Essay on The Societal Expectations Of The Victorian Woman

Essay on The Societal Expectations Of The Victorian Woman

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In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray are used to contrast the societal expectations of the Victorian woman. The novel shows many elements of the literary theory of transnationalism by introducing matters of travel, gender, and sexuality. Lucy and Mina both start out similarly as typical Victorian women, but multiple events throughout the novel demonstrate their extreme differences. Lucy is portrayed as the inferior Victorian woman, who gives into sexual desires, and Mina is portrayed as the more modern and late Victorian woman who is not only pure and chaste, but also resourceful and somewhat independent.
Their differences first become apparent when in letters to each other they write of the men in their lives. Mina tells Lucy that she has been busy trying to keep up with her fiancé Jonathan’s work so that she can be useful to him, showing her absolute devotion to the one man in her life. When Lucy writes back she is excited to report that she has received 3 proposals all in one day! “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (31), Lucy confides in Mina, knowing that what she has just said would be deemed unacceptable in her society. Ironically, she seemed to have gotten her wish of marrying all three men when at her own the funeral, “Arthur was saying that he felt since then as if they two had been really married and that she was his wife in the sight of God” (94). Because the other three men in the novel-Jack Seward, Quincey Morris, and Van Helsing-also contributed in giving her blood transfusions, they were all considered to be just as much her husband as Arthur was. At this point Lucy has lost her purity not only from Dracula sucking her blood but also be...

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...le to resist because of her loyalty and love for Jonathan whereas Lucy, who was less devoted, could not overcome the evil temptation that she was faced with.
Stoker clearly demonstrates the separate developments of the two main female characters in the Victorian Era when faced with the lure of evil. Although they both started out as the typical Victorian woman, they ended up opposites. Lucy downgraded an became the flawed Victorian woman who could not overcome evil, while Mina rose above temptation to become the late Victorian woman, who was pure but also useful in helping to overcome the bad circumstances that could change the rest of her life. The many elements used to define the literary theory of transnationalism in the book show how norms of one society, such as gender and sexuality, can be different from one place to the next as compared to on a national level.

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