “The Monster in the Bedroom: Sexual Symbolism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula” introduces a more textualized and explicit psychoanalysis than Bierman’s essay. Bentley becomes the first critic to mention “the novel’s perversion of sexuality, representation of blood as semen or menstruation, and phallic symbolism” (543).

Its brevity has not deterred later critics to write lengthy criticisms using Bentley’s points as a foundation. Ruth Roth focuses on Bierman’s oral assertions and Bentley’s study of sexual perversion, but she more specifically studies how Dracula labels female sexuality as “abnormal through its depiction of asexual women transforming into voluptuous vampires” (106). Her argument gains momentum when she goes beyond previous criticisms and exposes the male fear of sexually aggressive women in an Oedipal context.

Roth’s essay contains a noticeable error; she states that when Jonathan cut his finger, Dracula lunges at him (119). Actually, the Count attacks Jonathan when Jonathan cuts his throat shaving. Both Calvin Williams and Loraine Twitchell delve into Dracula’s Oedipal aspects. Whereas Twitchell gives only a brief “examination of Dracula as a father figure who sexualizes the male characters’ mother figure” (14) in The Vampire in Prose, Williams provides a more comprehensive study on how “the Oedipal complex controls the novel’s sexuality” (37) in “The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Dracula. She also offers insights concerning the Oedipal complex’s effect on the mother figure as opposed to the father figure””the lack of maternal feelings because of excessive desire, the vampiric parody of motherhood, and blood as a representation of mother’s milk. A comparison between the two clearly shows the superiority of Williams’ essay in regard to support, insights, and authoritative voice. Comparable to Williams, Sian Macfie argues that female sexuality negates maternity.

She adds, “Sexually transmitted diseases and menstruation causes moral madness that destroys maternal instincts” (239). Using Williams’ essay as a model, Macfie needs to incorporate more textual support, although her strength lies in her relation of other vampire texts to Dracula’s sexuality. Andrea Griffin agrees with Bentley’s claim that blood symbolizes menstruation, and she develops his assertion more fully with the addition of Freudian texts on menstrual taboos to her support from Dracula.

Despite her well supported position on Stoker’s development of women characters as sexual, animalistic creatures in heat, Griffin makes an incorrect reference to a particular scene: “Lucy’s eyes became hard when she attacked Jonathan on her deathbed (465),” yet in the novel, Jonathan and Lucy never meet. Although a glaring error, many critics fail to comment on it, choosing instead to focus on Griffin’s insights into Dracula’s mythic female sexuality. “Magi and Maidens: The Romance of the Victorian Freud,” by Anne Auerbach also focuses on sexual woman as myth, but in a different manner than Griffin’s.

According to Auerbach, “Dracula’s sexualizing of women empowers them through an awareness of their hidden powers” (143). The article’s authoritative voice and the use of Freud’s Studies in Hysteria reveal Auerbach’s knowledge of her subject, yet additional examination of passages from Dracula would fortify her premise, which differs from the majority of psychoanalytical criticism. Walter Stade concentrates on men’s psychological emotions toward sexual women in his two companion pieces, “Dracula’s Women” and “Dracula’s Women, and Why Men Love to Hate Them. Overly dependent on plot summary, his greater weakness consists of his irreverent examination of women that does more to expose his own misogyny than offer insights into male reactions toward aggressive women. More formalized language and a more scholarly stance would do much to remove the hostilities he feels toward feminist critics examining Dracula’s sexual attributes. A hot topic over three decades, little remains to be said concerning Dracula’s sexuality. Yet, surprisingly enough, other possible avenues of study do exist.

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The assimilation of Dracula into popular culture with its numerous film adaptations offers critics the opportunity to examine the transfer of the novel’s sexuality to the silver screen; critics such as Twitchell already realize the growing shift from literary studies to film studies of Dracula’s sexuality. Careful examination of film adaptations of Dracula ranging from F. W. Murnau’s 1923 Nosferatu to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 epic, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, may shed new light on modern and contemporary perceptions of the role of sexuality in Bram Stoker’s masterpiece.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Dracula

Sexuality In Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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  • 03-08-2005, 10:57 PM#1

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    Female Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

    ** This is an incomplete essay (im still writing it) It is supposed to be university second year level-wise. Pls give it a letter grade (for fun) and a comment. Thx a lot! The due date is Friday, so I'd love to get feedback. **


