Views on gender and sexuality havechanged since the time when Dracula was written but many people think that itcan still be linked back to Dracula.
I think that Dracula can be used to linkthings back to the Victorian era, but it doesn’t have links to gender andsexuality today because views on it have greatly improved compared to theVictorian era. Dracula is a gothic novel because of manythings. One of these things is the setting, Dracula has multiple settings oneof which is an old castle.
This relates to the gothic genre because the word’castle’ creates a haunting and supernatural atmosphere. Castles also hold alot of history and mystery which would create an unfamiliar atmosphere whichwould scare the reader and relate to a gothic atmosphere. Another setting is adark, eerie forest this relates to the Gothic genre because it also gives afeeling of mystery with dark forests having connotations with death.
Anotherfeature of the setting is where the castle is placed. The castle is placed on ahill away from everything else which would give a feeling of mystery but moreimportantly give a feeling of isolation. This would relate to the gothic genrebecause being alone could also relate to having no help which would scare thereader creating a gothic atmosphere.Dracula is also a gothic novelbecause of its relation to the supernatural It is related to the supernaturalbecause of one of its main features… vampires. Vampires play a key role inDracula as the main villain is a vampire. Vampires are related to thesupernatural because they are normally known to kill people which would relateto horror and death. Another supernatural feature is when Dracula transformsinto different things such as a bat. This would relate to the gothic genrebecause it would be unexpected creating mystery which would make the readerfeel unfamiliar and then scared creating a gothic atmosphere in the book.
Thefact that Dracula can transform would also scare the reader because theywouldn’t know what will happen later in the novel. The use of a vampire is alsoscary because vampires are considered to be evil monsters that hunt humanswhich would scare the readerThe author also uses the weatherto create a gothic like atmosphere. The author does this by using very dullweather types such as cloud and rain. By doing this the author almost makes itseem like it is always night which will create an uneasy/frightening gothicatmosphere. Another weather feature is lightning which is used in the book tocreate a violent atmosphere scaring the reader because it gives the feelingthat even the weather is not helping the characters situation. A gothic atmosphere is also created in how thetext is written. The text is written like a journal or a novel which creates afeeling that you know the main characters which lets you experience what theyexperience. This would scare the reader because the characters experience a lotof bad things, so it would create a gothic atmosphere throughout the book.
The main way the perception ofhomosexuality has changed since the Victorian era is that homosexuals are moreopenly homosexual, and it is more widely accepted. In the Victorian era it was a criminaloffense to be homosexual. Whereas in today’s society it is mainly accepted tobe homosexual, but some groups of people still believe it is wrong such as somereligions. In the Victorian era some people stillsupported the idea of being homosexual, but most didn’t but today it is morewidely accepted. Another thing that is accepted today is homosexual marriage.While in today’s society most people believe in homosexual marriage while somegroups still don’t agree. While in theVictorian era it wasn’t allowed at all.
Some things are still in question suchas if one member of the couple dies will the remaining member get the samerights as a wife in that situation or a husband in that situation. I personallythink it is whatever the person wants because no-one can decide for them. Another thing is religious rights. In theVictorian era homosexual people wouldn’t have had any rights but in today’ssociety some religions still don’t accept it with different actions to stop itfrom forbidding homosexual activity all the way to execution. While some religions view it as acceptablefor example Hinduism. Hinduism view same sex marriage as normal and conductmarriage ceremonies and everything the same. Some religions have non-genderspecific marriages such as Sikhism, so a same sex marriage is acceptable.
In the Victorian era the ideal manwas working, strong, married, had children, a breadwinner and straight. Thiswould differ from today’s society because the ideal male now is allowed to bewhat he wants. In the Victorian era homosexuals were seen associally odd and weird and it was frowned upon to be openly homosexual sociallywhereas in today’s society it is seen as normal in a social area.
In the Victorian era it was seenas a disease to be homosexual and that anyone who was homosexual needed to betreated this would result in things like surgery whereas in today’s society itis seen as a choice and not a disease.In the Victorian era homosexualrelations were known to break apart families with families relying on theVictorian standard of a man to help and without that a family would be hard tomaintain whereas in today’s society there are many homosexual families that aredoing well in every aspect. I think that all views on homosexual peoplehave improved in today’s society with (in most places) openly homosexual peopleseen as equal to their peers and men can be how they want to be instead ofhaving to meet some specific criteria to be considered a ‘man’ in a Victoriansociety where homosexuals weren’t seen as equal to straight people.
