The presentation of maleness in Victorian Gothic novels, concentrating on Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula and Robert Louis Stephenson ‘s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. How do the texts challenge Victorian political orientations environing gender?
Robert Louis Stephenson ‘s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula are novels which confront the anxiousnesss environing saving of repute in footings of both gender and gender outlooks in Victorian Britain. Whilst Jekyll and Hyde presents the masculine as a place of denial environing the ego, as Jekyll refuses to acknowledge his wicked alter self-importance, Dracula presents the thought of maleness as being threatened by sexual power. On a basic degree, the texts do non look to dispute Victorian political orientations environing gender, as work forces appear to conform to stiff gender functions and females, nevertheless liberated they may look, are finally forced to conform and return to societal ideals, yet an probe into the map of the masculine character within the novels reveals conventions which contest tradition and dispute the political orientation of the clip.
Male subjection in the Victorian period is frequently overlooked by critics in favor of concentrating on female subjugation. Critics seem to exclude any impression of the male enduring from the same societal rigidness and outlook, discoursing merely female disempowerment. George Landow remarks that ‘feminist analysis of the Gothic focuses on the concern of the stereotyping of the female characters harmonizing to male phantasy ‘ , yet, often in Dracula, the male imaginativeness is indulged by the corruption of female stereotyping, where the female characters are permitted sexual release. Therefore, Landow ‘s averments that it is merely the feminine sphere that suffers under the marginalization of the stereotype are challenged in Stoker ‘s novel. Critic Cyndy Hendershot farther challenges common premises of gender concepts by composing on the manner in which work forces were every bit capable to subjugation at the custodies of the Victorian society. She argues that, in general, givens of a clear theoretical account in footings of a definition of Victorian maleness remain undisputed, go forthing the impressions of maleness within Victorian Gothic as slightly equivocal. Critic Stefan Collini acknowledges this fact in his averments that the general consensus environing the manner in which Victorian ideals of gender seem to presume that all Victorians accepted a individual, stiff thought of maleness is undisputed. He suggests that the attack environing Victorian heterosexual manfulness comes as a effect of our ain undisputed premises of this being the norm.
Consequently, both Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde challenge the ambiguities of the masculine Gothic, showing a insurgent political orientation and oppugning recognized gender functions.
One of the major concerns of Victorian society was the saving of repute and the anxiousness environing sexual look. It can be said that the societal repression within the Victorian age merely intensified the temptingness of its darker side. Jekyll and Hyde focuses on the Victorian value systems of safeguarding repute, evident in unsloped work forces such as Utterson and Enfield who view gossip as something which amendss repute. The character of Dr Jekyll is presented as a adult male who is preponderantly concerned with the manner he is projected to others and in continuing a good respected repute. In contrast, Hyde is presented as a monstrous being in which the suppressed emotions of Jekyll can be unleashed via this vehicle of camouflage. The characters in both novels attempt to stamp down and hide any fright or desire to move in a manner that would damage repute and subvert societal outlook.
The map of the male characters within both novels reveals that the texts do non needfully prioritize the masculine, and, in many ways, the skip of the feminine constituent heightens the function of the female in that the male failing is constantly exposed. The exclusion of adult females in Jekyll and Hyde, for illustration, reveals the menace of the female and the influence of the feminine in a masculine sphere. Whilst Dracula uses the female characters as vehicles to imagine maleness, Jekyll and Hyde omits the usage of the feminine signifier in order to show that the masculine sphere as a field agony within itself and non as a effect of the actions of the female opposite number. The menace of female sexual look can besides be linked to the thought of the skip of adult females within the novels every bit good as the thought of sexual rigidness for both genders.
Stoker ‘s Dracula is a novel which preponderantly deals with the anxiousnesss environing female sexual look and an indulgence in the male imaginativeness. The fresh trades with unashamedly unfastened sexual desire, an unachievable freedom for the rigidness of the society of the clip. Dracula presents a changeless conflict between good and evil which centres upon female gender. In his critical work on feminism, Heath argues that feminism ‘makes things insecure for work forces, unsettles assumed places and undoes given individualities ‘ . It is true that in Stephenson ‘s Dracula the thought of the adult females going sexually powerful evokes an anxiousness amongst the work forces who fear that their ain places of power are being threatened. Conversely, the transmutation of the female characters into lamia harpies is non needfully a work of feminism, as Stoker constructs the transmutation as a displacement from inactive females to characters who embody Dracula himself, therefore taking on a masculine signifier. If the female can merely entree power in the masculine signifier so accordingly the text does non overthrow the gender ideals of the Victorian society. Maleness remains as the more powerful place, despite the word picture of powerful females on the surface of the narrative.
