Literary Monsters: the Rape of Mankind

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Literary Monsters: The Rape of Humanity

In his essay Monster Culture (Seven Theses), Jeffrey Jerome Cohen outlines seven defining characteristics of the literary monster. He makes the claim that literary monsters are each possessed of these seven theses, which act as a common denominator across monster culture. While each of these theses is present, there is one aspect of monster culture that Cohen fails to discuss, and that is prevalent in enough different monster works that it warrants attention. Throughout literary monster culture, the act of monster brutality and violence is often described in a sexual nature or stemming from a sexual motive. The monster brutality can be viewed as a figurative rape of the characters who are opposed to the monster. This is made easily clear in Dracula and fairly obvious in subsequent vampire stories, but a closer reading of less obvious texts will reveal sexual undertones in the acts of violence. This discussion will look at the presence of sexually-natured brutality in Dracula and “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” two very different vampire stories, the physical act of rape in “The Company of Wolves,” and the underlying sexual innuendos present in the movie Aliens.

One of the dominant themes in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is that of sexuality, as to be expected of a monster that relies so heavily on blood. Blood, itself, is symbolic of sexuality and the loss of female virginity. Stoker establishes the blood as something intimate and sensual, sexual, when Lucy receives blood transfusions from Arthur, Van Helsing, and Seward. Arthur, Lucy’s fiancée, delivers the first transfusion, and the characters note the direct parallels between Arthur and Lucy’s transfusion and sexual intercourse. There is an exchange of fluids from Arthur’s body into Lucy’s, and afterwards Arthur feels spent of energy while Lucy’s skin appears revitalized. The metaphor is further strengthened by Van Helsing and Seward both feeling it improper for



Cited: Carter, Angela. Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. New York: VINTAGE (RAND), 2006. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)." Monster Theory. Ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Russel, Karen, “Vampires in the Lemon Grove.” The Best American Short Stories, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008 Stoker, Bram, Dracula. New York, HarperCollins, 2000. Illustrated by Barry Moser; afterword by Peter Glassman

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