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
[(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 …show more content…
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
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
Are there still connections between Bram Stokers famous novel Dracula and modern day society? In Dracula, Stoker expands on many themes that indeed exist today. Not only does he touch on the most obvious theme, sex. He expands on gender division and good versus evil. Some say since times have changed the themes I introduced have changed as well, leaving connections between then and now irrelevant. However, I feel that although times have changed they still have roots from the time of the novel to now. In this essay I will expand on the themes of this novel while connecting them to modern day society, the critical texts I have chosen and will mention later on in the essay are a good representation of the commonalities between the chill, dark Victorian days in which the era that Dracula was written in and modern day.
Stoker’s novel Dracula, presents the fear of female promiscuity, for which vampirism is a metaphor. Such fear can be related to the time in which Dracula was written, where strict Victorian gender norms and sexual mores stipulated
The notion of separate spheres serves to set up the roles of men and women in Victorian society. Women fulfill the domestic sphere and are seen as submissive and emotionally sensitive individuals. Conversely, men are intelligent, stable, and fulfill all of the work outside of the home. In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, the Count seems to actually embody the fear of the breakdown of such separate spheres. However, Stoker breaks down these separate spheres and the fear associated with their breakdown through the theme of the “New Woman” intertwined with the actions and behaviors of the characters in the novel.
The story of Dracula is well documented and has stood the test of time since it’s Victorian age creation. More times than not, literature writings are a reflection of the era from which they are produced. In the case of Dracula, Vampire literature expresses the fears of a society. Which leads me to the topic I chose to review: sexuality. The Victorian Era was viewed as a period diluted in intense sexual repression and I believe that Dracula effectively exploited this as the fear of sexuality was commonplace in the society. In this paper I will examine Bram Stoker’s Dracula and highlight his use of sexuality. I will analysis the female sexuality that is prevalent throughout the book, the complexities are at work within the text, and the
Almost every sin imaginable is included in this text if one were to interpret Bram Stoker’s writing to be as such. The glaring Christianity, coded sexual innuendo, and the vampire stereotype still attracts many to this novel. Despite the Victorian era’s social expectations of a woman, gluttony and lust are the two most abundant and greatly detailed sins alive in this text and usually descriptively, if not symbolically intertwined. The female characters of this novel lavishly display their sexual and physical appetites throughout the novel thus tempting the male figures. Mina and Lucy are portrayed in opposition to both each other and societal norms, in the nineteenth century and these traits are still displayed today in the twenty-first century. Voraciousness and Lust as portrayed through vampirism in Dracula details the dichotomy of Bram Stoker and of all men; which wife would a man want to have, the smart maternal plump woman or the fanciful beautiful thin woman.
Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for Independence, is a book written by Carol Berkin. It was published in 2005. This book is about women who were affected by, the Revolutionary War, and the lack of rights these women had. This book takes you on a historic journey through the eyes of the women during the Revolutionary War. The author does this by using a series of point of views through which she explains the time period of the war.
In Dracula, Stoker portrays the typical women: The new woman, the femme fatale and the damsel in distress, all common concepts in gothic literature. There are three predominant female roles within Dracula: Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra and the three vampire brides, all of which possess different attributes and play different roles within the novel. It is apparent that the feminine portrayal within this novel, especially the sexual nature, is an un-doubtable strong, reoccurring theme.
Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” is a story about a Vampire named Count Dracula and his journey to satisfy his lust for blood. The story is told through a series of individuals’ journal entries and a letters sent back and forth between characters. Bram Stoker shows the roll in which a certain gender plays in the Victorian era through the works of Dracula. This discussion not only consists of the roll a certain gender takes, but will be discussing how a certain gender fits into the culture of that time period as well as how males and females interact among each other. The Victorian era was extremely conservative when it came to the female, however there are signs of the changing into the New Woman inside of Dracula. Essentially the woman was to be assistance to a man and stay pure inside of their ways.
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
Bram Stoker's Dracula is a highly controversial novel written in the Victorian Era. The Victorian era was a time when gender played a very restrictive role in society. Men and women were expected to follow certain behavior and to stay within the conventions of the time. In Dracula, the reader encounters "the new woman", a woman who does not stay within the bounds of Victorian gender tradition. The reader also gains insight into the dominate role that men play in the novel and how the patriarchy impacts society. There are two opinions among critics, one being that the men primarily dictate the events and characterization in the novel, or the second argument being that women actually fulfill this role
The relationship that exists between gender, sexuality and sexual practice is one that is not static, but is ever changing and shifting dependent upon the society in which it exists (Brickell, 2007). This essay aims to describe how Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, presents a “characteristic, if hyperbolic, instance of Victorian anxiety over the potential fluidity of gender roles” (Craft, 111-112), whilst also inverting and subverting conventional Victorian gender patterns through the characterisation and portrayal of the vampire women residing in Count Dracula’s castle, Mina, and Lucy as well as the ‘feminine’ passivity and submissive depiction of Jonathan Harker.
In a particular addition of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Maurice Hindle had suggested that “sex was the monster Stoker feared most.” This essay will examine the examples of this statement in the Dracula text, focusing on female sexuality. The essay will also briefly look at an article Stoker had written after Dracula which also displays Stoker’s fear.
Critical analysis of the novel reveals the themes of sexuality and the buried symbols held within the text. Due to feminism and sexual ideas presented in the book, the stories focus the attention on men who fall victims of the forbidden female pleasures and fantasy. From the setting of Dracula, Victoria Era, the novel encompasses all social prejudices and beliefs regarding the roles assigned to women and men. Men used to have enough freedom and lifted up to authority while women were suppressed socially. Bram Stoker uses the two women; Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker and Professor Van Helsing to express the ideal women should be and should not be in the ideal society. The dissenting opinion gives threat to the patriarchal Victorian society to end in ruins.
Known as the Two Sex theory, devised by historian Thomas Laqueur, female sexuality would be characterized purely by a woman’s reproductive potential, where the concept of an innate maternal instinct would become the new prioritized ideal. The female orgasm was renounced by a new essence of masculine superiority. This notion can be asserted with the Phallocentric inclination of the late 18th century, examined by historian Tim Hitchcock, as period characterized by penetration and precedence of the phallus. This “both encouraged and made possible the denigration of female sexuality and perceived passivity.” Consequently this caused the de-emphasis of female sexual pleasure and desire. However, female sexual identity would reemerge with potency, attributed to social flux, the emerging field of sexology and disposition of the interwar years.
Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, published in 1897, explores various sexual erotic possibilities in the vampire's embrace, as discussed by Leonard Wolf. The novel confronts Victorian fears of homosexuality; that were current at the time due to the trial of playwright Oscar Wilde. The vampire's embrace could also be interpreted as an illustration of Victorian fears of the changing role of women. Therefore it is important to consider: the historical context of the novel; the Victorian notion of the `New Woman' specifically the character of Lucy Westenra; the inversion of gender roles; notions of sexuality; and the emasculation of men, by lessening their power over women; in the novel Dracula. In doing this I will be able to explore the effects