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  • Bram Stoker '10
Introduction to Dracula By: Mitchell Belfield, Dana Judas, Nick Maas, Ashlee Speth, and Amy Windmill

"I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years." Bram Stoker speaking of his childhood illness, during which time he concocted stories that eventually became the novels he wrote later in life.

The Legacy of Dracula

From Monster to Sex Symbol: Dracula and the Image of the Vampire through the Ages

Bram Stoker could have scarcely imagined when writing Dracula that more than one hundred years later, his image of the eternal, vile monster would still be so prevalent in modern culture. In fact, the images first brought to life through Stoker's most famous novel have metamorphosed into a world of vampire culture all their own. A recent resurgence of interest can be seen in novels, television series', and movies such as the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers, the "True Blood" series on HBO, "The Vampire Diaries" on cable, and a bevy of movies along the same theme. Though they have their roots in Stoker's thrilling tale, differences abound, making them accessible to modern audiences.

If one thinks of the classic vampire, the image of slick black hair, aristocratic demeanor, a widow's peak, long cape and fangs may spring to mind. With the advent of modern vampire tales, however, the image of the cold monster has been transformed into something sophisticated, powerful and sexy. No longer lurking in the shadows, vampires have "come out of the coffin" so to speak, and placed themselves in mainstream society. This extreme makeover can be seen with Twilight's Edward Cullen portraying a charming, sports car driving, 17 year old student, to "True Blood's" businessman and entrepreneur Eric Northman. Vampires are no longer presented as something Other. Instead, they are being presented as the (un)living embodiments of what it means to be masculine, powerful and successful. They are the physical manifestation of the American dream, no matter their original origins, with both time and wealth on their sides. Indeed, they have transformed from something to be feared, to something to be envied.

Bram Stoker's literary classic, Dracula, has inspired many contemporary adaptations in cinema and literature since it was first published in 1897. But little do many know, the classic vampire tale was loosely based on an historic figure, the cruel and brutal, Vlad the Impaler III, Prince of Wallachia. Vlad was known for his extreme punishment, receiving his name from his frequent practice of impaling his victims through tall wooden stakes, leaving them as examples for the rest of his kingdom. With this image in mind, Stoker formed the basis for his now infamous creature, Count Dracula. Stoker retained the most brutal aspects of the rulers character, but incorporated themes and motifs that modern Victorian audiences could relate to.

It is believed that Stoker found accounts of Vlad the Impaler's cruelty from William Wilkinson book, An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia: with various Political Observations Relating to Them.

It has also been suggested that Stoker may first learned of Wilkinson's book through a friend, who was a Hungarian professor. Regardless of how the name came to Stoker's attention, the cruel yet intriguing history of the Impaler readily lent itself to Stoker's purposes.

Legends of vampires and their lore have spread far and wide throughout history, with vampiric creatures in ancient Greek, Babylonian and Assyrian cultures. Modern folk legends, however, stem from Eastern European oral traditions. An epidemic of vampirism swept through Eastern Europe beginning in the late 17th century and continued through the 1700s. Travelers returning from the Slavic regions brought terrifying tales of the undead, sparking an interest in the vampire legends that continue throughout the world to this day. During the Victorian era, Ludovico Fatinelli wrote a famous treatise on vampirism in Hungary. It was also during this period that authors and playwrights began to explore the centuries old Slavic vampire legend, bringing it to a wider audience. It's been said that Stoker studied Fatinelli's seminal work, incorporating established legends with his own imagination to bring audiences the updated and streamlined Count Dracula of Transylvania. The legend of Vlad the Impaler, the region he ruled over, and the folk lore the region possessed formed a perfect backdrop for Stoker's thrilling tale.

Bram Stoker could have scarcely imagined when writing Dracula that more than one hundred years later, his image of the eternal, vile monster would still be so prevalent in modern culture and still enjoy the cult status his novel first created. In fact, the images first brought to life through Stoker's most famous novel have metamorphosed into a world of vampire culture all their own. A recent resurgence of interest can be seen in novels, television series', and movies such as the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers, the "True Blood" series on HBO, "The Vampire Diaries" on cable, and a bevy of movies along the same theme. Though they have their roots in Stoker's thrilling tale, differences abound, making them accessible to modern audiences. One can easily expect to see more incarnations of the classic vampire in the coming decades as more and more younger audiences fall in love with Stoker's classic.

