Abraham "Bram" Stoker (November 8, 1847 – April 20, 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

Irene Rose De Lilly: The Fear of Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula


Abstract:
Although the idea of vampires had already been popular in folklore long before Bram
Stoker wrote Dracula, his adaptation of the tale lead to the creation of one of literature’s most
symbolically sexualized characters. Contemporary vampire tales such as the Twilight series,
True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and the countless cinematic re-makes of Dracula have proven the
1897 novel to be truly timeless. It is arguably one of the most beloved classics of Gothic
literature. However, relying loosely on the text, modern renditions habitually bypass the more
controversial subjects of fear within the text as those fears relate to female sexuality and
homosexuality. By examining the Victorian era in which Dracula was written, looking closely
at how the female characters are portrayed, the gender relations between the characters, and the
blatant homosexual undertones of the novel, this research will explore how the classic
seamlessly manipulates the themes of women’s sexuality, gender inversion, and homosexuality.
This research paper is not about the most recent Twilight movie, sucking blood, or even
vampires per say, but rather what the character of the vampire denotes about repressed human
sexuality.
De Lilly 2 2
Introduction:
Human sexuality has long been the subject of confusion, awe, and fear. However, the
definition has never quite seemed concrete. Throughout history there has been a presumed dual
consciousness to one’s sexuality: the inner and the outer self. Or as Sigmund Freud described it,
the id and the ego. There is the aspect of human nature that exists on the surface, strictly
following customs and adhering to societal norms and there is also the repressed demon within
that has carnal, animalistic desires. Against the backdrop of a gothic castle or the dark halls of
an insane asylum, the men of Dracula are timelessly wrapped up in the battle of good versus
evil. The characters of Abraham Van Helsing, Dr. John Seward, Jonathan Harker, and Quincy
Morris all sexually idealize women, apparent in their interactions with and writings about Lucy
Westenra, Mina Harker, and the Weird Sisters. In addition, the complexities of gender, which
bring up questions of a homosexual subtext, arise as Count Dracula challenges the definitions of
masculinity and femininity (Craft 114). This research will show how Bram Stoker seamlessly
manipulates the themes of women’s sexuality, gender inversion, and homosexuality, as well as,
prove that sexuality is the true fear of the novel, thus making Dracula one of the most sublime
pieces of English literature.


Section 1: The Victorian Era and Sexuality
It is no surprise that Dracula, published during the final years of the 1800s, is laden with
sexual innuendoes and highly sexualized scenes. Scholars agree that Dracula is a novel “whose
fundamental anxiety, an equivocation about the relationship between desire and gender,
repeats…a pivotal anxiety of late Victorian culture” (Craft 108). According to Stephen
Ridgway’s research on Victorian sexuality, the Victorian era of the nineteenth century, like no
De Lilly 3
other period before it, became subjugated by “the belief that an individual's sex and sexuality
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form the most basic core of their identity, potentiality, social/political standing, and freedom”
(Ridgway 1). Furthermore, in George Stade’s introduction to the novel, he confirms that to a
late-Victorian gentlemen like Stoker, sex most likely seemed “bestial, polluting, depleting,
deathly satanic, a fever in the blood, the theme of dreams, the motive of madness, the lurking
menace in the shadow of every scene” (Stade vii). Torn between his own thoughts regarding
sex, Stoker would have probably agreed that sexual promiscuity was a threatening warning of
societal ruin (Haller 91). The novel reflects such an opinion. The women of the story, writes
Victorian scholar John Ruskin, were expected to be “enduringly, incorruptibly, good [and] wise
not for self-development, but for self-renunciation” (Ruskin 59). Contrastingly, the men of the
novel represent the Victorian values of self-control and progress. They are expected to be rigidly
moral and guarded against temptation; they are the strong pillars of technology and science
(Stade x). That is, with the exception of Harker, who has the same problem that afflicts the
women of the story—he is sexually curious.