    Written and set in the late 19th century, Bram Stoker’s epistolary novelDracula is a pivotal book in horror literature. Like most novels written by men, Dracula appeals more to the male audience and fantasy. Firstly, it is more than apparent that there are strong themes of female sexuality and its symbolism. The entire Victorian culture revolves around the suppression of women and their belittlement is evident in several scenes and events throughout the novel closing with an ultimate ‘moral’ of the story regarding these ‘New Victorian’ views. In addition, only a subtle factor of how grudgingly a woman’s reputation influences a man’s judgment and leaves very little room for superstition is addressed. In one case, Holmwood does not believe that Lucy is the kind of woman without maternal nature until he witnesses the actions of the infamous ‘Bloofer Lady’. Perhaps even the most controversial fact is that though gothic, Dracula has incorporated female sexuality as a hidden message of Christianity and redemption. The book is rather littered with Christian propoganda.



    In Victorian society, women were constricted to very narrow gender roles. Essentially there are two paths, she can either be pure and virginal (or a mother/wife) otherwise she was regarded as a whore, and expendable in any circumstance. This ideal is represented through two of Dracula’s main characters, Mina and Lucy. Both these woman are inexplicably feminine (pure, naïve and almost dependant on their husbands) but each with one exception. Mina is a secretary for the “Children of Light”; secretarial duties were a man’s job then. And Lucy had three suitors, suggesting her subtle promiscuity and desire to break social confines. Despite those facts, both women essentially were the embodiment of the ideal Victorian woman, as says Van Helsing about Mina,

    “She is one of God's women, fashioned by

    His own hand to show us men and other women

    that there is a heaven where we can enter, and

    that its light can be here on earth. So true, so sweet,

    so noble, so little an egoist…” [Stoker, Ch14. Sept. 26]

    The threat Dracula poses in transforming these women becomes a battle that lies upon women’s sexuality. Thus the real fear in the book is not darkness and vampiric nature but the loss of female innocence, a trait apparently extremely valuable and important to men. If Dracula succeeds in turning the ladies into vampires, this will fully release their sexuality and its expressions. This is shown as an evil in the novel perhaps because a woman that embraces her sexuality has obtains power. This power is significantly demonstrated in two passages of the book. First was the ‘rape’ of Harker by the three Weird Sisters. The women take on the dominating role that a traditional Victorian man is supposed to possess. Harker then becomes the ‘submissive’ and is easily overpowered by their seduction and his own temptation. The fact that Harker is both aroused and disgusted by the Weird Sisters shows his super ego battling his id. His primitive want to satisfy his “burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips” challenges his stature as a respectable Victorian man that should be repulsed and considerate of his wife, “lest some day it should meet Mina's eyes and cause her pain”. Yet, it is also an indication that men in general, enjoy this aspect of women, but purely to satisfy themselves. Thus men are not as cultured as they think, submitting to their id and indulging in the sublime - a claimed female trait. Thus in the book, most of the characters are berdache and not one way or the other. It is seen as proper for women to be chaste, but not acknowledged that this is merely a man’s primitive instinct to expresses territorialism to its extreme.



    Stoker brings out many fears in Dracula, perhaps the most notable are feminaphobia (the male fear of being feminine) and gynephobia (fear of women in general). Both the characters and the male reader experience these fears, for the crossing of genders are simply unthinkable. This is best represented by the infamous vampire bite. The bite is gender ambiguous because is can be interpreted as a sexual symbol for both men and women; for men the act of plunging teeth is equivalent to penile penetration – for women the act of sucking blood is the taking of ‘life fluid’. The vampires themselves seem to be gender ambiguous as Dracula (appearing male) creates a ‘vagina’ in his chest by cutting it open for Mina to drink.

    “His right hand gripped her by the back of

    the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom.

    Her white night-dress was smeared with blood,

    … a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a

    kitten's nose into a saucer of milk to compel it

    to drink.” [Stoker, Ch. 21 Oct. 3]

    In Dracula, female vampires represent women sexuality and vampirism merely masks man’s forbidden fantasies. Though Dracula makes up the horror aspect of the novel, the true ‘terror’ lies in the awakening of female sexuality.



