When reading the classic Dracula, we immediately associate the immediate themes of vampires and the stereotypical characteristics that accompany them. After reading this classic, it becomes evident quickly the several other, more abstract themes that arise throughout the story. One of the most obvious themes that also relates to a modern social issue, is Stoker's depiction and oversexualization of his female victims and characters. These situations describe what some consider to be the "ideal Victorian woman". Meaning a woman who obeys to man in a variety of ways. This is done by submission to the man: financially, sexually, socially, physically, etc.
An extreme example of this lack of respect or equality for women can be found in The Story of Dracula, Russian Stories Appendix II; "If a woman made love with a man who was not her husband Dracula ordered that her vagina be cut and he skinned her alive and tied her skin to a pole...He did the same thing with young girls who had not preserved their virginity and also widows" (Story of Dracula, 5). This graphic depiction only emphasizes the expectations set for the woman during the Victorian era, and how unequally these expectations were distributed between the genders.
Lastly, the story emphasizes the fear Victorian society had with regards to open sexuality and the traditional inequality of rights and power. The scenes reveal what was a very realistic possibility with regards to the treatment and expecations of the Victorian woman, wife, daughter, etc. The women were supposed to neglect their sexuality unless it is asked for by their husband. They were told to be quiet, unless spoken to. They were to exude an intelligent powerful woman, without education, rights, or priviledges. Victorian women were alive, but not living.
This theme of female sexualization within Dracula is a dramatized version of gender inequality that has been relevant throughout the beginning of modern society.
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