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Dracula: The Unfair War for Women's Thoughts
Stoker developed the character of the Count in Dracula to personify sexual promiscuity and numerous other counter-cultural ideals that supposedly preyed on British society. Noticed as obstructing and infiltrating a technique that doesn’t need fixing, Dracula embodies the feminist movement. His framework for English society attributes a lot more radical concepts than what activists deemed cutting edge, creating Dracula the perfect villain to even progressive readers.
Dracula performs mainly via the captivation of ladies in the novel, luring them into knowing him sexually. He seeks to take over societal believed by means of the overmastering of the women’s desires. But Dracula isn’t the only one particular reaching for this sort of control. Even though it appears that Dracula is the lone violator of Lucy and Mina’s prerogatives in the story, what goes unchecked is how the other male characters lessen the two females as well. In Dracula, we watch the presumably protagonistic guys who defeat Dracula at the finish of the novel practice equivalent manipulative techniques to the Count’s. A handful of examples are the men’s benefiting from but lacking acknowledgement of Mina’s literary contributions, which lead to conquering Dracula, and their ill-dealings with Lucy’s inherent sexual frustrations. Both Dracula and the “good” men, like Harker and Van Helsing, are at battle all through the text more than whose societal ideals relating to female sexuality will prevail, in a time when sexual norms for girls have been so conservative. Sadly functioning as a means to an end in Stoker’s evaluation of Victorian Era ideology, girls are minimized they’re the pawns being played to advantage by the men.
Despite the reality that girls are reduced to tools for man’s dominance, Stoker argues for the immensity and value of female opinion. As the influence over Lucy’s and Mina’s philosophies is the prize to be won, the battle indicates the absolute worth of female ideals in culture. Probably it is this realization of self-worth that could empower ladies to break out of the societal confinements that Stoker illustrates. In Dracula, all males act as antagonists to establish their own societal ideals, particularly involving women’s sexual freedom.
To adequately examine Bram Stoker’s Dracula, delivering a short contextual and historical background of Victorian Era society is necessary. Appearing at the end of the nineteenth century, Dracula requires place in England. Dominated by male ideals and religious piety, a lady was allowed two affordable way of life choices: to marry, or to remain a virgin. Women’s only role in sex was to bear the child sex wasn’t for their satisfaction. However sexually constrained they had been, girls had been to take pride in subduing their sexual desires (Kline 105). Whether embracing the pressures of close to asexuality, as in the Social Purity Movement, or rebelling against it, females hardly had a option either way. It was essential in Victorian believed for man to be sexually dominant: “If women have been a lot more sexual than their man…then the man would not be the dominant, active, and highly sexual partner,” (Difilippantonio four). Published throughout the popularity of this type of sexual philosophy, Stoker’s text serves as a commentary on the opinion of the occasions (Stevenson 139). “Most critics agree that Dracula ought to be seen as an excellent instance of indulging the Victorian male imagination, mainly regarding female sexuality” (Pektas 1). Sexuality is an oft-explored theme in analysis of Dracula, as several scenes in the novel exhibit this tension (Fleissner 418). Harker’s near seduction in Dracula’s castle, Lucy’s desire to marry several men, Dracula’s going to of Lucy, and the blood transfusions that Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood amongst other folks provide are all references to the sexuality of the societal context that Stoker was functioning in. Gauging the restraint that Victorian women had been place below enables us to realize the certain situations in the story in which girls serve only as pieces in the men’s game for ideological dominance. But just before we appear at these examples, let’s appear at the text’s primary female characters.
The two notable girls in the story, Lucy and Mina, vary in their opinions on the societal pressure to hold sexual actions inside of marriage and remain out of man’s operate. Lucy is doubtful of monogamy’s adequacy, and consequently of why sex is restricted to 1 particular person. She asks Mina early in the book, “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it” (Stoker 87). Lucy brings up the dilemma but quickly dismisses it, knowing that it’s not possible in her given social context to have several men and to then be considered acceptable. This quote also reveals Lucy’s lack of absolute contentment with any of her possibilities, which later plays a element in her downfall. Additional, Lucy delivers tiny aid or effort when it comes to conquering Dracula. Virtually no reference to Mina’s sexuality is produced in the novel, and, according to the instances, that’s the way it should be. Even so, Mina is bright and collected as she plays a central role in the defeat of Dracula in Chapter 26. Van Helsing tells her she has a “man’s brain,” a remark she takes as a compliment (Stoker 335) and understandably so, considering her submissiveness to guys throughout the novel. She’s “practicing shorthand,” but not for herself, but to so she can be valuable to her husband Harker (Stoker 79). Her scrupulous journal keeping throughout the novel proves to be primarily informative and inspiring for the group in the pursuit of Dracula, only to be belittled by the novel’s end. “A woman who engages in inappropriately assertive behavior is put in her location by the novel’s finish. For Mina, this behavior is not sexual predation but her tireless labor of typing” (Fleissner 418). Her efforts are apparently “nothing but a mass of typewriting,” as the kid she bore serves as the only genuine proof of victory over Dracula Harker and Van Helsing are interested in (Stoker 541-542).
