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Sexuality In Bram Stoker's Dracula Essay

1089 words - 4 pages

Sexuality in Bram Stoker's DraculaBram Stoker's Dracula, favorably received by critics upon publication in 1897, entertained its Victorian audience with unspeakable horrors such as vampires invading bedrooms to prey on beautiful maidens under the guise of night. The novel's eroticism proved even more unspeakable. Received in the era of repression, it remains questionable whether Dracula's readership perceived the sexuality flowing from the page. An advocate for the censorship of sexual material, Stoker himself may have been unconscious of his own novel's sexual qualities. Perhaps if he knew of the Dracula criticism written in the last thirty years, he would turn in his grave from personal horror.Since the 1970s, with its conglomerate of feminist critics reveling in the sexual revolution, Freudian psychoanalysts, and marginal sex groups, Dracula's sexuality continues as an issue of great debate, attracting more attention from its centennial anniversary in 1997. More titillating than the novel itself, numerous sexual interpretations exist from key scenes in Dracula: the trio of female vampires attacking Jonathan, Lucy's vampiric transformation and subsequent staking, and Mina's forced drinking of Dracula's blood. Critics debate whether these crucial scenes reveal men's fear of female sexuality, the dualism of Victorian sexuality, the threat of foreign sexuality, Oedipal fantasies, sexual repression, Bram Stoker's sexuality, and homosexuality. The list of sexual topics is endless.The popularity of Freud's theories of sexuality makes Freudian analyses of Dracula's sexuality almost impossible to avoid. Even feminist critics who resent Freud's misogyny, find his sexual observations difficult to ignore, especially in regard to Dracula's sexual content. The fact that Stoker and Freud are contemporaries writing at the same time legitimizes the critical use of Freud's psychoanalysis to explore Stoker's novel. More importantly, critics can easily apply with little work Freud's theories to Dracula's medley of sexually repressed characters, aggressively sexual women, and sexual symbolism.Upon the publication of two largely influential criticisms, 1972 exists as a pivotal year for psychosexual interpretations of Stoker's novel. Charles Bierman, a psychiatrist, sets the critical trend for the psychoanalysis of Dracula's sexuality by focusing on "an analysis of the novel's oral sexuality" (57). In spite of his detailed account of biographical influences, especially Stoker's childhood, Bierman fails to fully utilize the text for support, supplying only plot summary; his essay relates more to biography than literary criticism. Roy Bentley's "The Monster in the Bedroom: Sexual Symbolism in Bram Stoker's Dracula" introduces a more textualized and explicit psychoanalysis than Bierman's essay. Bentley becomes the first critic to mention "the novel's perversion of sexuality, representation of blood as semen or menstruation, and phallic symbolism" (543). Its brevity has...

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