|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Character analysis World literature Gender in literature|
Gender, which refers to the sex of an individual, male or female, is mainly viewed as a social concept rather than a biological difference. Despite the fact that it is the range of features that pertain difference between masculinity and femininity people depict it in the social concept and viewed in two forms, as an overarching patriarchal model whereby power and privileges are reserved for men or as a determined process where the gradual female challenge is exclusive. Nonetheless, the concept of gender dispositions can never be assumed during the late 18th century because the period experienced significant distinctive shifts in the concept and ideologies of gender in relation to social philosophy. With time, the ideology of gender has nevertheless experienced gradual change from the traditional concept of male superiority to the modern era of gender equality. Gender roles, basically perceived as social roles that encompass behaviors and attitudes that are appropriate, acceptable and desirable in relation to the sex of people, in the 1890s centered on the aspect of masculinity and femininity with relatively minimal variations depending on some factors such as cultures. This concept of gender roles has been significantly depicted in the 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula written by an Irish author Bram Stoker.
The novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker entails a story told and written through several individual journal entries and letters that are sent between characters in the story. The story is about Count Dracula, who is a vampire and his significant journeys as he lustily seeks for blood to satisfy himself. The period of the novel being the Victorian era, stoker tries to point out the role that is played by specific gender as well as how certain gender seems to fit in the cultural perspective. In addition, the novel describes the interactionism between male and female (Kistler 249). In the Victorian culture described in the novel, the females are portrayed to have narrow gender roles, whereby the women in the society are suppressed and devalued.
The female gender has been used to expand the humanity and usefulness of women with a loving and caring character. However, the defiling influence of the vampire later changes this aspect. Initially, women in the novel outline the nature of humanity in society and the act of responsibility. Mina is described as an organized woman and a good wife to Jonathan. Her humanity and usefulness are exhibited when he is part of the group that is fighting Dracula. Her efforts aid in the discovery of the vampire plans. During Lucy's illness period, Mina keeps records of illness. She is also well informed as she knows the existence of vampires. On the other hand, the fact that Lucy has three suitors shows that she is a perfect and good woman. She is a compassionate and kind woman, valued traits in society. Quincy also states that she is an honest girl, "honest-hearted girl" (stoker 69). These instances show the role played by the women in the society as depicted in the novel. However, these traits are seen to change when these women are devilish by the vampire.
In the societal setup, women are subject to marriage constraints. Men are viewed to decide whoever to marry in Victorian culture. However, societal marriage constraints are subjected to women. For example, Lucy is viewed to have desires of being free from marriage constraints and pursue all the men, but the societal restrictions are that she should have only one man (Stoker 80). Therefore, she is forced by the societal constraints on marriage to settle with only one man. More so, Lucy tries to choose between three men and has to decide on who to follow, with her decisions based on the aspects of the three men, for instance, Quincy Morris who is extremely wealthy and possesses a significant title to his name, despite being old and Dr. Seward who is a doctor.
The male gender role is also exhibited in the novel. Male gender is seen to be subject of the societal constraints. Men were restricted from talking about their emotions with other male friends. It is depicted in the context that it was socially unacceptable. This limited their free expressionism with their male stereotypes. This makes the emotional lives of male hard. For instance, Arthur Holmwood sympathizes with himself on the terrible circumstances and sorrow that surrounds the death of his fiancee Lucy. The implication underlying this situation is that Arthur could not even believe that his male friends could not listen to Lucy's issues with him because it was not socially acceptable. In addition, the male gender is viewed to demean itself. Men in the higher class are seen to devalue low-class fellow men. Dracula, who is the antagonist of the novel, is a foreigner and a vampire from a Romanian aristocracy, a state that makes him be removed from a middle-class solicitor, Jonathan Harker. He, being a vampire, is described as a threat even to his fellow men. He kills all the ship crews, even men, as a dog.
In the novel, men play the role of being partially weak and partially strong when subjected to various situations. They are subject of discussion to the happenings in the novel. In some occasions, the male stereotype is perceived to be strong while in other cases, it is depicted as weak. Quincy grieves of Lucy's death but does it privately. He, however, has the ability to work despite his grief as stated by John Seward, I believe in my heart of hearts that he suffered as much about Lucy's death as any of us, but he bore himself through it like a moral Viking" (Stoker 202). On the other hand, Arthur is extremely emotional and sorrowful about the death of Lucy, of whom he had feelings for her. Contrary, the braveness is drawn in the novel by Quincy's ability to fight Dracula until his death but also ensures that the vampire is dead. He dies with confidence that he has saved Mina from the vampire. This makes Mina refer to him as "a gallant gentleman" (Stoker 443). John Seward builds the role of men's weakness in the novel when he describes his feelings from a woman's rejection, by stating that he has a "sort of empty feeling; nothing in the world seems of sufficient importance to be worth the doing" (Stoker 71).
The male gender in the novel plays the role of portraying imperfection in manliness and gentlemanliness aspects are considered significant for men in society. Jonathan Harker has been pointed out to be dependent on other people in the novel. He has been imprisoned two times with both situations resulting from dependency situations. Dracula also is unable to control his emotional feelings while Redfield is seen to be under the command of Dracula, and at some instance, his freedom is restricted by being locked up. This shows the position of males in the society discussed in the novel.
In conclusion, the aspect of gender role has been evidently evaluated in the novel with considerations of femininity and masculinity based on different aspects such as class, responsibility, societal structure, and societal, cultural expectations. Nevertheless, contradictory exist to the perfect expectations that should exist. The masculinity is depicted as being imperfect, lacking manliness, being dependent, and subject of demeanor from their fellow men. On the other hand, femininity is expressed as victims of societal oppressions, being perfect and human but also imperfect for being influenced by foreigners into being evil.
Glut, Donald F., Christopher Lee, and William Marshall. The Dracula Book. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1975.
Kistler, Jordan. "Rethinking the New Woman in Dracula." Gothic Studies 20.1-2 (2018): 244-256.
Lindsey, Linda L. Gender roles: A sociological perspective. Routledge, 2015.
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