Now that we’ve examined the characters of Lucy and Mina, we can far better assess the antagonistic operate of Count Dracula. The story’s single assumed antagonist, Dracula performs to uproot the Victorian sexual norms currently in place. Dracula is studying English culture, as is apparent from his collection of English literature and his continual questioning of Harker about what the society there is like (Stoker 29-33): “I extended to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity…and all that tends to make it what it is” (Stoker 30). Dracula also tells Harker of his family’s previous military fame and of the power his ancestors held (Stoker 42-44). All of this is hinting at Dracula’s coming attack on English ideals. But the very first attack takes place ahead of Harker even leaves the castle. Three sexual vampires try to seduce Harker, and Dracula’s correct intentions come by way of. He tells the other vampires: “When I am completed with him you shall kiss him at your will” (Stoker 57). As soon as Dracula is completed conquering common Victorian thought that sex is only for marriage, there won’t be any need to have to convince males like Harker to give in. Harker’s close to submission to the vampires reveals the weakness in Victorian sexual thought that Dracula hopes to exploit. The need expressed in Harker’s dream would be regarded as sinful, “debauchery” by the day’s conservative standards (Foucault 893).
As soon as in England, Dracula begins his assault by enticing Lucy into several sexual encounters. Whilst Victorian men advocate absolute chastity for females, Dracula desires the opposite. Notice how Dracula doesn’t pursue the males following arriving, as an alternative targeting Lucy and Mina. In a later confrontation, Dracula mocks the religious men, saying “Your girls that you all love are mine currently. And by means of them you and others shall however be mine” (Stoker 440). His technique almost performs, as the guys watch the now demonized Lucy in the graveyard, till Arthur Holmwood kills her (Stoker 309). This exemplifies the main method by which Dracula is attempting to take more than England, by way of the repressed sexuality of females. The evil Count desires to work via the ladies to get to the men, a method that the other party also executes upon further examination.
Countering the methods that Dracula attacked Lucy and Mina, the time period’s cultural norms are demonstrated via the English men’s antagonistic outlooks on female sexuality and their contributions to defeating Dracula. Not unlike Dracula, the males in the story manipulate the females out of a desire for order. Aware that vampiric and female sexuality are threatening to patriarchal hegemony, Harker and Van Helsing aim to destroy Dracula and hence recapture the philosophical interest of the day’s ladies (Arata 632). The pretext that females are supposed to contain themselves sexually unravels as each Lucy and Mina have encounters with Dracula. In response to Dracula’s attack on their energy more than sexuality, the males respond by putting to death such a threat to the perfect Victorian ladies as Lucy was (Stoker 310). As Arthur Holmwood kills Lucy, Mina also tells Harker to do away with her if she shows indicators of becoming a vampire: “There have been occasions when brave guys have killed their wives and their womenkind, to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy. Their hands did not falter any the a lot more simply because those that they loved implored them to slay them” (Stoker 475). Mina is repentant for slipping up sexually, steadfast in the society’s code that her encounter with Dracula was incorrect. Van Helsing praises Mina’s character for her adherence to Victorian dogma: “She is a single of God’s women…So true, so sweet, so noble, so little an egoist,” (Stoker 268). It is only when a woman is pure and fits what the guys want her to be that they praise her like this, in sharp contrast to how Van Helsing detests the character of Lucy as soon as she becomes a vampire. To counter the Count’s sexualizing of the women, the guys try to regain handle more than the women. Just as the Count needs blood to survive, the men require social order.
So who wins this battle more than female believed? On the basis of the death of Dracula, it would seem that the Van Helsing and the rest of the males are triumphant (Stoker 540). Van Helsing, who was tempted by the aforementioned seductress vampires, is capable to steer clear of providing into them, symbolizing the victory of his sexually conservative ideals over the loose morals of Dracula (530). In the book’s closing scene, married Mina is portrayed with Harker’s child, additional boasting that the standard Victorian view of sexuality has prevailed (Fleissner 418). But as prior to, that is not all there is to the story. Even though the tale seems to have ended happily, it is essential to note the methods the males utilized in defeating Dracula. When we appear back at the actions of men like Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood, we comprehend that the men ended up compromising the conviction their objectives had been to protect: the chastity of sexuality. By means of their victory, the men’s active objectification of females is evident, and looking back at a few crucial situations, Dracula appears like much a lot more of protagonist than the religious Englishmen.
