Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Moral Transgressions in Dracula

At a first glance, the worst transgression of vampires appears to be their physical violence, as seen by the fact that they feed off humans, however their worst transgression is the sexuality they evoke from their victims. When Dracula bites Mina her, “white dress is smeared with blood.” Mina’s white dress is symbolic of sexual purity and the blood is reminiscent of a woman’s hymen breaking when she first has sex. When Harker is finally aroused from his deep sleep, he fears this and repeats, “In God’s name what does this mean?” and finally Mina says, “Unclean, unclean! I must not touch him or kiss him no more.” Mina has just been the victim of a sexual assault, and yet her and her fiance’s first concern is her sexual purity. So despite the physical violence Dracula causes, it was the moral violence against Mina’s soul that is of the utmost importance.

This can even been seen when the four men go to kill Lucy, and Holmwood drives a stake through her heart. The fact is that they kill her, however it is necessary because they must purify her. The cross is an antidote to vampirism because vampirism is a transgression of morality. Jesus is born to a virgin mother, and maybe the sexual purity of Jesus can somehow cleanse the sexual impurity of vampires. Vampires may be dangerous creatures but the danger of them is somehow connected to what they can evoke from their victims. This concept is reinforced in the fact that vampires are very humanesque creatures, and even feed off of humans. The fact that vampires are blatantly sexual creatures may be representative of a hidden part of humans, and one that is clearly immoral and must be suppressed.


  1. You bring up an interesting point regarding the usage of the cross in Dracula. I did not really consider that the cross is in fact an antidote to vampirism, but now that you brought that point up, I totally see it. However, I wonder if the sexual purity of Jesus is really the antidote to vampirism, My hesitations are derived from the fact that a vampire may not have any sexual impurity, because one must be bitten by a vampire to become a vampire. Therefore, it is possible for a virgin to become a vampire, thus possibly rendering the cross’s antidote like powers totally useless.

  2. I’m intrigued by the point you mentioned about what makes the transformation to vampires so horrific – not the blood sucking, but the lust and sexual openness shown by the female characters once they become vampires. Additionally, even when Mina is attacked by Dracula, she is almost blamed for what happened – she feels the need to hide herself from her husband, as if what happened has made her impure. It almost seems as if her loss of purity is more important than the fact that Dracula literally sucked the blood out of her body.

  3. I find it so bizarre that the first thing Mina worries about following her weird sexual/physical assault is her worry about her sexual purity. The idea that Mina is so focused on her chastity and purity is a very Victorian standard. I find the differences between Lucy and Mina’s encounters with Dracula very interesting. Lucy, a promiscuous and flirtatious lady, falls victim to Dracula’s allure and contracts his vampirism. Mina, a well-reserved and morally virtuous woman, does not fall into Dracula’s lure and while she consumes his blood and her blood is in a way “stained,” impure, and “unclean,” her full purity is once again restored following Dracula’s death. According to this difference, it seems Stoker has set up a situation in which a woman’s sexual purity can protect her from evil.

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