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VAMPIRIC AFFINITIES: MINA HARKER AND THE PARADOX OF FEMININITY IN BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

  • Charles E. Prescott (a1) and Grace A. Giorgio (a1)
Abstract

AFTER MINA HARKER awakens from Count Dracula's vampiric embrace, she asks the men around her, but more pointedly herself, “What have I done to deserve such a fate, I who have tried to walk in meekness and righteousness all my days?” (285, ch. 21). As she recounts this perverse seduction in her own words, however, she contradicts her earlier disavowal: “strangely enough, I did not want to hinder him” (284). These conflicting statements capture the peculiar double bind with which Mina struggles throughout Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Many critics concentrate on Dracula himself and the men who do battle with him; interestingly, the novel also develops Mina's complex subjectivity through her unspoken but deep affinity with the vampire. Van Helsing's paranoid observation, “Madam Mina, our poor, dear Madam Mina, is changing” (319; ch. 24), epitomizes shifting cultural anxieties at the moment when a long-standing ideological conception of proper femininity comes under suspicious attack. Although nothing seems more natural to Mina than her desire to help her husband in the public sphere while maintaining an intimate friendship with Lucy Westenra in the private, these familiar roles become estranged by the new taxonomies of deviancy popularized during the late nineteenth century.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

ArataStephen. 1996. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle. Cambridge: Cambridge UP

CraftChristopher. 1984Kiss Me with Those Red Lips: Gender Inversion in Bram Stoker's Dracula.Representations8: 10733.

CunninghamGail. 1978. The New Woman and the Victorian Novel. New York: Barnes & Noble

PickDaniel. 1989. Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c. 1848–c. 1918. Cambridge: Cambridge UP

SchafferTalia. 1994'A Wilde Desire Took Me': The Homoerotic History of Dracula.” ELH61: 381425.

SöderHans-Peter. 1991Disease and Health as Contexts of Modernity: Max Nordau as a Critic of Fin-de-Siècle Modernism.” German Studies Review14: 47387.

SpencerKathleen. 1992Purity and Danger: Dracula, the Urban Gothic, and the Late Victorian Degeneracy Crisis.” ELH59: 197225.

WickeJennifer. 1992Vampiric Typewriting: Dracula and Its Media.” ELH59: 46793.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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