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During the late 19th Century women's views and ideals were radically attempting to overpower the patriarchal system. How are these changing ideals portrayed in Stoker's 'Dracula'?

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Introduction

During the late 19th Century women's views and ideals were radically attempting to overpower the patriarchal system. How are these changing ideals portrayed in Stoker's 'Dracula'? Bram Stoker's Dracula is a late 19th century novel; this era in British history saw the expansion and gains of the Empire and the development of technology, which could be seen as an after product of the Industrial revolution. The introduction of these inventions and working practices led to Britain becoming one of the major politically and economically stable countries heading into the 20th century. The unstoppable advancement towards the 20th century and the advancements in technology led to a natural fear among the population. This tension was increased when immigrants from East European countries arrived in England. This fear of change and of invasion was utilised by authors at the time. They used this fear and tension and embodied it into monstrous characters. Stoker immersed his contemporary audience into a world of foreign language and culture, with Dracula being the fight between good and evil. The novel also raises the issue of patriarchy, which was very apparent during the 1800's. ...read more.

Middle

At the start of the novel this division of the ideal woman is portrayed greatly by the three female Vampires, they are viewed as a group of sexually obsessed and predatory monsters. This view could be seen as a link to those ladies of the 19th century who had rebelled against conformity and thus been outcast by society. This division is apparent between Lucy and Mina,: Lucy is very open about sex and sexuality, whereas Mina rarely comments on the subject at all. The reader gets the impression that Lucy is selfish and concentrates only on her own issues in life regardless others. In only the second letter written by Lucy, she laments 'Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as man as want her, and save all this trouble?'. Even though Lucy recognises that this is a somewhat heretical comment, she still makes this inner confession to her friend Mina, and whilst it appears that the two have an emotional link through their friendship, there is no point in the novel where Mina makes such a controversial comment; rather, Mina is everything that a Victorian woman could be expected to be, 'So true, so sweet, so noble' as Van Helsing comments. ...read more.

Conclusion

This act can be seen as a re-establishment of power and order, which 19th century men were striving for. Stoker's attitudes towards the female characters in his novel are not a defence of the patriarchal system of Victorian England but not a complete acceptance of the modern women. Although Stoker incorporates the ideals of the rebellious (deranged) woman through the female vampires, he also in Mina's character includes small characteristics of a modern female but not to stray too much into this he constantly reinforces her dependence on patriarchy. In a way Stoker is trying to portray his ideal woman. And through the statements made by Van Helsing, 'So true, so sweet, so noble', 'we are but men and able to bear, but you must be our star and our hope...' Mina is created into a type of feminine role model. The fact that Mina is glorified in a talismanic way by Van Helsing shows his inability to accept the changing roles of women. The division, which is seen throughout the play and the fate of the main female characters, could be seen as a deterrent for women to accept these 'New Woman' ideals. Matthew Wright ...read more.

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