Lucy and Mina as “New Women”

Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, compares the idea of the “New Woman” to the traditional roles of women in Victorian society through his two female protagonists. Mina Harker provides an example of what the new woman may appear to be, showing traits of what would be considered masculine within the time period. As well, Lucy Graham initially appears to be a suitable example of how a woman should have appeared during this time period, however later in the novel she has traits opposing these ideals. Stoker writes his two female protagonists, Lucy Graham and Mina Harker, as women who oppose traditional gender roles and behave in ways that may be interpreted as feminist, which provides a window into the ways that gender roles were changing towards the end of the era. Mina Harker values education and has been revealed to have been the one to collect each of the journal entries that have been deemed relevant to the case involving Dracula, and believes that women should be more equal to men. In Mina’s journal, she writes “But I suppose the New Woman won’t condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself. And a nice job she will make of it, too! There’s some consolation in that” which reveals that she finds comfort in the idea that in the future, some of the gender roles firmly set in the Victorian era would be challenged (Stoker, 100). Mina is portrayed as being like the “New Woman” because she challenges these gender roles through instances like these.
At the beginning of the novel, Lucy Graham appears to be the opposite of the “New Woman” because she is portrayed as excitable, feminine, and eager to settle into married life. Despite this initial characterization, Lucy’s sexuality appears to be different than expected of the Victorian woman, as during this time period women were expected to behave modestly and to exhibit “domestic” and “pure” behavior (Damrosch, Dettmar 1061). Lucy writes “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (Stoker, 67) which is a scenario that would have been highly frowned upon during this time period. As well, in the moments before her death, the somewhat posessed Lucy was said to have asked Arthur to kiss her in a “soft, voluptuous voice” which surprised the men in the room (Stoker, 172). The Victorian woman was not expected to express their sexuality in such a manner, which shows that Lucy is also a character who defies traditional gender roles. Stoker therefore writes both women as showing traits of the “New Woman,” as they both defy gender roles in these different ways.