"The History of Transylvania".www.hungarian-history.hu/lib/faf/toc02.htm. Hungarian History. Web. 30 Apr. 2010.

"Vlad the Impaler". www.middle-ages.org.uk/vlad-dracula.htm. Middle Ages. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

Physicality and Dracula: Embodiments of Bram Stoker's Creation in Film

As the cultural perception of Dracula has shifted over time, so too has the physical representation of the character in film. 

Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 Tod Browning film of the same name is the image that many people conjure up when thinking about Bram Stoker's famous creation. In the film, Dracula is depicted as an aristocratic, middle-aged being, dressed in a version of formal attire. Lugosi's performance presents a character that moves slowly and deliberately, whose voice is nearly monotone, and whose bodily affectations suggest a disconnect from the vitality of human beings. Although this Dracula seems less "life-like" than some later versions, there is an element of eroticism present; scenes depicting Dracula biting the necks of his female victims are simultaneously intimate and violent.

Trailer - Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)

However, before Bela Lugosi's tall, cold, aristocratic Dracula was the 1922 film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as "Count Orlok". The film was based on Stoker's work but unauthorized; his estate successfully sued for copyright infringement (Skal 143). In the film, Schreck embodies the Dracula character as a true monster, with little resemblance to the eroticized aristocrat of Browning's film, as well as later related works. "Count Orlok" shuffles menacingly into frame, clawing at his victims with impossibly long fingers that imply an animalistic being rather than a human (or formerly human) one.

Scene from Nosferatu (1922)

In later films, the appearance of Dracula changed to reflect the cultural tastes of the period in which the film was created. In the 1958 film Dracula (or Horror of Dracula in the United States), a film more loosely based on the novel than Tod Browning's earlier work, Christopher Lee's Dracula retains the menacing attitude and aristocratic accoutrement, but seems younger and more sexualized that Bela Lugosi's embodiment of the character. Additionally, the female characters with whom Dracula interacts take on a heightened sexual aggressiveness in their vampiric state, an element earlier films shied away from.

Trailer - BFI restoration of Dracula (1958)

The 1970s saw a campy disco-dancing version of Dracula as portrayed in the film Love at First Bite, a comedy directed by Stan Dagoti and starring George Hamilton, which re-imagined Dracula as a benign character who falls in love with a model. This version retains few of the elements of the novel; similarly, the 1979 film titled Dracula, directed by John Badham and starring Frank Langella, significantly alters the narrative. In both versions, Dracula has completely lost both the "hideousness" of the novel as well as the pallor of the early films; instead, he is portrayed as dashing and sexually irresistible and is styled in a very seventies fashion, complete with feathered hair.

Trailer - Dracula (1979)
Disco scene -Love at First Bite (1979)

In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola directed Bram Stoker's Dracula starring Gary Oldman, a version that strays in some respects from the novel, and which is significant in that Dracula is portrayed in various instances in a series of hideous forms (including a bat-like creature), but also as a long-haired rock-star-esque character in the sequences that take place in London; reflecting, perhaps, the popularity of "hair bands" in the early nineties.

Trailer - Dracula (1992)

Sources: Internet Movie Database
Skal, David. Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula From Novel to Stage to Screen. New York: Faber and Faber, Inc., 1990. Print.



Born: November 8, 1847 in Clontarf, Ireland
Died: April 20, 1912 in London, United Kingdom

Family: Stoker's parents were Abraham and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley Stoker. He was the third of seven children.

Education: Stoker attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied mathematics.

Marriage and children: He married Florence Balcombe in 1878. The couple had one son, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.

