The Threat Of Rape Representation In Dracula By Bram Stoker
The scene is a reversed rape: this time, it is a passive and weak male who is being attacked by a female aggressor. Wyman writes, the parallel between sexual acts and the vampire’s bite when the three vampires are talking about “kissing” him actually means that it is an act of draining Jonathan’s blood. Wyman also points out that Harker’s lust makes him disgusted by his inability to control himself and challenges his self-definition as masculine; the violation of him by the three vampires turns Jonathan into a penetrated and therefore passive person, instead of a penetrating, active, and masculine man.
Neither does Kline’s opinion differ from Wyman, claiming that desire and evil are mixed all in one in the vampires and this is a scene which conflates sin with sexuality and by that makes a moralizing statement regarding sexual desire, although implicitly. But the degraded status of the vampire women and the way it is depicted teases the Victorian male in an erotic way, according to Levy. This was not an unusual thing since the Victorian society censored everything that had to with sex, and having three beautiful women approaching a sex-thirsty Victorian male was indeed erotically stimulating. Mixing danger with sex is the most perfect way of catching the interest of the Victorian public.
Since Dracula is not only an evil creature who seduces “fallen” women such as Lucy, he is also a threat to the pure Victorian women such as Mina and even she becomes a victim but only by force, which in this case can be interpreted as rape.
On the bed beside the window lay Jonathan Harker, his face flushed, and breathing heavily as though in a stupor. Kneeling on the near edge of the bed facing outwards was the white-clad figure of his wife. By her stood a tall, thin man, clad in black. His face was turned from us, but the instant we saw it we all recognized the Count – in every way, even to the scar on his forehead. With his left hand he held both Mrs Harker’s hand, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast, which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk compiled it to drink.
“A deliberate highly melodramatic portrait of rape”, as Kline expresses it. The diseased blood of the vampire now circulates in innocent and “pure” Mina’s veins, and it changes her physical, moral and mental constitution. As earlier mentioned, Victorians believed that moral insanity was in the blood, and Dracula forces innocent and pure Mina to drink of moral insanity. There are elements that separates Mina’s transformation into a vampire than Lucy’s transformation. Throughout the novel Mina is not completely “vampirized” and she is able to help the men by working as a link between the two worlds, the world of Dracula and this world. The explanation is that Mina is the true Victorian woman and therefore it is more difficult to affect her with the evil forces of Dracula than other woman such as Lucy who is much more vulnerable to Dracula’s attacks because of her flirtatious nature.
Craft mentions another scene from the novel in his essay. One important scene is that in which sexuality is relatively clear and unrestrained and where Lucy’s fiancé Arthur is laying her out for her final rest.
Arthur placed the point (of the stake) over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might. The thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild connotations, the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the merely bearing stake whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it.
The death scene of the vampire Lucy indicates that this is a scene of penetration, sexuality and rape. Since Lucy has only been penetrated by Dracula so the staking is Arthur’s first chance as her husband to experience “intercourse.” Paul Gutjahr writes that the imagery of phallus, orgasm and penetration are the shapers of the scene. Arthur plunges his stake into Lucy’s body with a rage while the vampire Lucy screams and quivers. Seward notes that the body “…twisted in wild contortions” and after the plunging act Arthur is completely exhausted.
The hammer fell from Arthur’s hand. He reeled and would have fallen if we had not caught him. Great drops of sweat sprang out on his forehead, and his breath came in broken gasps. It had indeed been an awful stain on him…
Hughes completes this scene by adding that Arthur is drained of another vital fluid, the saline content of sweat encodes both blood and semen.
There are still three beautiful vampire women left in the castle and Van Helsing sees as his obligation to destroy them which indicates that Van Helsing himself also performs a rape on the three tempting women.
…I could not have gone further with my butchery. I could not have endured the horrid screeching as the stake drove home, the plunging of writhing form, and lips of bloody foam, …And the poor souls, I can pity them now and weep.
Van Helsing not only rapes one but three women, which can be interpreted as a demonstration of complete power of the Victorian male over the women.
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