What boundaries does the Vampire threaten? Discuss possible answers to this question with reference to at least two critical or theoretical essays and at least two telling’s’ of the Dracula story. Written By Amanda Turner The Vampire in Dracula threatens the very existence of Victorian England. Stoker constructs the vampire as an embodiment of threat by surpassing his Gothic novelist predecessors to bring the threat of the Gothic home to Victorian England (Arata 119).
This in turn crosses the boundary between what is foreign and what is national; and dually East and West. Dracula is open to many interpretations, each accompanying their own boundaries the Vampire threatens. Marxist’s view Dracula as a metaphor for capitalism, whilst the queer perspective views it as a struggle between homosexuality and heterosexuality.
Others such as Auerbach argue that ‘Dracula is in love less with death or sexuality than with hierarchies, erecting barriers hitherto foreign to vampire literature; the gulf between male and female, antiquity and newness, class and class, England and non-England, vampire and mortal, homoerotic and heterosexual love, infusing its genre with a new fear: fear of the hatred unknown’ (p. 148).
This essay is arguing that Dracula does cross all of those fore-mentioned barriers, as well as crossing a myriad of others. The essay is using the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and the 1931 film version of Dracula by Tod Browning as the literary base from which the boundaries are derived and analyzed. Other boundaries threatened are; familial boundaries including maternal and paternal roles; pre-oedipal and oedipal, as well as the boundaries between child and adult. Sexual and human taboo boundaries are threatened, incorporating masculine and feminine as well as gender boundaries.
... more. No other monster enjoys the same status as the vampire. Dracula, the most popular of the species, is a cultural icon ... three forms: the aristocratic white male (i. e. Dracula and Louis), the beautiful vampires s / temptress (i. e. Lucy), or the 'adorable ... society has evolved. At the time of Dracula's conception, the notion of vampires and werewolves was based purely on superstition and ...
The boundary between conservative and liberator y is threatened, evident in the contrast between Victorian women and the new woman. The threat of conflict between desire and fear; sanity and insanity; the realm of the unconscious versus the conscious, are all evident in the boundary between self and other; and Christianity is also threatened in Dracula. This essay analyses the threat these boundaries face from a historical perspective; a psychoanalytical lens (primarily Freud and Laconian); queer and gender studies analysis; Jungian approach; and a Marxist interpretation, to assess the preternatural jeopardy the Vampire embodies. It is however important to note that the boundaries in Dracula are not as clear cut as suggested: instead they are fused and intertwined with one another. Sexuality in Dracula comes under extreme threat. The social normative’s surrounding Victorian sexuality are displaced and the reader is left to face up to what they fear the most; deviant forms of sexuality and gender identity distortion.
This is witnessed in the conflict between Dracula, and Van Helsing and his entourage; the Crew of Light. Their conflict arises over a duel to see who is able to assert more power over women, both sexually and intellectually, gender functions that are woven tightly into Victorian ideals about masculine and feminine counterparts; as shown by Lucy. The killing of Lucy is a powerful reinstatement of male sexual dominance. Lucy poses a threat by exposing herself as a danger to sexual propriety; a threat to Victorian ideology – “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men or as many as want her?” (Stoker, p. 60) – a threat which comes to fruition after Lucy is bitten.
Once infected by Dracula, Lucy becomes sexually overt and aggressive; and is portrayed as a monster and a social outcast. She transforms into the ‘Bloofar Lady’ and feeds on children making her the maternal antithesis as well as a child molester (Jones, p. 87).
... novel where women appear as vampires carries heavy sexual undertones. Victorian culture forbade women to enjoy or ... predator and prey so obvious in Dracula. Dracula was a nomad that preyed on people ... concept. 'We recognized the features of Lucy... but yet how changed. The sweetness ... threat is expelled from Britain. However, this ruling class does not come out of the battle unscathed, and the Victorian ...
In order to rectify Lucy’s condition she is sexually overpowered by her fiancee Holmwood; he penetrates her to death with a stake through the chest, a staking which is overtly sexual in interpretation, as “the thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam… He looked like a figure of Thor as his un trembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper” (Stoker p.
This sexual innuendo restores the Victorian balance of sexual penetration from the female domain back its accepted station within the male domain. Showalter interprets the killing as a gang rape, done with “impressive phallic instrument” (p. 181).
‘Those serial transfusions which, while they pretend to serve and protect ‘good women,’ actually enable the otherwise inconceivable interfusion of the blood that is semen too. Here displacement (a woman’s body) and sublimation (these are medical penetrations) permit the un permitted, just as gang rape men share their semen in a location displaced sufficiently to divert the anxiety excited by a more direct union” (Craft, p. 128).
This regression of female penetration has some basis within Freudian research into dreams. Nightmares, according to Freudian psychoanalysis, result from sexual oppression and occur most commonly in virgins, widows and nuns; and that the remedy is found in the love of a good or bad man (Jones, p. 87).
Dracula represents deviant sexuality. Dracula displays the breakdown of normal gender roles posed by the New woman, by creating a physical transformation from the sexually passive woman into the sexually aggressive vampire in his victims (Hendershot p. 374).
Hendershot argues that this would have evoked anxiety in those members of society still upholding the Victorian values, as gender identity expectations were being redefined, and the clear distinction between the sexes provided a comfort zone (Hendershot p. 377).
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Cranny-Francis argues that.” …
the sexual initiative is restored to the men… by the negation of Lucy’s ‘aggressive’ (because apparent) female sexuality. She can henceforth live on as a beautiful, spiritual memory for all of them – her troublesome presence removed” (p. 68); in sum “A woman is…
better off dead than sexual (Craft, p. 122).
Blood also illustrates the struggle for ownership. After receiving her first blood transfusion from her fiancee Holmwood, Lucy writes that “Arthur feels very, very close to me. I seem to feel his presence warm about me” (Stoker cited Smith, p. 135.
Lucy then receives further transfusions from Seward, Morris and Van Helsing, troublesome because it threatens the boundary of the virginal, pious image, Victorian women were to maintain: instead it fulfills Lucy’s desire for promiscuity (Smith, p. 135).