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other period before it, became subjugated by “the belief that an individual's sex and sexuality
form the most basic core of their identity, potentiality, social/political standing, and freedom”
(Ridgway 1). Furthermore, in George Stade’s introduction to the novel, he confirms that to a
late-Victorian gentlemen like Stoker, sex most likely seemed “bestial, polluting, depleting,
deathly satanic, a fever in the blood, the theme of dreams, the motive of madness, the lurking
menace in the shadow of every scene” (Stade vii). Torn between his own thoughts regarding
sex, Stoker would have probably agreed that sexual promiscuity was a threatening warning of
societal ruin (Haller 91). The novel reflects such an opinion. The women of the story, writes
Victorian scholar John Ruskin, were expected to be “enduringly, incorruptibly, good [and] wise
not for self-development, but for self-renunciation” (Ruskin 59). Contrastingly, the men of the
novel represent the Victorian values of self-control and progress. They are expected to be rigidly
moral and guarded against temptation; they are the strong pillars of technology and science
(Stade x). That is, with the exception of Harker, who has the same problem that afflicts the
women of the story—he is sexually curious.
Section 2: The Fear of Female Sexuality
During the 19th century there existed a general unease about the place of women in
society. The notion of being sexually curious, of wanting to satisfy one’s inner self, is therefore
most notably brought to life through Dracula’s heroines. Throughout the novel, the female
characters are described and admired based on their physical appearance, as well as, set apart
from the men in the story as holy, pure, and most importantly sexually innocent. Lucy is
undeniably attractive and receives much attention from the three men who want to marry her.
She receives so much attention in fact, that she does not know which man to choose. However,
she is a flat character and the reader is given little information about her actual personality. She
De Lilly 4
does not have a true voice in the novel. Likewise, Dracula’s voice is absent from the narrative
because he represents the releasing and power of female sexuality. Aside from a couple quotes
in journal entries, he is largely silent. Even when the normality surrounding women, gender, and
historical information are explored, Judith Halberstam points out that the “[n]arration, which is
central to the novel, is controlled by middle-class English men who define the Other in a manner
which makes middle-class British values the norm” (Halberstam 1). The implications that Lucy
is sexually curious, flirtatious, and possibly promiscuous— “Why can’t they let a girl marry
three men, or as many as want her?” (Stoker 80)— are all translated through the writings of
men.
In addition, even in death, it is not Lucy’s personality in life, but rather her physical
appearance that defines her. The focus is placed on her “vaginal” red lips and she is nothing
more than an objectified being. Dr. Seward notes in his diary that as he and Van Helsing peered
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into Lucy’s open coffin, she appeared “more radiantly beautiful than ever…the lips were red,
nay redder than before” (Stoker 209). After her vampire transformation, completely
unrecognizable as her former self, Lucy beckons for her fiancé Arthur to “come” to her because
she is “hungry” for him (Stoker 223). Here the word “come,” repeated multiple times, is
arguably referring to the promise of and desire for orgasm. Stoker clearly makes the connection
between Lucy’s downfall and her sexual aggressiveness, because after all, Dracula can only
enter into a room upon invitation. The danger is not that Dracula will capture Lucy and turn her
into one of his own, but that she will go willingly and without hesitation (Stevenson 139).
Likewise, Mina Harker is described as pretty, but more so, she is also virtuous and ideal.
Van Helsing lavishly and unrealistically praises Mina for her womanly virtue stating, “She is
one of God’s women fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is
a heaven we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth” (Stoker 240). In addition, Mina is
4
does not have a true voice in the novel. Likewise, Dracula’s voice is absent from the narrative
because he represents the releasing and power of female sexuality. Aside from a couple quotes
in journal entries, he is largely silent. Even when the normality surrounding women, gender, and
historical information are explored, Judith Halberstam points out that the “[n]arration, which is
central to the novel, is controlled by middle-class English men who define the Other in a manner
which makes middle-class British values the norm” (Halberstam 1). The implications that Lucy
is sexually curious, flirtatious, and possibly promiscuous— “Why can’t they let a girl marry
three men, or as many as want her?” (Stoker 80)— are all translated through the writings of
men.
