During the Victorian Era, women struggled to attain gender equality by challenging the traditional roles that defined them. These women no longer wanted to remain passive and obey the demands of their husbands nor be domestic and the caretakers of their children. They strived to attain the role of a 'New Woman', an intelligent, liberated individual who was able to openly express her ideas (Eltis 452). Whereas some women were successful in attaining this new role, others were still dominated by their male counterparts. The men felt threatened by the rising power of women and repressed them by not allowing them to work, giving them unnecessary medications, and diagnosing them with hysteria (Gilman 3). When reading Bram Stoker's Dracula through gender lenses, this rising power, specifically sexual power, is apparent. After Dracula bites Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray (Harker), they are liberated from their conventional womanly roles and transformed into new sexual creatures; new because sexuality was usually ascribed to men. The men feel threatened by this blurring of the traditional, male defined gender boundary and therefore returned the women, by killing Dracula, to a manner that was prescribed as culturally appropriate for their sex (Hughes 86). This form of repression kept Lucy and Mina from attaining the role of the ?New Woman?.
Before Dracula bites Lucy and Mina, they are passive, obedient, and domestic, but also have hidden qualities of the ?New Woman.? These ?New Woman? qualities are only shown to each other, never to the men. Lucy represents the societal mold of the female: sweet, beautiful, and attractive to countless men. However, she also possesses the flirtatiousness an...
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...nd Degeneration of the Race: Dracula and Policing the Borders of Gender?. Case Studies in Contemporary Crticism. Ed. Ed. John Paul Riqulme. New York: Palgrave. 2002.
Geddes, Patrick J. and J. Arthur Thomson. The Evolution of Sex, London: Walter
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. ?The Yellow Wallpaper.? Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Dram, Nonfiction. Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Upper Saddle River New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 2000.
Hughes, William. Beyond Dracula: Bram Stoker?s Fiction and its Cultural Context. New York: Palgrave. 2002.
Murfin, Ross C. ?Gender Criticism: What is Gender Criticism?? Case Studies in Contemporary Crticism. Ed. Ed. John Paul Riqulme. New York: Palgrave. 2002.
Stoker, Bram. ?Dracula?. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. John Paul Riqulme. New York: Palgrave. 2002.
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