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Dracula (1897) By Bram Stoker Analysis - A Literary Essay Example

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Wesleyan University
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The novel Dracula is a gothic horror story written by Bram Stoker. The author uses Count Dracula, a vampire character who wants to migrate from Transylvania to England so that he can increase his region to spread the undead curse, as his main character. Dracula uses Jonathan, a new solicitor at that moment, to help him with the immigration. Jonathan later realizes that he is not a solicitor but Count Draculas prisoner. The latter uses his three daughters to torture him both sexually and mentally. The residences of the Victorian society, led by Abraham Van Helsing, are on a mission to stop count Dracula from spreading the curse. When mina is bitten and is in the process of transformation, she tracks count Dracula telepathically and has him killed by the people. The death of the vampire saves Mina from her curse of becoming a vampire.

The novel Dracula was written in the nineteenth century by Bram Stoker. It is classified as a horror book, but there is more to the themes than just the horror. The novel is about a patriarchy society where the men dominate over the women, and those females who appear to be aggressive are treated as outcasts and are even killed for being a threat to the men. In the novel, social conventions expect the females to act in a certain way to qualify as the ideal wife. That changes later as the women eventually appear to want equal right as the men.

From Freud, Mclintok, and Haughtons (123-160) supposition, women in the novel can be said to have the uncanny trait. That is evident in incidents such as when count Dracula bites Lucy leading to her transformation to be a vampire. With the acquired powers, Lucy does not care who her victims are she feeds off children and even lures grown men by pretending that she wants to kiss them. Draculas three daughters also have this trait as they use their vampire abilities to feed off the people in the society.

The uncanny character is not only present in the females of the society but also in the males. They expect the females to be submissive and always do what they want them to. Dracula himself uses his powers to exploit the people. He threatens mina that he will bite Jonathan so he can watch her beg for her husbands life. He instead bites her and forces her to drink so he can transform her into a vampire. That very character trait is present in Lucys husband, Arthur, too; in that, when the society wants to get rid of Lucy for using her sexuality to get what she wants, he takes it to himself to kill her.

This novel shows the audience how the female is seen as a lesser gender and how the women in the Victorian society have to struggle to fit in. Eventually, tables are turned, and the women are allowed to do what the men do in the community including even being financially independent. The new woman in the novel is educated and intelligent. Her maternal instincts drive her to always help the people around her.

Mina in the novel "Dracula" serves a significant purpose. In the story, she portrays characteristics of a woman whose ways have been accepted by social conventions. She is an ideal woman in the Victorian society as she is committed and is submissive to her husband, Jonathan Harker. Mina, as compared to her best friend Lucy, lives her life by the expectations that have been set by the Victorian culture. She has nothing but respect for the men and sees them as the superior gender as is expected of her. Most of the time in the novel, Mina is seen helping the men in different ways, such as comforting them and helping them to capture Dracula.

Mina has maternal instincts and is always there to help those that are in need of her help. She lets Arthur and Quincey cry on her shoulders. She uses her maternal nature to better the men around her. For instance, when they are faced with problems, Mina is always there to offer a shoulder to cry on; that is, she is filled with pity and ever wants to help.

"He stood up and then sat down again, and the tears rained down his cheeks. I felt an infinite pity for him and opened my arms unthinkingly. With a sob, he laid his head on my shoulder and cried like a wearied child, while he shook with emotion. We, women, have something of the mother in us that makes us rise above smaller matters when the mother-spirit is invoked; I felt this big, sorrowing man's head resting on me, as though it were that of the baby that someday may lie on my bosom, and I stroked his hair as though he were my own child." (Stoker 372-373).

Although Mina has good maternal instinct and is ready to help those in need of her assistance, she finds it difficult when it comes to handling problems of her own. When faced with difficulties she always clings to Jonathan like a child does to their parents. The dear girl was more affectionate with me than ever, and clung to me as though she would detain me," says Jonathan Harker (Stoker 285).

Stocker uses Mina in the novel to illustrate the intelligence she has and how well educated she is. Mina is so dedicated to her husband that she learns shorthand despite working fulltime just to be of importance to her husband. "I have been working very hard lately because I want to keep up with Jonathan's studies, and I have been practicing shorthand very assiduously" (Stoker 86).

When compared to Lucy, her best friend, Mina shows how the ideal woman should be like in the Victorian society. Mina does not have a problem living a monogamous life. Lucy, on the other hand, has had three suitors before and is wondering why it is not allowed for a woman to have three or even more husbands. She is sexually aggressive and loves the attention she gets from her suitors because of her sexuality, her looks, and her flirtatious nature. Minas sexuality is not defined in the novel at all as she does not use it to get her way. She instead uses her intelligence and brilliance to handle what comes her way.