In addition, even in death, it is not Lucy’s personality in life, but rather her physical
appearance that defines her. The focus is placed on her “vaginal” red lips and she is nothing
more than an objectified being. Dr. Seward notes in his diary that as he and Van Helsing peered
into Lucy’s open coffin, she appeared “more radiantly beautiful than ever…the lips were red,
nay redder than before” (Stoker 209). After her vampire transformation, completely
unrecognizable as her former self, Lucy beckons for her fiancé Arthur to “come” to her because
she is “hungry” for him (Stoker 223). Here the word “come,” repeated multiple times, is
arguably referring to the promise of and desire for orgasm. Stoker clearly makes the connection
between Lucy’s downfall and her sexual aggressiveness, because after all, Dracula can only
enter into a room upon invitation. The danger is not that Dracula will capture Lucy and turn her
into one of his own, but that she will go willingly and without hesitation (Stevenson 139).
Likewise, Mina Harker is described as pretty, but more so, she is also virtuous and ideal.
Van Helsing lavishly and unrealistically praises Mina for her womanly virtue stating, “She is
one of God’s women fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is
a heaven we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth” (Stoker 240). In addition, Mina is
De Lilly 5
portrayed as a sexless, weak woman who needs protecting as “she must not be harmed, her heart
may fail her in so much and so many horrors” (Stoker 240). In the novel, women must be fragile
so that the strong and courageous men can heroically battle the blood-sucking monster. Yet at
the same time, Mina is the extreme opposite of Lucy, providing the reader with a clear indicator
of who they should aspire to be and how they might avoid Lucy’s fatal mistake of desire.
Yet Mina, unlike Lucy, has multiple layers to her personality. Mina is not only beautiful
and righteous, but she is also an ambitious woman and dutiful wife to Harker. In her own words
she states, “I have been working very hard lately, because I want to keep up with Jonathan’s
studies…I shall be able to be useful to [him]” (Stoker 75). However, her usefulness as a
secretary cannot compromise her femininity, as they are paired side by side. In chapter 18, Van
Helsing exclaims how wonderful Mina is, saying, “She has [a] man’s brain—a brain that a man
should have were he much gifted—and [a] woman’s heart” (Stoker 240). She is not the usual
woman, and it is this man’s brain that essentially saves her (Stade ix). Van Helsing can say this
because Mina’s brain does not threaten the future of English civilization (Sos 445). Lucy’s brain
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on the other hand, is all woman and does threaten the future of civilization. She allows her mind
to sexually wander, thus making her vulnerable to Dracula’s seductive charm. The threat of
hyper-sexuality in females, brought about through the bite of Dracula, is most evident in the
way the demonized Lucy throws infants to the ground after sucking the life from them. Once
transformed, she no longer needs men to reproduce. Yet, even worse, she no longer has the
desire to create pure and innocent life, but rather craves to take it.
Unlike her friend Lucy, Mina is a pillar of ideal maternal love. She not only cares for
The Crew of Light, but “is [a] young woman and so long married; there may be other things to
think of some time, if not now” (Stoker 240). The “other things,” which Van Helsing is referring
to, are the children Mina is expected to have one day. It was assumed that a woman would
5
portrayed as a sexless, weak woman who needs protecting as “she must not be harmed, her heart
may fail her in so much and so many horrors” (Stoker 240). In the novel, women must be fragile
so that the strong and courageous men can heroically battle the blood-sucking monster. Yet at
the same time, Mina is the extreme opposite of Lucy, providing the reader with a clear indicator
of who they should aspire to be and how they might avoid Lucy’s fatal mistake of desire.