Abraham "Bram" Stoker was born November 8, 1847.  He spent the first seven years of his life bedridden as he was unable to walk.  During the first seven years he was home schooled and then later received an education in a private school, taught by William Woods. Stoker attended and graduated from Trinity College in Dublin, in which he graduated with honors in mathematics. During his time in college he wrote his first paper on, "Sensationalism in Fiction and Society."  Also, while at Trinity College, Stoker worked as a theater critic and his reviews were noticed by others, particularly Henry Irving. Thanks to Stoker's creative review of Irving's performance, a life long friendship and a business partnership was formed. Stoker and his family moved to London and he became the manager of Irving's theater for 27 years.  After moving to London, Bram and Florence had their first child on December 31,1879.  Bram named his son, Irving Noel Thornly Stoker, after Irving. Working with Irving became very important to Stoker and he cherished it very much.  Through Irving, Stoker was introduced into a society he was not use to- a higher society. He was able to travel the world and meet a great number of people.  On of these men was Hal Caine, and he and Stoker became very close, and Dracula was dedicated to him. Stoker really began to write when he was managing Irving's theater.  In 1890 he wrote The Snake's Pass and Dracula in 1897.  It took Stoker seven years of research to finally start and write the Dracula novel. While Stoker wrote and published 13 novels, Dracula is what brought him fame, and what has carried his fame over centuries. Bram Stoker died on April 20, 1912 after suffering numerous strokes.  He was cremated and his ashes were put into an urn and have since been kept at Golder's Green Crematorium.  One must be accompanied by a staff member of the crematorium in order to see the urn.

Cited Information

Belford, Barbara. Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula. New York: Random House, 1996


Form of Text

Bram Stoker's Dracula is what is known as an epistolary novel, a text written in a series of different documents usually from several different sources. In Dracula, the story is a compilation of diary entries, newspaper clippings, letters, and even a captain's log from a ship. An advantage readers usually have in reading a novel is the the ability to characterize the narrator as trustworthy or not, a feature that Dracula lacks. In fact, it's even addressed at the end of the novel that there are no official documents existing by the end story. Obviously, this leaves room for bias that the reader must take into account. This uncertainty can be overcome by engaged reading and a constant awareness of who is narrating and how credible they are. Despite this drawback, an epistolary novel is an effective writing technique because it provides the author the means to better control their work, incorporate multiple plot lines, and even provide information that otherwise would be inaccessible to the reader. For instance, while Jonathan was still missing (after he has escaped Castle Dracula while he is in Buda-Pesht) readers got the story of the rest of the group attempting to treat Lucy Westenra. The reader knew Count Dracula was in London and most likely was responsible for Lucy's attacks, but the other characters had no clue they were dealing with a vampire. Because of the form in Dracula, Stoker is able to grant us information that even some of the characters aren't aware of. By creating this discrepancy in information Stoker is able to build more suspense in his novel. Readers can hardly wait to see how Van Helsing and his team will catch Dracula and at the same time how Lucy's "illness" will be brought to an end. It's often fun for a reader to know a secret beforehand and watch the struggles of the characters to resolve it, and that's exactly what the epistolary form provides in literature. Had this story been written in a different manner, Stoker would have not only lost his ability to exert greater control of the text, but would not have had the opportunity to start the novel with multiple plot lines, which is one of the main appeals of Dracula. Another advantage of the epistolary form is Stoker's ability to give us outside information, for example, the happenings on The Demeter, the ship that brought Dracula and his coffins to England. Without the ability of the author to insert the newspaper article regarding the mystery of the ship and the captain's log, the reader wouldn't know when Dracula had arrived, and thus the time-line of the story wouldn't have been as clear. As well, the absence of a character with a narrating role on the ship would leave us with no information about what happened on the voyage of The Demeter to England. Epistolary forms are highly effective, especially with complex plots, which can be seen clearly within  Dracula.

Selected Characters

Jonathan Harker- Jonathan Harker is a young and upcoming solicitor who starts the story off with a series of diary entries recording his travels. He journeys from England to Transylvania to conduct real estate business for Count Dracula, a nobleman of that country who wishes to buy property in London (an estate in Exeter known as Carfax). Harker unknowingly helps Dracula step into the role of an Englishman and gather intelligence on his "prey" through a series of late nights talks. Harker is a prisoner in the Castle. The doors are all sealed, and Harker is forced to write letters for Dracula to post, effectively preventing Harker from communicating to the outside world. Harker eventually escapes Dracula's castle and reappears in a convent in Buda-Pest, where he suffers from "brain fever.” During his stay at the convent, he is completely incapacitated. His rants and raves about his experiences in Castle Dracula are mistaken as delusions and are recorded in a diary, which is sealed and given to his fiancé, Mina. When Mina learns that he is in Buda-Pest, she rushes there to meet him. Harker is nursed back to health by the nuns and Mina, and then marries Mina before returning to England.  His first narratives from the castle reveal Dracula's true identity as a vampire, along with all of his capabilities and powers. Harker's occupation as a solicitor comes into play later when he and his peers need to find the 21 missing coffins Dracula used to sleep in that were missing from the chapel at Carfax. Harker's investigation leads to the discovery and subsequent destruction of all but one of Dracula's resting places in London and Piccadilly. On a journey that takes Harker and many other character across rivers and foreign lands, they are able to defeat the cunning vampire. The culmination of the novel is when Dracula is staked to death by Harker in Transylvania. 

