Dracula: The Effect Of Women’s Role Change

1231 words - 5 pages

In society, the significance of social status and role is observable with both genders. This includes the acceptable behaviors and responsibilities for both men and women within one’s culture. It is a constant struggle to follow these established guidelines in order to preserve a good reputation and not possess a low social status. In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, the different characters each represent a different stand in the transformation from “True Woman” to the “New Woman” that surfaced in the late nineteenth century. This new idea made women more independent, with their lives no longer revolving around their husbands, and most importantly created a big change in social expectations. The characters Lucy, Mina, and the three brides of Dracula play a part in revealing Stoker’s belief that social status is changed for the worse with this change in women’s roles.
The concepts of “New Woman” and “True Woman” are major parts of the novel. “True Woman” is a concept usually associated with Victorian England, but generally women who are religious, pure, submissive, and domestic (Brashears). Mina is the best portrayal of this idea. For example, her husband, Jonathan Harker’s interaction with her expresses the submissiveness as a “True Woman.” When Professor Van Helsing asks who is willing to join the mission to kill Dracula, Jonathan says, “I answer for Mina and myself” which puts Mina under the authority of her husband (Stoker 256). On the other hand, “New Woman,” was basically opposite, by being outside the home, working, involved in society and free (Brashears). Although for the most part, Mina follows the idea of the “True Woman,” she does not when she assists her husband to have (in reference to the letters and journals) “type written them…putting them in order” (Stoker 246). At this point, she is productive, a trait in the “New Woman.” These opposites are what build a major feminism movement affecting the female characters of the novel.
The beginning of the movement to the “New Woman” is represented through Mina’s overall commitment to following the traditional role, as she is still a “True Woman.” With this dedication, she has a prestigious standing in the community. An indication of her allegiance to tradition is best represented the night Mina leaves to search for Lucy, who is sleepwalking. When she finds Lucy barefoot and with only her nightgown at the churchyard, Mina puts her shoes on Lucy and afterward covered her feet with mud “in case we should meet any one, should notice my bare feet” (Stoker 99). Mina’s comment specifies the “True Woman” restriction to the home to fulfill her duty to complete the tasks of a housewife. Being outside of home at night, Mina worries one will misinterpret the incident or ”the story should get wind” as she fears it will result in loss of reputation for either herself or Lucy (Stoker 100). Although for Mina, this is an agonizing occurrence, the role she is accustomed to follow is still present. Her...

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