Essay on Bram Stocker’s Dracula : the theme of gender roles/sexuality
What was the author’s opinion about “New Women” during the victorian era?
How does the book interpret the rise of “new women?”
How are Lucy and Mina similar/ different and what do they represent?
Include quotes that support your argument.
• Gender Roles & Sexuality
• Foreign “Other”
• Science vs Supernatural vs Faith/Religion
• Impurity vs Purity (infection/disease: physical, psych, and spiritual)
• Civilization vs Savagery (what separates humans from non-humans?)
• Modernity & Progress vs Tradition & Custom
• Language & Writing
Take a look at the list of Major Themes/Topics for Dracula and decide which one
appeals to you the most.1. Gender roles / Sexuality
• “She has a man’s brain” p.218
• “He grew quite hysterical” p.214
2. Religion versus Science
• “To believe in things that you cannot”p.180
3. Civilization versus Savagery
• “…this Thing is not human – not even beast.” p.213
• “They are very, very superstitious” p.335
4. Sanity versus Insanity
• Trance: p.289; 313 5. Good versus Evil
• “carnal …seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet
6. The Foreign “Other”
• “leaving his own barren land…” p.296
• The criminal p.317
7. Language and Writing
• “As I must do something or go mad, I write this diary” p.268
• “in all the mass of material…there is hardly one authentic document” p.351
• “Unclean” p.275; “There is poison in my blood” p.306
The next phase is to look through
the text and find passages that
address, mention, or allude to your
Here are samples of such passages
that you can look up to see
examples of what you can start
looking for and noting down.Essay Questions to help you get started –
The following questions are meant to help you start your investigation. What
your final driving question will look like may be different. Nevertheless, if you
have trouble thinking of a driving question of your own, start with these:
Language & Writing:
• What is the effect of the structure of the novel? Why do you think Stoker
chose to construct it as a series of journal entries and letters from
multiple points of view?
• How do modern technologies facilitate the construction of the
narrative? And why is this significant? To what effect?
Religion vs Science:
• How and why does Count Dracula pervert elements of
Christian tradition? What is the significance of this
• What is the significance of Protestant characters using
Catholic-based symbols to ward of Dracula?Sanity vs Insanity // Knowledge & Perception (Unconsc vs Consc):
• Seward’s lunatic asylum is only one symbol of the division between the
sane and the insane: above are those deemed sane and competent and
below reside those that society cannot understand/control. How is this
symbolic division problematized throughout the novel, and what does it
say about the line between sanity and insanity?
• Discuss the significance and meaning of dreams, trances, and altered
states of consciousness in the novel and what these motifs indicate might
be the concerns of the Victorian subject regarding the human mind and its
ability to know, control, and provide stability for one’s identity.
Gender Roles and Sexuality:
• Is desire threatening or dangerous? For whom?
• What connections are there in the text between female sexuality and
motherhood? How does the text subvert (or at least problematize)
• What threat does Dracula pose for young Englishwomen? for
Englishmen?Civilization vs Savagery [and Imperialism]:
• What might `cultural contamination’ mean in the context of this novel?
• How might the interests and fears of imperial Britain be reflected in
vampirism &/or in Dracula’s intent to invade London?
• Dracula and anti-Semitism: How is Dracula, as the ethnic “Other” a
reflection of fear of the influx of European-Jewish immigration at the
turn of the century?
• The only real marriage described in the novel is Mina and Jonathan’s—how would
you describe their marriage? Are they the ideal example of marriage? Why or why
• Marriage seems to be connected to blood (Arthur’s view that the blood transfusion
made Lucy “truly his bride,” Dracula’s speech to Mina about being his “bountiful
wine-press” and bound to him, etc. What does this suggest about the view of
marriage in the novel (at least by some characters)? Does the novel negate this
• Van Helsing mentions his wife – she is alive, but insane. Why does Stoker include this
detail about Van Helsing’s backstory? Why is he not just an old bachelor, or a
widower? Why is it important that he be married but to an insane woman?As you can see, there are many directions you can go – it all depends
what questions you start asking. To either make up your own question
or refine an existing question, think of one or two of the following:
1. Start with a specific character. Follow them throughout the novel
and note down any time any reference is made to your topic (either
directly or indirectly)
2. Start with a specific symbol and do the same as above.
3. Select a key passage where your topic is directly discussed. Note
down the imagery, symbols, and other figurative language. As you
look through the rest of the novel, note down any times those
words/images/etc. are mentioned and compare to your original
passage. Are there connections with your topic?
Finally, start working on collecting evidence and filling out your
Outline and Proposal…(the next slide is included as a pdf document on
Blackboard as well).1. Theme/Topic/Focus: _______________________________________________
2. Leading up to aDriving
a. What interests you about this
b. What is the novel saying
about this topic?
c. Why is this important to our
understanding of the novel?
3. Driving Question:
After considering the above and
looking at your gathered
evidence from the novel, what
question do you want to answer
by analyzing this novel and
4. What is your answer to your
final Driving Question?
5. How does the novel convey
this idea about your theme?
a. Chapter ___, page(s)
b. Ch. _____; pg(s) ___