Gender Roles In Dracula

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Throughout the history of literature, gender has played a vital role in shaping characters’ personalities and their respective outlook on their settings. The concept of gender roles in literature is readily on display in Gothic novels, or novels containing elements of the Gothic time period. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a perfect example of a novel containing Gothic elements and undertones -- including strong gender roles. However, Dracula’s gender roles have a bit of a twist to them: some are completely swapped. Male characters in Dracula displaying strong feminine traits and qualities, and a level-headed, goal-oriented female lead contribute to an overall sense of ‘gender swapping’ in Dracula.
Dracula has several characters who do not have clearly
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Mina starts out as a typical Victorian female in a solidly female gender role. She is “an assistant schoolmistress”(46), which exemplifies a female career in Victorian England -- she is an assistant in a facility that educates the young, and the education of children is a role primarily served by women. In her letter to Lucy, she states “when we are married I shall be able to be useful to Jonathan”(46), which implies that she is not currently useful as an unmarried Victorian woman. There are many more allusions made to Mina’s femininity and presumed fragility throughout the novel. However, as the novel progresses, Mina’s wit, courage, and brusqueness end up placing her in a much more masculine and empowering role; in essence, she becomes the figurehead for the group’s movement against Dracula. This transition of gender role begins around the time that Lucy is becoming ‘ill,’ agitated, and a spontaneous sleepwalker. Mina adopts a more masculine, protective role over the afflicted Lucy, stating that “fortunately, each time I awoke in time and managed to undress her without waking her, and got her back to bed”(74). After Mr. Swales is discovered dead, Mina doesn’t break stride, and remains confident in her care of Lucy, deigning to “take her for a long walk… she ought not to have much inclination for sleep-walking then”(76). When Mina wakes up to find that Lucy is missing one night, she ventures to the churchyard to discover Lucy on a bench, with a figure huddled over her. Instead of acting as you’d expect a Victorian woman to and crying for help or being horrified, Mina confidently “ran on to the entrance of the churchyard”(79). Mina continues in this hybrid role of protector and nurturer of Lucy until later in the novel when she marries Jonathan. Interestingly enough, this is the point when Mina’s transition to a masculine gender role is most obvious. Mina is walking
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