Discuss The Presentation And Role Of Mine In Bram Stoker's "Dracula", Considering The Historical And Social Context Of The Novel.

1049 words - 4 pages

In many ways, Dracula is more than just a thriller. It explores, among other themes, issues of sexual repression and the conflict between the old and new. Stoker presents Mina as the model Victorian female: she is dutiful to her husband, pure and chaste, and sympathetic. Furthermore, she exemplifies the Victorian ideals of progress, technological advancement and rationality. As such, she is key to the conflict between old and new (the irrational and the rational), and between repressed sexuality and "voluptuous wantonness". Her protection becomes vital to the protection of Victorian society as a whole, lest it crumble into superstition and lust. Mina is also central to the novels ability to thrill. In the earlier stages of the book, Stoker uses her ignorance to create irony and tension, and in the later stages of the book he uses her vulnerability to create tension and suspenseOne of Mina's traits as the model Victorian woman is the duty she feels to her husband, and to her friends. The strength of Mina's sense of duty to her husband is evinced by her willingness to travel all the way to Transylvania to care for him. Furthermore, she had been "working very hard" so as to keep up with Jonathon's studies, feeling that she would "like to be useful" to him. Her commitment to her husband even extends to learning the train time-table off by heart so that she can inform him if necessary.Another attribute of the Victorian idealised woman is purity. Although it is perhaps not emphasised to the extent it is with Lucy, Mina does possess this quality. We see her purity and chastity in the scene described shortly after her marriage to Jonathon. She is "solemn" instead of excited; there is mention of sexuality ("he kissed me"), but for Mina this seems to be spiritually significant rather than physically: for her it is like a "solemn pledge". Never does Mina display sexual desire. Even her appearance is pure: she is described by Seward as "sweet-faced".Several times Mina expresses her desire to be a "comfort to Jonathon", and indeed she is, both to him and to others. For example, when Arthur "[gives] way utterly and openly" before her, she "[takes] his hand" and comforts him. She "[strokes] his hair", and by her sympathy rejuvenates his spirit. Immediately after comforting Arthur, she encounters Quincy Morris, and comforts him too. "Tears [rise] to his eyes" as a result of her tenderness. Mina's ability to comfort is just another aspect of the perfection she embodies.As a perfect Victorian woman, one of Mina's roles is to illustrate the threat posed by the vampire. Mina is pure, dutiful and sympathetic, and the vampire is her opposite in every regard. The word "voluptuous" is used on several occasions to convey the rampant sexuality of the vampire - they are far from pure. They are certainly not dutiful (the three "weird sisters" disobey Dracula in attacking Jonathon) and are anything but sympathetic (Dracula throws Renfield to the ground and the "Bloofer Lady"...

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