Medicalized Sexuality and Dracula

Vampires are so frightening because they are vectors of the unknown. In this way, the vampires in Dracula can be interpreted as a metaphor for disease. Vampires kill and infect in a mysterious fashion, just as many diseases kill and infect in ways not yet explainable by science. Interestingly, in Dracula the disease of vampirism appears to manifest differently in the sexes. In particular, the female vampires exude sexuality while the male vampires are distinguished by their disturbing and unusual characteristics. Strong female sexuality is also connected to terror and fear in human society as demonstrated by the role of the seductress and temptress in many forms of media. Because much of society is viewed through a patriarchal lens, female sexuality and female bodies are seen as deviant because they differ from men’s bodies. In my essay, I would like to explore how Dracula reflects the late nineteenth century medical and societal views that female sexuality was unnatural and diseased. I intend to analyze two specific sections in the text. The first section is the introduction of the female vampires in Dracula’s castle. I would like to detail the differences in sexuality between the female and Dracula. I also plan to analyze Lucy’s transition into a vampire. I wish to compare Lucy and Mina’s transition into becoming vampires and differences in their sexuality.

I will ground this analysis in historical views of women’s sexuality. I plan on addressing how women’s sexuality was medicalized and treated by psychiatrists and physicians as an illness. Furthermore, I wish to explore the late nineteenth century views of women’s sexuality as dangerous and how this reflected upon the concept of femininity. I will connect my topic back to Ireland, by including the perceptions of female sexuality held by Ireland, where Bram Stoker was from. In addition, I hope to add any additional information I may find on medical practices for female sexuality in Ireland.

Dracula (1958 film) - Wikipedia

1 Comment

  1. Hi Michelle! Your topic was something that I was especially cognizant of as I read Dracula. It is definitely a very gendered text; the ways in which the male and female vampires are portrayed are reflective of anxieties surrounding female sexuality. In terms of the medical component of your paper, it also reminded me of how misunderstood female mental health and illnesses were understood during this time. Women have definitely been wrongly pathologized throughout history, and much of this is due to the patriarchal framework in which we exist.

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