Dracula and Carnal Women

I have a confession to make.  I have never been a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula.   Regardless I voluntarily signed up for a course knowing the required reading and assignments.  So I slogged through it, though at least this time I realized that the whole bloody story is told through journal entries and letters, rather than thinking the letter at the start is a foreword and then trying to find where the story started...

I believe my essay shows that I was less than enthused about the text, however my peers rated my essay higher than I expected.  My second challenge in even selecting a topic is that I find it very hard to read Dracula separate from its life as a cultural meme.  In reading Dracula the text I had to "forget" everything it has inspired, be the result literary, theatrical, or something else all together.  Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Leslie Nielesen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dracula 3000, etc...  For the purpose of this class these had to exist outside my sphere or reference.

Regardless, the show must go on, and I managed to pull together something.  Perhaps my argument is "a little too vehement," as one peer commented, but when making a case in 300 words I'm willing to live with that reaction.  I suppose my essay could leave one confused about my feelings towards the virgin mother/fallen whore dichotomy mentioned, but my purpose was to discuss how Dracula embraced it.
One of the themes found in Dracula is that of the dangers of the unbound sexuality, in particular in regards to the dichotomy of virgin mother and fallen whore.  The women of Dracula are few, and some, such as Lucy's mother and maids, are largely background and inconsequential characters.  The women of consequence are those touched, or soon to be touched, by Dracula's corruption.

Before the Count's corruption Lucy and Mina are sweet girls much adored by the men in their life.  So adored is Lucy that her rejected suitors bear no animosity towards her or her chosen, but instead remain steadfast in chaste love.  Mina develops intimate friendships with the men, but is like a "mother" or "little girl" (ch.17).  Once turned, Lucy goes from a creature of "sweet purity" to one that is "voluptuous," "sensual," and exudes "carnality," making sexual invites to her betrothed and his companions (ch.16).  While Mina is not wholly turned, she is made "unclean" by Dracula's touch and is scarred by the touch of holy wafer (ch.22).  Had their corruption not been stopped the completed fall can be seen in Dracula's "brides" - the three women who Jonathan first encounters and whom later are destroyed as the men clean out the "den of infamy" (ch.26).

The ruin of Dracula's corruption goes beyond simply becoming sexual beings.  The tainted women are denied any children of their own; instead they become a threat to children.  The vampiric Lucy is drawn to children whom she lures into her arms and then feeds from.  Dracula's brides delight in devouring children.  Once fallen into sensuality these women turn into anti-mothers, creatures of debasement and corruption that lead Mina to ask the men to kill her if she turns saying “it is men’s duty in times such as these” (ch.25).  In this the virtuous woman is upheld, and the carnal cast out.
FEEDBACK
FORM (2.5)
peer 1 → Flow of ideas is continuous and word usage is proper.
 
peer 2 → Argument well written. You are concise yet detailed in your argument. Good job.
 
peer 3 → IT is well written, consitently structured. Perhaps a little too vehement for me, but it is a matter of taste.
CONTENT (2)
peer 1 → It would have been better if you had given more of your thoughts regarding the issues you stated. I mean it was more like an interpretation or description of what was written rather than an analysis.
 
peer 2 → it was a near perfect argument. Good for a speech contest. You nailed the subject in so little words.
 
peer 3 → Interesting take, well supported. I would have preferred a little more ellaboration of the argument even if it meant sacrificing some examples.

Comments

  1. Regardless of your opinion of the book the essay is well observed and well written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm glad to have done a reasonable job considering the inherent bias I was working with.

      Delete

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