Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Author: akabakop

Similarities between La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad to Dracula.

In my post, I am going to be comparing the women in La Belle Dame sans Merci to Dracula. What I found similar about these two characters were first the fact that they have the persuasive ability to make people fall in love with them in an unhealthy way. Another similarity is the effect of their “love” has on the individual after they have been caught in their trance. The lady in La Belle Dame sans Merci, uses are beauty and affection to seduce men. By seducing the men she sees, she takes away his life in order to satisfy her needs. “ And this is why I sojourn here, alone and palely loitering, though the sedge is withered from the lake, and no birds sings” (Keats). An example of this for Dracula would be when he lured Lucy with his affectionate ways. Dracula is the cause of Lucy’s death,  he uses her for satisfaction for himself. Dracula and the lady are similar to how they get what they want, but once the person serves no purpose it results in death. I would what would happen if these two characters met. Would they kill each other with their seductive lust? Or would one gain more than the other?

A difference between Dracula and the lady would be their reputation for the character in the novel and poem. Dracula is portrayed as a powerful and handsome man who is known for his beastly character. While the lady seems innocent and is dancing around with flowers in the field. Men flock to her because of how pure she looks. But overall these two characters still have the same intentions and similar outcomes result for their victims.

The Sexuality in Dracula

    I chose to write about the sexuality in Dracula. Sexuality is a predominant theme throughout the entire novel. Bram Stoker writes a thrilling novel that is gruesome in a sexual way. For example in this quote taken from chapter three, it gives the first glimpse of how sexuality is used by the three ladies who use seduction to manipulate Mr.Hawkins in order for them to suck his blood.               

   “I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees and bent over me, simply 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, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth” (chap 3).

       The description in the quote about how the girl “arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal” leads me to imagine sexuality being used as a weapon to reach the grotesque goal of the killing. But the killing is not necessarily a violent form of attack like a knife stabbing would be. Dracula uses a newer approach to lure his “prey” to kill them. I think Dracula succeeded using this method because the Victorian era was set on stringent rules for women about how they appeared in public places. The dedication and loyalty of their husbands were super important. But in Dracula, Stoker uses a new approach to creating a character that can weaken these principles by using his sexuality to heighten the desire for him. In this link   http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/dracula, the author describes the relation of sexuality in Dracula to the two women Mina and Lucy and how each of them were marked by Dracula yet the two of them reacted in two separate ways. I thought this article was really interesting and the other makes awesome points and connections.

Dracula’s Mark

In Bram Stoker’s tale of Dracula, the novel reveals in a dark twisted way, how Dracula manages to have full control and effect of leading humans to insanity. For example, Van Helsing tries to protect Mina Harkens by placing the Sacred Wafer to her forehead, but instead, it has the complete opposite effect leaving just a deep red scar. Mrs. Harkens convinced it was Dracula doing, she is left to feel”unclean.” The one benefit that is discovered is that Mina Harkens now has a connection with Dracula.  This is helpful because it helps Van Helsing and the rest of the men figure out where Dracula has run off to. The goal is to get rid of him for good and put the world to rest.  “Now my fear is this. If it be that she can, by our hypnotic trance, tell what the Count see and hear, is it not more true that he who have to hypnotise her first, and who have drink of her very blood and make her drink of his, should, if he will compel her mind to disclose to him that which she knows?”   Mina Harkens serves as an asset to Van Helsing and his crew, but it seems dangerous bringing her along the journey because of the power Dracula has on her.

It is interesting how the men come to the conclusion of bringing Mrs.Harkens along, after being convinced it was a bad idea. I can see the advantage of bringing her along in order to figure out where Dracula might be, yet, it is still very risky to bring her closer towards Dracula; where he will probably have more power over her.    Dracula is a powerful character who manipulates and brings people to insanity. It will be interesting to see how Van Helsing and the rest of the men will work to get rid of Dracula for good.

Similar Themes in Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of Baskerville

There are quite a few similar themes that can be detected out between the novels of The Hound of the Baskervilles and Lady Audley’s Secret. For example, the “bromance” or the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson is undeniable just like in Lady Audley’s Secret with Robert Audley and George. “There is a delightful freshness about you, Watson, which makes it a pleasure to exercise any small powers which I possess at your expense”( Page 28). In this quote, Holmes has predicted where Watson has been for the last three hours. Watson seems to be always surprised on how Holmes always knows exactly where he is. This shows how remarkable Holmes is a detective or simply the close bond he has with Watson. It is quite interesting how Watson takes pleasure in Holmes is sassiness towards him. All friendships have a few unique aspects that make the relationship more special.

     Another concept I saw using the lens between The Hound of the Baskerville and Lady Audley’s Secret is the focus on how much detail is put into the description of the grounds of Baskerville Hall and Audley court. Both these authors could have focused on this topic because it is an essential part of where the mystery unfolds. Both these novels taken place in the Victorian era, they have the similar vibe of being massive in size, yet only a few people live and occupy the space It leads to questions of could there be someone or something lurking in the spaces that aren’t occupied? It is going to be interesting to see in the novel what will be discovered “Beyond, two copses of trees moaned and swung in a rising wind. A half moon broke through the rifts of racing clouds. In its cold light, I saw beyond the trees a broken fringe of rocks and the long, low curve of the melancholy moor” (page 61). This quote gives me the sensation that the hound is sulking around near Baskerville Hall. With all the mysterious sudden deaths and disappearances in both novels, the detectives of these novels are able to shine and show what they are really capable of discovering. Essentially every detail of information plays a huge part in any type of mystery. 

Lady Audley’s Mysterious Past

 “ It was neither a locket, a miniature, nor a cross: it was a ring wrapped in an oblong piece of paper-the paper    partly printed, partly written, yellow with age, and crumpled with much folding.”

 

     In this quote, taken from the first chapter of Mary Elizabeth Braddon book titled Lady Audley’s Secret, it seems that Lucy Graham has some sort of grave secret that she is hiding from the world. The ring and the crumpled paper gives the reader a mysterious darker insight of Lady Audley’s past. Her reputation within the book thus far has only been about how positive, light hearted and amiable she is. Getting further into the rest of the chapters in the novel, the ring, and crumpled paper connects with a similar story of how George Talboys left his wife and child to sail off to Australia in order to make money to provide for his family. He left a brief note to his wife Helen before he sailed off.  After he returns home three years later, he reads in the newspaper how his beloved wife had died about a week before. Mr. Talboy finding out about his wife’s death occurs the same time as when Lucy Graham agrees to marry Michael Audley. This is critical because, in the passage above, the description of the objects that are listed seem as though the crumpled paper can represent the letter and the ring a previous marriage.

    The most vivid description in the passage above is what condition the paper is in. It seems that Lady Audley has read the letter but always keeps it fold up. It is interesting how Lady Audley keeps these trinkets tied to the black ribbon around her neck. This could signify that these trinkets are sentimental to her, and gives the reader the opportunity to ask questions and make connections on “why” the actual reason she is so secretive and the true significance it represents. Essentially these trinkets that Lucy Audley is hiding, can be key evidence in resolving her mysterious darker past.

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