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Themes in Dracula

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  • 0:04 Background
  • 0:30 Female Sexuality
  • 2:15 Good vs. Evil
  • 3:20 Credibility in Writing
  • 4:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' is renowned for its complex themes on female sexuality, good vs. evil, and credibility in writing. In this lesson, we'll look at each of these themes using quotes from the book.

Background

Have you ever wondered why Bram Stoker's book Dracula is considered a classic in literature? Here's a clue: it isn't the ever-famous Count Dracula, although he definitely has something to do with it! The themes in Dracula explore popular societal issues surrounding female sexuality, good vs. evil, and credibility in writing. In this lesson, we will learn about these popular Dracula themes through important quotes found in the book.

Female Sexuality

During the Victorian era, women were expected to maintain very private lives. They were expected to be good wives who were chaste, innocent, and motherly. Most importantly, any deviation from these strict social expectations resulted in a marred reputation.

Stoker's Dracula examines the societal restrictions placed on women through female characters that adhere to and resist these expectations, especially concerning sexuality. Mina and Lucy are used to show how a woman's sexuality is deemed as dangerous to society and must be kept under control.

For example, after Lucy has been turned into a vampire, she exhibits all of the behavior that is deemed unacceptable for women. Jonathan says of Lucy, 'In a sort of sleep-waking, vague, unconscious way she opened her eyes, which were now dull and hard at once, and said in a soft, voluptuous voice, such as I had never heard from her lips…' Lucy's repressed sexual desire has been released, and Jonathan perceives it as a danger, as something that has the potential to disrupt tradition. Lucy aggresses Arthur for a kiss, which was unheard of in Victorian society; women were to be pursued, and not the other way around.

Stoker further points out the dangers of female sexuality at the end of the novel, when Arthur is tasked with driving a stake through Lucy's heart. Stoker writes, 'Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.' Killing Lucy eliminates her sexually deviant behavior that surfaced as a vampire and returns society back to its protected, chaste state.

Good vs. Evil

Dracula revolves around the theme of good versus evil. Count Dracula is the epitome of evil and the men in the Crew of Light are inherently good. In chapter 12, Stoker writes, '…the devil may work against us for all he's worth, but God sends us men when we want them…' to demonstrate that evil will stop at nothing to taint their society, but because of their goodness, God will help them whenever they need it. Stoker develops this theme as the novel progresses and the Crew of Light aims to kill the vampire to eradicate the negative impact he has on society.

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