In the first chapter of Dracula, Harker ‘s description of his journey to the palace as ‘uncanny ‘ directs the reader to Freudian theory on ‘the uncanny, published in 1919. Furthermore, the figure of the lamia in the novel, who brings about decease with his oral cavity, embodies Freud ‘s construct of the first phase of psychosexual development, the unwritten phase, where he claims that a individual has the irresistible impulse to destruct what is populating. These analogues allow Stoker to analyze Victorian sexual repression. Lucy and Mina are characters whose artlessness and devotedness to their male opposite numbers reveals them as non-threatening and about planar. It is merely through Dracula ‘s menaces to turn these females into direct antonyms of the virtuousnesss they exemplify, as ‘devils of the Pit ‘ , that these adult females are permitted a voice within the text. The sexualisation of Lucy Westerna at the custodies of Count Dracula challenges gender ideals in that she transforms from a weak and mild mannered female who is hunted by the male into a harpy who pursues the male seeking sexual satisfaction.
Dracula exposes the ‘Victorian anxiousness over the possible fluidness of gender functions ‘ . For illustration, when Lucy becomes a ‘voluptuous ‘ lamia, this clearly horrifies her suers because it demands a challenge of recognized sexual individuality. Once Lucy is transformed into a lamia harpy by Dracula, Van Helsing ‘s work forces feel the demand to destruct her in order to reconstruct societal order and reputability. The work forces are dying that the same destiny will transform Mina, going strongly devoted to the adult females ‘s sexual behavior for fright of any unacceptable relationship with the socially disdained. The work forces merely fear for their ain safety and are mocked by Dracula who tells them ‘your misss that you all love are mine already ; and through them you and others shall yet be mine ‘ . Dracula suggests that the adult females ‘s unmanageable desires leave work forces on the border of a dearly-won autumn from grace. Harker ‘s confusion of both desire and fright environing the buss of the lamia demonstrates how society controlled the ‘mobility of sexual desire ‘ for work forces every bit good as adult females. He describes his ‘longing ‘ for the buss every bit good as his ‘deadly fear ‘ of its effects. Harker ‘s horror in facing the lamias mirrors Victorian horror at the idea of a sexually liberated adult female. He is diffident whether his visions of pleasance at the adult females who approach him are existent or whether he is woolgathering. He concludes that if the adult females are existent they will imbibe his blood and go stronger as he becomes weaker. At the same clip, if they are merely visions, there is a suggestion that they still threaten to run out him of seeds as he lies ‘in dreamy rapture and delaies with crushing bosom ‘ . Harker hence risks losing indispensable fluid in either state of affairs, typifying a prostration of the Victorian patriarchal societal construction.
Consequently, the map of the lamia in Dracula can be viewed as a symbol of sexual repression. Dracula indulges the male imaginativeness and female gender. The work forces in the fresh attempt to command the adult females ‘s gender in fright of their ain safety. Christopher Craft ‘s essay on gender and inversion in Dracula argues that gender stereotypes in the novel are inverted to interrupt outlook and promote sexual consciousness and release. Craft argues that the usage of gender and gender in the novel is explored via the transmutation from lamia to victim. The three juicy female lamias are unquestionably sexualised and have been inverted from outlooks of females of the clip to sexual enchantresss who wish to fulfill their impulses on Jonathan Harker who is subjugated by the laterality of these adult females. These adult females take on the function of the male in many respects as they intend to seize with teeth Harker with their crisp dentitions, a phallic symbol to mean incursion of the victim. Harker is both sickened and excited by the idea of these females snoging him, he reveals his failing as a male as a effect of the society that prevents him from moving upon his desires.
Whilst Dracula appears to denounce gender inversion, as it reveals that adult females who try to overthrow their traditional functions within society can non win in this, the narrative uses the subject of gender in order to notice on the political relations of Stoker ‘s society. However, the impression of disputing gender functions in the novel is questioned by the fact that the female transmutation into lamias merely means that they become portion of Dracula himself, as they were merely female in their human signifiers, and the Count is the lone male lamia in the novel. In many ways it can be said that gender functions are non definitively or merely reversed in the novel as the females merely have sexual power when they become male in the societal and functioning function of the lamia. Furthermore, when the female characters become lamias, they can non be considered every bit feminine as they display no impression of pregnancy as they prey on a defenceless kid. The lone female representation in the novel is that of Mina and Lucy, prior to her going a lamia. Dracula, Harker and the female lamias in bend, dominate the novel with their ‘masculine behavior ‘ and functions as penetrators.
Stephenson ‘s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a narrative which challenges the frights of the Victorian age. The fresh introduces the thought of a individual organic structure which contains both the knowing Dr Jekyll and the immoral Mr Hyde, gestating an extricable connexion between the domains of civilization and savageness, every bit good as good and evil. Dr Jekyll ‘s desire to interrupt free from societal restraint, a freedom which Hyde enjoys, accordingly emulates the Victorian society ‘s covert temptation to the supposedly barbarian non-Western civilizations and shows an compulsion with emancipation from social parturiencies.