Mina Murray Harker-  The fiancé and eventual wife of Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker serves as a link between Jonathan and the rest of the characters after he returns to London through her friendship with Lucy Westenra. Mina types up the various journal entries and letters to help create a profile of Dracula. The compiled information helps defeat Dracula by the end of the novel. Victorian commitment to monogamy is embodied through Mina's dedication to Jonathan.  Not only does she want to build a life with him, but she even goes so far as to study shorthand and typing in his absence to help benefit him in his career when he returns. Unlike other females in the novel, Mina is a very complex character. She portrays intelligence and depth.  She is a crucial character, and her emotions and contributions are featured prominently throughout the novel.  Mina not only provides Van Helsing with Harker's Journal, giving him invaluable information with which to formulate their counter attack on Dracula, but also serves an active role in tracking Dracula when he flees England. Dracula feeds on Mina and forces her to feed from his chest in front of Mina's unconscious husband.  This unique attack, in which both Mina and Dracula have fed from each other, creates a strange connection between Mina and Dracula that is absolutely crucial in the story.  After being hypnotized by Van Helsing, she is able to distinguish “sea noises”l, which eventually permits Van Helsing and Mina to deduce that Dracula has left England.  Mina's strange new power is utilized several times to help track Dracula, though Van Helsing and Mina also presume this connection to be the reason Dracula was able to detect and foil their ambush in Piccadilly before Dracula flees for Transylvania.  This power eventually fails Mina when they get closer to Transylvania.

Count Dracula- The antagonist of the novel, Count Dracula is a vampire residing in Transylvania who comes to London in order to feed upon the dense population. He is described as having an aquiline nose, sharp teeth, and cold and pale skin. His aim is to try and turn as many Londoner's as possible into vampires like himself. He is introduced through Harker's first narratives as one of his clients.  From the very beginning of the story, Dracula is plotting and calculating a careful plan of attack in England. Dracula invites Harker into his castle, and their late night discussions reveal that Dracula is studying English culture. He has a library full of books pertaining to English law and culture, and even wants to learn the appropriate dialect and pronunciation of words. Dracula is portrayed as a very mysterious character. He has odd sleeping patterns, he never eats with Harker, and he has no servants even though he is of noble birth and is very wealthy. He gives a surprisingly complete, seemingly first-person account of the history of his Carpathian Mountain area. Harker becomes suspicious of his host when he begins to see strange happenings, coupled with his host's odd eating and sleeping patterns. His fears that something is wrong are confirmed when he realizes he is locked in Castle Dracula, and witnesses the Count scaling the castle wall dressed in Harker's clothing.

 Dracula's attacks are highly sexualized and help the novel showcase the danger of sexuality and promiscuity in society. The novel is also filled with homoerotic scenes, and insinuations as to Dracula's sexuality in relation to both Harker and the Crew of Light. He executes a series of attacks in London but must flee back to his castle when his coffins are purified, but not before he is able to infect and eventually kill Lucy, as well as infect Mina.

As a vampire, Dracula possess several powers that make him a dangerous adversary. He has super-human strength, the ability to appear as a mist, the power to transform into and possess animals, and even the ability to control weather patterns.  His powers have limits, however.  Dracula's powers are all rendered obsolete in the day time.  In addition to these nocturnal limitations, Dracula must sleep on his own land's soil, is repelled by holy items like crucifixes, communion wafers, and holy water, and cannot enter a household uninvited. These limitations are crucial in the defeat of the vampire and his aversion to religious icons bring to light a main theme of the novel: the triumph of good over.

