Gender Roles in Dracula
In a time period where females had narrow gender roles, Bram Stoker wrote his novel, Dracula. The Victorian culture often suppressed women and their value. Traditional Victorian women were thought of to be pure and virginal. Bram Stoker revealed another side of women that was not often seen. These qualities were like that of the emerging new feministic culture called the “New Woman”. The concept of gender roles in the 1890’s was very conflicted; Dracula challenged traditional gender roles.
Typical gender roles in the Victorian era were that of a woman being kind, caring, nurturing and motherly. Bram Stoker used characters in his novel to express typical gender roles of the time period, along with the bolder …show more content…
Not only was Mina smart for a woman, but Dr. Seward also said that even a man would be gifted to have such a brain as hers (Stoker 238). Having a job as secretary for the “Children of Light” was another characteristic of the “New Woman” culture. Secretarial jobs were typically acquired by men. This definitely challenged the typical female gender roles of the time. “New Women” were females that stood up for their individual worth and wanted to do more than what was expected of
The Victorian Era was a period from the early 1800’s to the very early 1900’s. During this time period the role of men and women became very distinct. Women had to hold perfect expectations so that they could get married in their early 20’s, however not focusing too much on this because they couldn’t show their sexuality (Hughes). Women showing their sexuality during this time period was thought of as vulgar and unnatural. Men however, were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted until married, even participate in prostitution (Hughes). Dracula portrays this idea of women being less superior then man and having more social standards in which they need to maintain.
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
In the late nineteenth century, women were beginning to take a stand for their equal rights in society. The term “new woman” was used to describe these women, openly proclaiming their independence from men. It was a woman’s way to threaten the conventional ideas of society, and to bring about their own changes (Buzwell). Following their well-known suffrage movement, women claimed their freedom sexually, physically, and in the workplace. For many years’ prior, women were expected to be the typical housewife, watching over the house, cooking, and cleaning. They were property of their husbands. During their equal rights revolution, women pursued careers like doctors or lawyers and fulfilling their sexual desires for purposes other than bearing children. As today’s society may never know the struggles and misfortunes during the Victorian era, Dracula leaves a time capsule behind to elaborate on the realities during such a prominent generation (Podonsky). Considering this given criteria, a new woman comes in a variety of forms; some women represent a stronger sexual desire while others demonstrate character traits on equality in work and education. In the case of Dracula, the two main female characters take two different forms; one blatantly sexual and one chaste (Humphrey). Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula portrays the ideas of a “new woman” in a modern society, utilizing Mina’s and Lucy’s characters to display opposite characteristics of the feminist movement which draw attention to
During the Victorian Era, women struggled to attain gender equality by challenging the traditional roles that defined them. These women no longer wanted to remain passive and obey the demands of their husbands nor be domestic and the caretakers of their children. They strived to attain the role of a 'New Woman', an intelligent, liberated individual who was able to openly express her ideas (Eltis 452). Whereas some women were successful in attaining this new role, others were still dominated by their male counterparts. The men felt threatened by the rising power of women and repressed them by not allowing them to work, giving them unnecessary medications, and diagnosing them with hysteria (Gilman
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.
Sticking true to the Vicortain setting of his novel, Bram Stoker ensures that gender and gendered behavior is well defined throughout his novel Dracula. He explicitly genders the characterizations of his characters; however, most of them do not portray characteristics exclusively associated with their gender. In order to highlight such complexities, Stoker must acknowledge prevailing thoughts on gendered behavior. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, masculinity is associated with “strength...vigor…[and] power” ("masculine, adj. and n."). Contrastingly, the feminine is seen as “delica[te]” ("feminine, adj. and n.") and emotional. One of the strongest characterististics of either masculine or feminine behavior is that it is “often contrasted with a corresponding object deemed to be” ("feminine, adj. and n.") of the opposite gender. It is this strong contrast that Stoker’s portrayal of characters with a mixture of a traits a bold choice. Stoker’s portrayal of Dracula as the epitome of traditional masculinity casts negative light on the masculine archetype; when this villain is
Dracula is a novel written by Bram Stoker during the late 1800’s. The book starts out with Jonathan Harker, who is a smart young business man, who wants to travel to Count Dracula for a business ordeal. Many locals from the European area warned Jonathan about Count Dracula, and would offer him crosses and other trinkets to help fend against him. Mina, who is at the time Jonathans soon to be wife, visits to catch up with an old friend named Lucy Westenra. Lucy gives Mina an update on her love life telling her how she’s been proposed to by three different men. The men are introduced as Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris. Unfortunately for her she will need to reject two of the men, and Lucy ends up choosing to marry Holmwood. Later on after Mina visits Lucy, Lucy starts to sleep walk, becomes sick, and then finds out she has bite marks on her throat. Due to this incident, another new character is introduced who happens to be Van Helsing. As the novel progresses, lady vampires are introduced and Lucy is eventually turned into one of the lady vampires as well. With the introduction of female vampires, the novel Dracula turns into a sexual and sensational novel by Bram Stoker. The female characters in the book are overly sexualized to where we can compare it to how women are viewed from back then in history to today’s world.
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
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 the late 19th century, when Dracula by Bram Stoker is written, women were only perceived as conservative housewives, only tending to their family’s needs and being solely dependent of their husbands to provide for them. This novel portrays that completely in accordance to Mina Harker, but Lucy Westenra is the complete opposite. Lucy parades around in just her demeanor as a promiscuous and sexual person. While Mina only cares about learning new things in order to assist her soon-to-be husband Jonathan Harker. Lucy and Mina both become victims of vampirism in the novel. Mina is fortunate but Lucy is not. Overall, the assumption of women as the weaker specimen is greatly immense in the late 19th century. There are also many underlying
In Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Stoker’s use of inverted gender roles allows readers to grasp the sense of obscureness throughout, eventually leading to the reader’s realization that these characters are rather similar to the “monster” which they call Dracula. Despite being in the Victorian era, Stoker’s use of sexuality in the novel contributes to the reasoning of obscureness going against the Victorian morals and values. Throughout the novel the stereotypical roles of the Victorian man and woman are inverted to draw attention to the similarities between Dracula and the characters. Vague to a majority of readers, Bram Stoker uses Dracula as a negative connotation on society being that the values of
Dracula is a novel that indulges its male reader’s imagination, predominantly on the topic of female sexuality. When Dracula was first published, Victorian women’s sexual behaviour was extremely restricted by social expectations. To be classed as respectable, a women was either a virgin or a wife. If she was not either, she was considered a whore. We begin to understand once Dracula arrives in Whitby, that the novel has an underlying battle between good and evil, which will hinge on female sexuality. Both Lucy Westenra and Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray embody two-dimensional virtues that have been associated with female. They are both virgins, whom are innocent from the evils of the world and that are devoted to their men. Dracula’s arrival threatens those virtues, threatening to turn Lucy and Mina into the opposites, noted for their voluptuousness, which could lead to an open sexual desire.
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.