Dracula and the New Woman
Drachma and the New Woman Stoker emphasizes the threat of the ‘New Woman’ through constant mentioning of their dress and appearance; he does this to emphasis the contrast between the ‘New Woman’ and the traditional women. In the chapter where Jonathan is approached by the 3 woman vampires, who represent the dreaded ‘New Woman’ the language used to describe the women is very critical. He refers to them as “ladies by their dress and manner” stating them to be effeminate and vulgar and this makes it seem that they are impersonating women.
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Facially they are described as having “high aquiline sees”; these bird-like, pronounced features make them appear annalistic and dangerous. He contrasts their “dark, piercing eyes” with the “pale yellow moon”; emphasizing the danger society feel the New Women possess. Another prominent part of the book is when Mina witness’s the attack on Lucy by Drachma, Mina remarks in her diary Lucy is not in bed but “she cannot be far, as she is only in her nightdress”; remarking how improper it would be for a women to be seen in her nightdress in public regardless of the current ‘nightmares’ Lucy is experiencing.
When she discovers “Lucy must have gone out as she was” she finds this fact much ore worrying than the issue that her vulnerable best friend is outside, missing and in danger; however her many worry is how Lucy is dressed. Even when she sees the danger Lucy is in, although at this point she does worry for her safety she still remarks about how “unclad she was”. During Lully’s final death where Arthur kills her; her appearance is described as “carnal and inspirational” and how there is a “devilish mockery of Lully’s sweet purity’.
Throughout the novel Lucy is always seen as being very sexual and posses many ‘New Woman’ qualities, these descriptions contribute to owe Stoker and society felt the “New Woman’ acted and how she appeared. One of the main characteristics of the ‘New Women’ feared by society, which Stoker shows through the references to sex throughout the descriptions and parts of the novel where the women who represent the ‘New Women’ are present, is their increased sexuality.
The three women vampires are described as looking at Jonathan with “some longing”, and their body language described as being “bent over [him]” she is also described as having “hard dents” for teeth. The descriptions lead to Stoker giving the idea, through subtle phrases, that the ‘New Women’ is overtly sexual and he sakes them appear to be quite threatening due to this. In the Abbey scene, Lully’s complexion is described as being “snowy’ and “white” giving the connotation to Virgin like qualities, this references to how Stoker felt women should be.
However after her encounter with Drachma “she was breathing… In long heavy gasps” and then “placed her hand to her throat and groaned”; these contrast to Stoker’s more subtle sexual references and these are more obvious to what he is referring to. Lucy is clearly the most sexual female of the female characters and this description leads to the reader understanding the inappropriateness of the women being overtly sexual and in some ways them understanding the threats the ‘New Women’ possess.
When dying Lucy is described as having a “voluptuous mouth” and her body to be “withering and quivering” once again the ‘New Woman’ is referred to as being very sexual and most obvious way Stoker emphasizes the ‘New Women’ is how he compares them to their surroundings and the reactions of men towards them. Jonathan comments that he “somehow [knew]… Her face” when one of the female vampires approaches him, this links to her having been something he dreamed about and fantasy-like. This ivies the impression that the ‘New Woman” posses qualities men dream about.
Jonathan is described as “looking out under [his] eyelashes” this femininity he shows contrasts to the boldness of the female vampires, which makes the “New Woman” appear more masculine. However towards the end of the scene Drachma returns to the castle and “hurls the woman from him”; this action represents Stocker reestablishing the dominance men posses and them dominating the women. Mina describes how a story describing sex “might become distorted” therefore giving the impression that sex is a very taboo subject not to be spoken about in society specially by women.
When Arthur kills Lucy his face is described as showing “high duty’; resembling how men should once again take control of women and reassert themselves as the dominant sex. Stoker highlights one of the key social insecurities of this time, the myth of the New Women becoming a real threat, in Drachma. Multiple characters represent aspects of the new women whilst Mina represents the ‘ideal’ women in those times. The main fear of the New Woman sprung from the fact that society was male dominated and the worst way to present a woman was as being deviant, therefore Stoker shows both of these aspects in Drachma.