Misogyny In Dracula
The word misogyny means a strong dislike of women by men. This word describes the common phenomena of sexism in the Victorian society, and even, today. The book Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897 is a gothic horror novel. It introduces the character Count Dracula and describe the story happened relate to him. The story began with Jonathan Harker visit Dracula in Transylvania and was imprisoned, during this time he slowly discover Dracula’s secret, that Dracula is actually a vampire. Later on, Jonathan is released and Dracula come to England and infects Jonathan’s wife—Mina’s best friend, Lucy Westernra. Although her fiancé Arthur, Dr. seward, Mr. Morris and Dr. Van Helsing try very hard to save her, Lucy still died and transformed into a vampire and Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, Mr. Morris and Jonathan had to kill her. After finding out Lucy is killed, Dracula is furious and infects Mina trying to turn her into a vampire. To save Mina, Jonathan, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward and Mr. Morris travel to Transylvania to kill him. The novel is about vampire but it also covers the topic of xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny or sexism. Dracula’s misogyny traits and how Bram Stoker challenge these stereotypes still have a significant impact on today’s misogyny behavior and the practice of get over it to achieve equality. Dracula’s misogyny traits and how Bram Stoker challenge these stereotypes still have a significant impact on today’s misogyny behavior and the practice of get over it to achieve equality.
In Victorian age men loathe women for being sexual and mentally superior. In Dracula, Stoker describes men’s change of attitude when seeing Lucy transformed into a vampire. Stoker let Dr. Seward says “Lucy’s eyes in form and color; but Lucy’s eyes unclean and full of hell-fire, instead of pure, gentle orbs we knew. At that moment, the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing; had she then to be killed, I could have done it with savage delight” (stoker 188). It’s obviously a clear demonization of women, more specifically, the sexual women. Lucy transformed into a vampire because she is infected by Dracula and three men gave her their blood to save her. Having other men’s blood in her vain is a sexual innuendo, indicating that Lucy is no longer a virgin, thus is the “impure” sexual women. Stoker describes Lucy’s eyes as hell-like is discrimination towards her, he also reveals men’s loathing towards a sexual woman. In Victorian age, sex is something to be avoided at all cost and people in that time is emotionally frigid about sexual matters, a sexual woman is considered impure and evil. This sexist insult also shows the attitude of the Victorian society towards a sexual woman. But the Victorian men is not the only reason why sexual women is abominated, Stoker describe Mina after she is inflected “unclean, unclean! I must touch him or kiss him no more. Oh, that it should be that it is I who am now his worst enemy, and whom he may have most cause to fear. ” (stoker 249). From Mina’s statement, it’s not hard to see that Mina despite herself because she is no longer “clean”. In the Bible, it is said that “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13,45). The sexual women are feared and discriminated in the society. even other women despite a sexual woman and won’t recognize her. Although the Victorian woman’s intolerant attitude towards sex is definitely another reason why sexual women is abominated. Women in Victorian age is ought to be submissive and pure, loyal to their husband and be the “angel in the house”, play the role of a good wife and mother. Anything beyond that is obviously “too much” for a woman to be. This is clearly oppression towards women, using “virginity” at a standard to judge women and force them to men’s helper instead of men’s equal. Like Kathryn Hughes explains in her article: “Being ‘forward’ in the company of men suggested a worrying sexual appetite. Women were assumed to desire marriage because it allowed them to become mothers rather than to pursue sexual or emotional satisfaction” (Hughes). Through this explanation, it’s obvious that women were not supposed to have sexual desire in Victorian age, which is very hypocritical. The Victorians use “virginity” to oppress women and conceal their natural desire so that they don’t need to mention “sex” in their daily life. Girls in Victorian age can’t even focus too obviously on finding a husband, not to mention losing her virginity and disloyal to her husband. Victorian age’s misogyny also reflected in considering women mentally below men. In Dracula, Stoker let Dr. Van Helsing stated “when most we want all her great brain which is trained like man’s brain, but is of sweet women and have a special power which the count gives her, and which he may not take away altogether—though he thinks not so” (stoker 295). Van Helsing made it very clear that man’s brain is clearly superior in this situation. Although Mina is logical and clever, Van Helsing still describe her as a child’s brain and think she is venerable and suspect her being affected by Dracula and doesn’t trust her. This is a classic sexual stereotype that men is more logical than women thus their brain is superior. All in all, Stoker vividly depicts typical misogyny behavior in Victorian age, leaving readers deep impression.
