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Supernatural Literature Kshs Essay

1500 words - 6 pages

“In supernatural/gothic literature women are presented as either innocent victims or sinister predators or are significantly absent.” How far do you agree with this view?

The view of women being presented and categorised as innocent victims or sinister predators within supernatural/gothic literature can be viewed as true, however the notion of women being presented as significantly absent within the genre is false. From a non-contemporary view - free from the deeply rooted fear and anxiety of women becoming too liberated, sexually and politically, of the nineteenth century - Bram Stoker’s female characters can be seen as victims of their dated societies, and due to their challenging of their prescribed roles in society and vocational pursuits outside the traditional women’s realm, they are viewed as somewhat evil and sinister predators. Similarly, within Sarah Waters’ ‘The Little Stranger’, the women featured, most noticeably the prominent Caroline, are more so innocent victims of their changing post-war society, struggling to adjust to the new far-left Britain, and Dr Faraday’s obsession with Hundreds Hall than sinister predators or significantly absent characters.

The portrayal of women as sinister predators is only proven true when the context of the novels is contrasted with the female characters. Dracula, a novel written within the Victorian era, provides this portrayal very well. Throughout the Victorian era, sex was not discussed openly and honestly, public discussion of sexual encounters and matters were met with ignorance, embarrassment and fear. Women had to resist sexual urges, except when the husband had desires, which as a wife, women were ‘contracted’ to fulfil. Victorian society was very much split into two ‘separate spheres’, where men inhabited the ‘dirty world of work’ whilst women lived to serve as mothers and lovers. To deviate from this chaste persona as woman, and actively chase lovers and promiscuity would label them as ‘fallen’. ‘Fallen’ refers to falling from the grace of God, and was commonly used as an expression of belief that to be socially and morally accepted, a woman’s sexual experiences should be entirely restricted to marriage. However, if you were to take this contextual knowledge and contrast to it the the Three Sisters within Dracula, it would portray the Sisters as literary equivalents of the ‘fallen woman’. With the Sisters “brilliant white teeth” and “voluptuous lips”, they are portrayed as overtly sexual beings. With this appearance and their behaviour they stand in stark contrast to that of Jonathan’s fiancée, Mina, who he describes as having “naught in common” with the vampire women. Stoker’s depiction of the Sister could be considered to embody the worst Victorian nightmares regarding womanhood. Furthermore, within the first encounter, Harker encounters the women in an ambiguous state of consciousness: “I suppose I must have fallen asleep; I hope so, but I fear, for all that followed was...

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