Feminism and Dracula

For my final paper I have chosen the second prompt which asks me to research the culture/ideology behind one of the works we have studied in class. When reading Dracula, I was intrigued by the role of the women in the novel and in particular, their sexuality. We have the vampire sisters who exude uninhibited sexuality, and this is part of the reason why the audience is supposed to find them fearful and dangerous. We also have Lucy and Mina, who are contrasted with the vampire sisters by demonstrating innocence, gentility, and modesty. When Lucy gets turned into a vampire she immediately transforms into a dangerously beautiful, and “voluptuous” monster. Although the novel can be seen through a feminist light because Mina is ultimately the one who collects the letters/evidence, arranges and analyzes it, and leads the group of men to victory, I still feel like there is a fear and discomfort around the idea of a woman being comfortable in her sexuality and openly showcasing it. The vampire sisters should be considered evil because they kill people and harm others, but what is most disturbing about them to the characters is their sexuality and disregard for traditional maternal roles. This goes along with the fact that Mina and Lucy (before she turned into a vampire), who are the “good women” and heros, are modest and embody societal virtues such as purity and “sweetness” as Stoker described her. Although Dracula could be considered progressive for women in late Victorian society because it showcases a woman who is capable of leadership and intelligence more than her fellow men, this is not a form of liberation because it idealizes a certain type of woman (Mina). The story implies that you will be gazed upon in a positive light only if you are a virtuous, chaste woman like her. Although Stoker could have had good intentions with making Mina the only truly capable character of the novel, his portrayal of her and other women is not truly feminist. For feminism to ring true, it must be intersectional and tackle the core issue of putting constraints on a woman’s sexuality and body. The main focus of my research for my paper will be the thoughts and ideologies around women’s sexuality during Victorian times, and how they were showcased through Dracula. I believe that this connects to Dublin because of how the Irish simultaneously hated London culture and yet aimed to emulate it. Something I am considering pursuing is how the treatment of Victorian era women in London described in Dracula compares to those in Dublin as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Brenda
    Your research topic sounds very interesting and I think you are diving deep into the discourse that still surrounds Stoker’s Dracula till this day. You make an interesting point as to how this novel continues its restraints on women’s sexuality despite its feminist tone. Your focus on how women’s treatment in London compares to the treatment of women in Dublin sounds very interesting and I am sure it will be a great research paper!

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