Blog Post 4: First Encounters with the Count

Hi all,

Our first section of Dracula introduces us to a range of social relations and contexts, as well as to the Count himself — as much as this is a novel about a vampire, Stoker is also concerned with all sorts of social, cultural, and technological issues within and around England at the end of the nineteenth century.

So for this blog post, you should focus on one moment in our reading for Monday where you see Stoker raising larger issues and questions through the character and figure of Dracula. Spend some time in your post working closely with the language of that passage to show what those issues are and what Stoker is suggesting about them — what is that language showing us and how? Beyond being supernatural and frightening, what else does the Count stand for more deeply?

As in the past, it would be great to have as much variety as possible, so if you see that someone has already posted on a particular passage, try to branch out and address something new.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by midnight on Sunday, September 25th. After class on Monday, you should return to this thread and post a response to one classmate’s post by class time Wednesday the 28th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

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25 thoughts on “Blog Post 4: First Encounters with the Count

  1. Blog Post 4
    Jessica Pavia

    The Victorian England that Bram Stoker’s Dracula calls home was an era of heightened sexual roles and control. During the 19th century, men became even stronger roles in family dynamics, as the women fell back into at-home domestic activities. On page 20, Jonathan Harker writes that Count Dracula greeted him by saying “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!”, which mimics the idea of free family values often pressured in Victorian society. That on the outside, this was what an ideal family should be: the dominate, working man and the subservient housewife. Harker continues to write “The instant, however, that [he] had stepped over the threshold, [Dracula] moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped [Harker’s] with a strength that made [Harker] wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed as cold as ice…”. Immediately upon stepping into Dracula’s castle, Harker finds that Dracula’s demeanor changes, and reveals one of intensity rather than free will. In Victorian relationships, the women were often trapped in their relationships, unable to even question their happiness with such overpowering male counterparts. The male identity was so focused on being strong, that the actual marriages fell into abuse.

    Still on page 20, Dracula is written as speaking in “excellent English,” an important detail in relation to Harker having had struggled with his German while traveling to the castle. This detail that the Count speaks Harker’s native tongue furthers the false comfort pushed upon Harker. Without a language barrier, Dracula can create an air of hospitality and care, rather than showing his true reasons for keeping Harker in his castle. In Stoker’s novel, the women and children are the blood sources for Dracula, there to satisfy the strong, male character and nothing else. In this passage, Harker almost fills that same role. Dracula is controlling of Harker, as can be seen in the intense way he grabs Harker’s hand and manipulates Harker into feeling free in his midst. Harker also believes the only reason he is there is for business; he is literally working for Dracula. In these ways, the dynamic that exists between the two men represents the dangerous male identity and relational inequality that was pressured in Victorian England.

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  2. From reading the first six chapters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is apparent that sexual roles were raised to a new level during the Victorian era in England. This was very unusual to see during the Victorian Era because it was not something that was discussed. In addition, women were thought to have very little rights and were to act in the so called “lady like manner,” and to portray them as sexual dominating figures was unheard of. One moment that seemed to make this evident was in Chapter 3 with the quote; “I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The fair girl went on her knees, and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth (Stoker 69-70). At this point Jonathan Harker, who is a lawyer seems to be having a dream about having sex with three vampires. There may be a bit of feminism expressed in this excerpt since there are women who are sexually dominating a man which was never heard of during the Victorian Era. In fact, a woman who was willing to dominate a man was considered to be a threat because even if the man wanted to be dominated, it would still be considered the woman’s fault since men are not able to control their own sexual desires and urges and women must act in a proper form.

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    • Hey Andrew! I think what you are proposing here is super interesting, and ties a lot into the previous readings we’ve done. For instance, I believe that when you talk about the manner in which he feels corrupted desires to have sex with the vampires, this shows a sort of prohibited love, which was very evident in Frankenstein, as well as in Patchwork Girl. In addition, I also believe that this role tries to subtly engage in a feminist framework, as was suggested by you previously. Feminist undertones are super important because the author’s in the Victorian era in England were not allowed to talk about gender roles explicitly in their writing. Finally, I would like to applaud the manner in which you talk about dominating women and the manner in which they were portrayed in your chosen passage. When I read the passage, I hadn’t thought about how three women dominating men was so unusual for the time and how the raw sexual desire was actually in contrast with the social norms of the time.