Van Helsing- The Dutch professor Abraham Van Helsing is the protagonist of the story. While Dracula represents evil incarnate, Van Helsing is the embodiment of everything good. This religiously guided doctor is brought into the novel by Dr. John Seward to treat Lucy, Dracula's first victim. He successfully diagnoses and begins to cure her problems until her shocking, yet necessary death by the Crew of Light. His intelligence and faith are the key to defeating Dracula, and he leads the attack upon Dracula with his folk knowledge on how to destroy vampires. Van Helsing's use of traditional folklore in diagnosing and combating Dracula acts as a critique upon the modernization of society. While Seward was unable to diagnose and treat Lucy with his modern education and methods, Van Helsing was successful in treating her until Mrs. Westenra removes the garlic from Lucy's room. Van Helsing is an example of what the Victorian man should be. He has a modern education as a doctor and lawyer and benefits from advanced technology, but he still respects tradition and approaches situations with an open mind.

Lucy Westenra- Lucy Westenra is a beautiful young women and an intimate friend of Mina. She is the first of Dracula's victims in England and is treated by Dr. Seward and eventually Van Helsing. Seward, Morris, and Holmwood are all brought into the story through their love for Lucy, and they each vow to avenge her against the Count. Lucy is eventually transformed into a vampire and preys upon children until Van Helsing and her suitors put her to rest. The only way to release Lucy's soul is to drive a stake through her heart, and cut off her head. Lucy highlights the danger and corruptive influence of sexuality in women with her promiscuity, which manifests itself as attacks upon children when she’s a vampire. Lucy is a very sexualized character in the novel: she is highly desired by the opposite sex, halfheartedly wishes she could marry all three men or as many as she wishes, and is even replenished and rejuvenated by her three suitors' blood transfusions (a highly sexual metaphor). By juxtaposing Lucy with the chaste and highly dedicated Mina, it's easy to see why Lucy was turned into a vampire and Mina was not -- promiscuity was often attributed in the Victorian era to a lack of self control or restraint.

John Seward- One of Lucy's unsuccessful suitors, John Seward is a doctor who studied under Van Helsing and operates a mental institution next door to Carfax, one of Dracula's eventual homes. He narrates a majority of the novel through his diary entries into a phonograph machine, and his narratives introduce us to one of his patients, R.M. Renfield. Renfield's interviews with Dr. Seward as well as with Van Helsing and Mina give the reader a chilling look into his psychosis.  He strangely mirrors a vampire himself with his penchant for swallowing flies and small animals in order to absorb their power and energy. Several times he mentions that the "blood is the life", again mirroring Dracula's blood-thirst. Seward's love of Lucy motivates him throughout the novel, first to cure her and later to avenge her.  His link with Van Helsing brings the Crew of Light leader into the novel when he seeks advice from him about treating Lucy. Seward initially does not believe Van Helsing's theory, as it is not in line with what science and reason dictate is possible. Seward struggles to treat her with every modern treatment he has access to, but to no avail. In the end, it is old world traditions that are the only means of releasing Lucy from her vampirism. Seward represents the modern society and its lack of respect for traditional wisdom. Tellingly, Seward is only successful in the pursuit of his goals when he is aided by Van Helsing and this traditional wisdom.

Arthur Holmwood- Arthur Holmwood, known later in the novel as Lord Godalming once his father passes away, is the successful suitor of Lucy. He is the first to give her a blood transfusion, and is forced to kill her when she is a discovered to be a vampire. Arthur's execution of Lucy is a scene very much in line with her sexuality: her body convulses and writhes when he stabs her with the stake, like she is in the midst of a sexual experience. Instead of consummating their marriage, Arthur is forced to kill the creature his fiancé has become.  Stoker portrays Lucy's death as a release.  She is finally morally purified and can rest in peace 

Quincy Morris- Another unsuccessful suitor of Lucy's, Quincy Morris is a slang-speaking American from Texas. A real cowboy, he is characterized as an unsophisticated and boyish character within the novel, which is in sharp contrast to the other characters.Throughout the text, Quincy is present to aid in any way he can. He provides blood for some of Lucy's transfusions, is present at the discovery of Lucy as a vampire and her killing in the graveyard, and plays a major role in the end of the novel. Quincy was instrumental in fighting the gypsies near Castle Dracula, and pays the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the novel.  Quincy's sacrifice not only helps to save Mina, but all of England, as the infection of all of London and then Britain was Dracula's total objective. At the end of the book, the reader learns that the Harker's named their son Quincy Harker, after Morris. This is yet another instance where the importance of tradition and respect for the past help to defeat Dracula in an era where science and rational thought dominated.

