Gender in 'Dracula' and 'The Little Stranger'

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  • Created on: 26-05-19 14:14
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  • Gender in 'The Little Stranger' and 'Dracula'
    • The Gothic Female Victim
      • Betty
        • The back stairs as "creepy", the ladder as "jumpy".
        • Context: it was a common belief that the supernatural focuses around pubescent girls. Vulnerable.
        • Colloquial language. she is from a lower class. her vulnerability is heightened as other characters are less likely to believe her.
          • Faraday calls her a, "good little girl". Patronising tone. Disregard because she is young and of low status.
      • Gillian
        • A small girl, viciously attacked by Gyp. his actions, "Out of character".
        • She is "rigid white". her attack evokes sympathy. "Poor little girl" - she's from a wealthy family - she is believed and unquestioned
      • Lucy
        • She is the epitome of the Gothic female. Her "sweetness", "innocence" and "purity" is frequently highlighted. Her beauty captured three suitors.
          • Flirtatious. "why can't they let a girl marry three men?"
        • Tendency to sleepwalk leaves her vulnerable.
        • Just like Gillian, her lack of colour is highlighted after an attack. "deadly pallor", "the roses in her cheeks are fading".
        • Lucy also represents the second version of the Gothic female: the shameless and dangerous predator.
          • She preys on children as the "bloofer lady". she is posed as a sexual threat. her chaste, virginal state transforms into "voluptuous wantonness".
          • Context: Victorian women were subject to rigid expectations. Sex as means for procreation instead of enjoyment.
            • The Victorian reader would have been shocked with Lucy's raging sexual desire. she demands Arthur to, "kiss me", with the imperative suggesting a forward sexual appetite.
          • Her death makes her "more radiantly beautiful than ever". However, the men that loved her do not meet Lucy with an arousing sexual desire.
            • They're repulsed by the "foul thing." Inanimate description = dehumanises Lucy, she is something monstrous.
              • The men see no other option but to destroy the sexual female in order for her to return to a socially and morally acceptable state. (Christian redemption)
            • Arthur and the Stake: . The language is unmistakably sexual, and the stake is an unambiguous symbol for the penis. it is fitting that the blow comes from Lucy’s fiancé, Arthur Holmwood: Lucy is being punished not only for being a vampire, but also for being available to the vampire’s seduction—Dracula, we recall, only has the power to attack willing victims.  Arthur returns her to the role of a legitimate, monogamous lover, which reinvests his fiancée with her initial Victorian virtue.
              • "The Thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered […] as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake."
      • Women in the 19th Century.
      • The Three Vampire Women
        • 'I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal…I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited--waited with beating heart.'
        • The vampire women are voluptuous and highly sexualized; they are free to act on their sexual desires, which is the exact opposite of men and women in Victorian society. The fact that Jonathan must close his eyes demonstrates his inability to handle open sexuality.
        • they were also probably looked down upon because of the power they were able to exert over men to victimise and tempt them into evil.
          • "Then the beautiful eyes of the fair woman open and look love, and the voluptuous mouth present to a kiss—and man is weak" Van Helsing - Women should not have that power - he is going to kill them for everyone's good.
        • These unchaste women had the ability to challenge the stability and structure of the home, of the familyThey embody both the dream and the nightmare of the Victorian male imagination
        • These women offer Harker more sexual gratification in two paragraphs than his fiancée Mina does during the course of the entire novel. However, this sexual proficiency threatens to undermine the foundations of a male-dominated society by compromising men’s ability to reason and maintain control. For this reason, the sexually aggressive women in the novel must be destroyed.
    • Mina and Caroline: Modern Women
      • Mina
        • Unlike Lucy, there is no particular focus on appearance. thought to be plainer than her friend.
        • Intelligence regarding modern technologies. She is proficient in short hand, use of the typewriter and expresses interest in Seward's "Phonograph"
        • Whilst she is the "New Woman", she also has traditionally female features.
          • Maternal: nurses Johnathan to recovery after his "brain fever". She writes to Lucy, referring to him as"my husband". repetition of the possessive - she's conforming to Victorian ideals that a women should love and care for her husband; he is her priority.
            • Context: Mina simultaneously embodies the 'New Woman' and the traditional Victorian wife. Stoker could be referencing the the period of female change and emancipation in society.
      • Caroline
        • Unlike her Mother, Caroline does not conform to the traditional female role of the gentry.
        • She runs part of the household. she references the "meths and liquids", "I've used them often enough". Tone of resentment - she is suffering from the downfall of the upper classes. Forced to change.
        • Unattractive physical appearance. "thickish legs and ankles". Masculine.
          • "Worst dress sense". Superlative. Completely unfashionable. "Only her mouth, I thought was good". Struggle to find something attractive about her.
        • "Natural spinster" Unusual for a lady of the gentry not to marry.
    • Females presented in Masculine ways.
      • Mina
        • Although highly commended for her intelligence, she is described as having a "man's brain". Her quality is a male attribute.
        • If Stoker believed men were stronger than women, why did he create such a strong character in Mina?
      • Caroline
        • Females do the housework (Betty, Mrs Bazely), whilst Rod and Makins do the farm work.
          • However, Caroline, "lets herself into the cow pen... moving easily amongst the animals." Caroline has taken on a masculine job to keep the business running.
            • Mrs Ayres is, "perfectly well groomed", contrast to Caroline, "Slipping on a filthy canvas apron".
    • Masculinity
      • Male Advantage
        • Roderick and Arthur inherit the estate. they're the head of the household.
          • Rod, "He won't leave the estate". He is expected to look after it and the women inside. Caroline was brought up to leave, "once Rod marries"> Ties to the house aren't as strong, upper class structures.
        • The men aren't jealous of Arthur's money, but Dr F feels an inherent desire to obtain the house.
          • He insinuates himself into the household. Curios about Rod, "What is going on, Rod?", "Try me, will you?". Imperative, "Tell me Rod!.
            • Ulterior Motive. he wants to usurp Rod's position - envies the power and status. Masculine desire to protect the females and house.
      • Proection
        • Jonathan wants to protect Mina after his recovery. She is "too precious". "We are men and able to bear". Masculinity = strength.They don't want to endanger her, her femininity makes her too vulnerable

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