Sally Ledger and Roger Luckhurst’s “Reading the ‘Fin De Siecle’” they note that the historicization of sexuality in the Victorian Era as a thoroughly social rather than natural category encouraged further research. In 1885 the act of “gross indecency” between men was criminalized. Meanwhile, the characters in Dracula seem to display such acts of “gross indecency” between men throughout the entire book. The Count himself seems to hold tendencies of one who is interested in the same sex, his words often revealing his true intent.
“How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it?” Dracula questions in a moment of anger when his man is ‘stolen’. Yes, his man. Count Dracula claims that Jonathan Harker is his property, which seemingly puts Jonathan in a female role. During this time period, women were often seen as the property of their husbands, only furthering the issue that Count Dracula views his prisoner Jonathan Harker as his property. Although never explicitly stated by the Count, Dracula often displays many tendencies of someone who is interested in men rather than women. According to the Fin De Siecle “Many literacy histories have begun to seek hidden lines between contemporary ‘queer’ identities and those of the late Victorian period, … emerging modern sexualities.”
Throughout the beginning chapters of the novel, the Count shows various forms of forcing Jonathan Harker into what was seemingly a feminine role. During the time that Harker stays with the Count, he is forced to stay in the house at all times. Women held a role in the house, while men were expected to work. The Count proves that he can provide for Harker, cooking meals, cleaning, and maintaining financial stability all at the same time without any help from his male companion. By treating Harker in this role, the count would be deviating from normalcy, which in Ledger and Luckhurst’s terms would consider him a degenerate.
Without Harker’s compliance, the Count easily manipulates him into a feminine role in which he is seen as only good for amusement or perhaps penetrating. Later in the scene in which the female vampires try to suck Harker’s blood, the count saves him and claims “I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will.” This put Harker, not in a state of property, but a state of property that has no true owner. The Count doesn’t see Jonathan as a human being that needs dedication, yet a human that can be disposed of when he grows bored with him, just as many men of the time had seen women.
One other moment where the Count’s sexuality is questioned is when the female vampires claim that he does not love, yet he turns to Harker and claims that the fact is untrue. “You yourself never loved; you never love!” The women claim, clearly resenting the fact that he does not love them as they are female. Yet without hesitation, Dracula turns to face Harker, claiming “Yes, I too can love” as if to prove himself or reassure Harker, the one he seems to see as his partner.
The topic of emerging sexuality in Ledger and Luckhurst’s article is key in Dracula as it brings to light the conflict that Count Dracula is dealing with. As they coin Oscar Wilde as ‘Queer as Fuck’ perhaps, Dracula too, is “Queer as fuck”