Stoker’s Anxieties Concerning the Emancipation of Women


  • Rebecca Clippard Middle Tennesee State University


Through Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” this essay illustrates the anxieties concerning what was known as the “Woman Question.” During the Victorian Era, the more independently-minded New Woman arose as a figure representing a rebellion from social norms, and the question of women’s place in society, whether in the domestic or the business spheres, was debated . By examining the male protagonists’ reactions to Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra’s vampiric transformations, the works and theories of Stoker critics, as well as relevant historical background, a feminist reading of Dracula broadens the understanding of the emancipation of women in the Victorian Era. Ultimately, two reactions to the New Woman will be analyzed based on the two female protagonists. By examining reactions to Lucy, as well as the theories of other critics, vampirism becomes not just a transformation of the body but a representation of the fears of Victorian men. With Lucy, who embraced her independence, the male characters focus on her destruction. Through her death, Stoker offers one solution to the problem of the New Woman. Upon analyzing Mina Harker, Stoker reveals his other, more likely, solution. Rather than revulsion and violence, Mina’s transformation emphasizes how Victorian women should also contribute in upholding the patriarchal values. Dracula is Stoker’s answer to the “Women Question.”