Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Rise of the New Woman

    In Dracula, Stoker mentions the 'new woman' several times, which was a term used in the Victorian era to describe a woman who challenged society by doing things that women of the time were not supposed to do. While Dracula leaves out some of the Darker aspects of the life of a typical Victorian women, the truth is that Victorian women were harshly oppressed, and to a certain extent abused by the men who had control over them.
      Women were seen as the property of either their father or their brother, and once she married she became property of her husband. The woman's sole responsibilities were those involving house work and reproducing. Even then, however, the women had no rights as far as their offspring, and the custody of the children belonged to the man of the household. Women also faced domestic abuse in many cases, since marital beatings and rape were both legal in Victorian England. For a woman in this time period, life was difficult, and their weren't many options besides following the status quo. That is, until the new woman movement.
         While part of the ways Victorian women was by forcing them to repress their sexuality, the new woman was sexually liberated, which was seen as a huge threat. The new woman also dressed differently, searched for options besides becoming a housewife, and engaged in physical activities that were up until that point, considered inappropriate for women, such as bicycle riding and badminton.
           While the new women sought to gain freedom by breaking free of the rules that were in place for the sole purpose of oppression, many Victorian men and women rejected the movement, and tried to preserve the traditional values of Victorian society. Bram Stoker was one of these individuals, and used the character of Lucy to portray the evils posed by a woman who becomes sexually liberated. Lucy, who suggests she wants to marry three men, shows that she has sexual desires, and these desires become even more open when she becomes a vampire. In her vampiric form, she is no longer interested in trying to conceal her sexual desires, and is a walking being of lust. By killing off her character, this shows Stoker's desire to stop the new woman movement, as he makes the connection between unholiness and sexuality among women.

          Lucy, as portrayed in the 1992 film version of Dracula. While Lucy tries to hide her sexual feelings, they become more apparent once she is turned into a vampire, making a connection between vampirism and sexuality. (www.aveleyman.com)

1 comment:

  1. Good writing, as usual, Aaron, but I'm not sure where this info. is coming from or how you'll be using it in Essay 3. Is the 1992 adaptation of Dracula going to be your pop culture exhibit?