Alexander Lucero AP English 12 Yu 5. 17. 12 Homosexuality Portrayed in Literature: Threat To Yourself and Those Around You The Victorian era and Elizabethan era had many homophobic attributes, just as today’s society does. Gothic writers of the Victorian Age played off of the fear and immorality of homosexuality and used those feelings as a basis for their novels. Bram Stoker told a story about a vampire that challenged the Victorian gender roles and managed to reverse them, making men faint like women, and making women powerful like men, and called it Dracula.
Mary Shelley created a a physical being out of a man’s suppressed homosexuality due to his Victorian male upbringing; a man named Frankenstein. Robert Stevenson described what happens when a homosexual male attempts to live double lives to cover up his true feelings, and entitled it The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Elizabethan era, like the Victorian era, had its own view of homosexuality. Iago, a man with the tongue of a serpent, is believed to be homosexual, and because of his homosexuality, he brings to fruition the tragic deaths of the the main characters in Shakespeare’s Othello.
These depictions of homosexuality and gay men are not far from what really happens to them in today’s society, and are also not far off from the arguments that are used in opposition of their lives and lifestyles. There is the argument of Nurture vs. Nature; the argument discusses whether or not we learn to do things just because that is the way they are, or because we are brought up to be the way that we are. In the case of homophobia, there is an immense amount of nurture. It is this nurture that has caused such opposition for the LGBTQ community.
Mitchell Walker, a renown psychologist gives an account of homosexuality in the Victorian era, and provides an example of the homophobic nature of the society. “Sodomy was punishable by death from the reign of Henry VIII until 1861, when it was made an imprisonable felony. Prior to 1861, gay people were commonly hung, and even burned at the stake. A commentator in 1699 notes that homosexuality is ‘a crime that sinks below the basest epithet, is so foul that it admits no aggravation and cannot be expressed in its horrors but by the doleful shrieks and groans of the damned’”(Walker par. 8) In some of today’s countries, especially in African countries, sodomy and homosexuality are still punishable by death. In Uganda, under law, if a man is found to be homosexual, or if someone even has a suspicion of a man being homosexual, he can be put to death. It is almost like the Red Scare, where a person could be sent to prison just for a suspicion that he was a communist. Very recently, in Liberia, legislation was passed that can sentence a man to a life sentence in prison for homosexuality and homosexual activities.
Because of these scenarios in today’s time, it is apparent that the legal side of homophobia has weathered the course of time and is still strong today. Homosexuality gained public attention from the Victorians in 1895 during the trial of Oscar Wilde. He was sentenced to face two years of hard labor for sodomy(Muskovitz par. 2). It was now brought to light, to the Victorian society, the “threat” that homosexuality held. Even the medical field condemned homosexuality, as shown in Muskovitz’s “The Threat of Otherness in Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “In the nineteenth century, homosexuality became an object of medicalization [… the epidemiological horror fiction, including Dracula, encodes the fear and anxiety of the homophobic society, that is, homosexuals want to ‘corrupt’ heterosexuals (481)[… ] it was a commonplace in people’s imagination in England that sodomy was transported from Catholic countries as Italy and France, or from more exotic places (66). Sodomy had been looked at with more suspicion and condemned when it came to be seen as the chief cause for venereal diseases, associated with syphilis. ”(Muskovitz par. 7). The belief that homosexuals want to corrupt heterosexuals still strongly exists today.
In fact, it is one of the major arguments that opposes gay marriage. People believe that by allowing homosexuals to marry that it will threaten “the sanctity of marriage”. Homosexual men are infamous for being promiscuous, at least that is the label that has been placed on most if not all homosexual men, and for this reason sexually transmitted diseases have become something expected of them. This must have been a belief in the Victorian era, since syphilis was the disease that was feared and said to have come from sodomy. In this era, violence from society also attacked homosexuality.
