Vulnerability and Vampires

Bram Stoker uses vampirism to show different vulnerabilities in women. In opposite fashions,we see Mina and Lucy fall prey to the aggressor in Dracula. Lucy faces a quick decline from her normal self, whereas Mina’s transformation drags on throughout the whole novel. Lucy Westenra turned victim to Dracula immediately. “My own heart grew cold as ice, and I could hear the gasp of Arthur, as we recognised the features of Lucy Westenra. Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness” (Dracula XVI). Stoker portrays Lucy with an alter-ego. Her once kind, heartfelt personality drifted to a soulless, powerful vampire. Stoker writes this to show how some females were hurt by the expectations of society. Once Lucy transitioned to a vampire, she became a hopeless, broken woman, hence Van Helsing and Holmwood finally taking her life. Stoker breaking Lucy’s character shows the reader how women that fell vulnerable to the expectations of Britain society became the complete opposite of the ideal nineteenth century woman. 

Opposingly, Mina spent her journey fighting off the evil spirit of Dracula. Stoker writes, ”She was so good and brave that we all felt that our hearts were strengthened to work and endure for her, and we began to discuss what we were to do” (Dracula XXII). This quote describes Mina in a completely different manner with respect to Lucy. Mina symbolizes the strength of women to persevere throughout 18th-19th century Victorian society. During this time period, most women were looked at as weaker than men. They were often viewed to be controlled by their emotions, modest, and self-deprecating. Mina’s impressive ability to fight the vampire’s power was Stoker’s purpose of writing. He wanted Mina to be an inspiration to all women reading this novel. As Mina became more and more “powerful” by avoiding Dracula’s possession, the men in the story felt more impelled to take care of her. Stoker’s showing of feminine power represented what all women in the 19th century could be if they did not fall vulnerable to proprietary men.