How is Femininity Represented in Dracula?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula does not represent femininity in a positive light as the women in his novel were described to be mere objects and willing victims who would easily submit to the power before them which happens to be men. Femininity here is not one that empowers women but one that strips them of it and even encourages them to submit.
In the novel, they may be described as physically attractive, perhaps even desirable and deliberately voluptuous as the passage would put it, but that is just it – attractive and desirable and even voluptuous. She is still a victim and is reduced to a mere object. For example, in this particular line of the novel that read:
“The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal”
The girl described in the passage is nothing that would command respectability from the entity she is interacting with. Reading by the line, she knows what is expected of her, an object to be bitten or be bitten, a willing victim that submits to the power of the vampire. The vampire in this particular work happened to be a male reinforcing the patriarchal idea of societal structure that men should dominate while women should submit and just become a mere object of desire and worst, a meal in the case of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as “she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal” as her gesture of submission to a seeming insurmountable power before her. Femininity here is seen as vulnerability and never a source of strength and independence. Most characters are dependent or victim to a male character in one way or another.
The passage mentioned is even ambivalent. It condescends even as it praise as she is both thrilling and repulsive. It meant she cannot be entirely pleasing or positive because there will always be something wrong with her – that by default, she is flawed because she is feminine and a woman. It is a sort of reminder that the feminine are still beneath the masculine because she is still repulsive even if she is thrilling.
The closest to empowerment that the feminine in Bram Stoker’s Dracula have achieved is the ability to charm her tormentor or the men in the novel. Or, to become a vampire as well and acquire its trait of immortality, strength and other attributes. But still, despite how powerful she had become, it will never be over and above Dracula or any male character in the novel reinforcing the weak idea of femininity. Even the source of strength of women who will become vampires came from men.
The work was an excellent Gothic literature that never failed to mystify its readers since time immemorial. It is not however a good source of literature to draw the ideal concept of femininity because feminine in the novel were portrayed as weak, victims and merely objects of desire.