Exam Stoker’s presentation of women in Dracula. In your answer you should consider… 1. To what degree do women conform to social norms 2. Archetypes 3. How the language is sexually charged 4. Their importance to the narrative Mina and Lucy both represent very respectable upper-middle class women of the time, and play a very prominent role throughout the novel. Despite this, Mina is clearly more heroic than Lucy and can be seen as she outlives Dracula and is praised for her strong personality.
It is clear in the novel that in order for Dracula to enter a building, or to have any relationship with a person/character, that he must be welcomed before he can act. As a result, it can be said that Mina is actually stronger than Lucy, as she resists Dracula to a larger extent. When Lucy is bitten, she finds it hard to sleep, and becomes restless in the nights as Mina observes. Lucy begins to sleepwalk, and it is made clear that the “Bloofer Lady”, who has become know among the children she is feeding off , as her new cravings need to be satisfied. Where the mystery lies though is how Dracula became to bite her, when there was no one at the house in Whitby to welcome him. This suggests some sort of co-operation with Dracula, whereas Mina does not have this luxury since Renfield welcomes him, and later confesses.
Again, it is clear that Mina is also intellectually strong, as after being turned, she gains an insight into the childish mind of Dracula. As a mature woman, she decides that she should not know of the future actions of the group, since she believes that what she knows Dracula knows, and vice-versa. Mina is intellectually perceptive, and this is made clear when she asks Jonathan to promise her that he should inform her of no more. The men in the novel are particularly fond of Mina, especially Van Helsing as he says, “Wonderful Madam Mina! She has a mans brain and a women’s heart”.
Dracula lives off blood, and it is women stoker chooses to be the main target and victim of the predator. Out of all the possible forms of “food”, Dracula chooses to target both Mina and Lucy, both very beautiful, and middle class women. Why doesn’t Dracula decide to go for lower class citizens, as they would be the most likely to be forgotten about, and there would be little suspicion? The fact that Dracula targets such women of class shows that he has taste, and does not settle for anything less than the best. It is clear that Dracula shows taste, because when he has to travel over the oceans, he settles for the men on board the ship.
As a result of Dracula’s focus on women, the novel becomes more horrific. It is understandable that Dracula has taste, and beautiful women are preferable to men, but the fact that Stoker decides to use women instead of men suggests that he is trying to add a sense of disgust to Dracula, and help us to develop a hatred for the character, since some of the information can seem quite sympathetic and want us to side Dracula.
Another reason for the preferred use of women as to men is because in reality, women have power over men. Dracula use the male weakness of women against the brother hood/band of brothers. I question this belief though, because if Dracula wanted to keep his movement to London as trouble free as possible, and he was using women for this motive, obviously he hadn’t thought this plan through, since if he were to do this he would attract the attention of the more dominant sex, the male to hunt down the predator. By pursuing women, Dracula inflames the protective instincts of their protectors, men Personally, I think this shows Dracula’s childish brain and the fact that he has not thought his plan through. Women are the primary focus of Dracula because he cannot control his sexual needs, and this is a weakness of Dracula’s.
Stoker uses the pursuit of two women as a double plot structure, since he follows the effects of Lucy and repeats the same to Mina. The fact that this happens helps to highlight the point that the motives of the group of men change each turn round. With Lucy, they try to cure her, and fail to an extent, but do relieve her from her un-dead status to dead. I believe the group then realise that “prevention is better than cure”, and when Dracula attacks Mina, the group decide to hit back by searching to destroy the source rather than save the sick.
It is clear that Stoker uses women to sexually charge his language, although this is sometimes subtle. For example, when Dracula attacks Renfield and then leads on to Mina, there are three in a bed so to speak. Mina is sucking blood from Dracula’s chest and Jonathan is in bed. Also, it is not clear if Mina and Jonathan have actually fully consummated their marriage, since at the ceremony Jonathan was almost fatally ill.
This scene suggests to some that Mina may have been partly willing and attracted to Dracula since she has not yet consummated her marriage with her husband. Earlier in the Jonathans journal, Stoker writes a very erotic passage including three female vampires. It seems that both sexes of the vampire race become more beautiful as they quench their first, it’s almost as if they are renewing their youth.
Their lips become more lusciously red and their teeth become sharp and shiny. Further, it says “she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on her scarlet lips”. In this passage, Jonathan, who is clearly loyal to his fiancï¿½, is tempted by the vampires and is teased to the extent that he becomes a willing participant before Dracula enters and the theme changes. This is clear when it says, “There was deliberate voluptuousness, which was both thrilling and repulsive”.