• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the role of sexuality in Dracula. What does the novel suggest about sexual behavior in Victorian England?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the role of sexuality in Dracula. What does the novel suggest about sexual behavior in Victorian England? Bram Stoker's focus on sexuality (particularly female sexuality) is evident throughout the different stages of the novel. Scenes in which this is most apparent include the scene portraying the attempted seduction of Harker by the 'voluptuous' woman vampires, Lucy being bitten by Dracula on the bench and the demolition of Lucy by Arthur Holmwood. In all of the mentioned scenes, Stoker combines the two themes of sexuality and violence in a manner which is sometimes very reserved and consequently well hidden from the modern day reader. Nevertheless, for the average Victorian reader, such hints and ambiguity would be significantly clearer and it would be far easier to understand Stoker's intentions. This is as a result of how sexuality and more specifically intercourse which Victorian Society considered taboo. This is the primary reason for Stoker's ambiguity in such scenes as it would have been considered against the basic social values if Stoker were to explicitly base a scene around strong themes of sexuality and therefore hid his forbidden meanings amongst a more obvious meaning so that one would have to look and study the text carefully to get to grips with such obscure substances. Of course not all sexuality in Dracula was based plainly around intercourse, Stoker frequently gives an insight into Victorian attitudes towards the different sexes with quotes from both genders. ...read more.

Middle

Van Helsing when speaking of Mina says "Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina! She has man's brain - a brain that a man should have were he much gifted - and woman's heart." This is of course intended to be a great compliment towards Mina by highlighting the two highest qualities of both sexes that embody the Victorians stereotypical attitude towards the two sexes. In modern times, it would be far less of a compliment as it was back then and shows how Stoker attempts to reflect the context of the novel as accurately as possible. Most criticism of Dracula sees the novel in terms of suppressed sexual instincts coming to the surface. The novel draws an implied analogy between vampirism and sex. The Count can only go where he is first invited, meaning that his female victims desire him to penetrate them. This act of penetration draws blood, like the 'deflowering' of a virgin bride. After the act, the woman looks unnaturally flushed and healthy, though after repeated penetration, she becomes drained of blood and anemic. The exchange of bodily fluids (blood in the case of vampiric attacks) is another similarity with sex. Once corrupted by the Count's attentions, the women (Lucy is an example) is transformed from pure and virtuous creature to a lascivious, bestial predator who is driven to lure men to their destruction. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat... I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstacy and waited - waited with beating heart." (Chapter 3) This is the most-discussed episode in the novel. At Count Dracula's castle, Jonathan Harker has a vision or dream (he is unsure which) in which he is seduced by three vampire women. The vampiric tradition of blood-sucking is symbolic of the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. For Stoker, writing in the sexually repressed Victorian age, vampirism is a convenient metaphor for sex and the closest he could get to writing about sex in a 'respectable' novel. The seduction incident is remarkable for the reversal of traditional gender roles: Harker is a passive victim, peeping out under his eyelashes like a coy young girl, while the vampire women are sexually aggressive predators. In Victorian Britain, a sexually aggressive woman was seen as a threat to the very fabric of society, so Stoker's characterisation of such women as death-dealing vampires is apt. Harker's longing for, and yet revulsion to the women illustrates the deeply ambiguous attitude of Victorian society towards the female sexual appetite. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Bram Stoker section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Bram Stoker essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Write about Chapter 1 of Bram Stoker's Dracula as an introduction to the rest ...

    4 star(s)

    George's Day, and at midnight on St. George's Eve evil is at its strongest. When he insists that he must go, she gives him a crucifix. Although he cannot understand much of their language, he can make out the words for devil, Satan, werewolf, and vampire. The peasants make motions at him to protect him from the evil eye.

  2. Monster/Vampire movies are concerned with sexual transgression,

    to be achieve so the vampire expresses the profound contradictories of the cultural construction of heterosexual masculinity. If 'society' resides in moral order, in marriage, in the unemotional, unerotic workplace, then it has no place for driving randiness and uncontrollable priaplism, themselves conceived as the nature of male sexuality."

  1. On the basis of a discussion of one or two passages explain why you ...

    Stoker is able to show the power of western racial bloods both literally, in the various acts of transfusion, or metaphorically, in the alliance formed around Van Helsing's leadership. Therefore this conveys not only the victory of the Western stock over the less developed opposition, but also the intellectual, moral,

  2. Discuss possible answers to this question with reference to at least two critical or ...

    241). This sexual innuendo restores the Victorian balance of sexual penetration from the female domain back its accepted station within the male domain. Showalter interprets the killing as a gang rape, done with "impressive phallic instrument" (p. 181). "Those serial transfusions which, while they pretend to serve and protect 'good women,'

  1. "The Gothic is concerned primarily with representing transgression and taboo, there is nothing more ...

    parcel of its potent political potential, "a tale of breakdown could carry with it a precise indictment of the system of economic and racial exploitation that stimulated the breakdown in the first place." (Gruenberg, 244). Romantic Gothic, like Romanticism, held a mirror up to British society.

  2. What boudaries does the vampire threaten? Discuss possible answers to this question with ...

    This is witnessed in the conflict between Dracula, and Van Helsing and his entourage; the Crew of Light. Their conflict arises over a duel to see who is able to assert more power over women, both sexually and intellectually, gender functions that are woven tightly into Victorian ideals about masculine and feminine counterparts; as shown by Lucy.

  1. The novel Dracula by Bram Stoker was written in 1897 during the Victorian period ...

    Senf's essay, "Dracula: Stoker's Response to the New Woman." "Familiar with the feminist movement and apparently supportive of women's struggles for professional equality, he creates women characters who are the intellectual equals of the men in his novels." This was almost unheard of in that Victorian era. It seems that Stoker was a bit of a feminist, and word

  2. Vampires. Carmilla was a wholly physical vampire, that was seen as simply a beautiful, ...

    Carmilla was a wholly physical vampire, that was seen as simply a beautiful, fine, but 'languid' young lady. She was not halted by male authority, and unobtrusively preceded with her quest under the veil of Victorian femininity. In this way, vampirism is displayed not as monstrous, but erotically seductive.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work