Homosexuals were hung, or lynched. (Sadownick par. 5) This history of homophobia shows that it grows in society from a person’s upbringing. Things occur in a person’s life that cause them to act in certain ways and believe specific things. The public hatred of gay men taught the generations that being gay was wrong, and that people that were gay needed to be punished. Homophobia was strong in the days of the Gothic writers, and though it has weakened, it still affects people in today’s society. It even dates back to the Renaissance days, and is presented by Dante Aligheri is his Inferno. And for this reason doth the smallest round/ Seal with its signet Sodom[… ]”. Sodom is a city known for crude sexual acts, which is where sodomy gets its name from. Since the Inferno is a world created by Dante, he believes that sodomy is a sin that is worse than suicide, and decides to put it just before the entrance to the Eighth Circle of Hell. In Dracula, the protagonists, the Crew of Light, represent one of the strongest opponents of homosexuality; the Church, “Just as today’s non-heteronormative sex is oppressed by social institutions, Count Dracula and his vampirism is triumphed by Van Helsing’s Crew of Light. (Whitnall par. 14). Another argument against homosexuality is that it is impossible for a man to love another man. While in Castle Dracula, Johnathan Harker hears the three female vampires shout to Dracula, “‘You yourself never loved; you never love! ‘”(Stoker 41). The Count is the homosexual figure in Bram Stoker’s novel and the women are making the argument that because of the Count’s promiscuity and homosexuality, he is not able to love like they, as heterosexual women, can. Christopher McGunnigle, author of “My Own Vampire: Metamorphosis of the Queer Monster in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula” believes that, “[… Dracula represents a ‘perversion of normal heterosexuality’, an incarnation of the society-syled pervert in Harker(and all of us)”(McGunnigle par. 9). It is this belief that expresses why Dracula was seen originally as a figure of horror. In Stevenson’s story, Mr. Hyde is even seen as the dark side of a repressed homosexual’s second life, therefore, that story also instilled fear into its readers in the Victorian Era. Lanyon says to Utterson, “Then you must know as well as the rest of us, that there was something queer about that gentleman-something that gave a an a turn-I don’t know rightly how to say it, sir, beyond this; that you felt it in your marrow kind of cold and thin” (Stevenson 50) showing that Mr. Hyde is a terrifying figure, but because of something on the inside of him. In Frankenstein, it is apparent that Henry Clerval’s father had been brought up to be closed minded, and therefore was against homosexuality and his son’s relationship with Victor Frankenstein, “His father was a narrow-minded trader[…]”(Shelley 30). Society’s homophobic tendencies are also expressed by the life of the Creature, who “[… pleads for acceptance from a blind man. He says of people ‘unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me. I have good dispositions. My life has been hitherto harmless and in some degree beneficial, but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend they behold only a detestable monster. ‘”(Walker par. 30). This holds true to today. Many people who do support homosexuality believe that gay people have “good dispositions” just as the Creature did, yet they are still hated.
Victor is also tormented by the homophobia of society, although his torture is not brought on by his society, but by himself. He feels that he “[…] had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much more ([he] persuaded [him]self) was yet behind. Yet [his] heart overflowed with kindness and the love of virtue”(Shelley 72). There is a difference between the Creature and Victor in how they dealt with their societal antagonism. Victor stood strong, and still remained kind-hearted, while the Creature hated society for their rejecting him, and became the monster everyone thought he was.
Today, gay people, especially youth, respond to homophobia in these ways. Some start fights, and hate the world, and end up becoming the terror that society believes homosexuals to be, where as others hold their heads high, and show a smile to those that punch and bite at them. Some gay men, even heterosexual men, are not comfortable with their sexuality. “The partner and competitor are secretly one, or opposite sides of the same function”(Walker par. 11). The homosexual side of a heterosexual man creates a problem within.