    In combination with the exertion of power if women were openly sexual, the men in the book fear for their own safety. They are selfish in that they must repress and prevent this liberating movement so that they will not be associated with the socially outcast. When analyzing the character of Lucy, even before becoming a vampire, she exerts an aura of subtle sexuality and boastful flirtatiousness. “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all the trouble? But this is heresy and I must not say it” [Stoker, Ch. 5 May 24] When writing this to Mina, it suggests that Lucy has a hidden desire to break out of the constraints of Victorian social expectations. Another piece of evidence that Lucy is a subordinate sexual woman is her statement of “My dear Mina, why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?” Perhaps this was simply Stoker catering to male readers and appealing to their secret fantasies, but this one line reduces Lucy to a frivolous Victorian woman who’s desire to be satisfied by men is as strong her desire to satisfy men herself.



    Once transformed by Dracula, Lucy’s sexuality is unleashed. Her lust for both blood and sex are untamable and insatiable, much to he horror and disbelief of her three suitors and Van Helsing. One must understand that before death, Lucy was already a woman of quiet sexual expression and once after death, she begins to feed on humans. But not any regular human being, but Stoker makes it painfully clear that she stalks children, discrediting her of any maternal instincts.

    “With a careless motion, she flung to the ground,

    … the child that up to now she had clutched

    strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog

    growls over a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and

    lay there moaning” [Stoker Ch.16 Sept 29]

    Though never directly noted that Lucy sank her teeth into the children, tossing a crumpled child to the floor without any stain of conscience along with the reader’s imagination, condemns her to the equivalent fate/label. Looking back at Lucy on the brink of death, she seems to be fighting an inner demon (perhaps her potentially heightened sexual hunger) with her pure, innocent self. On one hand, she wants Holmwood “Arthur! Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!” but in a moment of confliction, she quickly gives Van Helsing her dying wish, “Oh, guard him, and give me peace!”. This analogy of demon to sexual appetite seems to warn and try to remind female readers of the black and white boundaries of their current society. At this point in time, Stoker writes Dracula when the New Victorian Women are beginning to emerge (ex. woman suffrage).



    Then looking towards the staking of Lucy, this passage connotates a deep sexual meaning. This scene occurs near the end of the book, suggesting that killing Lucy, thus punishing her for being sexually forward, will restore Victorian order. After the feminization of Harker with the three weird sisters, Stoker tops that by killing Lucy with four men to return her purity. The person that actually stakes Lucy is her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood. This represents the consecration of their union – implying that Holmwood puts Lucy back into a position of monogamy and passivity.

    “… in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing

    … her destruction was yielded as a privilege to

    the one best entitled to it … her face of unequalled

    sweetness and purity…” [Stoker Ch.16 Sept 29]

    Before her destruction, Lucy stands as a threat to male willpower and judgment. Therefore, Stoker has the four men mutilate and destroy her to reassure male readers that the women are back in their rightful place.



    Then, in considering Lucy’s best friend, Mina, she is almost the opposite of Lucy but still infinitely womanly. Where Lucy is seen as the innocent and playful, Mina is viewed as a practical, down-to-earth, figure. Unlike Lucy however, Mina is not described as physically beautiful or voluptuous. Mina is virtuous and the picture-perfect woman not because she seems to be asexual but because she uses her “New Woman” skills to service men (an underlying meaning that Stoker suggests to give), be it the Van Helsing gang or her husband. She is intelligent and useful to the men, which is perhaps the only reason she is spared at the end of Dracula. Stoker consummates Mina’s ethical merit by having her hand over her body and soul to the men if she would become an enemy. She asks of them to, “without a moment's delay, drive a stake through me and cut off my head, or do whatever else may be wanting to give me rest!” [Stoker Ch.25 Oct. 11] In essence, Mina compares her fateful destruction to,

    “… when brave men have killed their wives

    … to keep them from falling into the hands of the

    enemy … did not falter … because those that they

    loved implored them to slay them … men's duty

    towards those whom they love…” [Stoker Ch. 25 Oct. 11]

    In addition, she praises and pleads that they allow Jonathan Harker to kill her as Holmwood did Lucy. All the while, blushing at the request, again implying at the sexual connotation attached to the staking; reaffirming that the death of Lucy was undeniable sexual but “to him who had best right to give her peace…”[Stoker Ch. 25 Oct. 11] (a right only to her fiancé, not simply to those who loved her since all three men loved her).



