Supression and release

At first, there seems to be a contrast between how Jonathan reacted to the three vampire woman compared to how Jekyll indulges in the ‘undignified pleasures’ in the form of Edward Hyde. Whereas Jonathan considered hiding everything in fear of hurting Mina, Jekyll doesn’t have to worry about that since all public scrutiny will be gone once he leaves the form of Edward Hyde behind. Nonetheless, there is overlap between the incoherency Jekyll feels as his public status grew when approaching old age and Jonathan’s shame from his wife; both cases seem concerned with reputation and expectations. A man of Jekyll’s status is expected to be upright and to never consider these ‘undignified pleasures’ in the first place, while Jonathan is expected to have this very sterile attitude regarding sexuality, even in his own marriage with Mina. Jonathan describes his feelings as “a wicked, burning desire that they should kiss me with those red lips”; and the following is then said about those lips: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive”. It is up for debate though, whether this repulsion is actually because of the vampires, or because Jonathan feels disgusted at himself for wanting them. Comparing this to Jekyll’s indulgences (and many other instances that could be found in Victorian literature), evidence would suggest that the disgust is caused by the dissonance within the self:
“Jekyll (who was composite) now with the most sensitive apprehensions, bow with a greedy gusto, projected and shared in the pleasures and adventures of Hyde; but Hyde was indifferent to Jekyll, or but remembered him as the mountain bandit remembers the cavern in which he conceals himself from pursuit.”
“Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, when it was possible to undo the evil done by Hyde.”
If we try to imagine Jonathan with his own version of Edward Hyde within, then his reaction makes perfect sense. The burning desire is akin to the urge for freedom, or as Jekyll puts it, ‘springing headlong into the sea of liberty. The double living in these men yearns for the fulfillment, and how this double is perceived by the conscious mind is key to understanding Jekyll and Jonathan’s reaction. Despite basically having total immunity from whatever he chooses to do as Hyde, Jekyll still attempts to undo these ‘evil deeds’. It seems then, to be a perpetual cycle of suppressing and attempting to release. Jekyll himself saw that the situation was outside the realm of ordinary law and is even aware of his own conscience relaxing due to this fact, but the need to be ‘upright’ seems to be the real compulsion here, not the other way around. The same could be said about Jonathan, there are even more ways that his situation is outside of ordinary law since there is no other witness but himself and the vampires. Under normal circumstances, indeed it would be hard to detect these compulsions for ‘good’ since it is considered ‘normal’, so these stories go out of their way (whether consciously or not) to create unusual circumstances in order to reveal the questionable nature of why we choose to do anything at all.

Lucy is sus

When it comes to Lucy Westenra, the most obvious thing about her that is mentioned over and over again is her beauty and its influence on other people. In fact, one of the first things that we learn about Lucy is that she is so beautiful that three men proposed to her within one day, resulting in this rather strange passage in the text:
“Why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?…Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it” (Chapter V).
While a first reading suggests that this is due to Lucy not wanting to hurt the masculinity of these men (emphasizing the importance of masculinity in the Victorian era), comparing this to her depiction as a crazed and voluptuous vampire also suggests that Lucy has many desires that cannot be fulfilled. Judging from other characterizations of Lucy in the text (sleepwalking a lot, quick transitions from cheerful to illness almost akin to bipolar disorder), its safe to say that she is of a sensitive nature, although I would reword this as easily influenced. Thinking about this in terms of Dracula’s sinister influence over her lends a lot more plausibility to the interpretation that Lucy has many desires that cannot be fulfilled. What then, shall we make of the fact the Lucy’s death allowed for the intimacy between the men to grow (even more so after they “killed” her again)?
“And now, Arthur my friend, dear lad, am I not forgiven…Forgiven! God bless you that you have given my dear one her soul again, and me peace…We have learned to believe, all of us—is it not so? And since so, do we not see our duty?” (Chapter XVI)
Much like the relationship between Robert and George in Lady Audley’s secret, I think that this fact is not only saying something about Victorian society but is also an important plot point that pushes the story forward. Consider again what was said about Lucy: “The career of this so unhappy dear lady is just begun. Those children whose blood she suck are not yet so much for the worse; but if she lives on, Un-Dead, more and more they lose their blood and by her power over them they come to her; and so she draw their blood with that so wicked mouth” (Chapter XVI). And then what was said about Mina: “I come here full of respect for you, and you have given me hope—hope, not in what I am seeking of, but that there are good women still left to make life happy—good women, whose lives and whose truths may make good lesson for the children that are to be” (Chapter XIV).
What Van Helsing says at the end of chapter XVI insinuate that they still have to rid Dracula from the world so that no one might corrupted by him ever again (note the emphasis on ‘duty’). So then, even if Lucy is completely innocent, the fact that she is so easily influenced by evil forces make her an obstacle to Victorian sensibilities (and in extension masculinity). It also does not help that she was preying on children potentially turning them into vampires and spreading Dracula’s “wickedness” had she been left to live (quite a clear contrast to Van Helsing’s compliments of Mina). It seems that for the Victorians, no matter how beloved and dear an individual might be, they are ultimately expendable for the wellbeing of society.

