Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Romantic Relationships in Dracula

In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, the appearance of Dracula in London disrupts Victorian English culture thus revealing the repression and lack of freedom of romantic relationships in the Victorian era. Prior to Dracula’s appearance, Lucy receives three proposals in only one day making her the most sought after girl in the novel. In a letter to Mina, Lucy says, “why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it” (67). This quote reveals that deep down, Lucy does not approve of monogamy, and that she does not understand why society says she can only be with one man. However, because Lucy is too afraid of the social norms, and does not want to commit “heresy” she does not take the idea any farther than that.

After Lucy is bitten by Dracula she needs blood to stay alive, and as a result each of her three suiters and Van Helsing give Lucy blood through a transfusion. Though in reality this is not a sexual relationship, there is something romantic about giving a part of themselves to Lucy. Dr. Seward says that “no man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves” (138). Dr. Seward’s description reveals how giving Lucy his blood made him feel closer and more connected to her. However, Dr. Seward would have never been able to feel closer to Lucy if Dracula had never come to London because of the strict social norms in Victorian society. Arthur compares this connection the blood transfusion creates as something akin to marriage. Arthur says after Lucy’s death, “that he [Arthur] felt since then as if the two had been really married, and that she was his wife in the sight of God” (185). Arthur thinks that through the blood transfusion he and Lucy were married, however Arthur does not know that the other three men also provided blood for Lucy, and by that logic is also married to the other three men. Thus, making Lucy a polygamist, and completely undoing the Victorian idea of what a romantic relationship should be. Though Dracula’s appearance in London is detrimental it allows for Lucy to be with multiple men thus allowing her to “save all the trouble” (67).

4 Comments

  1. I think the discussion of marriage in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is like what was discussed in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret. Victorian culture had specific laws regarding the institution of marriage. Sensation novels, like the two mentioned, talk about marriage in a critical way, confronting the hidden fears and anxieties behind it. Lucy in Lady Audley’s Secret must try to change her identity and attempt to hide her past to protect the secret that she was previously married and is legally married to two men. A woman during that time cannot get divorced therefore she cannot be married to more than one man. Lucy in Dracula however confronts that issue and expresses how much easier it would be for women to be married to more than one man, but knows she cannot. Women at the time have limited legal rights and few opportunities to make their own choices, and although they bring this issue to light, they know they are unable to change it, and follow the social norms.

  2. I agree with your statements wholeheartedly. There is something very romantic about the blood “being the life”, as Renfield puts it. Giving blood is this novel is like giving life- for example, vampires need to drink blood to live, Lucy needs blood transfusions to stay alive, Renfield laps up blood while blatantly saying that it is life, etc. However, blood is almost sexualized in Dracula. The suitors who give the blood to Lucy are doing to in a romantic gesture, and there is something very sexual about biting one’s neck in order to drink their blood.

  3. Interesting idea, but Dr. Seward does, indeed, know that 3 other men gave Lucy blood. However I think Lucy is seen as just so magical that Dr. Seward doesn’t even care: he’s not thinking about the other men, he is just only happy that he himself could be perceived as her husband. But I do think the idea of Lucy going against social norms by rejecting monogamy is a noble idea. Perhaps it is foreshadowing for how she will go against society when she becomes a vampire?

  4. While I agree with your observations, I think they also point out another important point in the novel. You mentioned that Lucy needs blood to survive and that her three suitors provide that source of life to her. However, I think a statement can be made that connects this idea to the theme of femininity in the novel that Lucy not only needs blood but she also needs men to survive. The theme of femininity is quite evident in this novel and this time period and it is often thought that all women need a man in life. The fact that the author makes it necessary that Lucy receives blood from men is just another way that women are portrayed to need men not just because of social norms but in this novel, Lucy quite literally needs a man to survive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2017 Monsters & Madness

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