Victorian society praised conformity in their ridged ideas of gender roles. In this passage of Dracula by Bram Stoker, Andrew Holmwood arrives just in time to provide his fiancée, Lucy Westenra with blood that she needs to recover from her latest encounter with what the audience can only assume to be Dracula. The men who accompany the scene, Drs. Seward and Van Helsing worship his sacrifice of blood for Lucy’s revival. In this text, the over-glorification of the man’s position in a woman’s life is evidenced by Van Helsing’s coercion based the premise that he “can do more than any that love, and your courage is your best help” (Stoker 115). Though the science of blood transfusion was still in its more experimental stages, Van Helsing’s argument that his courage would be the most important asset of the blood is interesting. The interaction between the lovers upholds the rigidly structured gender roles of society based on the theoretical premise that a woman needs a male rescuer, and in a more severe sense that Lucy’s imminent peril can be solved by a man’s life-giving substance in order to be revived into her formerly youthful and vibrant self. There is a gradient of involvement at play in this passage in that Van Helsing is suggesting that the slightest gift of a man’s courage would be enough to save his fiancée from the horrible tortures that lie in death.
The melodrama of this haunting scene depicts Andrew as a valiant champion of love. At the mere suggestion that he provide aid, he proclaims enthusiasm: “‘My life is hers and I would give the last drop of blood in my body for her…If you knew how gladly I would die for her you would understand-” (Stoker 116). The result of Van Helsing’s diminishment of his sacrifice and amplification of his youthful merit cause a dramatic, desperate response. Andrew’s masculinity is the asset which makes this sacrifice worthy because, ultimately, Lucy is to become his property, so he would naturally see her as a part of himself. This raises questions about autonomy and the construction of gender roles around masculinity as a saving entity within a Victorian setting. In this display of passion comparable to Shakespeare’s Romeo’s passionate ballads, Andrew proclaims his duty to Lucy as a man, fittingly exemplifying the supremely Victorian virtue of melodrama manifested by his glorified masculinity.