Happiness: A Double-Edged Sword

   Between pages 67-68 of Stoker’s Draculathere is an in-depth look at how the role of women and sexuality interact not only with the text, but also with the time of the Victorian EraThe passage is a letter written by Lucy, to her dearest friend, about her stream-of-consciousness regarding male suitors of this time. In particular, the last two paragraphs of the letter on page 68 underscore the young woman’s conflicting views on not only her miscellaneous male suitors, but also on her relationship to men as a wholeThis correspondence is a testament to how Stoker depicts the subtlety of Lucy’s vanity lying under the surface of a tearful letter; a successful weaponization of sexuality that was a popular theme in the texts of the Victorian Era. Lucy begins the letter with discussing her fear about becoming an old, settled-down married woman, while pairing this gripe with the additional anecdotes about her multiple requests for a hand in marriage. This raises the question of whether these statements are a progressive, feminist standpoint or the complete opposite. On the surface, one could say the idolization of men in her letter could be aligned with how women were expected to perceive men during this time, but the claim is that this is a condescending statement on Lucy’s part, who is actually gathering power from her gender. Lucy laments about how each man responds to her denial in a hand in marriage, with a repeated notion of “happiness.” This could be about the happiness Lucy is experiencing, or the lack thereof presented by her suitors. Lucy contradicts herself repeatedly when sharing the heartbreak of her lovers, and complaining about the inability to have multiple lovers at once by sharing the strength that men have and to see them in pain breaks her heart, but also repeatedly shares that she is happy. In the end of the letter, Lucy finishes with, “My dear, this quite upset me, and I feel I cannot write of happiness just at once, after telling you of it; and I don’t wish to tell of the number three till it can all be happy.” (68) This statement is followed immediately with a further telling about her third suitor, implying that this happiness she speaks of is present, but will not let herself express it externally out of guilt or perception of others. This reinforces the idea that Lucy is secretly aware of her power as a woman against men, and revels in it by consistently proclaiming the strength of men. Therefore, if she is able to harm a man, she is inadvertently more powerful than him. 

3 thoughts on “Happiness: A Double-Edged Sword”

  1. I find this very interesting and it appears to be a common theme in the past works we have read. I feel that Lucy expressing her views in this letter almost gives the author a valid reason for her downfall. Since it could be a feminist take, it is going against the norm of the time period and therefore, rather than being seen as a powerful woman, she is seen as a threat. This could also be why she is depicted in an evil and monstrous manner. Does Lucy becoming a vampire have a deeper meaning than we believe? Could her vampirism and monstrous behavior be the consequence of her actions against the female norm? This makes me wonder what deeper messages Stoker was trying to convey throughout the novel.

  2. I really like the point about feminist standpoints at that time and how in Lucy’s case it was often contradictory. It was interesting that she does seem to know her power over men and their emotions and even wishes it were allowed that she could have three husbands, but at the same time, she had also stated how she thought men to be such great creatures that women are not worthy of. The fact that her internal thoughts and external actions seem to be going against each other could be that feminist attitudes were not largely accepted and appropriate in most places at this time.

  3. That is certainly a different interpretation than what I would have initially thought. I think that you nailed everything else, but I did not much detect any sort of condescending tone from Lucy. I think Lucy Westenra is a lot like Lucy Audley in the same way that the latter is described as frivolous. I personally think it’s because she’s “weak” and easily influenced which causes her to have an array of different opinions and thoughts. In our kind of text where binaries get mixed up a lot, I think Lucy is the kind of character who manages to get caught up in between all of these hidden connections in the text.

Comments are closed.