Purity Culture in the Victorian Era and it’s Effect on Lucy’s Story

Lucy’s experiences in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an interesting depiction of society’s view on female sexuality during the Victorian Era. When Lucy is bitten by Dracula, Dracula continues to pursue her even as great efforts are being made by Van Helsing to keep him away. This contrasts heavily with Harker’s experience; he escapes Dracula’s grasp and is never bothered again, in fact, his life seems to get better as Lucy’s gets worse. This is because of the ties of sexuality to vampirism. The text states, “There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.” (Stoker, Chapter 3). Language like “desire” and “longing” suggest that Harker viewed what was happening as a sexual act, which implies that Lucy and Harker were experiencing sexual violence at the hands of Dracula. According to Victorian beliefs, once a woman has lost her purity, she has lost her value as a human being. So after Lucy was bitten by Dracula, Bram Stoker may not have been able to conceive another ending for her other than her demise.

There is an added strain on the idea of Lucy’s purity when she is given blood transfusions. Arthur believes “that the transfusion of his blood to her veins had made her truly his bride?” (Stoker, Chapter 13). This implies that Arthur views the transfusion as a sexual act, because in Victorian society a marriage was viewed as valid only when it was consummated. However, the blood transfusions being sexualized implies that after she has undergone them, she has been with multiple partners, because she received transfusions from multiple men. Somewhat shortly after this, Lucy becomes a vampire, and essentially loses her humanity. This implies that her humanity was tied to her purity.

One thought on “Purity Culture in the Victorian Era and it’s Effect on Lucy’s Story”

  1. The concept of purity is so interesting about Lucy , especially being further emphasized in the context of the blood transfusions given to Lucy.With how Arthur views the blood transfusion as something eternal and long lasting like a marriage, we can see how society of the time regards this topic . The sexualization of the blood transfusions implies that Lucy has been with multiple partners, as she receives transfusions from different men. This perceived loss of purity further compounds the narrative’s association of female sexuality with the loss of humanity later in the book with her turning into a vampire the fastest and the most exaggerated

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