With the blood transfusions also comes the displacement of homosexual desire. Van Helsing acknowledges that after giving blood to Lucy, they will all be connected to Dracula (Craft, p. 111).
This can be expressed through the Sedgwick homoerotic triangle, in which homoerotic desire in males is displaced and mediated through a female. Another indication that Dracula threatens the boundaries between homoerotic and heterosexual love is the fact that none of the men risk having sex. Lucy rejects Morris and Seward’s proposal who then seem to reside themselves to celibacy; whereas Holmwood whose proposal Lucy accepted is beaten by Dracula; and he has his way with her first. Harker, who is engaged to Mina, seems too preoccupied with staying alive to contemplate sexual activity with Mina; making it evident that these men either do not want to have sex, or that “some other desire or fear stands in the way of their acting effectively” (Foster, p.
Bentley argues that the repressed sexuality in the text leans toward being homoerotic (qt d. Riquelme p. 415).
This homosexual perversity is also present in Browning’s film version of Dracula, in which Dracula takes Renfield, a male, as a victim (Waller, p. 384).
A homosexual act, because blood is a sexual reference in Dracula. Browning’s Dracula features the first males that are lured and bitten by another male (Auerbach, p. 153).
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Schaffer argues that the vampire could easily be interpreted as a metaphor for “love that dare not speak its name. To homophobes, vampirism could function as a way of naming the homosexual as monstrous, dirty, threatening. To homosexuals, vampirism could be an elegy for the enforced interment of their desires’ (p.
Jones (p. 85) argues that this can be seen in Browning’s Dracula: From its very beginning as a literary trope, vampirism has always been used as a vehicle for more-or-less encoded articulations of sexuality and desire (as a way of writing about sex but without writing about sex), and importantly (though not exclusively) of articulating homosexual desire, thus operating on a diabetic of vampirism as dissident or deviant and thus forbidden and silenced (hence the need for metaphor, for a form made of encoded meanings, a secret kind of language, a supernatural polar i), but also as a desirable, wished-for: a version of the standard Gothic dialectic of desire and repulsion. Dracula, functions as both accusation and elegy.
Stoker used the Wilde an figure of Dracula to define homosexuality as simultaneously monstrous, dirty, threatening, alluring, buried, corrupting, contagious, and indestructible” (p. 473).
Stoker’s Dracula initially outlines the homosexual threat, when Harker cuts himself shaving. Dracula moves in to bite Harker but is repelled by the crucifix around his neck.
Dracula’s unfulfilled desire to bite; to have sexual relations with Harker; is transposed to his three daughters: a situation permitted through acceptance of heterosexual behavior as the normal and ideal practice; and they do what Dracula has contemplated and desired (Craft p. 110).
This is evident in Dracula’s assertions that Harker belongs to him (Stoker, p. 53), and again where Dracula states that “Your girls that you all love are mine already, and through them you and the others shall be mine…
.” (Stoker, p. 365).
Since the only female characters in the novel are Lucy and Mina, which Dracula already has under his influence, he is directing this towards the male characters, the Crew of Light and Van Helsing. This is another example of Sedgwick’s homoerotic triangle within Dracula, the females are being used as prawns, mediators, of which Dracula’s real goal is to vamp the males or take them under his control. It is “a displacement typical of both this text and the gender-anxious culture from which it arose, an implicitly homoerotic desire achieves representation as a monstrous heterosexuality, as a demonic inversion of normal gender relations’ (Craft, p. 110).
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Roth argues that Harker, Van Helsing, Seward and Holmwood are all attracted to vampires; and to sexuality in general. Fearing this, they displace this attraction and justify their negative reaction to it by projecting their attraction on to the female vampires; with the rationale it is the vampires who want them; and not the other way around; using religion to justify their actions (p. 415).
This behavior is all indicative of the Sedgwick homoerotic triangle. Craft argues that it is in this moment where Dracula’s daughters, with a feminine form but capable of masculine penetration, are about to vamp Harker; that the Text’s most direct and explicit representation of a male’s desire to be penetrated, is governed by a double deflection: first, the agent of penetration is nominally (from the mouth down, anyway) female; and second, this dangerous moment, fusing the maximum of desire and the maximum of anxiety, is poised precisely at the brink of penetration… short of the transgression which would unsex Harker and toward which this text constantly aspires and then retreats: the actual penetration of the male (p.
Dracula makes his homoerotic desires apparent when he bursts in to the room and declares, “Back I tell you all! This man belongs to me” (Stoker, p. 53).
This homoeroticism transcends the accepted boundaries of sexual behavior. It was believed that same sex eroticism resulted out of sexual instincts that were “improperly correlated to the sexual organs” (Symonds qt d. Craft, p.
Late Victorian culture was both fearful and fascinated by male homosexual interaction (Craft, p. 112).
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Dracula hides homosexual desire behind a heterosexual mask (Craft, p. 115).
Dracula endangers gender boundaries; the division between male and female. Craft argues that ‘the kiss excites a sexuality so mobile, so insistent, that it threatens to overwhelm the distinctions of gender; and the exuberant energy with which Van Helsing and the Crew of Light counter Dracula’s influence represents the text’s anxious defense against the very desire it also seeks to liberate (p. 117).
Dracula threatens the boundary between genders and distorts the roles allocated to both the male and female gender categories, although transgressed the difference between the two categories is ultimately kept in its place.
Hendershot argues that although the ‘male’ and ‘female’ vampires possess the same reproductive sexual organs, a social distinction between the two is present in Dracula; the female vampires are subservient to the male vampire (p. 379).
Female sexual deviancy is more threatening than male sexual deviancy. This is seen in Stoker’s Dracula because more attention is drawn to the sexuality of Lucy and Mina; than it is to the sexuality of the male characters. Signorotti argues that Lucy and Mina are contrasted; Lucy represents threatening sexuality, whilst Mina represents socially accepted sexuality (p. 11).
