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In Dracula by Bram Stoker, how does the novel's presentation of an exaggerated kind of...

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justineli95 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 11, 2013 at 2:04 AM via web

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In Dracula by Bram Stoker, how does the novel's presentation of an exaggerated kind of sexual energy – with one being literally devouring another – develop a response to traditional Victorian sexuality?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 11, 2013 at 11:04 AM (Answer #1)

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There could be a healthy debate as to whether or not Stoker deliberately set out to construct a response to Victorian notions of sexual identity.  Yet, one can see elements of Stoker's work as developing a strong response to traditional Victorian sexuality on a couple of levels. 

One such level in which a response to traditional Victorian sexuality can be seen is in the development of the vampire.  By day, the Count appears in one manner and by night, he appears as a beast who devours another.  Stoker's development in this light is one in which Victorian sexuality is embodied.  On face value, the development of a response to the repressed social element towards sex is evident in this depiction.  Stoker's response to Victorianism's repression is embodied in Count Dracula who appears one way in day and another way in the dark of night.  The Freudian construction of social attitudes toward sex is evident in this.  It is here in which Stoker's work is a response to the Victorian notion of sex, something that  "provides really striking confirmation of the Freudian interpretation."

Another response to the traditional notion of Victorian sexuality is displayed in Stoker's depiction of Lucy.  Like Dracula, she is shown to be one way in one setting and another way in another.  This paradigm helps to bring out the Victorian sexual construction of women.  Social acceptance to Victorian mores about sexual identity in the case of women was countered by the growth and emergence of prostitution and deviant behavior in which women were to play a vital role.  Stoker's depiction of Mina is one in which sexual energy in the case of women is a critique of the traditional Victorian notion of gender and sexuality:

The most frequently mentioned psychological aspect is the madonna/whore schism within Victorian perceptions of women, seen most clearly in Lucy's transformation from aristocratic female to vampire.  

The condition of women, most notably Lucy, is one that ends up critiquing the Victorian notion of sexuality identity and womens' roles in it.

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