The Patriarchy Strikes Again

The passage I picked out was on page 394 when Van Helsing comes across Dracula’s iconic three women. It starts by saying “she was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful […] made my head whirl with new emotion.”

This passage illustrates the presence of sexuality and power. In particular, the power men hold in society versus that of women. As shown in the passage when Helsing says “she was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful […]” (394), just shows that it seems as though women hold no power except in their beauty and are free to sexualized. Not only this, Van Helsing almost justifies his behavior towards these women as being “the very instinct of man in me” (394). Helsing is saying that he’s allowed to feel these things because of her beauty and his manly instincts.

This instinct of man seems to be present throughout the entirety of the novel. In Dracula, men seem to be unable to control themselves around women. Van Helsing is portrayed as a character who is on a mission. There doesn’t seem to be anything stopping him from destroying vampires, even Lucy’s beauty didn’t get to him, but in this passage, he is unable to control himself saying that their beauty “calls some of my sex to love and to protect” (394), furthering the emphasis that when women are beautiful is when they become important in society and are “lovable” by men.

This passage could also be about what role women are destined to play in society and how standards of beauty play a role in women’s power, which unfortunately still is present today. In the Victorian Era, as echoed by this passage about “radiant beauty” (394), it is obvious that women only seem important when they are beautiful. This is also seen in Lady Audley’s Secret, because Lady Audley is beautiful, she’s able to almost “beat the system” and get away with lying and marries into a rich successful family solely because she is beautiful. Additionally, Jonathan has a moment with these same ladies when he is also unable to control himself because of their beauty even though he knows the danger (46). These examples further exemplify the fact that if women are beautiful, they’re able to accomplish more and hold more power because men, as shown in these two novels, only seem to regard women for their beauty rather than who they are as a person and what they can do.

One thought on “The Patriarchy Strikes Again”

  1. Your comments on men and their “manly instincts” in Dracula reminded me of the poem we read for class “No, Thank You, John”. In the poem, it’s implied that whoever John is, he can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. His inability to accept ‘no’ as an answer reminds me of the “manly instincts” mentioned in Dracula as I feel that sometimes men have the instinct to chase after something or someone even though it’s out of their reach. It also connects to your comment about how the men are unable to control themselves when they’re in the presence of women as I find it pretty clear that John is unable to control himself in the presence of the narrator of the poem

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