Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Questions of Sexuality

The question of sexuality is evident in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In the novel, three very beautiful women with “brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips” approach Jonathan Harker. Dracula enters to fight off the women, and is then accused of never having loved. He studies Jonathan’s face as he replies “yes, I too can love.” This brings to question Dracula’s sexuality because despite being in the presence of beautiful women, his only focus is of Jonathan. Given the context, the Count’s interest in Jonathan causes the reader to wonder if his attraction is directed towards him. The idea of a homosexual desire would defy all beliefs of the Victorian time period as only heterosexual relationships were seen as acceptable. In the scene leading up to Dracula’ fighting off the women, the Victorian ideals of sexuality are contested as “The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal… I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there.” (45,46) The exaggerated type of sexual energy and desire displayed here questions the Victorian ideas about the function of sex. In the Victorian time, sex was solely seen as procreative, but here there is a desire that is not driven by the idea of procreation, solely pleasure. The three women are able to act on their sexual desires, unlike the men and women of the Victorian time period. Through the questions of sexuality throughout Dracula, Stoker displays the coming of the “New Woman” and a changing time period.

4 Comments

  1. I think it is interesting that you pointed out how Dracula seems to care more for Jonathan than the three women in the room. Stoker seems to make a point that Jonathan is not part of the homosexual desires though by having him describe the event in his diary in detail and express his desires for the women. Stoker is pushing the limits of Victorian times, yet smooths everything over by making sure the readers understand Johnathon is a “normal Victorian”. It is the return to normalcy that we see so often in Victorian novels.

  2. John H. Watson, M.D.

    November 6, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    This was such an interesting, sympathetic moment for Dracula, and it is so frustrating that we have not yet learned more about it. It is strange to me that he only preys on pretty, innocent women–ie Lucy, Mina, the beautiful woman that Mina and Jonathan were admiring in London–yet he had this tender, revelatory moment with Jonathan, which has yet to be readdressed.

  3. I think sexuality is really a main role in this book. There are so many tense sexual moments that go into so much detail. I think that this goes along with the Age of Doubt. People’s ideas of sex are changing from a perspective of pure procreation to pleasure and scandal. So in that sense I totally agree with you. This gives a certain power to women, especially when we talk about the three women vampires that are seductive. The amount of detail that Stoker goes into in this sexually tense scene is unreal. One could go on forever talking about sexuality in this book. I’m glad you shared your perspective with us.

  4. I find this blog post to be interesting in regards to our text from today. As I was reading the part of the novel where the men walk in on Dracula with Mina in her room and the sectioning following that, the idea of sexuality came to mind for me as well. In this case, it was Dracula with a women, not being fascinated or his interest in Jonathan, but instead with Jonathan’s wife. On page 300, where Dracula has Mina sucking from his breast and then on page 307 when Dracula forces to swallow the blood. These bring forward the idea of sexuality and masculinity/femininity. As discussed previously, page 307 stood out to me mostly because of the resemblance to blood as semen for the second time in the novel. Then the combination of our questioning of Dracula’s femininity is brought up again in a more physical way than just him having feelings, we he has Mina biting/sucking on his breast, which is usually seen as something done during motherhood or to women.

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