Yet Mina, unlike Lucy, has multiple layers to her personality. Mina is not only beautiful
and righteous, but she is also an ambitious woman and dutiful wife to Harker. In her own words
she states, “I have been working very hard lately, because I want to keep up with Jonathan’s
studies…I shall be able to be useful to [him]” (Stoker 75). However, her usefulness as a
secretary cannot compromise her femininity, as they are paired side by side. In chapter 18, Van
Helsing exclaims how wonderful Mina is, saying, “She has [a] man’s brain—a brain that a man
should have were he much gifted—and [a] woman’s heart” (Stoker 240). She is not the usual
woman, and it is this man’s brain that essentially saves her (Stade ix). Van Helsing can say this
because Mina’s brain does not threaten the future of English civilization (Sos 445). Lucy’s brain
on the other hand, is all woman and does threaten the future of civilization. She allows her mind
to sexually wander, thus making her vulnerable to Dracula’s seductive charm. The threat of
hyper-sexuality in females, brought about through the bite of Dracula, is most evident in the
way the demonized Lucy throws infants to the ground after sucking the life from them. Once
transformed, she no longer needs men to reproduce. Yet, even worse, she no longer has the
desire to create pure and innocent life, but rather craves to take it.
Unlike her friend Lucy, Mina is a pillar of ideal maternal love. She not only cares for
The Crew of Light, but “is [a] young woman and so long married; there may be other things to
think of some time, if not now” (Stoker 240). The “other things,” which Van Helsing is referring
to, are the children Mina is expected to have one day. It was assumed that a woman would
De Lilly 6
marry and nurture a family, not gallivant in the night with the un-dead. Therefore, it is Lucy’s
female brain--her head--which must be severed, supporting one of the novel’s running themes
that it is better to have a dead woman than a sexually curious one. John Stevenson’s essay on the
sexuality of vampires points out, “the violence against women in Dracula, most vividly
rendered in the staking [and beheading] of Lucy, reflects a hostility toward female sexuality felt
by the culture at large” (Stevenson 145). It appears that a woman’s sexuality may be the only
thing that can over power a man’s reason, which is supported by Harker becoming paralyzed
with fear while being seduced by the Weird Sisters in Dracula’s castle. Consequently, the men
feel they must destroy the possessed Lucy. Ready to drive his passion into his promised bride,
Arthur takes in his hands the phallic “stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on
action his hands never trembled nor even quivered” (Stoker 227). Unsurprisingly, in cultures
that actively repress female expression in any form, readership over the decades has flocked to
this novel because of its hostility to female sexuality (Roth 113). This hostility possibly arises
because men simply do not understand female sexuality, they fear it, and “uncertainty is so
terrible that we often seek to be rid of it” (Phillips xx).
Lastly, the Weird Sisters, who seduce Harker while he is held captive in Dracula’s
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castle, are not only mesmerizingly beautiful, but incredibly sexual and terrifying. The fairer
sister especially, immediately catches Harker’s attention with her “great, wavy masses of golden
hair and eyes like pale sapphires” (Stoker 61). She may appear to be a woman, but she is not
human. Like Lucy, she has been demonized because of her sexual desires. The real threat
Dracula creates in transforming these women becomes the battle of women’s sexuality. With his
piercing, sensual bite, he is the catalyst that tempts and eventually destroys them. Even the
men’s own blood, evident through the failed blood transfusion attempt on Lucy, is no match for
the power of Dracula. The Crew of Light is not essentially fighting the King Vampire, but more
6
marry and nurture a family, not gallivant in the night with the un-dead. Therefore, it is Lucy’s
female brain--her head--which must be severed, supporting one of the novel’s running themes
that it is better to have a dead woman than a sexually curious one. John Stevenson’s essay on the
sexuality of vampires points out, “the violence against women in Dracula, most vividly
rendered in the staking [and beheading] of Lucy, reflects a hostility toward female sexuality felt
by the culture at large” (Stevenson 145). It appears that a woman’s sexuality may be the only
thing that can over power a man’s reason, which is supported by Harker becoming paralyzed
with fear while being seduced by the Weird Sisters in Dracula’s castle. Consequently, the men
feel they must destroy the possessed Lucy. Ready to drive his passion into his promised bride,
Arthur takes in his hands the phallic “stake and the hammer, and when once his mind was set on
action his hands never trembled nor even quivered” (Stoker 227). Unsurprisingly, in cultures
that actively repress female expression in any form, readership over the decades has flocked to
this novel because of its hostility to female sexuality (Roth 113). This hostility possibly arises
because men simply do not understand female sexuality, they fear it, and “uncertainty is so
terrible that we often seek to be rid of it” (Phillips xx).
