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Title: Dracula: Stoker 's Response to the New Woman
Author(s): Carol A. Senf
Publication Details: Victorian Studies 26.1 (Autumn 1982): p33-49.
Source: Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker. Vol. 156. Detroit: Gale, 2006. From Literature Resource Center.
Document Type: Critical essay

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning
Full Text:
[(essay date autumn 1982) In the following essay, Senf contends that, contrary to popular belief, Bram Stoker 's treatment of women in his novel stems not from his animosity toward women in general, but rather from his negative reaction to some attributes of the New Woman.]
Although Dracula,1 which was first published in
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In fact the first passage is neutral and suggests only that she is familiar with the New Woman 's insistence on greater freedom and physical activity, attributes which Gail Cunningham mentions in her discussion:
It was pointed out that women were likely to remain the weaker sex as long as they were encased in whalebone and confined their physical activity to the decorous movements of the ballroom, and the new "doctrine of hygiene" as it was coyly termed advocated sports for women and Rational Dress. Many young women pedalled their way to undreamt-of freedoms on the newly popular bicycle; petticoats and chaperons were equally inappropriate accompaniments, and could be discarded in one go.8
Bicycle riding, bloomers, and badminton may have shocked more conservative people in the 1890s, but they were probably not enough to worry Stoker or his heroine. Nor was the fact that the New Woman was often a professional woman who chose financial independence and personal fulfilment as alternatives to marriage and motherhood. Cunningham adds that while these activities were "important aspects of emancipation," they are not, however, responsible for the New Woman 's becoming "a symbol of all that was most challenging and dangerous in advanced thinking. The crucial factor was, inevitably, sex" (Cunningham, p. 2).
When it came to sex the New Woman was more frank and open than her predecessors. She felt free to initiate sexual
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