Ialso think that because views on homosexuality have changed so much that itcan’t be strongly linked back to the Victorian era. Another way views on gender and sexuality havechanged since the Victorian era is views on woman and how they were treated. Inthe Victorian era the ideal woman was reliant on her husband and wasindependent this would contrast with today because many women are independentand can do anything that a man does. In the Victorian era the ideal woman wasseen as naïve and pure this would contrast with today because in today’ssociety women are seen as equals. Some women may still be discriminatedagainst, but the norm is that women are equal. In the Victorian era women wereseen as people who weren’t equal, and a woman needed to get married and havechildren. They were also not supposed to have jobs and instead stay at home andtake care of the family. This contrast with today where most adult women havejobs and are independent.
Another way that gender and sexualityhas changed since the Victorian era is the amount of people that are openly gay,lesbian or bisexual in the UK. Statistics taken from the independent showsthat approximately 1 million people are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual 1. This would be more than the amountof people who were openly gay, lesbian or bisexual in the Victorian era.Something else that has changedsince the Victorian era is views on people who are against LGBTQ rights. In theVictoria era most people would’ve supported someone who was fighting againstLGBTQ rights whereas in todays society if someone where to fight against LGBTQrights they would receive massive amounts of backlash and hate. An example ofthis is The Clerk Kim Davis. Kim Davis was briefly jailed for denying theissuing of same sex marriage licences after they were recognised in the state 2.
This is a drastic change from the Victorian era. Thisfurther proves my point on how gothic novels such as Dracula can be linked backto todays society for some topics but not something such as gender andsexuality. In Dracula women are bothportrayed as the ideal Victorian woman being naïve and fragile and as being independentand strong. 3 In the book Dracula Van Helsing’s biggest complement for Minais that she has a ‘man’s brain’. In todays society his comment would be seen assexist because Van Helsing is implying that because Mina thinks like a Man thatshe is better but in the Victorian era this was seen as a valid comment andcomplement which heavily contrasts to today’s more equal society.
In Dracula Mina is seen as a lateversion of the ideal Victorian woman who is strong smart and willing to enterthe workforce but only as an assistant to her husband, Jonathan Harker 3. This would contrast with todayssociety where women are seen as equal to men and can have very important rolesin businesses. An example of this would be the CEO of Video sharing platform YouTubewho is female. In Dracula the character Mina isseen as the ‘new woman’ which is more independent than the ideal Victorian womanbut still not like women in today’s society because she is still told what todo by men and listens.
This would differ from today because women are mainly independent.Towards the start of the novel Mina is a basic Victorian woman but as the novelprogresses she becomes the ‘new woman’ 4.In Dracula the character Lucy isdescribed in mainly sexualised terms and instead of the relationship Mina haswith Harker Lucy has three different suitors and this is seen as weird andrude. This is different from today because women are allowed to be who theywant to be and are not judged by what they want to do 4.In Dracula it is clear that the Victorianview on masculinity is that a man is supposed to help a woman in need tis canbe seen in the book when a woman is bitten by Dracula a man or group of men goto solve it. The quote from Dracula which is said by Van Helsing further provesmy point as Van Helsing says ‘A brave man’s blood is the best thing on thisearth when a woman is in trouble.
You’re a man, and no mistake.’ A man is thebest thing for a woman in trouble.’ 5This shows the Victorian attitude towards masculinity and what a man issupposed to do when a woman is in need. This differs from todays views onmasculinity where men are seen as equal to women by the majority although theremay be some groups of people who would think differently from the widelyaccepted view.In Dracula, Dracula is the onlymale vampire in the book which could have been done because Bram Stoker wantedto make it seem like the male person is in charge of and leads all of thefemales. A man leading a group would be seen as normal in the Victorian era buta woman leading a group would be seen as strange this would differ from todaybecause a woman and a man can both lead large groups for example business owners.In conclusion I understand whypeople use Dracula as a way to link things back to the Victorian era, but Ithink that if the topic is gender and sexuality Dracula or any gothicliterature shouldn’t be used to relate to today because of how views on genderand sexuality have changed so much since when Dracula was written and will constantlybe changing.