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  3. Rebekah Clapham
    Blog Post 4

    In the paradoxical scene on pages 70-71, Stoker uses Dracula’s character to examine Victorian sexuality and repression. In this scene, Jonathan is in the presence of three women—all who apparently want to drink his blood. Under some kind of spell to them, Jonathan does not fight back and becomes submissive, letting the women have the power (an interesting gender role reversal). Before they can The Count comes in, in a “storm of fury.” The Count grasps one of the women’s “slender neck” with his “strong hand” and “with giant’s power draw[s] it back.” Before Dracula comes in, the scene is undeniably sexual. Jonathan admits to feeling a strange attraction to the women. Dracula’s fury at the women seems to be representative of Victorian society’s denial and repression of women’s sexuality. The labeling of Dracula as “strong” while the woman as “slender” reinforces traditional gender roles and suggests the man is more powerful than the woman. This comes in paradox to Jonathan’s submission and powerlessness, where the women were the ones in power. Through this paradox, Stoker is possibly arguing that when gender roles are broken and women try to embrace their sexuality, there is backlash from society. In this scene, Dracula’s facial features are compared to machinery—his eyebrows are described as a “heaving bar of white-hot metal.” The direct comparison of Dracula to a strong part of a structure further suggests that The Count and his anger at the women represents the strict structure of Victorian society.

    Dracula also “beat[s]” the women “back” with a move that Jonathan “had seen used to the wolves.” Comparing the women to wolves in this scene, suggests that Victorian society believes when women are embracing their sexuality they are scene as animalistic and a threat to womanly virtue. The Count further asserts his role as the man in power by stating “how dare you cast your eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all—this man belongs to me! Beware you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.” However, after he states this, the scene becomes somewhat paradoxical—The Count then seems to encourage the women’s sexuality by telling them “well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will” (71), suggesting Dracula is not only ok with their sexuality, but encourages it. Stoker also uses Dracula to further challenge gender norms by having Dracula provide the women with a baby to eat. This difference is a direct contradiction of gender roles—a man providing women with a baby instead of the other way around. The women also seem to have no maternal instincts in them, as they are happy to devour and kill the baby. The Count is feeding this defiance of their gender role by providing them with the baby. Thus, Stoker’s Dracula represents a greater threat to society. Dracula is helping to transform the Victorian woman—helping her escape from her sexless, proper, nurturing role into a more animalistic, lustful one. By doing this, Stoker is challenging the typical role of women in society—especially when you compare these three women to typical Victorian women such as Mina and Lucy.

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    • Hi Rebekah,

      What you wrote is really interesting– Thank you! I didn’t notice a lot of the things that you discuss here.

      I completely agree with you that the Count seems to symbolically represent male oppression of women’s sexuality. Dracula condemns the three female vampires for seducing Mr. Harker and physically stops them from proceeding. The descriptions of Dracula thwarting the three women’s advances are hyper-masculine, as you pointed out, like his strong hands and “giant’s power.” The three female vampires symbolize the thirst (literally and figuratively) women have for being sexually liberated. Dracula represents male oppression of female sexuality as well as another sexual topic that we have not yet discussed. For me, I feel that Dracula has some queer qualities to him, telling the women, as you wrote, that first he has to be done with Mr. Harker before they can have him. When they refuse, he continues and says that Mr. Harker belongs to him: “Back, I tell you all—this man belongs to me! Beware you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.” Not only is Dracula keeping Mr. Harker imprisoned in his castle, but he is extremely possessive over him and is just as “thirsty” for Mr. Harker.

      I appreciate your connection between Lucy and Mina, the “good girls,” with the promiscuous three women in the Count’s castle, or, the “bad girls.” This is a highly discussed theme in literature and I suppose I brainlessly read through these chapters because I did not make the connection between the different women. The “bad girls” are obviously portrayed as monsters while the “good girls” are the ones who are normal and awaiting marriage. I think that it’s interesting, however, that the “bad girls” have the most power and desire. Mr. Harker states that he would actually love to have sexual relations with the three women and be unfaithful to his good, beautiful Mina. I think that males are hypocritical for pushing promiscuous women away yet they are completely enticed. The scene of Mr. Harking with the three female vampires can be connected to the problems in society we still face today– I do not understand why women’s sexuality is shunned but it is all we see in the media and it is what is desired. Why is there fear of what is desired?

