Sexuality’s Role in Dracula Novel by Bram Stoker

The paper discusses sexuality’s role in Dracula novel by Bram Stoker. Sexuality is a complicated subject in Dracula. It points out the women and men’s sexual repression during the Victorian age. Dracula was developed during the Victoria era when gender roles were different from what is experienced in modern society. Women during that time were not perceived to be equal to men, they were either mothers and wives, a virgin perceived as innocent and pure, or a whore. They were not permitted to express their sexual desires nor to have more than one sexual partner something the women vampires are defying. The novel revolves around two main romantic couples; Arthur and Lucy, Jonathan and Mina Harker, and Dracula the vampire. The novel’s early romantic plotting revolves around Lucy entertaining three suitors including Quincey, Arthur, and Seward in a prologue. The real Lucy’s life drama involved her being bitten by a vampire and transforming into a vampire. However, it is important to note the vampire involved in transforming Lucy; Dracula only contained the power to charm the willing victim. This is one reason Lucy was punished as she made herself available to another man, despite having a fiancé. The act demonstrated different societal stand on sexuality based on gender. Lucy even wondered why women were not permitted to have as many husbands as they wanted while males could get more women (Stoker, 1897).

Vampirism was also perceived as a sexualized act as it involved a fluid exchange between the vampire and the victim yielding to physical transformation. This is demonstrated between Dracula and Lucy. The vampire bit brought about the physical manifestation of the distinction between chastity and sex, life and death. Lucy was a symbol of purity, virtue, and sweetness while healthy. However, her vampirism transition and time spent among the undead transformed her physical traits. When she died and was later identified as a full-fledged vampire, with more feminine features and higher seduction ability. She had darker hair, sweetness changed to adamantine, cruelty, and heartlessness, and purity to voluptuous immorality. This description demonstrates that evil and wickedness are related to feminine eroticism and sexuality. The change to vampires increased women’s sexual awareness, making them more adventurous and daring than the women of their generation. The act was unacceptable and horrifying to normal women who could not imagine behaving differently. This made Mina Harker request her husband to kill her if she happened to fully transform into a vampire. Sexuality act was also witnessed between Jonathan and the female Vampires. Generally, the interaction between vampires and humans always brought a change that came with excessive sexual freedom that was mostly unacceptable for women (Stoker, 1897).

Vampirism is also highly associated with homosexuality in Dracula’s novel. According to Schaffer (1994) to understand the vampire is to acknowledge that abjected space which gay men are indulged to occupy, the space unnameable or unspeakable, a dark continent that men are not supposed to penetrate. Therefore the vampire figure easily fits as a metaphor for love that is concealed. Vampirism to homophobes could work as a manner of identifying homosexuals as threatening, dirty, monstrous sexual behavior. Vampirism to homosexuals could be an elegy for the obligatory entombment of their desires. Nevertheless, Dracula works as both elegy and accusation. The novel employs the Wildean Dracula figure to identify homosexuality simultaneously as an indestructible, monstrous, contagious, dirty, corrupting, threatening, buried, and alluring act. One of the best scenes to demonstrate the intensity of contradictory feelings created by Wilde’s trial is slightly before the escape of Harker. During this time, Harker experienced the apex of Wilde-pity and Wilde-phobia. A wild desire pushed him to get the key disregarding the magnitude of the risk. His wild desire pushed him to feel the body of another man. Another instance where the novel demonstrates sexuality through homosexuality is when Stroke describes how the physical size and weight of Harker’s diary disappeared as Dracula undressed him and folded his clothes though somehow ignoring his genitals. Similarly, magically Harker felt all over Dracula’s body without feeling his genitals. According to Schaffer (1994), at this moment Harker perceived himself as a woman jotting a love letter and as a frantic conspirator writing secret shorthand missives. Though the physical element of his epistolary desires appears nonexistent.

All through the novel, the characters seem to enjoy jotting down their telegrams, pale phonographic cylinders, telegrams,  and diary books as a strategy for displaying sexuality and sexual feelings. Stoker employs an intangible text strategy to demonstrate sexuality. The burning evanescence of text records other discourses related to homoerotic pleasure such as Wilde-pity, sensoria, emotional male companionship, and arousing stories (Schaffer, 1994). Besides this, there were instances where Dracula declared his homosexual desire towards Harker as he clearly stated “this man belongs to me” (Schaffer, 1994, p.565). The novel present Dracula as a being or a man who targets both males and females to fulfill his desires either as a vampire (fluid exchange) or sexually, his main victims being Lucy and Harker.

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