Dracula makes an effort to portray what the role of sexuality and gender had in the Victorian Era. It does a good job of making the novel more realistic and adding a different aspect to it. Women were very naive and were not allowed to show affection towards men or do anything that would show them as impure. They had to be chaste until marriage and the Victorian era was a very strict time for women, which is shown in the novel, Dracula. Bram Stoker’s writing makes it so both men and women are sexually repressed.
Jonathan Harker is the first character we encounter that is introduced to sex. Dracula’s three daughters act completely opposite of every other women in the Victorian era. They are able to act on their sexual desires whenever they please and they are extremely erotic women, especially for the times they are in. The sexuality of the female vampires is shown in the scene, “The fair girl went on her knees, and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth” (Stoker 3.32). Jonathan is not used to handling sexual desires from woman so while this is happening he has to close his eyes. He also closes his eyes because deep down he knows he wants the female vampires to please him sexually, but he knows that isn’t right and it makes him feel guilty. The ability of the female vampires to portray sexual openness is something that Jonathan is very conflicted with because while he likes it, he also finds it to be distasteful and sleazy. He refers to Dracula’s daughters as monsters because he has never seen anything like them before. Jonathan also experiences the theme of gender as he is trapped in Dracula’s mansion. Just as anyone would, he starts to go crazy and breakdown crying but it was not normal for men to show emotions like that in this era. Back then these emotions were linked to hysteria, and that was something that they believed only women were able to experience.
Mina is another character who portrays the themes of sexuality and gender. ‘New Woman’ was a term they used back then to describe women who did not represent the traditional female of that era. These women were educated, trendy, and self-reliant and this is how Mina was shown at the beginning of the novel. Jonathan is her fiancé and she takes notes for him by implementing the most innovative technology of the time. This is how Mina was portrayed in the beginning of the novel, but as time goes on, towards the end of the novel, she starts to take on a more traditional and feminized role. In the sense of chaste and purity, Mina is the ideal woman for this. Mina is a character who can be shown as the exact opposite of Dracula’s female vampire daughters, and Stoker portrays Mina so he can compare her to the female vampires. Dracula’s three daughters are everything a woman should not be in the Victorian era society. Women were not allowed to pursue men or seek out a relationship, and that’s just what the female vampires do by seducing men.
Lucy is a controversial character in the novel, because she acts as the ideal woman but also shows glimpses of being ahead of her time. She is also shown differently than Mina, as she is trying to decide between three men who are all wealthy and respectable men, while Mina has her traditional relationship with Jonathan. Lucy kisses all three of them and would marry them all if she would, but that is very forbidden. She is desperate to get out of the society that women are supposed to be seen as in the Victorian era . Lucy believes and has a slight knowledge that women might not actually be pure. Unfortunately, Lucy gets punished for her actions and way of thinking when Dracula bites her and then she is given a blood transfusion from all of her suitors. When she finally turns into a vampire she is able to openly let out her sexual desires that were sexually repressed for so long. This is shown when she asks for a kiss by saying, ‘Arthur! Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!’ (Stroker 182).
Overall, gender and sexuality played a huge role in creating the novel, Dracula. This theme was a huge part of the society in the Victorian era because everyone acted the same in regards to sexuality. Women were very pure and chaste and did not know anything different so they let that be the way they lived. This made men the dominant gender because they were the only ones allowed to pursue women, but even men did not experience sexual desires outside of marriage. Both men and women in Dracula experienced how the role of sexulity and gender plays a part in everything.