A Close up on Lucy Westera
Paternalism and Mina Harker
Dracula’s Three Brides
Bram Stoker was an Irish author born in the nineteenth century. Dracula, Stoker drew from a rich heritage of vampire legends of the Middle Ages and added a historical realism to the story by incorporating the tale of Vlad and thus immortalizing the Dracula myth. Stoker’s novel, published in 1897, was also making many commentaries about England and the world in a time of great social change. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is very controversial gothic work of fiction that can be analyzed in many academic ways using different critical theories. This paper, however, is only focused on one type of critical theory: the feminist theory in literature. When I say feminist theory I mean a feminist literary analysis that arises from the viewpoint of feminism, feminist theory or feminist politics. The basic method of feminist literary criticism includes “the identifying with female characters, which is a way to challenge the male-centered outlook of authors. It suggests that women in literature were historically presented as objects seen from a male perspective.”1 According to feminist theory, in a patriarchal society there are “good girls”, who are pure and useful to their husbands, and there are “bad girls” who are sexually explicit in their nature and are considered to be not the “marrying type”.2
In the fallowing commentary I would like to draw your attention to the feminine characters Lucy Westenra, Mina Harker, and the three brides of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Through feminist theory I will first tackle with the idea that Stoker’s novel is built on a patriarchal model and that women exist only to support male characters and to bring the attention to them. From there, I will move on to discuss the fact that women in literature are historically presented as objects seen from a male perspective, which implies that sexuality is not accepted in Victorian society. To do so I will follow Lucy’s, Mina’s, Jonathan’s, Dr. Seward’s and Van Helsing’s diaries. To explore the subject further I will also discuss Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stokers novel.
A CLOSE UP ON LUCY WESTERA
(Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula and Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation)
When reading Bram Stoker's Dracula, one finds the treatment of the two main female characters, Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker, especially intriguing. These two women represent two opposite archetypes created by a society in which women have begun to question Victorian stereotypes and men have realized that women are no longer satisfied with their position in society. ‘In the Second Sex’ Simone de Beauvoir accuses Victorian England of having isolated women in the house. The amount of homage men paid to women has been offset by the degree to which Victorian men believed women’s natural place to be in the home- in a state of purity and exemplary morality which depended on their ignorance of the outside world. In an age ruled by a woman it seems inconceivable that woman should have felt totally powerless.’3 To get a better glimps of Victorian Britain I will provide another citation which stresses on marriage.
In nineteenth century England, girls of the upper and middle classes were raised for the purpose of one goal: to marry. Marriage at the time was often viewed as a business prospect. Women brought dowries and household labour to the table, while the men naturally provided financial security. The ladies largely outnumbered the men, and those who could not win a husband had very few respectable ways of supporting themselves. For this reason girls were trained to Donald D. Stone, Victorian Feminism and the Nineteenth-Century Novel. (Britain: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers LTD. 1972) 65 be desirable to a society of men who saw women as high priestess of the home, with her piety, forbearance, and kindliness of love. A wife was to be the manager of the home and the amusement for the gentlemen. They were not encouraged to be intellectual, or even thoughtful.4
If we consider the above quotation we realize that Lucy is the Medusa archetype. Just as Medusa, who before her transformation into a horrible creature was originally a golden-haired and very beautiful maiden, Lucy is physically attractive, and wins the heart of any man who comes near her (Arthur, Quincey, Jack, and Van Helsing). From Mina’s diaries we understand that Lucy is always cheerful; she sings and wants to please her future husband. Mina describes her in her diary as fare, gentle and sweet.
Lucy met me at the station, looking sweeter and lovelier than ever. Lucy was looking sweetly pretty in her white lawn frock. She has got a beautiful colour since she has been here. She is so sweet with old people, I think they all fell in love with her on the spot. (Stoker, chapter 6)
Further in her diaries Mina admires her as she says:
Lucy is asleep and breathing softly. She has more color in her cheeks than usual, and looks, oh so sweet. If Mr. Holmwood fell in love with her seeing her only in the drawing room, I wonder what he would say if he saw her now. (Stoker, chapter 8)
It is clear that Lucy is someone who pays special attention to her looks and constantly tries to fit in the Victorian stereotype of a beautiful and gentle woman. Stoker often describes her Eley, Geoffrey. The Ruined Maid: Modes and manners of Victorian Women.(Hertfordshire: The Priory Press 1970) 28 in white dresses ‘white lawn frock’ (ch. 6) to refer to her purity and virginity. As white is the color of virtue we immediately perceive Lucy as a pure, virgin heroine. Likewise, it seems quite easy to love her and have her as a friend. In Francis Ford Copola’s adaptation Lucy, before being bitten from Dracula is often in light colors dresses in white or rose.
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten5
1 http://belleart.hubpages.com/hub/A-feminist-Approach-to-Literary-Theory, consulted 10:56, 5/8/2014
2 Arthur J. Gerstenmaier,Final Paper on Feminist Theory in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 5/4/2011
2 Donald D. Stone, Victorian Feminism and the Nineteenth-Century Novel. (Britain: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers LTD. 1972) 65
2 Eley, Geoffrey. The Ruined Maid: Modes and manners of Victorian Women. (Hertfordshire: The Priory Press 1970) 28
5 Lucy on the left and Mina on the right Francis, Ford, Copola, Dracula. DVD(Columbia Pictures Industries 1992)