Lucy before being vamped contains personality characteristics that are classified as unacceptable in Victorian society. She remarks about wanting to have more than one husband, which displays promiscuity and she also goes for walks at night, which is a suggestion for prostitution. Once women are vamped, they become masculine taking on the role of the penetration; the white teeth are a phallic symbol for this ability to penetrate. ‘Lucy’s unmanageable sexual penetration is presented as inherently evil because it threatens fixed gender distinctions’ (Signorotti, p. 12).
Therefore in order to repress Lucy back into her accepted gender role a male must use his phallic symbol, in this case a stake, to overpower Lucy’s phallic teeth; and consequently restore Lucy to her rightful submissive position in the gender hierarchy (Signorotti, pp. 12-13).
‘This enthusiastic correction of Lucy’s monstrosity provides the Crew of Light with a double reassurance: it effectively exorcises the threat of a mobile and hungering feminine sexuality; and it counters the homoeroticism latent in the vampire threat by re inscribing (upon Lucy’s chest) the line dividing the male who penetrates and the woman who receives’ (Craft, p. 122).
More attention is paid to the transgression of women to the male domain, than is paid to a male crossing over to the female domain. This is seen in the case of Dracula; he cuts his chest open and wills Mina to feed from his breast; a maternal role which indeed feminizes him, it does not pose as much threat as women having the ability to sexually penetrate men (Hendershot, p. 380).
The horror of a woman penetrating a man, can be seen in Mina’s reaction after she drinks from Dracula’s chest, ‘Oh, my God, my God! What have I done?’ (Stoker, p. 343).
This declaration also contains sexual innuendo.
‘Oh, my God, my God!’ can be conceived as being a ‘verbal ejaculation’s uggesting that blood and semen are interlinked, and with the drinking from the chest, blood is also milk (Craft, p. 125).
The characteristic traits that comprise what is feminine and what is male are blurred in Dracula. Dracula, Harker, Van Helsing and his Crew of Light, Mina and Lucy, all display traits that lie outside of their preconceived gendered structure.
Dracula in opening his chest for Mina to drink blurs his gender. Craft argues that ‘such fluidity of substitution and displacement entails a confusion of Dracula’s sexual identity, or an interfusion of masculine and feminine functions, as Dracula here becomes a lurid mother offering not a breast but an open and bleeding wound. But if the Count’s sexuality is double, then the open wound may be yet another displacement (the reader of Dracula must be as mobile as the Count himself) ‘ (p. 125).
This gender distortion is evident in the asexual mouth; the primary site of the erotic in Dracula. Craft argues ‘luring at first with an inviting orifice, a promise of red softness s, but delivering instead a bone, the vampire mouth fuses and confuses what Dracula’s civilised nemesis, Van Helsing and his Crew of Light, works so hard to separate — the gender-based categories of the penetrating and the receptive, or, to use Van Helsing’s lan gauge, the complimentary categories of ‘brave men’ and ‘good women’ (p.
The mouth in Dracula is inherently male, even though all other vampires in the novel are female apart from the Count, because Dracula systematically creates ‘female surrogates who will enact his will and desire’ (Craft, p. 109).
This can be linked back to the boundary between the homoerotic and the heterosexual, as Dracula wants to vamp males, but it is disguised through a heterosexual lens. The blurring of gender can also be seen in Browning’s film version of Dracula.
Here ‘Renfield is a high-camp Englishman abroad, complete with spats and homburg… this gay dandy is a ready victim of the Count’s seduction’ (Jones, p. 91).
Renfield is ‘florid and faintly effeminate, he is a Hollywood version of a decadent English gentleman’ (Auerbach, p. 156).
Dracula wears attire consistent of a cloak, tuxedo and medals, despite the occasion, which in the 1930 s is considered perverse.
He is very clothes-conscious, and at closer inspection he is wearing lipstick and eye-makeup; components clearly gendered feminine (Auerbach, p. 157).
There are several scenes in Stoker’s Dracula in which the men act in a manner that would be described as effete or feminine. The Count is the only one with the reproductive power to create new vampires, the female vampires in this case are an inversion of reproduction; feeding off children instead of producing them; the Count brings a child for his three daughters to feed off so as they do not feed off Harker. Harker acts as the passive or subordinate one in his partnership to Mina. Instead of Harker saving Mina from the Count; it seems Harker is taking protection from Mina; in this instance Harker takes on the role of the female and Mina that of the male.
Harker is shown to be made of weaker constitution than Mina; as his hair turns white due to stress and anxiety: ‘a grey look which deepened and deepened… till… the flesh stood darkly out against the whitening hair’ (Stoker, p. 344).
Sedgwick’s rule of the female as the hysteric, and the male as the paranoid, is also transgressed. Both Van Helsing, who is portrayed to have one of the strongest constitutions in the males, and Harker experiences some kind of hysteria. Harker is hysteric after he is woken from his dazed state (Stoker, p. 338), and Van Helsing breaks into a fit of hysterics just after Lucy’s death: ‘The moment we were alone in the carriage he gave way to a regular fit of hysterics…
He laughed till he cried and I had to draw down the blinds lest anyone should see us and misjudge; and he then cried until he laughed again; and laughed and cried together, just as a woman does (Stoker, pp. 209-210).
The signifier in this sentence that this is behaviour unbefitting a man is ‘misjudged’; this tells us that he would be critically looked upon and ridiculed by society for behaving in such an uncontrolled manner; one that should only be present in females. Dracula has also been read from a Marxist perspective, which views the Count as being a metaphor for capitalism. Marx himself made an analogy between a vampire and capitalism: ‘Like a vampire, capital is dead labor that keeps itself alive only by drinking in living labor and that invigorates itself more the more labor it sucks in’ (Marx qt d.
Riquelme, p. 400).
Marx’s Das Kapital also contains images of a vampire, ‘Capital is dead labor which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more it sucks’; ‘the prolongation of the working day… only slightly quenches the vampire thirst for the living blood of labor’ (Marx qt d. Jones, pp. 71-72).
Moretti argues that the ‘fear of bourgeois civilisation is summed up in Dracula, as it arose during the height of the industrial revolution (p. 83).
