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The Representation of Women Handout

Women were expected to have sex with only one man, their husband. However, it was acceptable for men to have multiple partners in their life. If women did have sexual contact with another man, they were seen as ruined. Victorian literature and art was full of examples of women paying dearly for straying from moral expectations.

as it was said that ‘the men could not easily control what was natural to them’. and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal” which displays the disturbing. it would still be considered the woman’s fault for defying the set social expectations for proper ladies. ladies by their dress and manner” who embody the frightening concept of a sexually assertive female.Within Dracula. Through these shifts. If Dracula succeeds in turning the ladies into vampires. this will fully release their sexuality and its expressions. Stoker has revealed the “three young women. Thus the real fear in the book is not darkness and vampiric nature but the loss of female innocence. The threat that the antagonist Dracula poses is in transforming these women as it is a battle that lies upon a woman’s sexuality. This is . Stoker has positioned the protagonist Jonathan Harker in a locked room in Dracula’s castle and highlights his displacement as his mind vacillates from conscious to subconscious. a trait apparently extremely valuable and important to men. women are portrayed as the counterpart of what is perceived. This is demonstrated through the simile “there was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive. unnatural idea of a respectable woman to behave in such a demeanor as it essentially opposes the typical Victorian etiquette. Even if a woman tempted a man and he took the bait.

. but not acknowledged that this is merely a man’s primitive instinct to express territorialism to its extreme. This is reinforced through Van Helsing confrontation with the three sisters “She was so fair to look on.displayed as wickedness in the novel perhaps because a woman that embraces her sexuality obtains power. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions. Subsequently. blood-curling screech came from the opened red lips. that the very instinct of man in me. The women undertake the dominating role that a traditional Victorian man is supposed to possess “the fair girl advanced and bent over me” Harker then becomes the ‘submissive’ and is easily overpowered by their seduction and his own temptation. and a hideous. the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut and the mouth was smeared with crimson foam” to display the eradication of these feared beings who represent the atypical values and to restore Victorian order. The fact that Harker is both aroused and disgusted by the Weird Sisters highlights his internal battle with his principles. It is seen as proper for women to be chaste. and the purity to voluptuous wantonness” greatly contrasting with the previous descriptions of her loving and virtuous appearance when she was chaste and conservative. made my head whirl with new emotion. her overall mannerisms are described as having a “cold-bloodedness” and “the sweetness was turned to adamantine. Consequently. so exquisitely voluptuous. This is illustrated through the ‘rape’ of Harker by the three “weird sisters”. as Lucy Westerna becomes “tainted” with the evils of Dracula thus becoming a “lusty” representation of the female figure. heartless cruelty. which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers. through this characterization Stoker reflected the presumption of how a female sexual being is perturbing and has used strong visual imagery “The Thing in the coffin writhed.” This fiercely heightens the danger of women’s sexual liberty through Van Helsing’s awed tone as even the knowledgeable and powerful doctor has started to succumb to their ‘dark’ power. so radiantly beautiful.

Stoker surpasses that by killing Lucy with four men to return her purity as it reassured male readers that the women are back to their rightful place. fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter.After the feminization of Harker with the three weird sisters. In contrast to these forms of women. so sweet. This conveys the consecration of their union – implying that Holmwood puts Lucy back into a position of monogamy and passivity. there is Mina Harker who is an embodiment of the typical submissive female desired by Victorian men. . and that its light can be here on earth. having typewritten them [and] had just finished putting them in order”. She is “one of God’s women. . while at the same time remaining supportive and maternal to the men. Van Helsing’s praise of Mina confirms the truth that she is indeed the ultimate Victorian. The person that actually stakes Lucy is her fiancé. . .” She is upright and organized “I had read all the papers and diaries. Arthur Holmwood. so noble. So true.

and cried like a wearied child. nevertheless whilst Lucy is clearly dedicated to Arthur. Lucy before her transformation into a vampire had mirrored the quintessential paradigms of marginalizing women through the rhetorical question “my dear Mina.This is highlighted through the simile “with a sob he laid his head on my shoulder. whilst he shook with emotion” which exemplifies the stereotypical Victorian woman having the instinct of motherhood imprinted onto them. but is herself capable of desiring others. the letters that Mina and Lucy send to and fro displays Mina’s dedication to Jonathan as she been “working very hard lately. why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?” and exhibits reverence to a certain male fantasy of domination yet it also reveals she is a sexualized being. and I have been practicing shorthand very assiduously” and through the addition of the adverb “assiduously” the reader comprehends the extent of her commitment which reflects the dominating belief of an obedient. the fact that she had three suitors would be perceived by Stoker’s contemporary audience as a extent of subtle promiscuity “THREE proposals in one day! Isn’t it awful!” Lucy is not merely an object of desire who garners three marriage proposals in a single day. because I want to keep up with Jonathan’s studies. . wife. Subsequently.

On the other hand. “We women have something of the mother in us that makes us rise above smaller matters when the mother-spirit is invoked. . a wife's duties was to tend to her husband and properly raise her children. Lucy symbolizes the perversion of the two most sacred female virtues in Victorian England: maternalism and sexual purity. the child that up to now she had clutched strenuously to her breast. she flung to the ground. Women seen as falling short of society's expectations were believed to be deserving of harsh criticism.” Like the three women Harker meets in Dracula’s castle. Stoker has positioned the reader to experience the disgust from both readers of the Victorian era and our contemporary society at the disregard of the maternal instincts that Lucy encompasses. tossing a crumpled child to the floor without any stain of conscience along with the reader’s imagination. these were considered the crucial basis of social stability by the Victorians. The child gave a sharp cry and lay there moaning”. Mina voices the expectation of Victorian culture as she writes. Once transformed by Dracula. This is highlighted through the simile “with a careless emotion. callous as a devil. but far from being considered unimportant. the undead Lucy counters this “mother-spirit” by preying on innocent children. which discredits her of any maternal instincts and although never directly noted that Lucy sank her teeth into the children. condemns her to the equivalent fate. growling over it as a dog growls over a bone. The hideous transformation of this once beautiful woman into a demonic child-killer demonstrates the anxiety the Victorians felt about women whose sexual behavior challenged convention.The wife’s place in the family hierarchy was secondary to her husband.