Lastly, the Weird Sisters, who seduce Harker while he is held captive in Dracula’s
castle, are not only mesmerizingly beautiful, but incredibly sexual and terrifying. The fairer
sister especially, immediately catches Harker’s attention with her “great, wavy masses of golden
hair and eyes like pale sapphires” (Stoker 61). She may appear to be a woman, but she is not
human. Like Lucy, she has been demonized because of her sexual desires. The real threat
Dracula creates in transforming these women becomes the battle of women’s sexuality. With his
piercing, sensual bite, he is the catalyst that tempts and eventually destroys them. Even the
men’s own blood, evident through the failed blood transfusion attempt on Lucy, is no match for
the power of Dracula. The Crew of Light is not essentially fighting the King Vampire, but more
De Lilly 7
so what he represents. If one looks closely at the women in the novel, “Dracula reveals that the
primary fear is a fear of the foreign and that women become terrifying insofar as they are
associated with the kind of strangeness vampires represent” (Stevenson 145). Men loose their
power over women once women discover for themselves that they can harness their own.
Halberstam expands on this stating, “Vampire sexuality blends power and femininity within the
same body and then marks that body as distinctly alien” (7). Thus the real fear in the book is not
darkness, death, or vampirism but the loss of female innocence, a trait that would be extremely
valuable to men in the Victorian Era.
7
so what he represents. If one looks closely at the women in the novel, “Dracula reveals that the
primary fear is a fear of the foreign and that women become terrifying insofar as they are
associated with the kind of strangeness vampires represent” (Stevenson 145). Men loose their
power over women once women discover for themselves that they can harness their own.
Halberstam expands on this stating, “Vampire sexuality blends power and femininity within the
same body and then marks that body as distinctly alien” (7). Thus the real fear in the book is not
darkness, death, or vampirism but the loss of female innocence, a trait that would be extremely
valuable to men in the Victorian Era.
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Section 3: Distortion, Vampire Sexuality, and Homosexuality
It has been theorized that a man’s fear of women’s sexuality could possibly manifest
itself in homosexual tendencies. That, among others, is one of many fears that Stoker brings out
in his readers. Conceivably the most notable are gynophobia and feminaphobia. Gynophobia is
the general fear of women and feminaphobia is another word for the fear of women or, more
specifically, the male fear of becoming feminine (“Definition of Gynophobia”). Homosexuality
is also dual in nature, representing both masculinity and femininity in one person. The
characteristics of both genders are intertwined when a man has female desires for other men or
exhibits feminine traits such as weakened Harker’s desire to be penetrated. Both the characters
and the male reader experience these terrors, best represented by the infamous vampire mouth.
In the world of the vampire, traditional sexual roles are confused. Stevenson notes, “Dracula
penetrates, but he [also] receives the vital fluid [then] after Lucy becomes a vampire she acts as
a penetrator” (Stevenson 146). However, gender inversion and sexual chaos in the novel are
most apparent in the scene where the Crew of Light walks in on Dracula’s rape-like attack on
Mina:
De Lilly 8 8
[Dracula] gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her to face down on his bosom.
Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s
bare breast, which was shown by her torn-open dress. (Stoker 288)
Sucking at the breasts of Dracula, Mina is forced to drink his blood as if she were an infant at
his bosom. The novel follows the simple logic that sexual energy cannot be distorted without
vampirism. Men and women would continue to operate in their distinct gendered categories
without the interference of a vampire’s confusing sexuality. Therefore, in order to achieve
sexual harmony, vampires must be destroyed.