Moretti argues that Dracula ‘is an ascetic of terror: in him is celebrated the victory ‘of desire for possession over that of enjoyment’; and possession as such, indifferent to consumption, is by its very nature insatiable and unlimited… a rational who invests his gold to expand his dominion: to conquer the city of London’ (p. 84).
26) argues that Dracula represents a bourgeosie point of view: a manic individualist; from his own point of view, which is not absent in the text, he is the bearer of the promise of true union, union which transcends death. From the bourgeosie point of view, Dracula stands for sexual perversion and sadism; but we also know that what his victims experience at the moment of consummation is joy, unhealthy perhaps but of a power unknown in conventional relationships. Dracula exists and exerts power through the right immemorial; Van Helsing and his associates defeat him in the appropriate fashion, through hard work and diligent application, the weapons of a class which derives its existence from labour. It is in this Marxist reading that the threat of transgression between and newness; and the boundary between class and class are realised.
We know that Dracula is the final aristocrat, who is not merely an individual; but a ‘dynasty, a ‘house’, the proud descendant and bearer of a long aristocratic tradition’ (Punter, p. 23).
Punter argues that the ‘ need to discover the importance of ‘noble blood’ is ratified in Dracula: for Dracula has ‘rarefied his needs, and the needs of his house and line, to the point where he has no longer any need of any exchange-system or life-support except blood’ (p. 23).
He also argues that Dracula can no longer feed on the blood of the peasantry, those beneath his bloodline (Translyvanians), and goes to London to feed from those with a similar aristocracy (Punter, p. 24).
Gelder argues that Dracula is the ‘wrong kind’ of capitalist; he uses the wealth he has purely to satisfy himself. Dracula uses his gold to buy a house in London to feed his desire for noble blood, whereas Van Helsing and the Crew of Light share the wealth that they have and do not use it for selfish purposes (pp. 17-20).
Dracula aims to destroy humanity and create a race of vampires in his own image; every vampire he creates has the same characteristics as him: , with sharp nails, white teeth and red lips.
He tries to create Lucy and Mina in his own image; he values Lucy for her sexual strength and Mina for her intellectual ability (Signorotti, p. 624).
Croley in contrast to Gelder argues that Dracula is in fact a representative of the 19 th century poor, the ‘lumpenproletariat’ (p. 1).
His main argument is based around the fact that Dracula is aligned with the more subservient groups, he attends to household duties in his home; he is linked with animals; particularly wolves; bats and lizards, which are situated near the bottom of the animal hierarchy, and also with madmen (Renfield).
Dracula’s home is also rather de lapidated; filled with cobwebs and the infrastructure is in need of repair: it is reflective of the decay associated with the ‘lumpenproletariat’ (Croley, pp.
Whether Dracula is in fact representative of the ‘lumpenproletariat’ or whether he is the ‘final aristocrat’ is in itself blurred. Dracula is however likely to be of noble blood as Van Helsing refers to him as ‘King Vampire’ (Stoker, p. 440); and also in Browning’s version of Dracula, no dinner is served once Harker arrives, as ‘Dracula avoids the indignity of cooking for his guest and the awkwardness of watching him eat’ (Auerbach, p.
The importance of blood also shows Dracula as nobility. Smith argues that Dracula was written at a time when: ‘the notion of possessing a certain type of blood was of social and economic importance. The aristocrat ensured descent by the virtue of noble blood, and as such, blood lines were closely related to sexuality’ (p. 130).
Antiquity and newness is displayed through the use of technology.
Wasson argues that Dracula’s best chance for survival is in the West, through technology, and he uses Mina, her skills as a teacher, ability to write in shorthand and to type, give Dracula an insight into the West (p. 387).
According to Jones, ‘Dracula stands poised, quite self-consciously, on the cusp of modernity. Technological advancements – blood transfusions, stenograph’s, train timetables, typewriters, Kodak cameras – all have their place in killing the vampire, though recourse is needed to the old ways: the host, the cross, the stake. Professor Van Helsing straddles these worlds’ (p.
This is evident in Browning’s Dracula, as Van Helsing is portrayed as a man of science, Waller argues: Van Helsing is a master from his first appearance in the film, when he — dressed in a white lab coat — examines Lucy’s body in a large operating room (while other doctors watch from a gallery of seats) and then views Renfield’s blood under a microscope. Costume and decor in these two scenes (which have no analogue in the novel or play) immediately establish Van Helsing as an authoritative man of science. Later he reveals that he has devoted a ‘lifetime to the study of many strange things, little known facts which the world is perhaps better off for not knowing” (p. 386).
Helsing and the Crew of Light use technological advancements as their armament against Dracula.
Clemens argues that ‘the up-to-date medical men refer to ‘,’ ‘trituration,’ ‘molecules,’ ‘digital pressure,’ and ‘hypodermic injection’… Even the first opening of a vampire’s coffin is accompanied not by traditional paraphernalia of stake and cross, but by Van Helsing’s fret saw and turn screw’ (p. 158).
The diffusion of boundaries between antiquity and newness are transcend through Van Helsing’s use of ancient cures, like the paraphernalia used to protect Lucy from Dracula, and also through Dracula, a product of antiquity, and his use of Mina to gain access to the new technology. The border between national and, in terms of England and non-England are also threatened in Dracula.
In 1890 s England the East provided a stark contrast beyond the ‘ward of science’ (Frayling, p. 100).
In Browning’s Dracula, the real threat is the ease with which Dracula infiltrates London. Waller suggests: The vampire seems not at all out of place at night on the streets of London. Just prior to his first encounter with Lucy and Mina, Dracula murders a lower-class young woman who sells flowers on a foggy street, and this brief, seemingly digressive episode pointedly suggests how successfully the formally dressed vampire can thrive in the open, unprotected modern world… Dracula (1931) has allowed us to gauge both the nature of the vampire and the type of threat this foreign aristocrat poses to a secular society that does not arm itself with religious talismans and traditional beliefs (p.
England feared the threat posed; because according to Arata, it displayed the possibility of a ‘reverse colonisation’. Arata argues that ‘in the case of Dracula, the context includes the decline of Britain as a world power at the close of the nineteenth century, or rather, the way the perception of that decline was articulated by contemporary writers’ (p. 120).
