Dracula And Women Essay, Research Paper
Women: Object/Men: Protectors
Bram Stoker s novel, Dracula, exhibits many characteristics of nineteenth century Gothic novels. In fact, this novel may be the best representation of the time period. It includes the elements typical of the novel: morbid melancholy, figures of the supernatural, dark romance, mysterious setting, and many twists and turns. It also incorporates the differences in the roles of gender, which are obvious in the story. One example is that the men in the story seem to be very protective of their women. They treat these women more like objects or pieces of property than a person. These men try to keep their women away from Dracula because Dracula feeds on mortal blood. They would go to a great extent to keep their women away from Dracula s evil-doings.
Throughout the novel, these men refer to the women as their women. One can say that the women were not accustomed to think or decide for themselves. The actions of most of these women were dependent on the commands of their husbands. Mina did whatever her husband told her to do. [She] went to bed when the men had gone, (they had gone after Dracula) simply because they told [her] to . (Stoker, 263) The reason why these women could not think for themselves, or even do the things that men do, is because many of these women did not have the mentality of a man. During that time, almost all of the women lacked skills such as typing, writing in shorthand, and knowing simple math calculations. There was only one woman mentioned in the novel who had the brain of a man and her name is Wilhelmina Murray, who is Jonathan Harker s fianc . She knew how to type, write in shorthand, memorized the timetables, and so much more. She had the body of a woman, yet the brain of a man. Whether or not she thinks like a man, she was still forbidden to do anything with the men because she is a woman. This just shows that no matter how much a woman tries, she is still limited to certain activities. The men see these women as innocent and frail beings that are very gullible and the men would do anything to keep their women out of danger. They also thought that women were less intelligent than men and could not learn as well. . The reason why these men would forbid their women to certain activities is because they think they do not want any harm done to their women. However, their true purpose was to insure that the gap between the roles of gender would not be bridged by allowing women the same opportunities; therefore, women would never attain the superior mentality of men.
Many women are innocent before they wed because they are not exposed to certain behaviors that men dream about. However, women are also very curious about this topic. Women are very innocent to such matters. They are very clueless as to what or how this topic is perceived. The vampire bite plays a very similar role to this certain topic. The vampire bite is a metaphor for sexuality. When a vampire, such as Dracula, bites you, he does not just bite you on the neck, he lures you to him or lures you to invite him into your room or your boundary. Once he is in your boundary, he would seduce you and start to kiss you. Of course, once he seduces you, he starts to kiss you and eventually, you would kiss him back. Now, you and the vampire (Dracula) are making out ; this is the foreplay before he starts to feed on your blood. Moreover, this is very sexual. Therefore, once the women are exposed to this vampire bite or experience it, they are no longer considered innocent. After Dracula bites the woman, they crave for more of Dracula s bite. This craving for more of Dracula s bite is very sexual because they welcome Dracula into their room and perform this foreplay before he feeds on her blood. Therefore, the men in the novel try their best to keep their women away from Dracula because of how he influences their women.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard the men tried to save their women from such danger, Dracula stole one of their women away from them. Dracula stole Lucy Westenra, who is the honorable Arthur Holmwood s fianc . Dracula had bitten her many times. With Lucy s habit of sleepwalking, it only made the job easier for Dracula. No one, not even Mina, who slept in the same bed with her, knew about the vampire bite. Every morning, while Lucy was asleep, Mina would hear Lucy wheezing as if she was struggling to breathe. Later into the novel, Dr. Van Helsing discovered the bite. From then on, Lucy was pampered like a baby. Both the doctor and John Seward would always keep Lucy in sight. They were even hesitant to tell Arthur about Lucy s condition. They gave Lucy a blood transfusion when she was lacking blood. They gave her their own blood to try to save her precious life. Not only that, but they smeared garlic all over her bedroom windows and door (any form of entrance), placed a crucifix by her bed and never left her side when she was ill. They made her stay in bed and wouldn t let her out of their sight for fear that Dracula would pay her another visit. Even though she was dead, they still tried to save her. When she was dead, they found out that she became a vampire. Therefore, they stalked her to try to free her soul from the evil. By doing so, they rammed a stake through her heart, smeared her lips and coffin with garlic and cut her head off. Once her soul was free, they felt relieved; unfortunately, they had to kill Dracula to save everyone else who was bitten by him. (Stoker, 214-238)
One of the people that were bitten by Dracula is Mina. However, the men did not know about this until Renfield informed them. The men were on their quest to kill Dracula when Mina was bitten. Before they found out about Mina having been bitten by Dracula, they tried their best to protect her from Dracula. They would not let her join them in their quest, for she was a woman, or rather, their woman. After they found out about Mina, they paid close attention to her. They would not let her do more things than usual. They treated her like a delicate rose. However, Mina was still Mina. She clung to her husband s arm, and held it tight as though her clinging could protect him from any harm that might come, (Stoker, 313). Not only did she have the brain of a man; she also had the mentality to protect her property (Jonathan). In turn, the men tried to protect her. When the men finally took Mina along with them in their quest, they wouldn t let her out of their sight. While Arthur, John, Quincy, and Jonathan were chasing after Dracula towards the end of the novel, Helsing and Mina were waiting for their arrival. While they waited, Helsing made a ring of fire around Mina to protect her from the evil. This ring of fire symbolizes possession. Throughout the novel, Mina is a possession of the men in the novel. Dracula tries to possess this property of the men (Mina).
Once Dracula have their women, the men are Dracula s also for [His] revenge is just begun! [He] spread it over centuries, and time is on [his] side. [Their] girls that [they] all love are [his] already; and through them [the men] and others shall yet be [his] [his] creatures, to do [his] bidding, and to be [his] jackals when [he] want[s] to feed. Bah! (Stoker, 312). The roles of gender play an important role in determining the behavior of the characters in Dracula. There are two types of women in flux here: the traditional nineteenth century proper women and the promiscuous sexual predator. What separates the two is the symbolic vampire bite, which represents sexuality. The men, who take it upon themselves to guard their women from the bite of lust, may be unaware of their other purpose: to protect the role of the proper woman.