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  4. We don’t get a lot about the character of Dracula, only from other people’s perceptions and ideas of what he is. One thing that comes up a lot is the bad side to him. Johnathan says, “There was a mocking smile on the bloated face which seemed to drive me mad. This was the being I was helping to transfer to London, where, perhaps, for centuries to come he might, amongst its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever widening circle of semi demons to batten on the helpless.” (page 84). We see through these word the characterization of what we perceive to be the true nature of evil that Dracula represents as a character in the novel. The diction that is used to describe him makes him out to be a monster within his own right. The “lust for blood” comment, pushes the idea foreword that Stoker is trying to make that, unlike Frankenstein, this character is not just misunderstood deformity, but a true sign of evil and his lust for blood is one thing that makes him a overpowering force in the novel. The tone of this quote also shows the true fear that Johnathan has in his dealings with this monster who, forcefully doesn’t allow Johnathan to leave his castle and keeps him prisoner which forces Johnathan to try and escape.

    Stroker has not just made a simply misunderstood character, but a cruelly evil one who traps humans and kills others to make himself feel rejuvenated. Dracula literally builds himself up as a evil character of the novel by taking blood and destroying others. Later in that same passage Johnathan says, “The last glimpse I had was of the bloated face, bloodstained and fixed with a grin of malice which would have held its own in the nethermost hell.” The description that Stoker purposely puts in there shows the true intentions and nature of Dracula through Johnathan’s diction again. He says, “would have held its own in the nethermost hell.”, these words can only describe the evil that Stoker is trying to portray through Dracula’s character.

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  5. When reading the journal of Jonathan Harker in Dracula, I was surprised to see how quickly the element of danger and caution towards Count Dracula presented itself. I expected there to be more buildup of suspense and suspicion towards the Count, but on page 36, Harker hears a peasant say the words “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”, “both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either werewolf or vampire”. It was hard to suspend my disbelief that Harker was not more worried about continuing his journey with such desperate warnings not to, although cryptic. Harker’s initial descriptions of the landscape of Transylvania’s “four distinct nationalities” (32) immediately reminded me of Caesar’s description of Gaul in his letters of conquest, provoking similar themes of exploration in a mysterious land. This sense of mystery and exoticism may explain Harker’s disregard of suspicion and warnings, for he is exploring the somewhat unknown land of Translvania. Count Dracula and his vast mysterious castle represent fear towards the bourgeois of unknown lands, as well as a general fear of darkness and the unknown for English society. Dracula is very proud of his family and Transylvanian history, when he tells Harker his history and about the old house
    “he always said ‘we’, and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking” (59). Nighttime, darkness, and monsters that come from the dark are common themes of fear and abnormality even in modern times with our abundance of technology and lights that make nighttime less dark. Count Dracula also signifies a classic fascination with death and immortality and what it would take to live forever.

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    • Hey Natalie,
      I like your point Dracula saying “We” instead of “I” all the time. This does show how he does take pride of his family history instead of being selfish about all the accomplishments that occurred for the past thousand or so years. I believe that he would reveal more of his history as the text progresses because he wants Jonathan to properly get to know him and his past before using Jonathan for something which is unclear this early in the story. Time will tell the true mystery behind the Count personally and the castle itself.

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  6. In Dracula, Stoker challenges traditional male and female roles and attempts to level them out in rather strange way. On the night of May 15, Jonathan ventures into the right wing of Dracula’s castle against his host’s original requests. Later that night, Jonathan awakes to three questionably alluring women, “There was something about them that made me feel uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear, (69). Jonathan struggles with these feelings throughout his short-lived time with the three, admitting that, “There was deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive,” (69). Jonathan is a heterosexual man in a confused state who demonstrates the beginning of a dark balance between fear and attraction.
    In the same passage, Dracula demonstrates fear and its limits while the three women demonstrate the power of their allure. When Dracula arrives, he is furious and takes physical action against the woman closest to Jonathan, “I saw his strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with giant’s power draw it back,” (70). Dracula then proclaims, “This man belongs to me,” (70)! Dracula asserts his power and declares his “property” in an attempt to establish himself as the alpha in charge. Dracula wants these women to fear him, using verbal and physical threats in order to obtain his dominance. Unfazed, the fair woman fights back instantly responding, “You yourself never loved; you never love,” (70). Consequently, the reader sees Dracula in an unfamiliar vulnerable state, answering in only a “soft whisper” (71), which stresses an immediate shift in his demeanor from only moments ago. With the power of attraction comes the power of emotion, and these three women mock the Count for having never felt love without hesitation. Dracula is at a loss; the three woman ultimately gain the upper hand with traditionally feminine attributes.