He also believes that ‘the decay of British global influence, the loss of overseas markets for British goods, the economic and political rise of Germany and the United States, the increasing unrest in Brit ish colonies and possessions, the growing domestic uneasiness over the morality of imperialism — all combined to a rode Victorian confidence in the inevitably of British progress and hegemony’ (Arata, p. 120).
He argues that the fear of ‘reverse colonisation’ is apparent in Stoker’s Dracula; ‘Harker envisions semi-demons spreading through the realm, coloni sing bodies and land indiscriminately. The Count’s ‘lust for blood’ points in both directions: to the vampire’s need for its special food, and also to the warrior’s desire for conquest. The Count endangers Britain’s integrity as a nation at the same time that he imperils the personal integrity of individual citizens’ (p. 125).
This is evident on page (67) of Stoker’s text: This was the being I was helping to transfer to London [Harker writes in anguish] where, perhaps for centuries to come, he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever widening crile of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. Harker himself concedes that Dracula is the most Western in the novel.
Dracula is punctual, intelligent, organised and well-read in english literature and english life (Stoker, p. 30).
It is in Dracula’s extensive knowledge of England that a threat between when is English and what is foreign is tested. Dracula threatens racial boundaries. Arata argues that ‘Dracula represents the nobleman as warrior. His activities after death carry on his activities in life; in both cases he has successfully engaged in forms of conquest and denomination…
Racial conquest and denomination’ (p. 123).
Stoker stays within Western ideology of seeing conflict in the East in terms of racial conflict. ‘For Stoker, the vampire ‘race’ is simply the most virulent and treating of the numerous warrior races… inhabiting the area’ (Arata, pp. 123-124).
Arata makes the link between the experience of Lucy and Mina losing their ‘identity — national, cultural, racial’, once they have undergone their transformation after being vamped (p. 126); and the experience felt by those who have been colonized. Dracula also blurs the boundary between gothic narrative and travel narrative. ‘Stoker maps his story not simply onto the Gothic but also onto a second, equally popular late-Victorian genre, the travel narrative’ (Arata, p. 122).
Harker’s first two acts — noting that his train is late, and then trans versing a boundary he considers symbolic — function as a kind of shorthand, alerting readers that Harker’s journal is to be set against the background of late Victorian trave narratives’ (Arata, p.
Harker keeps meticulous records of his travel to the Count’s castle; ‘he writes an account of his travels, including with surprising detail the meals he eats. In the first two pages of the book, he writes two memoranda to be himself to get the recipe for a tasty dish. He tells us that ‘there are many odd things’ to write about, but among the exotic curiosities of Transylvania, he makes room to ‘put down my dinner exactly,’ a horrible meal with meat suitably only for cats and a wine merely ‘not disagreeable’ (Foster, p.
‘The ‘realism’ of the travel narrative gives way to the fantasy constructions of the Gothic, which can be dismissed — as Harker urges us to so — as untrue. ‘We want no proofs; we ask none to believe us’, Van Helsing says in the novel’s final moments, and his words sound remarkably like a plea’ (Arata, p. 140).
Gothic narrative and travel narrative are both concerned with maintaining as well as transgressing boundaries (Arata, p. 122).
‘The Count’s transgressions and aggressions are placed in the context, provided by innumerable travel narratives, of late-Victorian forays into the ‘East’. For Stoker, the Gothic and the travel, separately and together, the very boundaries on which British imperial hegemony depended: between civilised and primitive, colonisers and colonized, victimizer (either imperialist or vampire) and victim’ (Arata, p. 122).
He argues that the transgression of boundaries transgresses cultural and political realms as well (p.
Browning’s Dracula, the Count ‘resonates with an American inter-war nervousness about its renewed relation to Europe after the long period of political isolationism in the second half of the nineteenth century’ (Kavka, p. 215).
Dracula threatens familial boundaries: the maternal; paternal, good father versus bad father, pre-oedipal and oedipal; and between child and adult. The maternal is threatened because vampire women are ‘bad mothers’, they feed from children instead of feeding them (Gelder, p.
‘Stoker here gives us a tableau mordant of gender inversion: the child Lucy clutches ‘strenuously to her breast’ is not being fed, but is being fed upon. Furthermore, by requiring that the child be discarded that the husband may be embraced, Stoker provides a little emblem of this novel’s anxious protestation at the appetite in a woman (‘My arms are hungry for you’) is a diabolic (‘callous as a devil’) inversion of natural order’ (Craft, pp. 120-121).
Clemens believes that the female vampires thirst for the blood of children indicates that they are connected with lower life forms. Arguing that such treatment of infants would not be seen in higher mammals, whom engage in an extended period of infant nurturing.
The anti-maternal behaviour shows a regression back to the era before higher instincts or behaviour manifested (p. 174).
Eltis agrees with Clemens believing ‘Vampirism infects women with masculine sexual aggression and perverts their maternal instincts into an appetite for infant blood; the three vampire women are fed babies in a bag by Dracula, and the newly risen Un-Dead Lucy clutches her latest child-victim to her bosom in an obscene inversion of maternal suckling’ (p. 456).
The birth of baby Quincey also distorts the maternal role. Schaffer asserts that ‘Quincey’s spirit fled his dying body, swirled along in his blood, soaked into Harker and became the ‘seed’ of Harker’s son. Harker transmits Quincey’s blood to Mina, just as Mina had stained her husband’s body with Dracula’s blood. Instead of epidemiological worry, this new blood transmission produces thriving sons’ (p.
In doing so, ‘Stoker recuperates the infectiousness of the vampire myth by making it into a paradigm for homosexual procreative sex’ (Schaffer, p. 482).
Dracula threatens the paternal boundary; a dichotomy between the good father and the bad father is constructed. In Dracula, ”Van Helsing represents the good father figure’, pitted against the Big Daddy, Dracula’ (Roth, p.
Fraying sees ‘Dracula as big Daddy — to a defence of traditional family values against the discontents of modern civilisation’ (p. 106).