    Perhaps opposing yet enticing entities to Lucy and Mina are the three Weird Sisters. Undoubtedly, these women have strong sexual prowess and seduction as their weapons thus a high danger to men and their reasoning. In the drawing end of Dracula, Stoker brings these three women back into focus. When Van Helsing sought after them to destroy them, he even hesitated because “She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man in me, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, made my head whirl with new emotion.” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 5] This heightens fiercely the danger of women’s sexual liberty now that the knowledgeable and powerful doctor has started to succumb to their ‘dark’ power. In addition to their power and control, is the fact that the women total three. Three is a strong mythological number demonstrated by such examples as the three witches in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the three witches of in the Greek myth of Perseus, the three infamous sirens, and the three fates. It is because of this strong number that the vampires are associated with folklore and myth. Thus not only is now the battle between man’s reason and female sexuality, but also one of modern human beings and ritually religious.

    “… holding out some of the Wafer, advanced on them towards the fire. They drew back before me, and laughed their low horrid laugh...” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 5]



    Stoker practically bends over backwards to show the reader the repercussions of women who are sexually freer than what they ‘ought to be’ and that even though they are the most sinful creatures, in their destruction, they will give Christian redemption. Dracula himself represents the sole opposite of god. He is seen as a demonic creature and might as well be the embodiment of Satan himself with his pointed teeth, pronged ears and eyes blazing with “demoniac fury” [Stoker Ch. 2 May 8]. In fact, Dracula is Wallachia word for Devil of which Stoker found this name from a book. [Elizabeth Miller Lecture Feb. 4, 2005].


    ... [incomplete]

    Last edited by Soyokaze; 03-09-2005 at 12:08 AM.


  • 03-09-2005, 09:36 PM#2


  • 03-09-2005, 09:42 PM#3

    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Rep Power
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    Good post? |

    Re: Female Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

    Thx for the comment. my essay is due this friday and hopefully my prof will give me that same mark. ^_^ I've written previous essays like this in this course but so far my avg is only 60%. That's like ... a C.

    Meh, young teachers, always mark hard.


  • 03-09-2005, 09:58 PM#4


  • 03-09-2005, 10:05 PM#5

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    Good post? |

    Re: Female Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

    Hmm, strange I can't edit my original post. I will let you know my mark after I get it back. ^_^
    ----------------------------
    Essay continued:

    As for the exchanges of blood, it seems to be a deviant of a sacred Christian ritual. But in a vampire’s case, blood is taken to grant immortality at the expense of your ‘soul’. But whether a person or vampire believes in Christianity or not, once destroyed they are ‘restored’ and thus, ‘saved’.

    “… red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive

    look which I knew so well… in that moment of

    final dissolution, there was in the face a look of

    peace, such as I never could have imagined might

    have rested there.” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 6]

    The frequency of these Christian motifs occurs so often, that it is impossible to miss its implications. The major repellant of vampires, are crosses and Communion wafers which are undeniably the paramount symbols of Christianity. Referring back to the vampiric mimic of Christian rituals, the Christian rite of Communion is symbolic because in it, one must drink a blessed wine (representing blood of Christ) and then be gifted with everlasting yet spiritual life. But in disgracing this influential ceremony, vampires do not drink holy blood but human blood, thus not gaining an eternal sacramental life but merely a perpetual bodily life.

    [to be continued]

  • 03-09-2005, 10:21 PM#6


  • 03-09-2005, 11:04 PM#7

    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Rep Power
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    Good post? |

    Re: Female Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

    ** Gah. Ok. The good thing is, I finished the essay and I'm posting the very final version here.... now. Thank you again. **

    ------------------------------------------

    Written and set in the late 19th century, Bram Stoker’s epistolary novelDracula is a pivotal book in horror literature. Like most novels written by men, Dracula appeals more to the male audience and fantasy. Firstly, it is more than apparent that there are strong themes of female sexuality and its symbolism. The entire Victorian culture revolves around the suppression of women and their belittlement is evident in several scenes and events throughout the novel closing with an ultimate ‘moral’ of the story regarding these ‘New Victorian’ views. In addition, only a subtle factor of how grudgingly a woman’s reputation influences a man’s judgment and leaves very little room for superstition is addressed. In one case, Holmwood does not believe that Lucy is the kind of woman without maternal nature until he witnesses the actions of the infamous ‘Bloofer Lady’. Perhaps even the most controversial fact is that though gothic, Dracula has incorporated female sexuality as a hidden message of Christianity and redemption. The book is rather littered with Christian propaganda. Thus, religious superstition is the only effective weapon against the vampires, for technology and advances in modern age has no solutions rendering those who depend solely on it, helpless.