In one sense, Dracula ended up accomplishing what he set out to do: to compromise the sexuality of Victorian women. By major each Lucy and Mina out of their sexual repression, he forced the men to react. Van Helsing is smart not only in western medicine but also ancient medicines (Stoker 161). Van Helsing’s medical knowledge of older instances symbolizes his awareness of Dracula’s familial war roots, and Dracula’s rekindled desire to conquer. So the doctor appears prepared to combat Dracula’s bites. Even so, Lucy’s well being depletes until Van Helsing resorts to employing blood transfusions in an try to save her. All through Dracula, blood serves as symbolism for sex (Pektas 11). Further, the significance of blood was connected with sex: “According to medical science sexual intercourse meant a depletion of sperm which signified blood and that was not anything to squander,” (Pektas 8). The symbolism for sex is strengthened as he only allows men to offer Lucy blood, not the capable female servants whom Van Helsing does not trust (Stoker 213). The males react to Dracula’s drawing of blood from Lucy’s neck with sexual force of their own, taking turns. Her want for multiple husbands, as described earlier, is heresy. But it appears that her wishes have come correct, as all three of her marital suitors give her their blood, undoubtedly symbolic for sexual intercourse. Van Helsing acknowledges her polygamous wishes, surely flustered by the matter (Stoker 251). Blood is crucial to the story in a religious context as well. Dracula’s taking of blood from Lucy and Mina is probably a twisted reference to the death of Christ, as the women are saved from their sexual confines. The 4 men’s returning of blood into Lucy may represent the returning of Christ’s blood to His own physique. Just as they give up their religious mantra and sexual purity, the Christian savior’s function is undone in their lives. In this, the morals of the men are compromised as Dracula’s executed ideals consequently result in the religiously devout guys to act out.
Another scene in which Dracula supersedes the ideologies of the Englishmen requires place in the graveyard, as Holmwood drives a stake into Lucy’s heart, killing her (Stoker 308). With the stake as an allegorical penis, Holmwood, “driving deeper and deeper” into his fiancé’s heart, acts sexually promiscuously just as the Count wanted him to. It’s by way of the females that Dracula masters the men, who urge Holmwood to keep going as he penetrates her (Stoker 308). “The excellent drops of sweat sprang out on his forehead, and his breath came in broken gasps,” (Stoker 309). This allusion to Arthur’s ejaculation concludes the action, and so is the finish of Lucy. For getting “ministers of God’s personal wish,” or “old knights of the Cross to redeem much more,” as Van Helsing calls the group upon their choice to chase Dracula more than seas, the men’s internal purity appears to be lacking (Stoker 459-460). Dracula departs from England on a ship called “Czarina Catherine,” the name taken from the Russian empress, implying promiscuity. Once again, just as the group performed blood transfusions and put Lucy to death, they follow impurity in an try to defeat Dracula. In these ways, Dracula has impacted the ideologies of the “pious” guys.
For Stoker, both parties won the battle over the ideologies of females in their personal techniques. In a lot of ways the misogynistic ideals found in the “righteous” guys of Dracula still haven’t been corrected in societal thought. On the other hand, Dracula’s then countercultural sexual ideals have turn out to be far more commonplace, as girls are considered equals to males in sexuality. The emergence of female sexual opinion and freedom is a relatively new idea, a mindset only guys have enjoyed until the recent previous. But in a sense, both situations are incorrect. If something, Dracula shows us the deplorable objectification of women that the males practice in attempt to overcome every single other. Around the time of the novel’s initial publication, a movement referred to as “New Women” gained steam. It boasted women’s roles in traditionally male perform settings and in education. This development saw females that “felt totally free to initiate sexual relationships, to discover alternatives to marriage and motherhood,” (Senf 35). We look back on this campaign as the beginning of the finish of anything unjust, the use of ladies by men for personal acquire. Bram Stoker’s Dracula appears to have ushered in a new era of women’s rights, as it serves as an superb warning against misogynistic ideology.
Word Count: 2700Works CitedArata, Stephen. “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiousness of Reverse Colonization.” 33.four (1990): 621-45. Print.Difilippantonio, Annelise. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Psychoanalytic Window into Female Sexuality.” (2011): 1-37. Net. 20 Might 2015.Fleissner, Jennifer L. “Dictation Anxiety: The Stenographer’s Stake in Dracula.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 22.3 (2000): 417-55. Internet.Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. Print.Kline, Salli. The Degeneration of Females: Bram Stokers Dracula as Allegorical Criticism of the Fin De Siëcle.Köln. N.p.: Schneider & Söhne, 1992. Print.Senf, Carol. “”Dracula”: Stoker’s Response to the New Lady.” Victorian Research 26.1 (1982): 33-49. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 20 May possibly 2015.Smith, Eric D. “”A Presage of Horror!”: Cacotopia, the Paris Commune, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Criticism 52.1 (2010): 71-90. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Net. 20 May possibly 2015.Stevenson, John. “A Vampire in the Mirror: The Sexuality of Dracula.” PMLA 103.two (1988): 139-49. JSTOR. Web. 21 May possibly 2015.Stoker, Bram. “Dracula.” (2005): n. pag. Planetebook.com. Planet EBook, 2012. Net. 20 May possibly 2015.
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