Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Use of Blood

Bram Stoker’s Dracula uses blood in different ways. One function being, the feeding of blood by Dracula to represent sexual desire and the exchange of bodily fluids associated with sexual intercourse. In Victorian England at the time of this novel, women’s sexual behavior was dictated by society’s strict expectations. She was either a virgin, the model of purity and innocence, or she was a wife whose job was to bear children.

Lucy was a pure and innocent woman, but Dracula changed that. Dr. Seward describes in his diary how “the sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness” (225). He goes on to say, “…on Lucy’s face we could see that the lips were crimson with fresh blood, and that the stream had trickled over her chin and stained the purity of her lawn death-robe” (225). Lucy is now like Dracula, desiring blood, therefore desiring sex. A death-robe was usually white, which is playing on the idea of purity and the image of marriage. In Victorian England, women almost always wore a white dress on their wedding day since white is a color used to indicate purity. However, once a woman is married she loses her virginity and innocence. That is exactly what Stoker is trying to touch upon. Lucy is not yet officially married, but the blood stains on her white dress infer that she has lost her virginity and her purity is gone. Dracula has penetrated Lucy, taken blood from her and changed her into a blood thirsty vampire/sex desiring woman. This behavior coming from a women was not socially acceptable, so the men want to kill her in order to return her to a purer state, the only state in which women can be respected.

 

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.

3 Comments

  1. I like your idea of Lucy’s death-robe representing a wedding dress. I had not considered this interpretation, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I think Lucy’s loss of purity can be tied into the fear of foreigners, and the effect they could have on Victorian society. Prior to Dracula biting Lucy, she is the perfect Victorian girl. However, after he comes to London and bites her she is forever changed, and has lost her purity that is so important to Victorians forever. Thus revealing the idea that immigrants can somehow taint the current British population.

  2. I like what you had to say in relation to the blood in relation to Lucy’s innocence, and I think it is interesting a how a story with such sexual undertones could be published in this time. Blood not only was a euphemism for another bodily fluid in the novel, but for Lucy could have also related to the blood of menstruation which was ,and unfortunately still is, a taboo topic. That type of blood also meant the loss of innocence for a women and was heavily concealed. The outward, and in its day shameless, display of blood in relation to a woman in the book seems like it would have been caught right away. The Victorians seemed to defying their strict social norms through the possibly controversial literature they consumed.

  3. I like how you relate the sexuality of Dracula and connect it with Victorian anxieties about sex. Throughout the novel, both men and women are challenged by the sexuality of vampires. For Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing, the three vampire sisters represent their sexual desires. Both men were entranced by the women. It took outside forces to keep them from becoming enchanted by the sisters’ beauty (for Harker, it Count Dracula who saves him, for Van Helsing, it is Mina’s scream that keeps him). Lucy and Mina are saved by the main male characters of the novel. No matter the gender, all characters need outside forces to save them from the sensuality of vampires.

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