Chosen Persona/ Text: Bram Stoker ~ ‘Dracula’ (1897)
Indeed, I’m sure you all know that in my day women had few rights. Not only were women denied the vote, they were denied the right to express themselves openly. They were expected to be pure, pleasant, and supportive of men at all times. It makes you think, what were we really scared of?
But then, my dear fellows, then came the gothic, a movement that sought to change all that was. ‘Dracula’ confronts society’s ideals of masculinity and femininity. In my novel, Mina represents the ideal of femininity: she is intelligent, capable, and willing to enter the workplace, but only of course as an assistant to her husband. And despite her natural maternal femininity, her occasional courage and Jonathan's passivity serves to balance the power dynamic between them.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, many critics, if that’s how you wish to refer to them, often say that in ‘Dracula’, women are presented as objects of desire, maternal figures, supernatural beings and are often defined by their biological roles. But it is the transition between these roles that is particularly interesting. By allowing female characters like Mina to break free of stereotypical constraints I have created obscurity and suspense within my plot.
In contrast, Wilder’s eccentric femme fatale in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is rather two-dimensional, and predictable. Norma is an entirely independent women, who shamelessly throughs herself at the first man to walk through the door. In my day we had a name for women like that.
Wilder pathetically uses female sexuality to denote strength, rebelliousness, and evil. His depiction of Norma Desmond effectively demonizes powerful women and by rewarding her with insanity, I believe he effectively rejects feminism.
Mina on the other hand breaks free of her vulnerable stereotype by demonstrating bravery, understanding the world around her and offering solutions where the male characters fall short.
In the same way, by being bitten by Count Dracula, Lucy is educated about her own promiscuity. My intention in writing this, was to challenge my society’s depiction of women as immaculate creatures, without effeminising them.
But, it is this concept of defeminisation which I find riddles the plot of this, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ television show. Wielding a combination of phallic weapons and feminine devices to attack literal and metaphoric demons, Buffy becomes a foolish interpretation of Joss Whedon’s ‘ultra-feminist’ ideals.
Now, its fine to challenge conventions, after all isn’t that what the gothic has always sought to do? But Whedon’s juxtaposition of horror and the unknown with modern teenage issues such as love and the separation of one’s parents is rather comical.
The depiction of young appealing vampires like Angel also makes a mockery of the character of Count Dracula who was never able to attain salvation.
This oscillation between heroic and feminine ideals is uncharacteristic of…