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    • Hi Nina,
      I find it to be very interesting that in a time where women did not have many rights and certainly were not allowed to take command over a man that Stoker dives into a situation where many people would feel uncomfortable. The context is a little different in terms that these women are vampires and most people reading this at the time it was written, presumably men would not feel completely uncomfortable since they would feel it is fantasy. I do believe that there is hidden feminism in this context since Stoker is using creatures that don’t exist as opposed to humans but proclaiming that women can have power over men.

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  7. In chapter 2, more than a professional assistance regarding his new London estate, Count Dracula also expects to learn from Jonathan what he can’t possibly learn through his numerous English books. Here I’m referring to page 51, though the Count speaks english fluently enough to be able to converse with a native englishman, this remains insufficient in his opinion : «True, I know the grammar and the words, but yet I know not how to speak them.» . He is voicing his concern at being identified as a foreigner by his speech and manner : « […] did I move and speak in your London, none there are who would not know me for a stranger.».
    I believe that here the larger issue that is raised, is that of language as a social marker, something specific to Victorian English culture.
    This reminds me of My Fair Lady, in which a flowergirl is taught by a nobleman how to ‘speak’ and ‘act’ as someone of noble birth in order to be recognized as such by the upper class and aristocracy. In the Victorian era, language is an instrument of class division as a person’s way of speaking, accent and manner in society points out to which social class they belong to.
    In this passage, Count Dracula demonstrates an acute class awareness and knowledge of the inner workings of English society. Since he is a «noble» in his native country (even using the word «master» to insist on his social superiority) the Count despises the mere idea of not being recognized as such by english people. To such an extent that he views the idea of being identified as a «stranger» as an upsetting of the social balance he has always known : «I have been so long a master that I would be master still – or at least that none other should be master of me.». Thus a relinquishing his social status by not displaying his aristocratic social background.

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    • I had a similar train of thought when Dracula was asking Harker such specifics about modern life and grammar. Being thousands of years old and terrorizing Transylvania by night from an ancient castle, surely Dracula would have no way to keep up to date on modern society, especially in other countries. Unless if he takes steps to learn modern ways of life and keep up to date with the world, it would be incredibly obvious that he was an ancient monster. If he does have a secret agenda to terrorize the world, he is still keeping his identity as a vampire somewhat a secret based on the somewhat secrecy of the Transylvanian peasants who do not explicitly tell Harker that Dracula is a vampire who nightly unleashes terror on their town.
      In regard to language, if Dracula does have a secret agenda to infiltrate English society to secretly kill people or whatever it may be, Harker’s common knowledge and specific dialect would definitely help Dracula to blend into the more upper class he would want to work his way into, for surely he would not want to surround himself with the lower class of England or any country.

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  8. Stories that use monsters to frighten and terrorize readers usually have an underlying theme behind the monstrosity. When discussing Frankenstein, we concluded that the monster makes people fearful because we do not want man to be overcome by something bigger and greater than human capacity. The Count in Dracula gives us the same fear as Victor’s monster does and for the same reason, which is that the Count is more powerful than a human.

    Though I am not knowledgeable about English history in the nineteenth century, the sheer size and power of the monstrous Dracula seems to be symbolizing a xenophobic issue between the Count and Mr. Harker. Mr. Harker, an Englishman, is told by the Count that the Count’s race (Szekely) is the strongest in all of Europe. The Count says to Mr. Harker, “We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship,” to firstly indicate his pride of being part of a powerful race. He then adds to this statement that his race conquers everybody else: “It is a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud; that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back?” (59-60). The Count is unquestionably telling stories to make Mr. Harker feel weaker and insignificant compared to himself. The Count is already super-human as a vampire, symbolizing the power dynamic between different European countries at the time. I know that during this time period Britain was incredibly influential and powerful, so it is possible that the novel Dracula is a statement against Britain.

