Victorian Sexuality in Stoker’s Dracula, LeFanu’s Carmilla, and Polidori’s Vampyre

Victorian Sexuality in Stoker’s Dracula, LeFanu’s Carmilla, and Polidori’s Vampyre

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Victorian Sexuality in Stoker’s Dracula, LeFanu’s Carmilla, and Polidori’s Vampyre

Literature is representative of the time in which it is produced. Literature can reflect societal views, attitudes, and fears.Vampire literature, in particular, often represents the fears of a society.In the Victorian Era, a time of intense sexual repression, it was common for vampire stories to reflect the fear of sexuality that was rampant in society.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula illustrated fears about sexual women in contrast to the woman who respected and abided by society’s sexual norms. Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s “Carmilla” represented not only the fear of feminine sexuality, but also the fear of sexuality between women. John William Polidori’s “The Vampyre” showed society’s fear of sexuality in terms of the seductive man who could “ruin” a young girl.These texts are representative of vampire stories in the Victorian Era, and will be the focus here.

Victorian society dictated harsh restraints on sexuality, especially female sexuality. Members of Victorian society believed that sexual repression was a sign of good breeding. This was the time of the “cult of true womanhood,” the “code of chivalry,” and the Social Purity Movement.

To “be a lady” in Victorian times, women had to repress their “instincts,” meaning that they must not have sex. Lead by the “cult of true womanhood,” which dictated piety, purity and submissiveness in women, females were directed to become almost asexual. Women went into sexuality thinking that it was something not to be talked about, that women were not supposed to have a libido, and that the act of sexual intercourse was not something that they should enjoy.

As women’s sexuality became more and more...

... middle of paper ...

...rongmore’s past behavior, Aubrey fears for his sister.

Strongmore is described as alluring and seductive, making him appear as the sexual man that women of the Victorian Era tried to help to control their desires.Men were encouraged to repress their sexuality as well as women, and men who could not were permitted to see prostitutes.The young unmarried girl was the last person that a man should be seen with, but Strongmore violated this became a foil for young women desiring marriage.This story illustrated the fears of unrestrained sexuality and sedutive men who could ruin young girls, and both fears are embodied by Lord Strongmore.

Works Cited

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1995.
LeFanu, Joseph Sheridan. Best Ghost Stories. New York: Dover, 1964.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. 1897. New York: Penguin, 1993.

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