In the novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, we are introduced to two specific ladies that are essential to the essence of this gothic, horror novel. These two women are Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra. The purpose for these two women was for Stoke to clearly depict the two types of women: the innocent and the contaminated. In the beginning, the women were both examples of the stereotypical flawless women of this time period. However, as the novel seems to progress, major differences are bound to arise. Although both women, Lucy and Mina, share the same innocent characteristics, it’s more ascertain that with naïve and inability of self control, Lucy creates a boundary that shows the difference between these two ladies and ultimately causes her downfall. Therefore, Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra both have similarities and differences.
Mina Harker is the epitome of the stereotypical Victorian era woman. Mina tends to be more conservative and she’s basically in the image of perfection. Dr. Van Helsing, an expert Dutch professor, once described Mina as a heavenly woman. Mina, explained by Dr. Van Helsing, “is one of God’s women, fashioned by his own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven where we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth” (198). Mina’s pureness and innocence is her most loved quality and she’s always be liked as pure and clean, even by the almighty God. Mina’s main conflict in the novel is keeping her innocence and purity when she was with the main antagonist, Dracula. One time, after multiple sessions of Dracula sucking her blood, a wafer was put on her head, a mark branded on her forehead, and she announced, “Unclean! Unclean! Even the Almighty shuns my polluted flesh! I must bear this mark of shame upon my forehead until the Judgment Day” (314). There was always an element of suspense as to if Mina was going to remain as the Mina that’s pure and innocent. There’s also an element of suspense that Mina might in fact turn into someone like Lucy. Mina has this power of men that no other women have. She has the power over them from her sexuality. She often represents the man’s desires and weaknesses. Mina is very intellectual around men, but emotionally submissive around them. The innocence of Mina sort of aided her into drifting away from Count Dracula. Her innocence also aided in helping her to continue to be as conservative as she was initially in the novel. In short, her flawlessness endured to be as clean as her forehead.
Lucy Westerna is really similar to Mina in a multitude of examples, but Lucy is much more affectionate and exposed. Lucy also has the same characteristics of being innocent, as well as being beautiful. Lucy is very sweet, youthful, naïve, carefree, playful, and loving. Lucy once attracted three suitors total, and when she had to choose one, she said, “Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?” (62). Lucy often lets people step on her so she can please them and she wishes that everyone, as well as herself, can get what they want. She really doesn’t know what she wants in life and she’s also very childish when making decisions. At one point in the story, Lucy writes to Mina. She writes about freedom, saying that she “doesn’t want to be free” (64). Lucy often was different from Mina in the desires that Lucy wants. Lucy was way more sensual and sensitive than that of Mina and also allowed Count Dracula to possess her. The ultimate difference between Mina and Lucy is the amount and ability of self control each of them has. Also, they both reap the same amount of purity in which they both allowed themselves to stray away from the Count.
Mina, on one hand, always had some kind of poise and self control and she also seem to seek out God when Dracula would pounce on her. She would always yell, “God pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril. And in mercy pity those to whom she is dear!’ Then she began to rub her lips as though to cleanse them from pollution” (305). When Dracula took Mina in with him, she always had signs of regret and often thought “what have I done?” (304). The characteristic that successfully saves her was her ability to continue to be strong and continue to control herself. Lucy, on the other hand, usually was weak and she didn’t even try to fight off Dracula. She often tries to not recollect the events that occurred between the two. In the end, Mina was able to actually go back to her old habits and be back into a pure state, while Lucy, sadly, was not able to. Lucy turned into a vampire, and as a vampire her terrible characteristics were more apparent than those of when she was pure. While Lucy was a vampire, he eyes were “unclean and full of hell-fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs we knew” (222-223). Lucy was not only an active threat to children but her desires for the men of the land also posed an active threat. At one point, Dr. Seward recorded, “at that moment, the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing; had she then been killed…” (223). Both Lucy and Mina get to a common phase of purity but since Lucy has a lack of self control and she has unexpected childish qualities, she eventually had to get back her qualities of innocence in her death.
The two main women of Dracula both have very similar qualities. Other than that, they also have the same strong differences. In this time era, women were represented as this perfect, loving, and intimate person; however, they often liked to drift from this stereotype of perfection. The difference often showed the women that were polluted and the women that were pure. Mina, bright and a heart of gold, pushed her way through the power of Dracula and maintained her inner holiness. Lucy, naïve and diffident, fell under the power of Dracula and was unable to maintain her sensual desires. The contrast that was apparent through these two women helped show the ultimate difference of the women in the Victorian time period and the society of Transylvania. However, in the end, these two women both exhibited the state of purity and was precisely how Bram Stoker though women, also men, should be no matter what situation or life they are in.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula: With an Introduction by George Stade. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print.