    As I have stated earlier, I do not have a clear knowledge of nineteenth century European history, however I have a second piece of evidence that makes me claim that Dracula’s figure and monstrosity symbolizes the tension of country hierarchy in Europe. Mr. Harking asks Dracula if he could end his stay one night short and leave before the morning. Dracula cynically remarks upon Mr. Harking’s English mannerisms, saying “You English have a saying which is close to my heart, for its spirit is that which rules our boyars, ‘Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest’” (81). Dracula is sinister and makes two claims that English blood is less powerful than himself. After Dracula already remarked upon his own conquering race, after having imprisoned Mr. Harking and has shown his own beastliness, I certainly would remark that Count Dracula symbolizes tensions between European countries.

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    • Hi Alex!

      I thought the idea you brought up here, and in class today, was really important. What I found particularly interesting was that the Count doesn’t necessarily credit his power to him being a vampire, rather to the fact he is not English. As if because he is a Szekely, that is his defining feature of strength and ability…not that he is a blood-sucking, immortal vampire. Which I think is very important, and shows just how much importance he stresses on race. Perhaps this wasn’t done on purpose by Stroker, but it just seems that such a dramatic view on power from race makes a crazy statement about the state of Europe in the nineteenth century. And the foreshadowing of something evil is not lost when even after all these comments, the Count still wants to move to England. Which is interesting too, when looking at even though the Count thinks of the English as weak beings, he still needs something from them, or at least their land. So there’s this really contrasting dynamic between what the Count believes of his own race and those around him, and what he needs/wants. No matter how much he wants to stay in his old-worldly castle and life, he still needs to look to industrialized England for things.

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  9. In Dracula, written by Bram Stoker depicts women as overtly sexual beings and depicts other women as pure and chaste beings. Stoker has written a book that serves as an appropriate social commentary on the role of women during the Victorian Era. Mina, Jonathan’s wife resembles the perfect image of pure woman. She is married and anxiously waits for her husband to return. On the other hand, the three daughters of Dracula represent impurity. In chapter three, Jonathan states, “I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it’s the truth” (42). The three daughters challenge Jonathan by luring him into temptation, which is what impure females during the Victorian period do, they challenge men and disturb the structure and stability that goes on at home. The three daughters, from the reader’s perspective are looked down upon because they characterize wickedness and their mischief resembles impure women that are overtly sexual during Victorian era.

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  10. In Dracula, by Bram Stoker, there are many subtle (and some not so subtle) references to classism, and how that affects culture in both England and Transylvania. In one passage he makes a pretty strong references to the idea if a subjugated lower class, “Because your peasant is at heart a coward and a fool… on that nigh no man of this land will, if he can help it, stir without his doors” (52). Here is speaking of how there is clearly marked treasure everywhere on this night, but everyone is too afraid to go out and get it. This seems to be pretty directly analogous to the idea of the many being able to over throw the few in power, but being too well kept in line through fear tactics. Fear tactics in this book however are very literally daemons that haunt the night time.
    The mere fact that the count feels comfortable making this sweeping generalizations about all of peasants also reveals something about his perspective. He commonly refers to them all as stupid and weak, and it seems very interesting that he could make such a generalization about people who are simply less wealthy than he is. At no point does Jonathan make any comment on how offensive this idea is, so it must be assumed that the English perspective is equivalent to that of the count. At one point Jonathan references the fact that it is odd how Dracula does not have any servants in his house, so clearly Jonathan also comes from a very privileged world, and this perhaps is why he is completely blind to the count’s evil ways, yet the local commoners warn him of the danger.

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    • I think your observations are absolutely valid. I think on a further level, the very nature of Dracula, and his supernatural needs, add to this idea of class struggle and inequality. Vampires, that of the “living” dead, drain the blood of others in order to survive. Throughout the first half of the novel we see the constant struggle between vampires and humans to manage their blood, and while one gets to live with prosper, the other slowly decays away. This reminds me a lot of power struggle between classes. The rich take advantage of the poor to become more rich, while the poor slowly get drained of all their power and resources. The rich only benefit from the lower classes, and without them their wealth is no longer sustainable. Dracula, and other vampire’s thirst for blood seems to draw parallels to the rich’s thirst for power and control over lower classes.

