Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Idea of 3

The number three is significant in so many aspects of Victorian and in modern life. In the Hindu, Buddhist, Christianity faiths the number holds great importance, on top of this, every sect of the Christian faith believes that three symbolizes the Holy Trinity. On a more secular level, the number can represent the three acts of existence birth life and death. While Dracula is riddled with allusions to the Bible and the Christian faith, Stoker uses the idea of three to also reinforce Victorian gender roles. The symbol of three first presents itself in Dracula on page 44 when we encounter the female vampires. Even though these characters are introduced in an attractive and sexual manner, Stoker quickly characterizes them as the monsters they are. At the end of chapter IV on page 61, Harker even states that “They are devils of Pit!”. At this moment, the Vampires begin hunting for Jonathan, as they want to drink his blood and take his life. Just three pages later Stoker introduces a foil of the lady vampires, the three men who propose to Lucy. While the vampires look to take lives by draining the blood of their victims, these three men do the opposite. Each time Lucy’s blood was drained by Dracula they voluntarily give up their own blood to regain her own health. Even though Jonathan was attacked by three vampires he still managed to escape with little to no help that we know of. Jonathan did not accept his fate, he was not a feeble victim, some of his last words were “I shall try to scale the castle wall farther than I have yet attempted… I may find a way from this dreadful place.” Jonathan is able to evade the female Vampires alone, Lucy on the other hand, is depicted helpless. Dracula can easily control her and she stands no chance alone, Lucy’s only chance to survive comes from her male companions. Stoker contrasts Jonathan and Lucy, Jonathan is able to escape from three female vampires, while Lucy stands no chance against one male vampire. This not only highlights the differences between John and Lucy, but also the difference in strength between the male and female vampires. Reinforcing Victorian beliefs that men were more competent than women.

4 Comments

  1. It is also interesting to see that the three women who show their sexuality are seen as being monsters and demonic while the three men who give Lucy blood transfusions are seen as heroes. The blood transfusion can be seen as a sexual act because it is basically a mixing of bodily fluids. This shows that Bram Stoker, and Victorian society, thinks that only impure women involve themselves in sexual expression or activity. Yet, men are not given these same rules and instead are seen as a gift to women if they are strong men.

  2. To further the parallels between the three women and the three suitors, they are all interested in a main character of the opposite sex who they want a sexualized connection with. The evil natures of the three women and the virtuous ones of the three men pushes the narrative that men’s sexuality is a motivator for them to do good by women (protecting Mina, making sacrifices for Lucy) and female expressions of sexuality are precursors to evil (the three women making advances on Jonathan to eat him, Lucy becoming ‘married’ by blood to four men and then turning into a vampire).

  3. This theme is really important in this story, especially since Stoker uses his catholic background to allude to the Trinity or religious objects throughout the novel. We see this juxtaposition between men and women all through the stories we have read. Men are often seen as being heroes, being able to fight or solve their way out of their problems like Jonathan, or even Holmes in his stories, while women are again and again seen as weak victims who are getting swept up into danger and madness and have no control over it, like Lucy in both this story and Lady Audley’s Secret.

  4. John H. Watson, M.D.

    November 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I never even considered that the three vampiric women and Arthur, Dr. Seward and Quincey would be each other’s foils. The three vampires want to deprive Jonathan of his blood, while the three men want to supply Lucy with it. This kind of connects back to my post, showing how men—in Victorian society—are inherently better than sexually aggressive women.

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