A Feminist Interpretation of Bram Stoker's Dracula Essay

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In his Literary Theory: The Basics, H. Bertens classifies stereotypes of women in literature into a number of categories; dangerous seductress, self-sacrificing angel, dissatisfied shrew, and defenseless lamb, completely incapable of self-sufficiency, or self-control, and dependent on male intervention. Bertens concludes that the primary objective of these women – or “constructions” – is to serve a “not-so-hidden purpose: the continued cultural and social domination of males”. One such novel that came under feminist scrutiny for these particular reasons was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, although this perlustration didn’t occur until 70 years after Stoker originally penned his masterpiece. However, during the mid-1960s, the rise of the feminist …show more content…
Therefore, it becomes quite obvious that Dracula’s wives are never really considered as “beings” but rather objects; the objectification of women was one of the main criticisms that arose from a feminist analysis of many popular texts like Dracula.

Arguably, Dracula’s wives are guilty of another of Bertens’ proposed stereotypes, that of utter dependence on man. They rely on Count Dracula to bring them their food, and therefore without him they would presumably die. This seems to reflect the well-established idea of public and private “spheres” that pervaded so much of Victorian domestic life. In this system, the woman was effectively condemned to the role of homemaker, while the man became the breadwinner. The inability of Dracula’s wives to resist feeding on Jonathan when he falls asleep in the study could also reflect on the – once again, Victorian idea – that women were too hysterical and so inept at keeping control of themselves that they were unfit for a vast range of careers. However, while Stoker does indubitably include these stereotypes in his work, it does not necessarily mean that he agrees with them.

For example, after Lucy’s conversion, she proves herself to be just as able as Dracula to steal and feed on infants in the dead of night, in a reasonably discrete fashion. Through this, Stoker could be implying that he is satisfactorily aware of perceived stereotypes regarding women, but is choosing to contend with popular opinion by
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