Watch out for the Sexually Liberated

“ ‘Come, Sister. Come to us. Come! Come!’ In fear I turned to my poor Madam Mina, and my heart with gladness leapt like a flame; for oh! The terror in her sweet eyes, the repulsion, the horror, told a story to my heart that was all of hope. God be thanked she was not, yet, of them.” This is the passage where Mina is with Van Helsing and she is ill and the three women are trying to get her to ‘come with them.’

I think that through this interaction Bram Stoker is expressing the fear in the Victorian era of sexually free women. The way Mina’s reaction is described shows the complete fear that was felt that she would become ‘one of them.’ Stoker uses the juxtaposition of her ‘sweet’ eyes and then the words following being ‘repulsion’ and ‘horror’ while describing her looking at the three women to contrast this pure woman, Mina, and the repulsive, horrifying women that are trying to get her to ‘come to the dark side.’ I think that Stoker is playing on the idea in this time that sexual freedom was somehow contagious, and someone could ‘catch’ this terrible ‘disease.’ In this time sex wasn’t seen as anything pleasurable for a woman, the purpose of sex was to get pregnant, and there wasn’t any conversation about anything other than a heterosexual relationship. So, women who were sexually liberated were considered to have something wrong with them, and that thing that made them abnormal could be passed on to others if the pure soul was left unattended. Mina in this scene is vulnerable and continuing to get closer to becoming a vampire and ‘dying’ and Van Helsing is protecting her with multiple holy contraptions to try and save her from these villains. The three women are trying to entice Mina to go, and the reason Mina is saved is because of the holy circle that is protecting her.

Complete submission

Throughout the novel so far, I think there has been an emphasis on the power that the supernatural holds. I decided to close read a passage on page 113, “I am here to do Your bidding, Master. I am Your slave, and You will reward me, for I shall be faithful. I have worshipped You long and afar off. Now that You are near, I await Your commands, and You will not pass me by, will You, dear Master, in Your distribution of good things?) I noted thusage of capitalization on “you” throughout this passage as a connection to the way God is capitalized in religious writings. I thought that the word usage related to a religious-like figure, such as; faithfulworshippedcommandsdistribution of good things, and reward me” all show the supernatural power that Dracula holds. It shows the submission that Redfield has toward Dracula, and I think that it also shows the absolute adoration that Renfield, and these other “victims,” have toward himI think that this passage relates to the fear of the supernatural and its control, but also maybe to the foreign. Dracula, a foreign character who also had a supernatural aspect to him, has control over people like people in the Victorian era hadn’t heard of before. I think all of this is Stoker playing off of the people in these times fear of the unknown, and he portrays Dracula as a regular man that has a different side to him that can be dangerous, and dominant.   

Your Secret’s (not) Safe With Me

“I have been – in Yorkshire… glancing at his cousin, who stood a little way behind my lady, watching this confidential little dialogue.” (pg. 261)

I chose this passage because it was obvious that this is where it’s all coming to a head. When Robert Audley says that he has been in Yorkshire, where George used to live during his marriage, the response from Lady Audley was revealing. Braddon uses adjectives like faint and sickly to describe the smile that Lady Audley gives Robert in response, showing the switch of emotion she has. Through the entirety of George’s disappearance, Lady Audley has been a main suspect to Robert and this is where he finally has enough evidence to confront her and condemn her. Lady Audley, as expected, tries to act dumbfounded about why Robert wants to speak to her, she tries to stay calm and composed, and continue the façade she has held throughout the novel. This pertains to the theme of appearance vs reality, but this time there is no appearance she can keep up because she knows that Robert knows the truth, and who she really is, Helen Talboys. It is obvious that Lady Audley is finally out of her comfort zone, because she could soon be completely exposed and vulnerable to everyone, which she cannot fathom. Every conflict she has found herself in thus far, she has been able to squeeze her way out of it, but now she knows that Robert knows. This is essential to the novel because this whole time we’ve been suspicious of her, but now we know, even though she won’t admit it, what her secret is, and now it is a question of what she will do to Robert in order to have her secret contained.

Do as I say, not as I do

Paragraph starting with “Why, one of those diamond things would set us up in life, Phoebe,” and ending with “you shall have the public-house, Luke.” (34)

I think this passage exposes the idea of preaching morality, but then turning around and doing the opposite for your own gain. Phoebe shrieks at Luke to put the bracelet down, and when he says that “one of those diamond things would set us up in life, Phoebe,” she responds by saying, “how can you speak about such things,” but in the end, Phoebe is the one that goes against her morals and takes something from the chest. Not only does Phoebe steal from the chest, but instead of stealing a diamond piece, that is valuable, while also replaceable, Phoebe decides to take the belongings of a child, which I assume is more treasured by the family than the diamonds. I thought this passage pertained to the theme I have observed throughout the novel so far, which is the differences between appearances and reality. In multiple cases we see people performing an act to seem like a genuine, or exceptional person, when they can be malicious and devious. I saw this with George Talboys, how he speaks about the pure love he held for his wife and how he basically kissed the ground she walked on, but when we read about their relationship before he left, the author talks about these rages that he would go into, showing how his actions contradict the things he says, which I see in this passage with Phoebe. When Luke first opens this draw, Phoebe mutters, “So this is what my lady hides in the secret drawer,” this use of the words hides, secret, and mutters all refer to the theme of appearance versus reality. In this instance the vocabulary is used to describe Phoebe’s lady as well, showing that there are multiple characters that we’ve meet so far, that connect to this theme.