 R.M. Renfield- R.M. Renfield is a mentally ill patient of Dr. Seward. Through interviews with Seward, Stoker provides get an eerie look into psychosis and its total control over Renfield’s mind. Renfield's compulsions to eat live animals and bugs mirrors Dracula and casts Renfield as an evil figure in the novel. At one point, Dracula tricks him into becoming his aid, and uses him to help attack mina.  Renfield escapes multiple times from Seward's asylum, and is found at Carfax (one of Dracula's English estate) yelling for his master. Throughout the novel, the intensity of Renfield's compulsions ebb and flow with his proximity of Dracula.  Because of this, Renfield can be used to tell whether Dracula is close or far away. Renfield asks permission from Dr. Seward to be released from from the asylum, but is refused. When Renfield learns that Dracula is attacking Mina, Renfield physically confronts Dracula and is brutally beaten. Before he dies, Renfield confesses to meeting and interacting with Dracula several times, but insists that he didn't know Dracula was hurting Mina.


Discussion Questions

* In what ways does Mina Harker both challenge and embody the role of the "ideal" Victorian woman?

* In what ways is sexuality demonized?

* How does the form of the novel (letters, newspaper articles) influence and lend credibility to Stoker's narrative?

* How does Dracula represent Victorian xenophobia?

* What does the narrative suggest about women's bodies, and to whom they belong?

* In what manner does Dracula embody a criticism of modernization and embrace traditional conservatism?

* How does Stoker use the juxtaposition of Count Dracula and Dr. Van Helsing to bring to light issues of morality? What does their relationship and ultimate consequences tell us about Victorian views on Good/Evil?

* How does Dracula comment on growing reliance on technology in England? Does it portray scientific advance as positive or negative?

* How does the Count embody Victorian fears of aging?

*What role does religion play in Dracula? Why did Stoker feel the need to add religion to his novel?

Textual Analysis

"Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor's clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner?" Chapter 2

As Jonathan Harker travels through the Carpathians he becomes more aware of his foreign surroundings. It is also one of the markers of Harker's inexperience and sets him up as the victim because of his inability to recognize warning signs of danger around him. His suspicions are constantly dismissed as being just foreign superstitions. However, he is the one who is foreign in this land, projecting his belief system on the land and people around him. This then reverses itself later in the novel as Dracula becomes the foreigner in London. In both situations, the outsider is persecuted and hunted with the goal seeming to be the destruction of the invader rather than simple expulsion. Dracula infects his victims, poisoning their souls and turning them into something unrecognizable. This metaphor can be seen as representative of the fears of the English in regard to mass immigration at the turn of the century. They feared that the immigrant population would infect the English way of life, poisoning their traditions and replacing them with "contaminated" foreign customs and practices.

"The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal... I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there." Chapter 3

This is one of the most erotic moments of the entire novel, not simply because of the suggestive nature of the vampiress' posture, but because of kind of tension that is built by the wildly contrasting language. Stoker presents her arched neck, reminiscent of a cat or snake that is ready to pounce or strike, yet she pauses just before the bite and her lips are soft and shivering. It seems an odd reversal of sexual roles and part of the sexual tension may be in the common fantasy of man's desire to be dominated by women, if only briefly. Her power over him is apparent, as at any moment she could end his life. All the while, Jonathan seems to relish in it. It's not until the Count interrupts the scene that Jonathan seems to become aware of the peril he is in. The peril this scene represents is two-fold, on the literal level his life is in danger. Yet the idea of succumbing to lust seems even more damning, given his constant mention of his affection for Mina. This infidelity would have haunted Jonathan for the rest of his life and put in jeopardy everything he has come to Transylvania to accomplish. His goals for his journey seem to be to get his life with his bride-to-be started on financially sound terms. It is strange that in these few sentences there is more sexual language than in the rest of the novel between Jonathan and Mina.

