Phallic instrument

However, as a vampire, Lucy openly exhibits the sensations of orgasmic pleasure: ‘The Thing in the coffin writhed…The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions…’ (Stoker pp.258-259). Therefore, Lucy clearly exhibits anarchistic behaviour, from which Victorian women were meant to abstain. Van Helsing’s men attempt to quell a feminist sexual uprising and assert male domination, by ending Lucy’s rampant female sexuality. As Fred Botting says: ‘the band of men symbolically subject her to phallic law by driving a stake through her heart and decapitating her’ (Botting p.151). This is established in the text, after Lucy’s destruction as a female vampire, by an overtly phallic instrument.

In the text, Lucy is described in terms of an absolute antithesis, for example: ‘voluptuous wantonness’ (Stoker p.252) relates to the vampire. In contrast to Lucy after the destruction of her vampirism, she is described as: ‘unequalled sweetness and purity’ (Stoker p.259). As Bram Dijkstra says: ‘Dracula is a very carefully constructed cautionary tale directed to men of the modern temper, warning them not to yield to the bloodlust of the feminist, the New Woman embodied by Lucy’ (Dijkstra p.348). Thus, Dracula endorses a male dogma concerning the accepted social position and sexuality of women in the Victorian era.

However, the text offers an explanation of the violent censure of Lucy’s rampant female sexuality from a male perspective. This is supplied by Jonathan Harker when he comes across three female vampires at Castle Dracula. The provocative appearance and behaviour of three vampire women provide a catalyst that juxtaposes Harker’s sexual awareness. Jonathan’s account of the women in: ‘There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear’ (Stoker p.51) is clearly contradictory, since his ‘longing’ and ‘fear’ disclose a man in turmoil with his sexual psyche. Certainly, Harker is attempting to control and rationalise his obvious sexual arousal, as the: ‘wicked burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips’ (Stoker p.51) indicates suppressed male sexuality in his encounter with the vampire women.

An interpretation of Jonathan’s character before entering Castle Dracula is offered through analyses of Harker’s journal entries. The novel begins with the journal, and the dates, time and places indicate significant traits, revealing the nature of Harker. For instance, the very first sentence of the text indicates the pedantic nature of Jonathan: ‘3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8.35p.m. on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late’ (Stoker p.9). In fact, the entire first paragraph of the text is organised in this way.

Furthermore, the first reference to Mina is written in the form of a memorandum: ‘…(mem., get recipe for Mina.)’ (Stoker p.9) indicating a lifestyle of organised conformity, along with the arrogant assumption that Mina will is an acquiescent woman. Importantly, this reveals Jonathan Harker’s perception of women as one of a male appendage, thus belonging to the domestic sphere. Harker then, is characterised symbolically as the epitome of the civilised western male and the three women vampires represent the sexually liberated New Woman, later reflected in the characters of Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker.

The apparent confusion of Jonathan Harker in the bizarre tryst with the female vampires can be explained as conflict within Harker’s sexual psyche. My suggestion here is that Harker is faced with a real view of innate male sexuality, in contrast to the extrinsically instituted social rhetoric of sexuality. Stoker then, writes of a form of sexual cruelty through social indoctrination, as clearly Jonathan Harker finds issues of sexuality problematical. Then the encounter with the three vampire women, juxtaposes natural sexual arousal with a socially fostered view. In the text, Harker suppresses visible signs of sexuality, endorsing rather than opposing the moral code propounded by Victorian society.

Internal conflicts are not an issue in Dracula, as Count Dracula’s autonomy is never seriously under threat from other vampires. Yet, in Interview With The Vampire antagonism is an omnipresent threat within vampire society since internal power struggles continually occur. The New World vampires commonly experience discord amongst their own kind, as they compete for power. Thus establishing amongst them a hierarchical order, as well as an omnipresent fear of rebellion from the subordinate vampire. Therefore, when Lestat indulges in grotesque forms of sexuality it is used as a mechanism to maintain superiority over Louis. Lestat clearly glories in sexual perversity when he realises he has found a way to keep Louis, and relishes sexual voyeurism, as he secretly observes Louis take Claudia.

Lestat’s perverse sexual pleasure shocks Louis: ‘It was Lestat…laughing, his body bent as he danced in the mud street….he taunted me …he’d caught me in the act’ (Rice p.83). However, both participate in sexual cruelty, when Claudia is made into a vampire, as Lestat and Louis both engage in paedophile and incestuous activities. This is seen as Louis and Lestat claim Claudia their as daughter and bed partner, offering to share their coffin with her during the day. By making Louis, the synthetic mother of Claudia, Lestat continues as dominant male vampire, because Louis is now trapped by his ‘maternal’ responsibilities for the child. Here, Anne Rice’s text reveals a feminist agenda connected to sexuality and power. The vampire relationship bears comparison to the mortal world, since the birth of children, has been a device with which to entrap women. Therefore, the dilemma of Louis, is doubled with that of subjugated mortal women.

Claudia is a crazy mixed up (vampire) kid, for she presents a number of paradoxes. Firstly, she has a considerable amount in common with her ‘father’ Lestat. Therefore, a Freudian psychoanalysis, where a child and parent of opposite sexes form a close bond is a particularly appropriate analysis of the relationship between Lestat and Claudia. This is evident since the seduction of entire families by Claudia, and Lestat’s daily menu of young woman as entree and young man as desert, show both vampires enjoy engaging in ritualistic sexual depravity. However, Claudia loves her ‘mother’ Louis more than she loves her ‘father’ Lestat and by exploiting the brutal nature ‘inherited’ from Lestat, Claudia and Louis escape, albeit temporarily. Consequently, the result of Claudia’s inherent nature of her ‘father’ has an inverse effect on Lestat’s power upon Louis.

As instead of keeping Louis submissive, it is Claudia’s defiance that temporarily liberates them both. To secure liberty, Claudia engages in activities which parallel the earlier paedophile and voyeuristic activities of the two male vampires as Claudia destroys Lestat in what Doane and Hodges justly name: ‘an erotic scene of violence…’ (Doane and Hodges p.161). Clearly, Lestat is aroused by his savage lust for young boys.

The paedophile-homoerotic sexual appetite of Lestat is found in Louis description: ‘His lips moved over…the tiny nipple…And Lestat knelt, the boy pressed against him, sucking hard, his own back arched and rigid, his body rocking back…’ (Rice pp. 148 & 149). Besides which, as Claudia watches the scene with sadistic relish, both she and Lestat indulge in a doubling of cruel sexuality. However, the: ‘rage of a monstrous girl vampire against her infantilization’ (Doane and Hodges p.169) shows Claudia the more Machiavellian and astute of the two dominant vampires, as she has succeeded in exploiting the weaknesses of Lestat in order to destroy him. Therefore, the fusion of child and vampire bears shrewd sexual cruelty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *