Mina’s characterization of being a proper Victorian wife is best exemplified in her focus of keeping up appearances at all hours of the day and night. This anxiety is unwittingly present at all times in Mina’s narrative. While staying with Lucy and Mrs. Westenra in Whitby, her concern for herself and Lucy’s reputation was evident during Lucy’s sleepwalking episodes. On page 100, Mina expects Lucy to adhere to the social standard of being appropriately dressed both in and out of doors: “As I was leaving the room it struck me that the clothes she wore might give me some clue to her dreaming intention. Dressing-gown would mean house; dress, outside”. She justified this hypothesis due to the fact that she herself had taken the time to get dressed, and that any rational woman, awake or asleep, must have also taken these steps.
Mina, however, was horrified and embarrassed when she finds that Lucy went outside dressed only in her nightgown, and states that she was, “filled with anxiety about Lucy, not only for her health, lest she should suffer from the exposure, but for her reputation in case our story should get wind” (pg 103). Mina is afraid that Lucy is potentially involving her in a scandal, and is all the more resolved to improve Lucy’s health.
Mina’s care of Lucy is also indicative of the trope of ideal Victorian women to be “pure, selflessly motivated by the desire to serve others rather than fulfill her own needs” (1061). In contrast, Lucy does not fit this description, as she is unable to care for anyone, and especially not herself. Mina is also extremely devoted to Jonathan, even before he officially became her husband.
In the first inclusion of one of her journal entries, she writes in reference to the goal of learning to write shorthand, “When we are married I shall be able to be useful to Jonathan” (62). She also delights in being his nursemaid when he returns mentally damaged to England. “I am busy, I need not tell you, arranging things and housekeeping…. I wish I could run up to town for a day or two to see you, dear, but I dare not go yet, with so much on my shoulders; and Jonathan wants looking after still” (165). Caring specifically for husbands is echoed in The Longman Anthology as women were expected to “soothe the savage beast her husband might become as he fought in the jungle of free trade” (1061), especially when considering that Jonathan visited Dracula on business and in hopes of it helping to further his career.
There is an element of Mina that almost seems to rejoice that Jonathan is not completely mentally sound, as she delights in him being dependent on her, and enjoys being needed, “The poor dear was evidently terrified at something – very greatly terrified, I do believe that if he had not had me to lean on and to support him he would have sunk down” (184). As stated in The Longman’s Anthology on page 1061, “Only in their much vaunted ‘femininity’ did women have an edge, as nurturers of children and men’s better instincts” and Mina clearly revels in the role of being a caregiver.