    In Victorian society, women were constricted to very narrow gender roles. Essentially there are two paths, she can either be pure and virginal (or a mother/wife) otherwise she was regarded as a whore, and expendable in any circumstance. This ideal is represented through two of Dracula’s main characters, Mina and Lucy. Both these woman are inexplicably feminine (pure, naïve and almost dependant on their husbands) but each with one exception. Mina is a secretary for the “Children of Light”; secretarial duties were a man’s job then. And Lucy had three suitors, suggesting her subtle promiscuity and desire to break social confines. Despite those facts, both women essentially were the embodiment of the ideal Victorian woman, as says Van Helsing about Mina,

    “She is one of God's women, fashioned by

    His own hand to show us men and other women

    that there is a heaven where we can enter, and

    that its light can be here on earth. So true, so sweet,

    so noble, so little an egoist…” [Stoker, Ch14. Sept. 26]

    The threat Dracula poses in transforming these women becomes a battle that lies upon women’s sexuality. Thus the real fear in the book is not darkness and vampiric nature but the loss of female innocence, a trait apparently extremely valuable and important to men. If Dracula succeeds in turning the ladies into vampires, this will fully release their sexuality and its expressions. This is shown as an evil in the novel perhaps because a woman that embraces her sexuality obtains power and control. This power is significantly demonstrated in two passages of the book. First was the ‘rape’ of Harker by the three Weird Sisters. The women take on the dominating role that a traditional Victorian man is supposed to possess. Harker then becomes the ‘submissive’ and is easily overpowered by their seduction and almost gives in to his own temptation. The fact that Harker is both aroused and disgusted by the Weird Sisters shows his super ego battling his id. His primitive want to satisfy his “burning desire that they would kiss [him] with those red lips” challenges his stature as a respectable Victorian man that should be repulsed and considerate of his wife, “lest some day it should meet Mina's eyes and cause her pain”. Yet, it is also an indication that men in general, enjoy this sexual aspect of women to purely to satisfy themselves. Thus men are not as refined as they think, indulging in the sublime and submitting to their id - a claimed female trait. Thus in the book, most of the characters are berdache and not one way or the other. It is seen as proper for women to be chaste, but not acknowledged that this is merely a man’s primitive instinct to expresses territorialism to its extreme.



    Stoker brings out many fears in Dracula, perhaps the most notable are feminaphobia (the male fear of being feminine) and gynephobia (fear of women in general). Both the characters and the Victorian male reader experience these fears, for the crossing of genders are simply unthinkable. This is best represented by the infamous vampire bite. The bite is gender ambiguous because is can be interpreted as a sexual symbol for both men and women; for men the act of plunging teeth is equivalent to penile penetration – for women the act of sucking blood is the taking of ‘life fluid’. The vampires themselves seem to be gender ambiguous as Dracula (appearing male) creates a ‘vagina’ in his chest by cutting it open for Mina to drink.

    “His right hand gripped her by the back of

    the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom.

    Her white night-dress was smeared with blood,

    … a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a

    kitten's nose into a saucer of milk to compel it

    to drink.” [Stoker, Ch. 21 Oct. 3]

    In Dracula, female vampires represent women sexuality and vampirism merely masks man’s forbidden fantasies. Though Dracula makes up the horror aspect of the novel, the true ‘terror’ lies in the awakening of female sexuality.



    In combination with the exertion of power if women were openly sexual, the men in the book fear for their own safety. They are selfish in that they must repress and prevent this liberating movement so that they will not be associated with the socially outcast. When analyzing the character of Lucy, even before becoming a vampire, she exerts an aura of subtle sexuality and boastful flirtatiousness. “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all the trouble? But this is heresy and I must not say it” [Stoker, Ch. 5 May 24] When writing this to Mina, it suggests that Lucy has a hidden desire to break out of the constraints of Victorian social expectations. Another piece of evidence that Lucy is a subordinate sexual woman is her statement of “My dear Mina, why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?” Perhaps this was simply Stoker catering to male readers and appealing to their secret fantasies, but this one line reduces Lucy to a frivolous Victorian woman who’s desire to be satisfied by men is as strong her desire to satisfy men herself.



    Once transformed by Dracula, Lucy’s sexuality is unleashed. Her lust for both blood and sex are untamable and insatiable, much to he horror and disbelief of her three suitors and Van Helsing. One must understand that before death, Lucy was already a woman of quiet sexual expression and once after death, she begins to feed on humans. But not any regular human being, but Stoker makes it painfully clear that she stalks children, discrediting her of any maternal instincts.