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  11. Iona Herriott
    Blog post 4
    Dracula

    In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, women have once more found themselves in the position of either being domesticated , saintly and “motherly ” or lustful, hysterical and insatiable. Not to mention, need to be babysat by a man , or rather a monster , no more virtuous than they are but for some reason has more control than they. Women are displayed in a dramatic contrast , the village women and wives back home appear to be being exposed to a wildness that overcomes women who lack control of their sexuality. The men ,it seems,are victims of circumstance. Jonathan, nearly slipping into the women’s tempting ways, is painted as Adam is to Eve who committed the “Original sin”. I believe this shames the idea of free thinking women and paints men, who are suppose to be strong-willed, as heroines for adventuring into the unknown and facing the challenges of mondern day temptations. In some ways, even the man who is lead astray by the worlds briefly, has more sympathy and humanity than that of a woman who not only pursues her own sexuality, but turns away from the idea that vitreous living altogether. Women , who lack religion, stable marriage and the conformed mind are like beasts . Who is their keeper? Who else but a man(monster) who embodies that all that God is not . Once you enter his realm of your own free will , you are never to leave unless he wishes it so. Stokers throws women who lack control and a virtuous mindset into an eternal hell.

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    • It is interesting to consider your argument that while the monstrous women are portrayed as in control of their sexuality and thus seen as deviant, the men are “seen as victims of circumstance” and cannot be held accountable for their actions. I like the comparison to Adam and Eve—as if these women are committing a sin by simply embracing what men are encouraged to embrace. While I understand your argument, I also think this situation set up by Stoker can be seen as a critic of social dynamics. To some extent in this scenario, I think Stoker is criticizing the repression of Victorian women’s sexuality by making it be seen as monstrous and unacceptable when the roles are reversed—highlighting the inequality between men and women.
      I really like your point about Dracula being the women’s “keeper,” and by being a man who “embodies all that God is not” suggests to the reader that women who embrace their sexuality are un-Godlike, monstrous, and need to be controlled. I think this scene is contradictory and I had trouble understanding what Stoker was trying to suggest through the different gender roles Dracula, Harker and the women all take on. To some extent I think he does successfully condemn women’s sexuality in this scene but he also simultaneously encourages it by having the Count tell the women they can have Jonathan after he is done with him.
      I saw many parallels in this scene to Frankenstein. This was a very sexual scene, so the Count saying that Jonathan belongs to him has some sexual undertones—mimicking the somewhat romantic and sexual relationship Victor and his monster had. There is also the parallel in this scene of Dracula assuming a maternal role by providing the women with a baby while Victor takes a maternal role through the creation of his monster. Dracula further addresses these gender dynamics by having more women as important characters in the book, compared to the very few female characters in Frankenstein.

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      • Very interesting intake regarding men as victims of circumstance, therefore they can’t be held accountable for their sexuality while women are in control and are responsible for their sexual behaviors. I believe this scenario strongly reflects on the society at the time this book was written. Though society maintained strict expectations and standards for both sexes, men were permitted more sexual freedoms than their counterparts. The patriarchal trends and views of the Victorian Era automatically granted men most freedoms and countless excuses to justify male sexuality. While it was unheard of for a female to be sexually assertive in any way, and such an idea would have been a very disturbing and frightening concept. Jonathan’s comment regarding one of the daughters of Dracula perfectly illustrates the idea of men’s are victims of their circumstances. “The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white, sharp, teeth” (Stoker 50). This particular passage describes the mixed feelings men had towards luring women; temptation made it hard to resist the occurrence of female sexual advances desirable yet from a gentleman’s standpoint, it was purely evil and almost animalistic. Alluding to the fact that, again, a man’s sexual attraction was not entirely his own fault or responsibility.

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  12. After reading the first six chapters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one of the larger issues that I noticed the narrator bring into light was that of class. Count Dracula is considered to be of the high elite in Transylvania, where he lives. There are two instances in which this class criticism stood out for me, the first when Dracula talks about the fact that he feels like he is not fluent in English yet, and the second when he talks to Jonathan Harper about his recently purchased house. The first instance happens in page 51, Dracula tells Harper where he is “[He is] noble, […] a boyar. The common people know [him], and [he is] a master”. He then he continues to explain that if he goes to England without knowing proper English it is likely that people would know him for a stranger, and being treated in that manner would not leave him content. The other instance of interaction between Dracula and Harper in which the issue of class comes into attention is the moment where Harper is explaining to Dracula about his new home, and Dracula responds by saying that “Transylvania nobles love not to think that [their] bones may be amongst the common dead” (54). The manner in which class is referred to in both of these instances makes me think that the author means to criticize the manner in which the elite society thinks themselves more important than people who are of lower classes. Especially by placing Dracula- the monster- in such position, I believe that the author meant to show how such position is actually detrimental to society