Stoker challenges the stereotype of women and misogyny in Dracula. Stoker challenge that women are mentally below men, he describes Mina’s power play “He opened it, and for an instant his face fell. Then he stood up and bowed. ‘Oh, you so clever woman!’ he said. ‘I long knew that Mr. Jonathan was a man of much thankfulness; but see, his wife have all the good things. And will you not so honour me and so help me as to read it for me? Alas! I know not the shorthand. ’” (stoker 164). This is Mina’s power play, intended to show off her ability of shorthand to Van Helsing and try to earn his respect and tell him what she can do. This challenge the stereotype that women can’t be smarter than men and can only be the “angle in the house”. Mina show her proficiency and earn others respect. Stoker also challenge the stereotype that women must depend on men. In this situation Mina is independent and confident and overpowering Van Helsing for the first time. Stoker also challenge the traditional role of man and women, when men are rational and dominate and women are emotional and submissive. He makes Jonathan feminine by let him cried out after his wife is infected “‘In god’s name what does this mean?’ Harker cried out, ‘Dr Seward, Dr Van Helsing, what is it? What has happened? What is wrong? Mina, dear what is it? What does that blood mean? My god, my god! Has it come to this!’ and raising him to his knees, he beat his hands wildly together. ‘good god help us! Help her! Oh, help her!’” (stoker 248). In this scene, Jonathan is very feminine and Mina is more rational. This challenge the stereotype that man is always logical and women is emotional. Mina is tough, rational and calm while Jonathan is desperate and emotional. Stoker also challenge the traditional stereotype by making Mina the hero in the novel. In the novel. Stoker let Mina argues “I know that you must fight –that you must destroy even as you destroy the false Lucy so that the true Lucy might live hereafter; but it is not a work of hate, that poor soul who has wrought all this misery is the saddest case of all, just think what will be his joy when he too is destroyed in his worser part that his better part may have spiritual immortality. You must be pitiful to him too, though it may not hold your hands from his destruction” (stoker 269). It’s obviously that Mina is more considerate and logical in this situation. Mina is tougher than the man and more sympathetic and is becoming the main hero of the novel. When the men all got carried away by anger, Mina is still rational and figured out reasonable solutions. This challenge the stereotype when women only appear as men’s helper and only take a small portion of the story. Also, in the story, Mina is a working women and knows shorthand, she is the representative new women. Just like Senf explains: “Mina Harker not only escapes the fate of the other women: she is also largely responsible for the capture and ultimate destruction of Dracula” (Senf). This greatly challenge the fact that women can only save by men, and always appear mere as appendix to the men. In the second half of the story, Mina is giving out useful suggestions, comforting the men and getting involved in the men’s world. Mina is brave and independent and has always be practicing shorthand waiting for the opportunity to use the skill, she changes her fate with her own hand. To sum up, Stoker challenge the sexism stereotype in Victorian age and inspire women in Victorian age to fight for equality.
Misogyny happened because women were too dependent on men. Just like Ortberg explains: “The popular Victorian image of the ideal wife/woman came to be ‘the Angel in the House’; she was expected to be devoted and submissive to her husband. The Angel was passive and powerless, meek, charming, graceful, sympathetic, self-sacrificing, pious, and above all–pure” (Ortberg). This clearly indicate the reason why men look down upon women, women in Victorian age is always submissive and devoted. They can’t live without the support of their husband and men is always the breadwinner in the family. Victorian women’s fate is controlled by men thus they are at a unequal status. The Powerless, meek, pure women is favored by men, but not respected by them. In conclusion, the stereotype of “angel in the house” makes women too dependent on men, which is why misogyny take place.
Today, Misogyny is still a major issue affecting the equality of society. As Marcotte introduced: “One of the more peculiar results of the modern digital age is the rise of the “men’s rights activists” (MRAs). Previously known simply as misogynists, these men—and not a few women—have rebranded themselves as the defenders of men against feminism, which they view as a hegemonic force that isn’t about equality but female dominance” (Marcotte). Nowadays, there are still shadows of the patriarchal society. These men use “men’s right” to cover for their oppression towards women. They discriminate women so they can feel “masculine”. These people can’t free themselves from the gender stereotype thus they are always angry and always judging others. Not only misogyny happened as a social event, it is also affecting the equality in everyday life. Just like Girous and Vredenburg argued in their paper: “when a women is emotional, she is ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions” (Girous, Vredenburg). This is a classic gender stereotype and an indication of misogyny. Men is always considered logical and superior than women, and women is always considered emotional and vexatious. So, when women is emotional, nobody takes her seriously and will make fun of her agony. To make this problem worse, people don’t take this kinds of misogyny seriously. People who argue with this kind of behavior will often be considered as overreact and hypocritical. To sum up, misogyny today is sometimes hard to detected but it is a serious inequality and discrimination that affects people’s daily life.
In conclusion, Dracula describes and challenge the misogyny in Victorian age reflecting the patriarchal society’s discrimination towards women. Bram Stoker’s work reminds people the importance of equality and still reflects to today’s social issues, giving out useful advice on how to achieve equality.
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