Craft sees Van Helsing and Dracula as two antithetical father figures. ‘As Dracula conducts his serial assaults upon Lucy, Van Helsing, in a pretty counterpoint of penetration, responds with a series of defensive transfusions; the blood that Dracula takes out Van Helsing then puts back’ (p.
In order to look at the paternal from a perspective, the pre-Oedipal and Oedipal complex’s need to be examined. The pre-Oedipal complex as described by Lacan, is the moment when the child does not differentiate itself from its mother. The child is unable to communicate through the medium of language, apart from Cooing, which therefore enters the mirror stage.
The mirror stage entails the child becoming aware that it is a separate entity from the mother; and the child experiences three changes. Firstly the child recognises and also fears aggression from another; secondly; the child begins to desire what is beyond itself, usually the mother, and third; the child recognises competition and feels the need to compete for the desired object seen in the second change (Murfin, p. 474).
The Oedipal complex on the other hand begins with a child; who views itself; its mother; and its father as separate entities. The child also recognises gender distinctions, and is able to identify gender distinction between itself and one of its parents; and also make a distinction between the gender of both parents in relation to one another. The Oedipal complex argues that it is in this gender distinction that acknowledgement of rivalry is born.
In boys, they look at the father as the phallic symbol in relation to the mother; and identifies with the father’s gender. The boy then realise’s that his father, who is both older and more powerful, is his rival. The object of desire and hence rivalry is us ally the mother (Murfin, p. 474).
Richardson, looks at Dracula through a Freudian perspective. He views Dracula as expressing the Oedipal complex; the battle of the father who wants to keep all women to himself (qt d.
Riquelme p. 414).
He also sees Van Helsing and Dracula as doubles. ‘In his reading, Van Helsing leads the younger men, as if they were sons in Freud’s narrative, to defeat his evil antagonist and satisfy their sexual appetites in legitimate ways’ (Richardson, qt d.
Riquelme, p. 414).
‘Richardson calls Dracula a ‘quite blatant demonstration of the Oedipus complex… a kind of incestuous, , oral-anal-sadistic all-in wrestling match” (qt d. Roth, p. 30).
Roth however believes that Dracula displays pre-Oedipal qualities, child hostility towards the maternal figure and desire for her destruction. Riquelme argues that Roth, ‘reads the parallel but contrasting stories of Lucy and Mina as two symbolic confrontations with the mother, in the first of which she is destroyed and in the second of which she is saved, as part of the structure that works through ‘the desire to destroy the threatening mother… who threatens by being desirable” (p. 416).
Dracula, threatens the boundary between child and adult.
Van Helsing describes Dracula as having a child-like brain, and to not be fulled by his man-stature (Stoker, p. 341).
Smith argues that Dracula threatens the boundary because he accumulates knowledge, which makes him mature, and it therefore becomes necessary to defeat him ‘before he can become ‘the father or of a new order of beings, whose road must lead through Death, not Life” (p. 137).
‘He is childlike in another sense, namely, that he does not know death.
Children only think they immortal: eventually they come to know that they will die and consequently become more careful in what they desire and do’ (Murfin, p. 477).
Harker can also be read as the child. This is evident in the scene where Harker is with the three vampire women and the Count interrupts: ‘How dare you touch him, any of you?’ (Stoker, p. 49).
Roth argues that Harker is contrasted to a child because Dracula takes him from the vampire women and in his place they are given a bag of babies. Roth also links Harker’s description of the vampire women, in particularly the vampire with golden hair and blue eyes, to the archetypal mother, Medusa. She also makes an interesting point that this appears to echo the description given of the pre-vamped Lucy (p. 39).
This can either be analysed through the Oedipal complex; or through forbidden desire: desire for his fiancee Mina’s best friend Lucy.
Morris is also set up as a child in the Oedipal sense; Morris first looks at Dracula as a phallic symbol, and then identifies him as a rival. Moretti argues that ‘So long as things go well for Dracula, Morris acts like an accomplice. As soon as there is a reversal of fortunes, he turns into his staunchest enemy. Morris enters into competition with Dracula; he would like to replace him in the conquest of the Old World’ (p.
Dracula also threatens the boundary between childhood innocence and adult knowledge. This is seen in Little Quincey, Mina and Harker’s son. ‘Little Quincey can be read as the child of Dracula’s and Harker’s mutual desire’ (Schaffer, p.
He was spawned from sexual transactions through blood, and Craft argues that ‘this is the fantasy child of those sexual ized transfusions, son of an illicit and nearly invisible homosexual union’ (p. 129).
The newborn who should be innocent; has been unnaturally sexual ized through the sharing of blood. Dracula transgresses the boundaries between life and death, and therefore induces fear. Moretti argues that ‘An analogous ambivalence had already been described by Freud in relation to the taboo on the dead (and the vampire is, as we know, also a dead person who comes back to life to destroy those who remain’: This hostility, distressingly felt in the unconscious as satisfaction over the death…
[is displaced] on to the object of hostility, on to the dead themselves. Once again… we find that the taboo has grown up on the basis of an ambivalent emotional attitude. The taboo upon the dead arises, like the others, from the contrast between conscious pain and unconscious satisfaction over the death that has occurred (101).
This boundary between life and death is visualized in Browning’s Dracula. The coffin opens slowly and a ‘claw-like hand menacingly protrudes…
The theme of the Undead is thus keenly visualized: in the cellar of this dark, uninviting, ever-distanced castle, the lid of the coffin itself serves to mark the boundary between life and death, a boundary which is crossed by a hand pushing inexorably from within, coming as it were from the ‘other’s ide’ (Kavka, p. 216).
Craft argues that Dracula is like ‘Nosferatu, neither dead or alive but somehow both, mobile frequenter of the grave and boudoir’ (p. 117).
Dracula is able to escape both the entrapment’s of life and death; but he also has different constraints: ‘he and his children rise and fall for a drink and for nothing else, for nothing else matters’ (Craft, 117).
Dracula blurs the boundary between good and evil; fair and dark.
It is ‘an extended battle between two evidently masculine forces, one identifiably good and the other identifiably evil, for the allegiance of a woman (two women actually — Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker nee Murray) ‘ (Craft, p. 116).