In the Victorian culture, promiscuity is highly frowned upon. However, that does not keep Lucy from having the thoughts and even sharing them with Mina. When the three suitors ask for her hand in marriage, she asks mina; "Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?" (Stoker 96). It is her sexual aggression that gets her killed as men in the society see her as a threat.

When count Dracula threatens to attack Jonathan, Mina does what is expected of her by the Victorian culture. She portrays her submissiveness to Jonathan by keeping him safe. This incidence shows the audience how the Victorian culture exploits the women due to their vulnerable and caring nature. That is evident when Mina helps the men in pursuit of count Dracula to capture him. Mina puts men above herself always; for instance, when she is bitten and turned into a vampire by Dracula, she asks Jonathan to kill her before she does any harm to the men around her. She is willing to give her life to spare that of those around her. "Without a moment's delay, drive a stake through me and cut off my head, or do whatever else may be wanting to give me rest!" (Stoker 537).

Elsewhere, Stocker uses Mina to show her intelligence as a Victorian woman. She is financially independent and always looking to improve herself. Everything she does is to help Jonathan or other people around her. Her intelligence impresses Van Helsing so much, he says; "one of God's women, fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth. So true, so sweet, so noble "(Stoker 306). The intelligence in Mina gets her the respect from the men in the society, and Van Helsing even helps her to track down Dracula. He also helps her when she is unholy by putting holy bread on her, which unfortunately fails.

Stocker has also used Minas character to show the mercy of a typical Victorian woman. Mina shows sympathy for the men around her when they are in distress. It is because of this that she is always helping them. When Dracula is captured, Mina understands what it is like having almost become a vampire herself. She explains to the men that Dracula is a human whose soul is trapped in a monster and tries to convince them not to torture him.

The male patriarchy dominates the Victorian culture, but the women in this society are working to change this. Mina and Lucy show the independence of the new woman who is sexually and also economically independent. Mina portrays her freedom by working as hard as her husband if not more than him. The Victorian culture is threatened by the independence of the women, and they want to get rid of them so that they are not the ones dominating over society.

The new woman is in full control of her sexuality. Carmichael (6) explains the role of Lucy as a modern woman. When Lucy becomes a vampire, she lures her victim by pretending to want to kiss them then feeds on their blood. Ironically, a woman is expected to have maternal instincts, but instead, she feeds on children. It is her aggression that makes the male in the society want to get rid of her. Dracula also has three female vampires with him that Jonathan fears more than he does Count Dracula himself. Jonathan describes the female vampires as All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips" (Stoker).

Dracula chooses his victims, and most of the time they appear to be women (Stevenson 143, 145). Though he threatens to bite Jonathan, he does not but instead bites Mina and forces her to drink his blood so he can transform her into a vampire. Mina does not want to become a vampire as she is well aware what a danger she can be to the people around her. The only solution she has is to kill Dracula. She uses the help of the men around her such as Van Helsing and Doctor John Seward to track down Dracula and kill him. Doctor John Seward thinks it is possible to save Mina through placing holy bread on her skin, but this does not work and instead burns her leaving a scar.

Times seem to be changing in the Victorian culture, and the women seem to be taking control as well as the men. These new women can now sleep with their men even before the proposals. Mina highly criticizes that behavior and she writes in her journal; "Some of the 'New Woman' writers will someday start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the New Woman won't condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself" (Stoker). Mina does not understand why the new woman is not committed and loyal to one man like she is with her husband, Jonathan.

The new woman in the Victorian culture seems to be tired of the patriarchal ways of the society and claims equal rights as the men. Mina, on the other hand, plays her gender role and is always submissive to Jonathan. After Jonathans return from Transylvania, he has a mental breakdown after his encounter with Count Dracula. Stoker describes Jonathan as hysterical a term that was only used to describe the women at that time. During the periods of difficulty, mina does not take over the household, but instead, stays loyal and supportive of her husband. She does not insist that Jonathan gets health care but always stands by him.

In the novel, stocker associates impure women with evil, and that is why the women who are impure are treated as outcasts in the Victorian culture. The wicked women use their sexuality to exploit men and get their way. Excellent examples of women considered outcasts are the three daughters of Dracula and Lucy. Although Lucy is a pure woman, she has three men who want to marry her, and...

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