Essay on Victorian Women in Dracula

Decent Essays
Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” came to print in 1897, at the height of Nineteenth century Victorian life in Europe, a progressively modern era that saw much medical and technological advancement. This era brought with it the contentious idea of an empowered woman, the “New Woman,” a woman who aspires to be educated as well as sexually and economically independent. Stoker gives a contrasting view of this notion in “Dracula.” While the main characters, Lucy and Mina, are clearly opposite in personality, they are both portrayed as unequal, defenseless objects that are to be protected and desired. However, one woman’s fate is determined by her weakness, while the other is determined by her strength. Lucy Westerna is introduced as a beautiful,…show more content…
In Arthur’s absence, Lucy unknowingly takes up her old nervous habit of sleep-walking. Late in the night while sleep-walking she makes her way to the church courtyard overlooking the harbor. Here, Lucy is exposed and helpless and Dracula begins to take advantage of her. As Weissman notes, the change in Lucy is almost immediate; throughout the day she appears frail, gloomy and preoccupied, but as night falls, Lucy’s manner changes and she is sultry and aggressive (4). Arthur Holmwood returns to Lucy’s side and with the help of Van Helsing and his group of God-fearing men attempt to save her. Sadly, the men’s efforts are in vain, as Lucy does not contest her transformation and surrenders to Dracula. Lucy’s undead body is buried; however, she flees her coffin nightly to feed on unsuspecting victims. Dr. Seward notes in his diary, “ ‘ The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness’ ” (Diary, 29 September, Continued). Van Helsing and the gang of men descend on Lucy’s burial chamber where they dread the task that is at hand. Nonetheless, Arthur bravely accepts the duty of freeing his beloved’s soul. With the aid of Van Helsing, Arthur drives a stake through Lucy’s heart. The men look on as Lucy’s body quivers and her soul is freed. Lucy’s appearance returns to the soft, beautiful girl of their memory. The men can at last mourn the loss of sweet Lucy, and she may finally rest in peace.

Mina Murray is presented as
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