Dracula is identifiably evil and Van Helsing and the Crew of Light are identifiably good. The boundary between Dracula and Van Helsing is confused because they are doubled. Every puncture the Count inflicts is equaled by Van Helsing. The morphine injection that Van Helsing gives Lucy immobilizes her, and Van Helsing then gives her the blood transfusions which masculines Lucy.
In contrast when Dracula penetrates Lucy, she also becomes. The morphine injection has the same affect on Lucy as Dracula’s hypnotic power (Craft, p. 126).
Van Helsing and Dracula both penetrate and it perturb es the border between good and evil. The border between fair and dark is threatened through Lucy. She is fair before her contact with Dracula, and after being vamped she becomes dark.
‘Early in the story when Lucy is not yet completely, Dr Seward describes her hair ‘in its usual sunny ripples’ (p. 180); later, when the men watch her return to her tomb, Lucy is described as ‘a dark-haired woman’ (p. 235) ‘ (Roth, p. 36).
Animal boundaries are threatened by Dracula. Dracula’s ‘ability to metamorphose into a wolf or bat illustrates his ‘unnatural’ command of nature (or more radically the challenge he presents to Jonathon Harker’s assumptions about nature) ‘ (Smith, p.
Harker describes Dracula as being lizard-like after he sees Dracula crawling down the castle wall ‘just as a lizard moves along a wall’ (Stoker, p. 158).
Smith argues that ‘Like the lizard, Dracula is actually a very limited being whose activities are almost entirely dominated by his drive for food, safety, and the pre production of his species; but his power’ (p. 159).
‘With his power to subdue wolves and other creatures from the lower orders of the animal kingdom, Dracula signifies the link between the human and animal worlds that modern urban life tends to ob sure’ (Smith, p.
Dracula’s piercing of the flesh is also animal like. Frayling argues that Stoker had researched vampire piercing and discovered that if both upper canines were to be used to pierce the flesh they would get stuck, and instead the vampires in Dracula use an upper and a lower canine from one side of the mouth; similar to the way a rodent or a wolf tears at flesh (Frayling, pp. 103-104).
Cusick links the ‘anthropomorphic figures’ in Dracula to the supernatural, in which he argues that ‘Dracula’s supernatural presence in manifested through many animals, in particular the wolf and the bat’ (p. 142).
Dracula also highlights the battle between the Victorian and the New woman. The boundary between the two is represented through Lucy and Mina. Showalter sees Lucy as being representative of the New Woman’s sexuality, and supports this claim by Lucy’s wish to marry three men (p. 180).
Cranny-Francis on the other hand disagrees with this interpretation, instead suggesting that there is no evidence that Lucy is sexually active or aware before she is vamped (p… 68).
Lucy is more representative of the Victorian woman, whereas Mina is more representative of the New woman, according to Eltis; she sees Lucy as embodying Victorian qualities: Some critics have identified Lucy as a New Woman, as manifested in her sleepwalking desire to escape from the home and her aberrant sexual appetite, complaining to Mina, ‘Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?’ (p. 80).
But taken as a whole Lucy is far more reminiscent of the traditional feminine defenseless and frivolous Victorian lady… Nor is the contrast between the rampant sexuality of the female vampire and the normality of ‘untainted’ woman that clear-cut. As Nina Auerbach has pointed out, the Un-Dead Lucy is faithfully monogamous in directing her sexual attentions to Arthur Holmwood alone. Once, Lucy is unfaithful only through the blood transfusions, given to her while she is unconscious, which, as Van Helsing observes, render her a ‘polyandrist’ (p.
186) ‘ (pp. 457-458).
Eltis also argues that ‘Mina is the character who most clearly subverts traditional gender categories’ (p. 459).
She contains qualities that are befitting the New Woman: she is a school teacher who has the ability to write in shorthand and to type, attributes of the modern day woman, and she travels across Europe to look after Harker, when he falls ill. Mina’s character is deceptive; she incorporates a masculine role with a feminine appearance (Eltis, p.
The novel portrays Mina’s masculine qualities as adding to her femineity (Eltis, p. 462).
Cranny-Francis on the other hand, argues that Mina is portrayed as relatively asexual, incapable of having sexual relations with Harker, inside or outside of wedlock, until Dracula seduces Mina; in a type of sexual awakening (pp. 69-71).
To Cranny-Francis Mina embodies a conservative form of the New Woman; she asks the men to return her to normality if she becomes vamped, and therefore sexually aggressive. She wants to retain herself within the patriarchal expectations surrounding a woman’s sexuality (Cranny-Francis, pp. 71-72).
Sexual woman poses a threat to Victorian society. From the beginning Lucy is portrayed as a temptress, and prone to promiscuity as she wishes to marry three men; but when bitten by Dracula her sexuality is heightened (Signorotti, p. 623).
Waller argues that ‘Lucy of Browning’s film is easy prey for the vampire, not only because she recites somber poetry and is immediately fascinated by the Count’s melancholia and Old World mein, but also because she is to some degree independent, with no father or lover to protect her’ (p. 385).
Mina on the other hand is more confident in the role she possesses as both daughter, and wife-to-be of Harker, even in the male dominated world (Waller, p. 385).
Debates have surfaced over whether Dracula is a conservative or liberator y piece of text.
‘Many critics emphasizing social relations argue that the narrative largely supports already existing structures, which have determined its shape and its attitudes, while some suggest that it enables the imagining, by contrast with its own social context, of quite different relations that have yet to come fully into being’ (Riquelme, p. 418).
Moretti argues that the text is politically conservative. To him ‘Dracula takes on an ancient form that threatens the vampire hunters, bourgeoisie defenders of a status quo bound up with capitalism.
For Moretti the book is an alley of monopoly capital, whose ‘ambition is to subjugate the last vestiges of the liberal era and destroy all forms of economic independence’ (92) ‘ (Riquelme, p. 419).
Feminist readings often view Dracula as being conservative and somewhat detrimental, with the text often reinforcing conservative images towards women and often evokes images that makes the reader victimize or condone the victimization of women (Riquelme, p. 420).