    “With a careless motion, she flung to the ground,

    … the child that up to now she had clutched

    strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog

    growls over a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and

    lay there moaning” [Stoker Ch.16 Sept 29]

    Though never directly noted that Lucy sank her teeth into the children, tossing a crumpled child to the floor without any stain of conscience along with the reader’s imagination, condemns her to the equivalent fate/label. Looking back at Lucy on the brink of death, she seems to be fighting an inner demon (perhaps her potentially heightened sexual hunger) with her pure, innocent self. On one hand, she wants Holmwood “Arthur! Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!” but in a moment of confliction, she quickly gives Van Helsing her dying wish, “Oh, guard him, and give me peace!”. Mina, near the end of the novel also demonstrates this.

    “… she laughed, a laugh low and unreal, and

    said, ‘Fear for me! Why fear for me? None safer

    in all the world from them than I am,’ … a puff

    of wind made the flame leap up, and I see the red

    scar on her forehead.” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 5]

    This analogy of demon to sexual appetite seems to warn and try to remind female readers of the black and white boundaries of their current society. At this point in time, Stoker writes Dracula when the New Victorian Women are beginning to emerge (ex. Protesting woman suffrage).



    Then looking towards the staking of Lucy, this passage connotates a deep sexual meaning. This scene occurs near the end of the book, suggesting that killing Lucy, thus punishing her for being sexually forward, will restore Victorian order. After the feminization of Harker with the three weird sisters, Stoker tops that by killing Lucy with four men to return her purity. The person that actually stakes Lucy is her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood. This represents the consecration of their union – implying that Holmwood puts Lucy back into a position of monogamy and passivity.

    “… in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing

    … her destruction was yielded as a privilege to

    the one best entitled to it … her face of unequalled

    sweetness and purity…” [Stoker Ch.16 Sept 29]

    Before her destruction, Lucy stands as a threat to male willpower and judgment. Therefore, Stoker has the four men mutilate and destroy her to reassure male readers that the women are back in their rightful place.



    Then, in considering Lucy’s best friend, Mina, she is almost the opposite of Lucy but still infinitely womanly. Where Lucy is seen as the innocent and playful, Mina is viewed as a practical, down-to-earth, figure. Unlike Lucy however, Mina is not described as physically beautiful or voluptuous. Mina is virtuous and the picture-perfect woman not because she seems to be asexual but because she uses her “New Woman” skills to service men (an underlying meaning that Stoker suggests to give), be it the Van Helsing gang or her husband. She is intelligent and useful to the men, which is perhaps the only reason she is spared at the end of Dracula. Stoker consummates Mina’s ethical merit by having her hand over her body and soul to the men if she would become an enemy. She asks of them to, “without a moment's delay, drive a stake through me and cut off my head, or do whatever else may be wanting to give me rest!” [Stoker Ch.25 Oct. 11] In essence, Mina compares her fateful destruction to,

    “… when brave men have killed their wives

    … to keep them from falling into the hands of the

    enemy … did not falter … because those that they

    loved implored them to slay them … men's duty

    towards those whom they love…” [Stoker Ch. 25 Oct. 11]

    In addition, she praises and pleads that they allow Jonathan Harker to kill her as Holmwood did Lucy. All the while, blushing at the request, again implying at the sexual connotation attached to the staking; reaffirming that the death of Lucy was undeniable sexual but “to him who had best right to give her peace…”[Stoker Ch. 25 Oct. 11] (a right only to her fiancé, not simply to those who loved her since all three men loved her).



    Perhaps opposing yet enticing entities to Lucy and Mina are the three Weird Sisters. Undoubtedly, these women have strong sexual prowess and seduction as their weapons thus a high danger to men and their reasoning. In the drawing end of Dracula, Stoker brings these three women back into focus. When Van Helsing sought after them to destroy them, he even hesitated because “She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man in me, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, made my head whirl with new emotion.” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 5] This heightens fiercely the danger of women’s sexual liberty now that the knowledgeable and powerful doctor has started to succumb to their ‘dark’ power. In addition to their power and control, is the fact that the women total three. Three is a strong mythological number demonstrated by such examples as the three witches in Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the three witches of in the Greek myth of Perseus, the three infamous sirens, and the three fates. It is because of this strong number that the vampires are associated with folklore and myth. Thus not only is now the battle between man’s reason and female sexuality, but also one of modern human beings and ritually religious.

    “… holding out some of the Wafer, advanced on them towards the fire. They drew back before me, and laughed their low horrid laugh...” [Stoker Ch. 27 Nov. 5]



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