Gender Roles in Dracula

Femininity and the role of women is a theme in many Victorian novels and appears in Dracula quite frequently. The idea of the “new women” is described as a woman who does not conform to societies norms. In Dracula, there is a lot of confusion over who is the true “new woman” because although Lucy will be married to Johnathon, she is educated and independent. On the other hand, Mina is unmarried but wishes to settle down into her traditional role as a woman yet proclaims that she would marry multiple husbands if possible (Stoker, 64-65).

Additionally, the three women who live with Dracula are often described by critics as his brides. Although the story never calls them this it would make some sense. Dracula provides a home and food for them and serves the masculine role while they look beautiful. When they try to bite Johnathon, Dracula tells them not to and they obey him (Stoker, 46). The typical masculine and feminine roles seem to be at play until Dracula has a moment of intimacy with Johnathon and tells him, “yes, I too can love; you yourselves can tell it from the past. Is it not so? Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will” (Stoker, 46).

In my opinion, Stoker seems to not know how to portray these characters with the changing gender roles in the Victorian era. He wants to portray the “new woman” yet throws in so many moments of traditional women and gender roles. I think he is using Dracula to sort out his own feelings on the changing world, and each of the characters is representing a different level of femininity or masculinity. Characters such as Arthur and Mr. Morris are portrayed as masculine, while Johnathon and Dracula have some femininity. Mina and Lucy switch between the new woman and the traditional woman, as if it is bad to be just one or the other.