However, Dracula is traveling around the English countryside, with the hopes of reestablishing
his race and blending the boundaries of sexual expression by sucking the blood of
innocent female victims. Count Dracula is threateningly both masculinized and feminized, “with
soft flesh barred by hard bone…red crossed by white, [his] mouth compels opposites and
contrasts into a frightening unity” (Craft 109). Symbolically, the mouth of a vampire most
accurately represents human sexuality and all of its conundrums: “Luring at first with an
inviting orifice, a promise of red softness, but delivering instead a piercing bone, the vampire
mouth fuses and confuses” (Craft 109). It is with his mouth that Dracula seduces, which is a
central point of description anytime he is introduced in the narrative as both “thrilling and
repulsive…[while] in the moonlight the moisture [shinned] on the red tongue as it lapped the
white sharp teeth” (Stoker 52). Christopher Craft states that the overall plot of the novel is
driven by one fundamental thing. The motivating action and emotion in Dracula is composed of
“a swooning desire for an overwhelming penetration and an intense aversion to the demonic
potency empowered to gratify that desire” (Craft 109). Dracula is both penetrating and
receptive, both masculine and feminine, blurring the boundaries of gender, which in the minds
of Stoker’s early readers would have been both extremely satisfying and off putting.
De Lilly 9 9
Furthermore, Dracula is the father of a new vampire race, but he is also the one “giving
birth” with his transforming bite. In this incestuous way, Dracula becomes both lover and
relative, both mother and father. He is also bisexual, evident in the way he desires to feed on
both genders. In addition, touching upon the asexuality of Dracula, “it is eminently notable,
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then, that male, not female vampires reproduce…Dracula alone reproduces his form”
(Halberstam 7). Yet, what is equally horrifying for readers is the temptation to enjoy the same
feelings as Harker as he waits in agony with “delightful anticipation” to be bitten by Dracula’s
vampirettes (Stoker 61). Harker reminisces, “I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that
they would kiss me with those red lips” (Stoker 61). There is no other passion that more
effectively “robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear…it operates in a
manner that resembles actual pain,” (Burke 53). Moreover, vampirism especially, is an excellent
example of the identity of fear and desire merged into one (Moretti 100). Fear, an apprehension
of pain or death, is also heightened based on the weakness of the subject (Burke 119).
Destabilized and weakened by his desire, Harker becomes shockingly feminine and unable to
fight back in the scene where he comes face to face with the Weird Sisters:
All three had brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their
voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing
and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire…
Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin
and seemed to fasten on my throat… I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on
the supersensitive skin… I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited—waited
with a beating heart. (Stoker 51-52)
Harker, unmistakable in the way he waits in “languorous ecstasy” for the “voluptuous” mouth of
Dracula’s vamp to fasten onto him, wants to become one of Dracula’s offspring, and
subsequently, his sexual victim. In this way, Dracula is “an apparition of what we repress [and]
to be bitten by Dracula is to become a slave to a kind of lust, abandoned to unlawful hungers, a
projection of the beholder’s desire and dread” (Stade vi). Overall, conventional Victorian gender
De Lilly 10
codes held the mobility of sexual desire at a standstill. Harker was expected to be active and
defensive (Craft 108). Instead, Harker passively lays still and eagerly awaits the erotic
fulfillment of becoming Dracula’s slave.
The idea of same-sex erotica also confuses what it means to be a sexual being. The novel
does not “dismiss homoerotic desire and threat; rather it simply continues to diffuse and
displace it” (Craft 111). As seen in the combination of male blood during the transfusion scene,
men may only touch each other through women; therefore Dracula uses the hyper-sexuality of
the mutated women he controls in order to get to the men he really wants. He is the original
supreme vampire and uses his offshoots of female vampires to enact his will and desire. “My
jackals [will] do my bidding when I want to feed,” he claims (Stoker 360). For this reason,
among others, numerous scholars have read the processes of biting, sucking, and sharing blood
in Dracula as sexual, reproductive actions.
There is also the homoerotic, final scene in which Harker cradles Quincy as he dies in
his arms. Harker “knelt behind him and the wounded man laid back his head on his shoulder.
