Sexual Roles in DraculaWomen in Bram Stoker’s Dracula are primarily presented in two ways: There is the sexual being created solely with the aid Dracula’s vampiric influence, and the device manipulated and virtually exploited by the men throughout the novel to contribute to the fight between Dracula and Van Helsing and his companions. This battle is not only the literal battle between Dracula and the men, but it is primarily a battle for the empowerment of women, both sexually and intellectually; a fight against the constricting social boundaries which forced men and women into their respective roles. Dracula’s kiss enables women to become sexual penetrators. Using their sharp teeth to penetrate men, the reverse the traditional gender roles and place men in the passive position customarily reserved for women (Craft, 448). The instance when Mina drinks from Dracula’s breast is the strongest example of this; where the reader to this point is accustomed to Dracula doing the ?biting?, and suddenly Mina has the power to penetrate a male.Order now
Both Lucy and Mina, when they carry out a relationship with Dracula, become sexual beings, as opposed to when they are mortals and are forced to obey the social boundaries of their society. By expressing this sexuality, they become threatening to the men. Mina is intelligent, and despite the strong aversion she has to the ?New Woman? or the ?Modern Woman?, she is, in fact, a sort of modern woman; connected with modern ways, a schoolteacher with secretarial skills, she possesses a ?man’s brain?. It is this very brain which is ultimately used to aid in Dracula’s downfall. Lucy, on the other hand, is presented as the temptress at the very start of the novel.
Stoker presents her as exhibiting personality traits potentially dangerous in women. She is ever the tease, falling into the traditional female role more than Mina ever did. Her vanity and superficiality is shown very clearly in a letter to Mina: ?THREE proposals in one day! Isn’t it awful! . . .
But, for goodness’ sake, don’t tell any of the girls, or they would be getting all sorts of extravagant ideas and imagining themselves injured and slighted if in their very first day at home they did not get six at least. Some girls are so vain? (Stoker, 57). As a mortal, Lucy is already a sexual being- her transformation into a vampire only accentuates her seductiveness, making her a threat to the men. She becomes everything she wasn’t in life; maternal, mature, cunning, sly.
When the vampiric Lucy is approached by Holmwood in her tomb, his intent to destroy, she tries to seduce him (and he finds her hard to resist), to get him to protect her from the others. In the eyes of the men, she has become a ?monster? as well, and their desire for her is manifested in their obsession with destroying her. Lucy’s unmanageable sexual penetration is presented as inherently evil because it threatens fixed gender distinctions (Signorottii, 623). Jonathon, Van Helsing, Seward and Holmwood are all overwhelmingly and unavoidably attracted to the vampires, and to sexuality in general. Fearing this, they both displace this attraction and justify their hostile reaction to it by projecting the attraction onto the female vampires (with the rationale that it is not themselves who want the vampires, it is the vampires who want them), and using religion to justify the murders (Roth, 415). The men refuse admit to this attraction, because what they are attracted to poses such a threat to their manhood.
Vampires are allowed to show their sexuality in a much more explicit manner than the ?living?. One of the three vampire women who attempt to feed form Jonathon in Dracula’s castle exhibits this with surprising directness: ?He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all? (Stoker, 42). ?The vampire women offer immediate sexual gratification. .
. a tempting alternative to the socially imposed delays and frustrations of Jonathon’s relationship with the chaste and somewhat sexless Mina? (Wasson, 389). During Mina’s transformation, she becomes a much more dangerous threat to the men. Her ?man’s brain? is now being used to Dracula’s advantage. Furthermore, Dracula is able to give his women, Mina being no exception, what Jonathon could never give; knowledge, power, sexuality, lust.
Mina’s relationship with Dracula is the envy of Jonathon, for he is too proper and must adhere to the social boundaries of the time to strictly for him to carry out such an impassioned relationship, even with his own wife. Mina is used as a tool by both Dracula and Van Helsing. Dracula uses Mina as a link to the mind of England- the new territory he plans on colonizing because his parasitic existence has used up the people and land of Transylvania. Dracula’s best chance for survival now lies in the West, where technology, reason, and progressive democratic ideals prevail.
Mina’s skills as a teacher and her ability to type and write in shorthand give Dracula an inside link to this new territory (Wasson, 387). In fact, Dracula’s reason for ?expanding? into England is to create a race of female vampires equipped with masculine qualities (Craft, 448). In their quest to exterminate Dracula, Mina becomes the intermediary link to Van Helsing and the other men. Van Helsing uses her by hypnotizes her to gain access to Dracula’s mind and find his weaknesses. She tells Van Helsing that ?you can hypnotize me and so learn that which even I myself to not know? (Stoker, 284?).
Mina and Dracula’s psychic bond is exploited by Dracula’s ultimate destroyers to attain their goal of both eliminating Dracula- this creature who has sexually liberated ?their? women- and saving Mina (Signorotti, 626). Lucy is never used as such, nor is she as threatening as Mina is, mostly because Lucy never possessed the aggressive, masculine attributes that Mina did. True, Lucy has the sexual strength that Dracula wants in a companion, and both Mina and Lucy evoke the sensuality and maternity which Dracula’s brides do not, it is ultimately Mina’s intelligence, rationale, and ability to adapt to modern life that allow her to live. Lucy dies because she is a rough draft of Dracula’s ideal companion. Dracula’s experiment with Lucy reveals unpleasant results of a woman fighting to break free of the traditional gender roles, whereas his experiment with Mina produces a much more satisfying outcome (Signorotti, 624).
Mina is viewed more as Dracula’s equal, and he believes this perfection has been attained. However, Dracula did not count on Mina’s strengths to be used against him in anyway, and is it the very ?man’s brain? which attracts Dracula to Mina that causes his destruction.English Essays