Another critique is that Dracula is conservative because it does not challenge marriage and its expected roles; instead it shows the restraints of marriage.
Auerbach argues that ‘Even before Arthur celebrates their wedding night with hammer and stake, thumping away unfaltering while her ‘body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions’ (p. 262), Dracula had baptised Lucy into wifely fidelity’ (p. 160).
Moretti concurs and asserts ‘Mina and Jonathan get married in hospital, when Jonathan is in a state of prostration and impotence; and they marry in order to mend, to forget the terrible experience (which was also sexual) undergone by Jonathan in Transylvania’ (p. 98).
There are some critiques who disagree with these conservative takes, and opt for a more liberator y view.
Clemens provides a feminist critique. She views Mina as being a progressive New Woman, and as somewhat liberator y: Mina herself is part of the newness of the radically changing modern world that the vampire invades, although she is somewhat uncomfortable about the challenges currently being made to traditional notions about women’s’s social identity… The plot of Dracula appears to endorse the movement toward female emancipation that was undermining the bastions of traditional male privilege, for Mina is exposed to the danger of becoming a vampire mainly because she has been denied active participation in the men’s ‘moving world.’ Viewed symbolically, her situation reflects that of women whose intellectual and emotional powers remain undeveloped, who become parasitic in their personal relations because they have been prevented from exercising their nondomestic skills and talents (pp. 172-173).
Clemens concludes that Dracula appears to ‘endorse the movement toward a female emancipation that was undermining the bastions of traditional male privilege’ (p. 172).
Eltis agrees that Dracula is liberator y. Mina is kept in the home out of the men’s activities, unattended, Dracula mocks them for their ignorance in living Mina easily accessible to him (p. 461).
Dracula blurs the line between being a conservative text and a liberator y text, as seen by the debates.
The boundary between self and other is also threatened. Dracula blurs the boundary between Jonathan and Dracula. ‘Instead of sharing with Dracula or feeding him, Jonathan spies on him from distant sites. Critical ingenuity can detect subtle affinities between the horrified young man and the horrible old vampire’ (Auerbach, p. 151).
Dracula wears Jonathan’s clothing to the village and Dracula is mistaken for Jonathan by a woman there (Gelder, p.
‘When Harker sees Dracula in his own clothes, the image is profoundly disturbing’ (Schaffer, pp. 475-476).
Smith argues that the Count’s desire is manifested through others, he has no self, ‘he becomes an object, rather than a subject, of discourse; he does not self-reflect (he does not appear in the mirror) ‘ (p. 133).
Smith argues that Dracula is worked out on a level of sexuality: It is sexuality, as a displaced form of the sublime, which is ‘held in check by a prior and unexamined discourse of ethics’; in doing so, the ‘potential power of the sublime’, or the troublesome sexuality manifested by the vampire, has only an implicit presence. The Count’s apparent ‘otherness’ then, is a disguised ‘sameness’; the Count is linked to the group because he expresses, and exposes their sexual desires. This means that the Count is an internal rather than an external enemy (p. 145).
Auerbach shows the connection between Dracula and Jonathan, asserting that: ‘Jonathan, does, for instance, crawl out of the castle in the same lizard like fashion that appalled him when he watched Dracula do it’ (pp. 151-152).
Dracula distorts the boundary between desire and fear. Foster argues that ‘the real fear is not that some unshakable thirst will produce monsters, but that some master could command any one of us to fulfil some horrible drive that has been repressed with the greatest diligence’ (p. 494).
This is repressed desire, in particular repressed sexual desire. Dracula also blurs the line between homosexual desire and fear.
The desire for homosexual activity is rampant throughout Dracula, but it is feared due to sexual taboo. The text is shrouded in homosexual desire, and it is implied that this desire results out of fear, the desire for the forb biden. The boundary between the conscious and the unconscious is threatened in Dracula. Smith argues that the function of the dream is because in ‘Dracula the dream bridges the conscious / unconscious divide, but in a way which seems to unsettle both’ (p. 142).
He sees the sublime being present in the discrete or the unconscious which is associated with the uncanny, through uneasy recognitions.
An example of this the bourgeois subject finding ‘in vampirism something which is inherent in their own suppressed model of desire’ (Smith, p. 141).
The unconscious desire moves into the realm of the conscious through Dracula, as he awakens sexual desires that are repressed, Lucy becomes sexually aggressive, and he is physical embodiment of desire repressed in the unconscious, in which case he makes the repressed real. The line between sanity and insanity is crossed in Browning’s Dracula. Renfield travels to Transylvania instead of Harker in this version, he is an English madman, and according to Waller both he and Dracula must both die in order to restore the balance and to sever all ties to Transylvania and England. Renfield embodies Browning’s depiction of madness, a disease spread by the vampire.
In Stoker’s Dracula, Renfield is put into an asylum before Dracula leaves Transylvania for England and he therefore ‘implies that England harbors insanity that can be manipulated by the vampire’ (Waller, p. 388).
Browning depicts Renfield as a sane, although eccentric, Englishman, who once bitten by Dracula becomes insane and animal like. ‘Browning’s most interesting suggestion in Dracula is that those who struggle against the vampire and his abnormal creations could also be considered insane’ (Waller, p. 389).
It is in this suggestion that the transgression between sane and insane is the most coherent.
Dracula threatens Christianity. Punter argues that Dracula is an inversion of Christianity, and in particularly ‘Pauline Christianity, in that Dracula promises — and gives — the real resurrection of the body, but disunited from soul’ (p. 27).
Punter argues that Dracula blurs the line between man and God; seen in the relationship between Renfield and Dracula. ‘His ‘disciple’ Renfield regards him as a god; and his satanic aspects are all the more interesting if we remember that his real-life ancestor gained his reputation for cruelty because of his assiduity in defending the Christa in faith against the marauding Turk’ (Punter, p. 28).
Renfield as a disciple of God (Dracula) is especially evident in Browning’s Dracula, because Renfield refers to Dracula as ‘master’ and also grovels to him and does his bidding, which shows Dracula’s omnipotence. Dracula is set up as the anti-Christ, because instead.