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Stoker's Portrayal Of Women In "Dracula"

1295 words - 5 pages

Similar to almost every piece of literature ever created, Dracula by Bram Stoker has been interpreted many different ways, being torn at from every angle possible. Just as one might find interest in interpreting novels differently, he or she might also find interest in the plot, prose, or theme, all of which ultimately lead to the novels overall tone. Throughout the novel, it becomes blatant that the novel contains an underlying theme of female incompetence and inferiority. Through a true feminist’s eyes, this analysis can clearly be understood by highlighting the actions of Mina and Lucy, the obvious inferior females in the book. Through Stoker’s complete and utter manipulation of Mina and Lucy, he practically forces the reader to analyze the co-existence of dominant males and inferior females in society and to simultaneously accept the fact that the actual text of Dracula is reinforcing the typical female stereotypes that have developed throughout the ages.
Stoker uses phenomenal imagery to produce a late nineteenth century setting, located somewhere within eastern Europe. Transylvania, the infamous home to Dracula himself, is described in great detail in Harker’s journal. There, Stoker purposely and meticulously outlines Dracula’s castle and the surrounding town. Stoker manages to do this with a very gothic tone, immediately lowering the societal status of women. In conjunction with Dracula’s gothic tone comes the understanding of male and female traditional roles of the era. The reader sees that there is no hesitation differentiating between the two, as Stoker “ cast[s] men as rational, strong, protective and decisive…[and] women as emotional (irrational), weak, nurturing and submissive.” (Tyson, 82).
Stoker does not waste any time when introducing Mina, one of the most complicated female characters in the novel. In fact, it becomes quite obvious that Stoker deliberately characterizes her differently than her male counterparts. Mina barely lives a life of her own, constantly relying on men to make decisions for her. To the reader, it might seem like a woman taking orders or something of the sort, but it comes to the point where the reader is forced to think that Mina does not know a different way of life. Whether that analysis is true or not, Mina falls completely dependent on men. For example, when looking for Dracula, Mr. Morris says,
“And now for you, Madam Mina, this night is the end until all be well. You are too precious to us to have such risk. When we part to-night, you no more must question. We shall tell you all in good time. We are men and are able to bear; but you must be our star and hope, and we shall act all the more free that you are not in the danger, such as we are” (Stoker, 270).

Mine is instructed to stay home because it might not be safe otherwise. This brief and obvious message delivered by Mr. Morris is one of the first real misogynistic comments made in the novel. It is apparent that...

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