Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula is one of the most popular literature pieces of the Victorian age, which gives a picture of changing social values in the mixed plot of reality and mystics, where good and evil are found not in personal traits of the characters but have real personifications. The story which tells personal tragedy of an evil embodiment count Dracula starts in the Carpethian mountains of Transilvania (in Romania) and later the actions move to London of Victorian age. Originally, Stoker’s “Dracula” is a tale of love.
It is a story of love, where love is high above the mortality and death. At the same time it is a novel about the struggle of treachery and sacrifice in the name of love. Count Dracula is ready to do anything to return the love he lost, any remedy is normal for him. The reader observes him as a personification of a complete and absolute “evil”. Count Dracula is guided by the power of love, which is considered to be a “supreme” virtue. He is lead by the intention to love, originally, a good intention, but he is ready to destroy anything with his army of vampires on his way. Stroker wrote more than a story of horror, as Dracula is a story about good and evil, love and hatred. Stroker reveals the world as a strong intercoupling of the evil and the good and their constant fight against each other. He writes a story about a “creature-person” who is full of pain and loneliness and who has no chance to change the way of living. It becomes a story of an “ever bleeding soul”. This understanding is very close to the very essence of the book, but still contains subjective opinions. But on the hand with describing personal experiences and problems Dracula gives a more wider picture on the Victorian society in general: its morals, ethics, values and norms. The relations of the characters in Dracula reveal the nature and the manner of relations of representatives of the upper classes on the hand with relations of men and women. The novel “Dracula” also reveals the psychological nature of Victorian age society: the transformation of traditional values which referred to sexual relations, marriage, love and motherhood to the more liberal relations dictated by the need of time. Even though that Victorian England was considered to be one of the most open and liberal societies in 19th century Europe, there existed a number of contradictions of new gains of democratic freedoms with conservative tradition in social relations. The role of women in upper classes and in middle class remained to be pretty much similar to earlier times, there existed a taboo on sexual relations before marriage, and the behavior of women was pretty much regulated. The norms of Victorian society had strict regulations for women: woman had to personify virtues. Woman could be either a virgin who embodied purity and innocence or a wife and mother, loyal to her husband and attentive to children. There was no any other option and if the woman didn’t belong to any of these two she was regarded as a whore, and was blamed by society.
But as we observe in the story these values were not stationary and there existed a shift towards the sexual liberation and more freedom in sexual relations.
The topic of sexuality is the central one in the fight of good with evil in Stoker’s Dracula, as we see how the magic of Dracula influences the behavior of women, turning them into those who seek sexual desire and intimacy with men. Dracula uses the conservative morals of Victorian age in fulfilling his dirty plans of turning people into embodiment of evils and vampires. Sexual relations with unknown women were regarded to be banned in the Victorian age and any sort of sexual desires and experiments mainly existed in the thoughts of people and in the fantasies. The human sexuality which was restricted by social norms made people vulnerable to the evil of Dracula and vampires as most of them couldn’t control their behavior in the situation when women suggested them sexual affairs. These are the words Harker describes one of the three Dracula vampires:
“I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply 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 ”(p.39) Obviously, we see that according to the description of the vamp women, they embodied the most wild fantasies and desires of Victorian men as they were voluptuous and aggressive, their beauty and inner freedom of course created the promise of the possible sexual course. But at the same time sexual beauty of such women was dangerous for the Victorian age men as they were likely to lose control and stop reasoning logically under the charms of the vampires.
Of the brightest episodes of the success of Dracula’s magic is his ability to turn Victorian pure women into vampires. Both Lucy and Mina have nothing similar to any human evils but under the magic of Dracula they, in past pure and chaste women who are devoted to their men, turn into sexual pleasure seeking vampires. Bram Stoker marks such voluptuous behavior as immoral. The behavior of Lucy stands for that: “She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace, said:—“Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry or you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!” (p.212)
After Lucy was transformed into vampire, the man of Van Helsing start guarding another woman named Mina, protecting her purity and Victorian womanhood. Mina is: “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. . . ”(p.188) Unlike, Lucy, Mina Murray remains to be pure woman before and after her marriage, her beauty and her self-control make us to admire this woman. Perhaps, Bram Mina may be regarded as the image of the new woman in English society: she is beautiful, self-restrained and intelligent. But nevertheless Bram Stoker makes us to know that even Mina was far from the ideal woman, in fact she was embodiment of Victorian ideal of womanhood and that’s why was very vulnerable for Dracula, who was looking for such woman purity.
Making a conclusion it’s important to outline that the social attitudes towards women in Victorian England defined the realization of Dracula’s plan to gain control over people. Restrained and suppressed sexual desires of men made them uncontrolled under the sexual charms of vampire-women and pointed Dracula’s access to the souls of people. Dualism of Victorian society, the reality with strict morals and the world of sexual fantasies was ruining peoples’ inner world and was suppressing their personality. Strict morals did not often corresponded to the realities as a number of women wanted joyful life and wanted to get pleasure from life rather than have an ascetic way of life, keeping their purity. The words of Lucy: “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (p. 60) show that a lot of women were ready for the social changes and more personal freedoms then those which were assigned by the conservative tradition.
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