With a sigh he took, with feeble effort, [Quincy’s] hand in that of his own which was unstained”
(Stoker 399). One hand is drenched in Quincy’s blood, while the other is “unstained” possibly
alluding to Harker’s own dual nature. He is both stained by the experience of knowing and
wanting to be transformed by Dracula, but also clinging to the heterosexual normality of his
relationship with Mina. Therefore Harker, who is presumably heterosexual, is the best example
of Dracula’s homosexual desire. He is “the sexual threat that this novel first evokes,
manipulates, sustains, but never finally represents…Dracula will seduce, penetrate, and drain
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another male” (Craft 110). Even the way in which Dracula “rescues” Harker from the vampire
sisters is homo-erotically climatic as he violently yells, “How dare you touch him, any of you?
How dare you cast eyes on him when I have forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs
10
codes held the mobility of sexual desire at a standstill. Harker was expected to be active and
defensive (Craft 108). Instead, Harker passively lays still and eagerly awaits the erotic
fulfillment of becoming Dracula’s slave.
The idea of same-sex erotica also confuses what it means to be a sexual being. The novel
does not “dismiss homoerotic desire and threat; rather it simply continues to diffuse and
displace it” (Craft 111). As seen in the combination of male blood during the transfusion scene,
men may only touch each other through women; therefore Dracula uses the hyper-sexuality of
the mutated women he controls in order to get to the men he really wants. He is the original
supreme vampire and uses his offshoots of female vampires to enact his will and desire. “My
jackals [will] do my bidding when I want to feed,” he claims (Stoker 360). For this reason,
among others, numerous scholars have read the processes of biting, sucking, and sharing blood
in Dracula as sexual, reproductive actions.
There is also the homoerotic, final scene in which Harker cradles Quincy as he dies in
his arms. Harker “knelt behind him and the wounded man laid back his head on his shoulder.
With a sigh he took, with feeble effort, [Quincy’s] hand in that of his own which was unstained”
(Stoker 399). One hand is drenched in Quincy’s blood, while the other is “unstained” possibly
alluding to Harker’s own dual nature. He is both stained by the experience of knowing and
wanting to be transformed by Dracula, but also clinging to the heterosexual normality of his
relationship with Mina. Therefore Harker, who is presumably heterosexual, is the best example
of Dracula’s homosexual desire. He is “the sexual threat that this novel first evokes,
manipulates, sustains, but never finally represents…Dracula will seduce, penetrate, and drain
another male” (Craft 110). Even the way in which Dracula “rescues” Harker from the vampire
sisters is homo-erotically climatic as he violently yells, “How dare you touch him, any of you?
How dare you cast eyes on him when I have forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs
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to me!” (Stoker 63). The whole notion of belonging also plagues Dracula, as he will always be
on the margins, and an outcast. Although he desires to learn English customs in order to fit into
society, he is “strange to those he encounters – strange in his habits, strange in his appearance”
(Stevenson 140). Just as women and homosexuals have been labeled as “weird” and
marginalized throughout history, Dracula shares their plight. At one point Van Helsing even
calls him “the other” (Stoker 297).
11
to me!” (Stoker 63). The whole notion of belonging also plagues Dracula, as he will always be
on the margins, and an outcast. Although he desires to learn English customs in order to fit into
society, he is “strange to those he encounters – strange in his habits, strange in his appearance”
(Stevenson 140). Just as women and homosexuals have been labeled as “weird” and
marginalized throughout history, Dracula shares their plight. At one point Van Helsing even
calls him “the other” (Stoker 297).
Conclusion
By the end of the novel, three very important events have happened. Dracula, the
embodiment of all things sexual, powerful, and progressive, has been destroyed by the selfproclaimed
righteous; Lucy has fulfilled her sexual curiosity, gone through a vampire
transformation, and consequently been killed in order to gain back her soul; and Mina, who
never loses her femininity and purity despite her professionalism, is saved from becoming a
vampire. However, more important than the meaning behind the tangible concluding events, is
the fact that within Dracula are the ever-present struggles to define, maintain, manipulate, and
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explore what it means to be a sexual being; to struggle with duality. Stoker stretches the concept
until it becomes as distorted as his master villain, yet in the process, brings the reader closer to
discovering the true spectrum of human sexuality.
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<http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12178>
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Bedford/St. Martin, 2002. (pp. 450-465)
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