Critic Cohen remarks that ‘from the 1880s on, fictional word pictures of English maleness frequently narrativise the troubles of male incarnation as a splitting within the male capable exactly in order to asseverate new manners of self-representation. ‘ Many critics agree with these averments, labelling maleness as an unstable sphere, an ambiguity which, in many ways, has helped advance the re-imagining of the male within literature. Stephenson ‘s portraiture of Victorian London is a society about wholly devoid of females. The one adult female within the novel is the informant to the slaying of Sir Danvers Carew and her position as a amah reveals her as lower category and about inconsequential. Her observation of the organic structure of Sir Danvers as a ‘beautiful gentleman ‘ is the lone minute in the full novel where male and female characters are permitted interaction, and even so this is non sexual. The absence of adult females within Jekyll and Hyde, consequently presents the thought that the male individuality crisis was a effect of society instead than a effect of work forces ‘s relation to adult females.
In Jekyll and Hyde, any show of gender is considered as improper and yet Hyde ‘s actions are unimpeachably sexual in their nature. In the chapter where Hyde is foremost introduced, he tramples a immature miss underfoot and so wages for her household ‘s silence. There is a suggestion here of child harlotry, a common offense within Victorian London. Furthermore, the manner in which the male characters have no sexual desire or involvement in the female may propose a concealed homosexual inclination. Utterson and Enfield ‘s stopping point relationship besides suggests that they are prosecuting in some signifier of publically unacceptable sexual behavior.
The character of Hyde can be identified as a representation of the unconscious head, defined by Freud as the ‘id ‘ . This unconscious idea is repressed by the ‘ego ‘ in order that the character of Jekyll conforms to the morality of the society in which he lived. Critic Michael Kane argues that the unconscious head was considered as unwanted in the patriarchal Victorian society and that these repressed desires were ‘projected upon those it considered inferior ‘ , non merely adult females but the pervert lower orders of felons and aliens, for illustration, who ‘became the unconscious of respectable society ‘ . In this visible radiation, Kane reveals that it is category, instead than gender, that imposed the rigidnesss of society.
The usage of the two-base hit within the novels demonstrates the manner in which both male and female characters could be defined and considered by more than one province. In Jekyll and Hyde, Dr Jekyll acts as an solid citizen for illustration who conceals a corrupt alter self-importance in the signifier of Mr Hyde. It is merely at the novel ‘s decision that the two characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde can be understood as a individual character. Dr Jekyll is good respected and morally unsloped whilst Hyde is debauched and beastly. This direct resistance of personality reveals Stephenson ‘s statement that every human being contains some signifier of hidden alter self-importance. Respectively, the importance of Jekyll and Hyde as two separate existences can merely be acknowledged by sing them as one individual character. The relationship between the characters of Jekyll and Hyde involves a complicated moral force. The dichotomy of Jekyll and Hyde is described as the exposure of contradictions ‘that destabilise male character itself ‘ , specifically facing male gender individuality. The narrative subverts the resistance between ‘political and economic premises that the male character represents unimpeachably the corporal properties of a male and a gender political orientation that qualifies maleness as ‘proper ‘ male character ‘ . Yet, specifying maleness in itself is debatable in footings of the manner in which society ‘s ideals shape the manner in which gender individuality is formed. Stephenson ‘s point seems to be less about reprobating male behavior and more about a general observation of human behavior and the dichotomy of both work forces and adult females likewise.
Both novels portion a similar narrative construction in that they invite and explore a freak, for Dracula the monster is the Count himself and the freak is the female sexual look he permits in the transmutation of the females into ‘voluptuous ‘ lamias, and for Jekyll and Hyde the monster is Jekyll ‘s pent-up desires released through the creative activity of Hyde. Both texts so expel the monster and the break in brings, as order is restored. Jekyll ‘s concluding missive explains that he does non cognize whether Hyde will be arrested and hanged or kill himself when he is discovered but he knows that by the clip Utterson reads the missive Jekyll will certainly be no more. Dracula is killed at the terminal of Stephenson ‘s novel, and the birth of Little Quincey demonstrates a re-establishment of natural order and the fulfillment of Van Helsing ‘s prognostication of ‘the kids that are to be ‘ . Christopher Craft writes that the menace of the monstrous within the novels ‘is contained and eventually nullified by the narrative demand that the monster be repudiated and the universe of normal dealingss restored ‘ . Such Restoration seems to propose that the novels can non to the full interrupt away from imposed gender ideals, nevertheless disputing they may look. At the same clip, the suffering decisions of the novels suggest that, although the writers conform to ideals of Victorian society, they do non needfully see this is a positive attack.
Critics frequently interpret Gothic novels as texts which exemplify the subjection of adult females, yet the same repression experienced by the male characters is often overlooked. The tightness of Victorian society allowed small room for sexual look and dictated sexual behavior for both adult females and work forces. Ultimately, both genders are every bit repressed in footings of societal parturiency. In comparing the function of the male within the two primary texts, it can be said that the perennial subject of the menace from the ‘other ‘ , in footings of either female sexual look or the release of the male imaginativeness demonstrates the consequence of Victorian society on the masculine signifier and reveals the subjection of the male in a signifier that is frequently overlooked in favor of a review of female subjugation during the same period. The map of the male is non needfully to review the patriarchal society of the nineteenth century by being depicted as weak but to underscore the manner in which social outlook and political orientations demoralise the genders.