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    • That’s an interesting take on it, and I see where it’s coming from. It’s the only thing Dracula cares to talk about, but maybe because it’s the only thing he can really talk about. As readers, we typically either see Dracula talking to Jonathan, reading history books or we just don’t see him. Dracula has a mixed knowledge of his history: factual and personalized. His history is the only thing he knows for certain, otherwise he doesn’t really know how to interact with people. His castle is surrounded by people who fear him – not that he appears he would want to talk to them, but there’s no effort on either side. The fair hair woman tells him that he doesn’t know how to love, and Dracula takes a moment to process this statement and then can only feebly defend himself. Dracula is lonely, which doesn’t make him any less of an elitist, but he also can’t help it nor does he know how to.

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  13. In this novel, Dracula is a supernatural being that has weird tendencies that a regular person cant match. When Jonathan Harker was staying at the Count’s potential home, he realized that, “The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner.” (57) “veritable”, meaning extra, is used in this phrase to show that the castle is an extensive prison that the narrator is in. This raises a larger issue about who the Count actually is because he is being mysterious and vacant around Jonathan. Stoker is suggesting that the Count is entrapping Jonathan and is going to end up using him in an unpleasant which is why Jonathan is questioning the Counts motives. On a wider scale, this could be referring to the Count being ready to jump on an opportunity as soon as the time is perfect. The actual idea of the Counts representation isn’t truly clear but it would be revealed later in the text when Jonathan and the reader wont be expecting it. It seems unclear at first because the Count is never home and the when Jonathan is around him, he feels nauseas about him and notices that he doesn’t appear in the mirror. The Count is obviously planning something that Jonathan isn’t able fully piece together. The only thing he realizes is that he is, “a prisoner” which is an interesting way to talk about a house after only being there for only a few days.

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    • Hey, you bring up some very interesting points on how we do not know the Counts intentions, but in reality know that it will result in something bad for Johnathan. I think a quote that can relate to your point in the one on page 46 where the Count actually says, “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!”. This sounds like to me a point where if Johnathan enters the castle it will be seen as him signing a document that says he entered under his own pretenses and was not forced in. This characterizes Dracula as a very suspicious character in the novel and I believe, as do you, that this will contractual agreement will be brought back up later in the book to show Dracula’s true intentions for Johnathan. Stoker makes it seem this way to build suspense and also to make Dracula stand out as a character of evil. He is not like Frankenstein, in that he is just misunderstood, but rather a entity of evil and suspicion right from the moment we meet him.

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  14. The Count represents the idea of an anti-Christ. Despite the quite obvious weakness the Count experiences against Harker’s rosary beads, Stoker’s descriptions of the count draw parallels to the devil. Harker describes, “The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me; with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of”(82). Dracula, throughout the novel, has been portrayed with a sense of sly confidence and control, one that often makes Harker uncomfortable. In this scene, Dracula tempts Harker with freedom, only to take it away from him in an instance. While Dracula may have his secrets, he appears to play the role of some sort of puppet master, just as Satan would to tempt sinners, only in the end to be tortured by his “red” eyes, “as if the flames of hell burned behind them”(70). Harker referred to this gaze as a “blaze of basilisk horrors”(84).

    From what we’ve read so far, Dracula lacks respect for women, both through his aggressive treatment of the female vampires, and his decision to rip up Harker’s letter to Mina. We don’t get to see why Harker has been trapped in the castle for so long, yet we can infer that the Count wants Harker for himself. It begs me to ask however, if he wanted Harker dead, why didn’t he just kill him already? There must be a greater motive. Stoker portrays the female vampire’s in an overly desirable way, all willing to “kiss” Harker upon their first encounter. Perhaps Dracula’s perception of these women is over sexualized, and degraded as whores, which could reflect a greater idea about women of the time. We either have Mina, a loyal women faithful to her lover, whom Dracula seeks to separate Harker from, and these “over sexualized” sisters, which Dracula condemns for interacting with Harker. Despite wanting to stay faithful, Harker is tempted in the hell he remains trapped in. Perhaps Stoker is getting at the idea that this sort of behavior in females is shunned from society, and only to be practiced in hell. But even Satan doesn’t want that. He just wants Harker, however that may be interpreted.

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