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Sex and Death in Stoker’s Dracula Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2019

The Victorian society imposed strict restrains on uncovering sexuality, particularly expressing female sexuality because the Victorian vision of a woman was confined to an idealized representation of the roles that females should play in society.

Therefore, Stoker’s novel Dracula reflects a negative attitude toward female sexuality that conforms neither of the above-accepted patterns. As a result, death is the only punishment for any displays of women’s eroticism.

Death and sexuality, therefore, are closely intertwined because they are the most powerful tools of peace disruption among both males and females.

Specific attention should be paid to the representation of a New Woman freed from sexuality, evaluation of sex as an anti-Christian regressive process demoralizing society, and strong association between sex and death as disruptive powers stereotypes in the Victorian era.

Stoker was fully aware of the sexual allegories running through his novel and heavily criticized by him. At the end of the novel, the sexualized women are get punished for their immoral actions and uncontrolled sexual desires: “There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time deadly fear” (Stoker 57).

Within the rigid social and moral frames of the Victorian age society, women were accepted into several limited options – acting the role of a chaste and innocent girl, or imposing the obligation of mother and wife.

Other than that was heavily criticized and rejected by society and by men who resisted their sexual fantasies and wished to exterminate any of abnormal sexual representations (Davis 22). In addition, the death of the female vampire can be associated with the author’s negative outlook toward self-determined women that surpassed the acceptable norms of morale.

All women succumbed to the Count Dracula’s evil intentions were doomed to die, except for Mina Harker, the woman who manages to resist Dracula’s seduction.

In the novel, the heroine reveals a perfect symbiosis of contemporary woman possessing traditional virtues: “She is one of God’s women, fashioned by His own hand to show use men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth” (Stoker 300).

By presenting the portrayal of Mina as the one belonging to the New Women generation, the author provides an example of the Victorian woman that is capable of resisting the devil’s seduction.

Just as the Count Dracula personifies the vices of society and demoralized outlook on sexual relationships, sex is featured as an anti-Christian regressive display, which makes both men and women succumb to their “inner” vampires (Davidson 27).

In the play, Stoker refers to religious ideologies while demonstrating his opposition to the expression of sexuality; he, therefore, considers Dracula as antagonistic hero resisting divine laws: “Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son dies, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him” (Stoker 508).

At this point, the story can be regarded as a moral tale that informs about the greatest concerns of the Victorian age – the threat of violating the religious traditions, and the threat of feeing women from moral and stereotypical boundaries of that time.

More importantly, the presence of an antagonistic hero creates transparent and clear distinction between right and wrong actions, as well as between divine and vicious sources of social intentions.

Regarding the above-presented juxtapositions, the deep connection between such controversial conceptions as sexuality and death is explicitly revealed. Representing sexuality as the one unfitting societal views is as powerful as representation of death.

Hence, those females and males surpassing the forbidden boundaries are doomed to be on the edge of death. Lucy fails to resist Dracula’s seduction and reveals her sexual nature opposite to her traditional virtues (Stoker 486).

As a result, Van Helsing sees no other choices but to exterminate the evil and turn Lucy into a socially and morally respectable state. Because of the fear of loosing their reputation, men decide to kill Lucy and seduced girls to save the society from vices. These female vampires, therefore, embody the utmost sexual desires of men who are afraid of been captured by their personal fantasies and be socially scorned.

In conclusion, strong expression of female sexuality is closely associated with the disruptive power of death in Stoker’s novel. Women and men of the Victorian era were heavily suppressed by rigid morale and religious ideologies and, as a result, surpassing the established frames would mean death for male honor and female innocence.

Hence, Dracula embodies all the societal vices and sins that were rigidly criticized and forbidden at that time. Therefore, sexualized women, such as Lucy who succumbed to vices, should be punished whereas Mina, a representative of the modern female movement, manages to suppress her inner sexuality and liberate herself from the evil.

This confrontation is also represented through eternal encounters between the Devil and God, between the right and the wrong. Pursuing the religious patterns of that time, Stoker compares Dracula with the Devil who demoralizes and disrupts society.

Works Cited

Davis, Lloyd. Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature. US: SUNY Press, 1993. Print.

Davison, Carol Margaret. Bram Stocker’s Dracula: Sucking Through the Century, 1897-1997. US: Dundurn Press, 1997. Print.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. US: Plain Label Books, 1897. Print.

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