In Dracula, Bram Stoker depicts females as pure and innocent until transformed into a monstrous vampire. While at times he describes the women of the story as being strong and self sufficient, he often sexualizes them. His purpose in doing that is to show male dominance towards women. The women become more monstrous once acted upon by a male. Once Dracula, a male figure, bites them they are stripped of their purity. Dracula does not treat them as human beings, but rather objects that he can play with. This is seen when he tells Van Helsing that Lucy and Mina are his to play with. Bram stoker is depicting women as objects and property of men.
Dracula is not only a story about vampires, but a story about feminism in the Victorian Era. In an age full of sexual repression, Bram Stoker brought real life issues into his novel. The two main female characters, Lucy and Mina, are followed through their transformation into the New Woman. Bram Stoker depicts women as pure and innocent until acted upon by a man. It is said that, A brave man’s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble. (12.28). Mina and Lucy are seen as almost angelic characters until they are transformed into a vampire. When Dracula transforms them, they are seen as monsters. They are suddenly sexualized and are no longer seen as the pure women that all of the men wanted to marry.
Mina is Jonathan Harkers fiance. She fits the stereotypical feminine role in the Victorian Era. She is motherly, helpful and emotional. I suppose there is something in woman’s nature that makes a man free to break down before her and express his feelings on the tender or emotional side without feeling it derogatory to his manhood. (17.56). In this quote, it is shown that Mina always looks for the good in men and makes them comfortable to show their emotional side. All of the men seem to love her maternal qualities. Van Helsing describes her as one of God’s women, fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth. So true, so sweet, so noble, so little an egoist and that, let me tell you, is much in this age, so sceptical and selfish. (14.52). She is the type of woman that men want to marry. She accepts who she is, and is not at all an activist for feminism or the new woman. She is also very smart and educated, which is not as common for women in this era. She has a man’s brain a brain that a man should have were he much gifted and a woman’s heart. The good God fashioned her for a purpose, believe me, when He made that so good combination. (18.22). This quote is saying that she is smart like a man. Women were not seen as intellectual during this era so saying she has a mans brain was complimenting her intellect, while saying she has a womans heart. This means she cares for others and has a natural kindness.
Mina is seen as saint-like until she is forced to drink Draculas blood. Dracula forces Mina to drink his blood against her will. This can be interpreted as a rape scene. He is transforming her into someone she is not, and does not want to be. I would have got out to make certain on the point, but some leaden lethargy seemed to chain my limbs and even my will. I lay still and endured; that was all. (19.39). Her body is changed and scarred from Dracula, and characters are afraid with the transformation, her soul will also become impure.
Lucy is a very lovable character. She is proposed to three times in one day. She is very innocent and vulnerable and needs protection from men at almost all times. Mina even writes in her journal, ‘Lucy is so sweet and sensitive that she feels influences more acutely than other people do. (7.10). She even sleepwalks, which shows her vulnerable state. Lucy is also seen as more sexy than Mina. She is both vulnerable and voluptuous, which is why Dracula chooses her to feed on.
Once she is transformed into a vampire, she is nothing like the innocent girl we knew at the beginning of the novel. Jonathan says, 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. (3.32). She is now extremely sexual and more physically attractive. She also loses any morality and humanity she had before. She feeds on a child, and then drops it, which is evil. Arthur kills her by staking her heart. This allows the evil Lucy to die and the real Lucy to rest in peace.
The New Woman is working against the conservative stereotypes in the Victorian Era and brings to life new ideals of feminism. In the Victorian Era, women were seen as subordinate and not strong enough to do things for themselves. They werent allowed to be intimate or sexual before marriage, and had demeaning jobs. Mina talks about the New Woman ideal, saying Some of the “”New Women”” writers will some day start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the New Woman won’t condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself. And a nice job she will make of it, too! There’s some consolation in that. (8.1).
In the Coppola adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula, the depiction of mens control over women is different than the book. While the main theme is the same, there are many important differences with how the story plays out. A main difference is the love story between Dracula and Mina. In the movie, Dracula loses his wife, Elisabeta, when she takes her own life. Many years later, he finds Mina who happens to look identical to his late wife. This immediately sparks interest. The feelings become mutual. Mina finds herself falling for Dracula, even though her fiance is Jonathan Harker. This changes the underlying tone of dracula using Mina, because now there are feelings involved. In the novel, there are no mutual feelings between the two characters. Dracula uses Mina and dehumanizes her, figuratively and literally.
Another important aspect in the movie is how Lucy bluntly talks about her sex life to Mina. While Lucy talks more intimately about things she wants to do, Mina is more innocent within the conversation. Mina talks about kissing Jonathan, and doesnt go further than that. On the other hand, Lucy talks about it with no filter. This immediately establishes that Mina is the more pure one out of the two, which is also seen in the novel. Coppola remained true to the novel while establishing the female characters sexually.