Feminist Criticism in Dracula  

Table of Content

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a very high controversial piece of literature that is to this day analyzed by academia. Stoker’s Dracula touches on many different types of critical theories, this is the prime reason the novel is used so much for analyzing. This section, however, is going to focus on on critical theory called Feminist Criticism. Feminist Criticism is not able to be used to analyze the whole novel of Dracula, but rather focus in on the female characters used within the novel. Therefore, Dracula can be analyzed through Feminist Criticism by focusing on female characters such as Lucy Westenra, Mina Harker, and Dracula’s three brides.

Feminist Criticism is “…to investigate and analyze the differing representations of women and men in literary text…” and “…to explore ways in which such conventions are inscribed in a largely patriarchal canon” (Bennett & Royle 369). Throughout history, it is evident that men are the rulers of the universe, whereas women have always been less than. Feminism is the idea to make men and women equal to each other and not have one more superior than another, whether it be how one is treated to the amount of money one make. Through the lens of Feminist Criticism were are able to analyze these idea in a literary way.

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The first female character that can be analyzed by Feminist Criticism is Lucy Westenra. Within the novel, her character supports the idea of a patriarchal society. This is seen in Lucy’s journals, as well as in the narration of the other character’s journals. When writing to Mina, a dear friend of hers, she establishes herself as a member of “The Cult of True Womanhood”. Lucy tells Mina, “You and I, Mina dear, who are engaged and are going to settle down soon soberly into old married women, can despise vanity” (Stoker 58). Lucy’s willingness to “settle down” and become an “old married woman” is conventional of a woman in that era. She is fitting the mold that is expected of her. Another example that Lucy portrays that supports the idea of a patriarchal society is her eagerness to amuse her husband to be, Arthur Holmwood. It is implied when she writes to Mina, “I do not know myself if I shall ever speak slang; I do not know if Arthur likes it, as I have never heard him use any as yet” (Stoker 59). As seen in an patriarchal society, women are expected to naturally follow their husbands as Lucy does within the novel. Feminist Criticism would disapprove of Lucy since her character supports sexist and patriarchal beliefs.

The second female character that can be analyzed by Feminist Criticism is Mina Harker. Similar to Lucy, Mina can be analyzed by her own journal’s, as well as the journal’s of others throughout the novel. Early on in the novel, Mina writes to Lucy, “…I want to keep up with Jonathan’s studies, and I have been practicing shorthand very assiduously. When we are married I shall be able to be useful to Jonathan,…” (Stoker 55). Mina shows that she aims to fulfill her role in the patriarchal society as a servant to her husband, Jonathan Harker. This occurs again after Mina is married. Mina writes to Lucy, “…I had nothing to give him except myself, my life, and my trust, and that with these went my love and duty for all the days of my life” (Stoker 101). This sense of “duty” that she bestows on herself to give her whole life to her husband falls under gender roles due the sexist nature of the patriarchal society that she lives in. Feminist Criticism would argue that a woman, such as Mina, could sustain a healthy relationship with her husband and live the life that she wanted in the process, rather than just meeting the needs of her husband and abandoning her own.

The third female characters that can be analyzed by Feminist Criticism is Dracula’s three brides. Throughout the novel, Lucy and Mina are seen as the “good girls”, before turning into vampires, where as the three brides are seen as evil and sinister. However, in their own way they still represent a patriarchal system. While trapped in Dracula’s castle, Jonathan Harker encountered the brides that put him in a state of “desire”. When they hunt their prey, the bride’s transmit sexual innuendo, so that their prey doesn’t expect it coming. Jonathan writes about this experience saying, “I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips” (42). According to Feminist Criticism, in a patriarchal society there are “good girls”, like Mina and Lucy, who are pure and essential to their husbands, and there are “bad girls” who radiant sexual nature that are not considered for “marriage”, which are the brides. On the other hand, a feminist could argue that both, “good” and “bad” girls, are patriarchal, in the sense that it objectives the women rather than acknowledging them as individuals. The bride’s should be seen as scary blooding sucking vampires, but instead are seen in a sexual nature.

By using Feminist Criticism to analyze Stoker’s Dracula, one can concluded that the book was written with deep patriarchal beliefs in society. This is expressed when analyzing some of the female characters with in the novel that conform to the patriarchal ideas that were held during that era. Stoker’s Dracula touches on many different types of critical theories, including Feminist Criticism.

Work Cited

  1. Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royale. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism, and Theory.
  2. Fifth ed., New York, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.
  3. Stoker, Bram. ‘Dracula.’ Dracula, edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal, New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1997, pp. 9-312.

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Feminist Criticism in Dracula  . (2022, Feb 15). Retrieved from


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