A drawing I did that I thought was fitting for this topic

Love and Hope

“He had very little pleasure in returning to the stately mansion, hidden among sheltering oaks and venerable beeches. The square, red brick house, gleaming at the end of a long arcade of leafless trees was to be forever desolate, he thought, since Alicia would not come to be its mistress. A hundred improvements planned and thought of were dismissed from his mind as useless now…all these things were now so much vanity and vexation of spirit” (Chapter 16)

“The shadows of the early winter twilight, gathering thickest under the low oak ceiling of the hall, and the quaint curve of the arched doorway…he could see no shadows when she was by” (Chapter 16)

Although a passage about a less important character to the story, I found it striking due to its similarities to the overarching plot points. Considering the circumstances of other relationships in the story, a great deal of hope (or more accurately, an expectation of how things should be) accompanies these feelings of love; whether it’s Alicia wanting a certain kind of care and attention from Robert, Sir Michael expecting a different response when he proposed to Lucy, or George expecting his wife to be alive when he arrived at London. In all these cases, the “victims” of love are blinded by this delusion that their hope gives them. I think a compelling connection can be made to the theme of light and dark, as it appears shortly after the text is done talking about Harry Towers; and how we’ve established that the theme of light and shadow represents the line between truth and delusion. It’s also important to note that Lucy is also in this passage, drawing a parallel between Harry Towers and Sir Michael’s condition. Despite being a very small addition, the quote “he could see no shadows when she was by” is rather important. Considering this statement when evaluating other relationships in the story, we can see this hope in love is rather comforting, if not obstinate. The characters could be comfortable with their own imagination of reality like Alicia, or they could ignore the truth and choose blissful ignorance instead like Sir Michael; despite noticing that something is clearly wrong when he proposed to Lucy, Michael instead chooses to be happy that she agreed to marry him. We can clearly see Harry Towers suffering when his ego and hopes were crushed within a day, which is foreshadowing the miseries ahead when the bubble of delusions about Lucy Audley is inevitably popped.

A hidden world

“Lucy Graham was not looking at Sir Michael, but straight out into the misty twilight and dim landscape far away beyond the little garden. The baronet tried to see her face, but her profile was turned to him, and he could not discover the expression of her eyes. If he could have done so, he would have seen a yearning gaze which seemed as if it would have pierced the far obscurity and looked away—away into another world.” (Chapter I)

“The girl still sat with her face averted from her lover, her hands hanging listlessly in her lap, and her pale gray eyes fixed upon the last low streak of crimson dying out behind the trunks of the trees.” (Chapter III)

Throughout the novel, the theme of hidden faces and expressions repeats, first appearing in chapters I and III. In both examples, a connection can be drawn to the theme of shadow/light, as well as the similarity they have to the secretive lime-tree walk. The lime walk is scarcely 20 paces from the house, yet it remains elusive and hidden, much like how the girls’ expressions are hidden from their lover despite being right next to them. There’s an entirely different world of secrets hidden motivations right under their noses. In a way, Luke and Sir Michael are sheltered by this, like how the oaks shelter the house from light. Allegorically speaking, the shadows (or the hidden truths) are keeping the men safe and contented. To some extent this can be applied to Alicia Audley as well, with the sheltered life that she has been living. Ignorance is bliss, and while it’s true that someone would remain in comfort for as long as they can, the fact that Michael realizes that something is wrong or that Alicia starts speculating about Lucy’s secrets shows us that the shadowy veil will soon be lifted.