"No man knows till he experiences it, what it is like to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the woman he loves." Chapter 10

This scene in which Dr. Seward gives a blood transfusion to Lucy, is a strange twist on the way the vampires do the same act. Each recipient is having blood pumped into their system for survival, yet the way in which it is given seems to make all the difference. Several men are presented as willing to give their last drops of blood to Lucy, and we see this as noble and praise it without question, yet the vampiric taking of the blood for survival is strangely at odds with this. However, it is said that the vampire can only take blood from a willing victim, and so the act is again complicated. The act of the men being willingly drained of their blood in order to satiate Lucy's needs is an obvious foreshadowing of her coming vampirism, but the idea that modern medicine is at its root vampirism is certainly lying within this scene. This further raises the question of how technology is represented in Dracula. It would seem the idea of technology without knowledge or at least some level of "old world' thinking is contemptible as Mina, Dr. Seward, and assorted other "young people" are incapable of seeing that the reality of the vampire is more than what their new inventions and methods can show them. 

"The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness." Chapter 16

There are a number of possibilities that could explain this passage. One is the idea that a good English woman as been infected by the foreign influence of the Count. The act of vampirism is inherently charged with sexual energy and this could easily be seen as an allegory describing the fall of a woman's status after having sex with an outsider in Victorian England. The influence of the Count has corrupted her and essentially turned her into a cruel harlot, bent only on the satisfaction of her own desires. One could also read this as a condemning of female sexuality. Ideal Victorian women were to be sweet, innocent, and pure, whereas the monstrous vampire is an image of unbridled lust and pure sexual imagery designed to inflame the victim.

"His face was turned from us, but the instant we saw we all recognized the Count, in every way, even to the scar on his forehead. With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker's hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension. His right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man's bare chest which was shown by his torn-open dress." Chapter 21

This is one of the most erotic scenes in the novel, curiously depicting what is widely considered the least erotic characters of the novel. The scene is representation of violent sexuality and borders on the notion of rape. The posture of the Count in relation to Mina suggests that he is restraining her while he penetrates her with his teeth. This concept is reinforced by the language of the passage by using words and phrases such as "full tension, gripped her by the back of the neck, and forcing her face down." There is also the image of his torn open dress which suggests a struggle. Later on in the scene Mina screams in terror at what has just been done to her, a far cry from earlier representations of vampirism when Jonathan and Lucy seemed to almost crave being drained. Mina's reaction signals the ideal of which she is type, and that she possesses no latent deviant sexual desires which is why the incident is as horrifying to her as it is to those who witness it.

"Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?" Chapter 6

In this quote Lucy Westenra's sexuality is made almost blatant. By desiring three men rather then one she is painted in the image of a promiscuous woman.  This is the first time the reader gains a glimpse of Lucy's sexual desires, but it will not be the last. When she is attacked and fed upon she continually leaves at night while sleep walking, however, it is important to note that she must have invited Dracula in at one point in time as he cannot enter homes on his own bidding (a point conveniently avoided by other characters in the novel). Lucy's own language in this passage convicts her of promiscuity, when she says "as many as want her". Clearly, this is not the most chaste point of view, especially in the Victorian era. This passage sets the tone for her role in Dracula and even helps to explain why she is Dracula's first victim. 

 All textual references refer to this edition:

Stoker, Bram, Nina Auerbach, and David J. Skal. Dracula: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. Print.
All textual refereces refer to this edition:
Stoker, Bram, Nina Auerbach, and David J. Skal. Dracula: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. Print.

Resources and Links

Useful scholarly articles:

Demetrakopoulos, Stephanie. "Feminism, Sex Role Exchanges, and Other Subliminal Fantasies in Bram Stoker's "Dracula"" Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies Autumn 2.3 (1977): 104-13. JSTOR. Web.

May, Leila S. ""Foul Things of the Night": Dread in the Victorian Body." The Modern Language Review 93.1 (1998): 16-22. JSTOR. .

Roth, Phyllis A. "Suddenly Sexual Women in Bram Stoker's Dracula." Literature and Psychology 27 (1977): 113-20. JSTOR. Web.

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