Symbols and Themes

Victorian gender roles/dangers of female sexuality

The men and women in Dracula adhere to clearly defined, Victorian-era gender roles. The male protagonists are all chivalrous, gallant, decisive, active and brave. The women are all chaste, devoted, pure, innocent and sweet. Van Helsing praises Quincey Morris as being “all man” for announcing his intention to attack Dracula instantly even if hundreds of people are looking on. Van Helsing also praises Mina as having a “man’s brain” but a “woman’s heart,” emphasizing the necessity for women to be nurturing and kind while praising Mina’s additional (and evidently surprising) gift of intellect.

Within the context of such rigidly defined gender roles and repressed sexual expression, the erotic content of the book is revealing. The open sexuality of the vampire women—as well as Dracula himself, in his clearly sexualized attacks on both Lucy and Mina—contrasts vividly with the virtuous chastity of the novel’s protagonists. In the world of Dracula, openly sexual behavior is the province of the damned. The voluptuous vampire women represent soulless, sexualized women, as does Lucy after her transformation. Arthur is never so drawn to Lucy as when she has just turned into a vampire and seductively invites him to kiss her. Van Helsing literally has to grab Arthur and throw him across the room to protect the good man from the demonic temptress that Lucy has become. As a “fallen women,” the vampire Lucy has lost all of her sweet innocence, and now her sexuality threatens to destroy men. Only through Van Helsing’s ritual butchering of the vampire Lucy can she be restored to her former, virginal innocence.

The importance of friendship

Affectionate friendship defines the relationships among all of the protagonists of the novel. From the beginning, we see that Mina and Lucy are devoted friends. Furthermore, Lucy’s competing suitors are all friends with one another...

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Essays About Dracula