Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Bloody Dominance

Blood is an interesting object in Dracula. For the Count, it is simply his means of living. Without it, Dracula cannot be Dracula. We talked about blood in class and how it can be perceived as a symbol of life or love or a religious symbol. But I want to explore it as something that is a little more controversial. I think that blood is used to symbolize male power and dominance. Blood is so valued in this novel, just like power. Dracula, a man, needs blood to live as stated before. He is portrayed as a dominant and feared figure throughout the whole novel, which reinforces male dominance as well.

“I tried to kill him for the purpose of strengthening my vital powers by the assimilation with my own body of his life through the medium of his blood.” Renfield, also a man, says this in the novel trying to assert himself and make himself more powerful. This quote is very typical of a man, in any time period. Men are constantly seeking out more power and more wealth however they can get it, whether that is having more land or being on a high political platform. Men often talk about continuing on their “bloodline” in the Victorian Era. This is a theme we’ve seen before in “My Last Duchess” where the narrator speaks so highly of his “900 years old name.”

So why does this matter? Gender roles in the Victorian Era do seem to be shifting, so it might make sense for Stoker, a man, to want to keep his role as a man the same. So he slips in this metaphor of the meaning of blood to make sure that he is doing what he can to keep things the way they are in the time of progressive change.  We’ve often seen authors take progressive stances in their novels, but then make their audience feel a little better after just rocking their whole world.  In Lady Audley’s Secret, Lucy was a main plot driver, but Braddon didn’t want to give her too much power because that would just shock the world into an apocalypse.  I think that is what Stoker is trying to get at here with this symbol of blood.

1 Comment

  1. Before reading your post I never realized blood could symbolize male dominance, but after reading it I am thinking about certain parts of the book in a completely different way, especially chapter XII. In this chapter all of the men give Lucy their blood in order to save her. Van Helsing said “A brave mans blood is the best thing on this Earth when a woman is in trouble” (Stoker 160). Your post and this quote make me think that this scene is a twisted representation of child birth. If blood is a representation of male dominance, by giving Lucy their blood they are keeping her alive, therefore giving themselves the power of life, a preserved version of childbirth.

Leave a Reply

© 2019 Monsters & Madness

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