John Charles Frenceshchina, author of Homosexualities in English Theatre: From Lyly to Wilde, “[labeled] the phenomenon ‘homosexual panic’,” and discussed that “the ‘paranoid Gothic’–plots in which male ‘soulmates’ are engaged in a close, often murderous relationship- is a central locus for homosexual-homophobic discourse. “(Frenceschina). This ‘homosexual panic’ faces many “new borns”, that is, those who have recently realized that they are homosexual, or have recently come out.
Usually, when a male is brought up to be opposed to homosexuality, and he realizes he is gay, this panic occurs. They are not sure what to do, and so they repress their feelings. This is apparent in the character Victor Frankenstein, who is believed “[… ]to be exhibiting ‘homosexual panic’- hysteria resulting from a clash between intense homosexual desire and social condemnation”(Sadownick par. 8). This is obviously brought upon him by his rich and recognized Victorian upbringing. What exacerbates his dilemma is his family’s wanting of him to marry Elizabeth.
Although he says he loves Elizabeth, his true feelings lie somewhere else, and with that expectation, he loses sight of what he should do. Victor gives birth to his Creature, who “[… ] comes to him with open arms, lovingly. But the face he turns to Frankenstein is the mirror of Frankenstein’s own self-alientation, his crucial fault, his ‘failure to love'”(Walker par. 26). This is a clear representation of Victor’s homosexual panic. The Creature is a manifestation of Victor’s repressed feelings, which Victor sees as an ugly, terrible, thing, so he grows to loathe it.
Douglass Sadownick, writer of “The Man Who Loved Frankenstein”, relates his life to that of Victor’s, when he himself realized he was gay, and describes how Victor’s “[…] fear of retribution[…] mirrored a dimly felt agony [he] quietly suffered as [his] budding gay person-hood was being internally attacked by resilient messages of hate (what [he] later learned as ‘toxic shame’ and ‘internalized homophobia’)”(Sadownick par. 1). Walker believes that these repressed feelings, “fester in the darkness, breeding monsters. “(Walker par. 4). These repressed feelings essentially grow into something much more worse.
When these feelings are repressed, they can tear a person apart on the inside, by not allowing one to truly release and show what he is. A man could also let his homosexual feelings blossom proudly into the public eye, and face scorn by people he once held dear, and even have them walk out of his life. There are usually unfavorable outcomes for both of these decisions. One can stand proud, and be themselves no matter what the consequence. A person can also repress their feelings, which has a less desirable outcome, “In Freudian psychoanalysis, social restraints, what is referred to as the superego, epress basic instincts(the id) in act referred to as repression. However, repression pressurizes id instincts resulting in an internal conflict between the superego and id. This conflict seeps through the cracks of one’s subconscious to manifest in anxiety and at its most extreme, psychosis. ” (McGunnigle par. 8) This is the aftermath. As mentioned in the paragraph before, repressed homosexual feelings can grow into monsters that tear a person apart from the inside, while the person still shows a happy hetero facade. Victor faces an inward attack because of his homosexuality.
It is easy to see that since Victor represses his homosexuality and that the Creature is a manifestation of his festering feelings(Sadownick). Sadownick argues that the characters are “[… ] representatives of the gay ego, id, and superego, as personifications of a single person’s mental states. ” and argues “[… ] that ‘Shelley is suggesting that the monster may only exist in the creator’s mind. ‘”(Sadownick par. 9). The Creature that Victor created, requests that the latter “[… ]must create a female for [the former] with whom [he] can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for [his] being'”(Shelley 124).
If the Creature is a manifestation of Victor’s repressed feelings, and Victor is the homosexual, it only makes sense that the Creature is heterosexual, requesting specifically, a woman, instead of just another being. The Creature however, does face the same prejudice that homosexuals face. After his birth, he is rejected by his creator, his father. Sadownick argues this point by saying, “[…] the Creature. having internalized his creator’s rejection of him, has now seen himself as ‘wretched’, not unlike the way modern gay people internalize parental heterosexist prejudice. “(Sadownick par. 8).
Victor, his creator, hated him for what he was. Because his father, the first person he loved hated him, it made him believe that something was wrong with him, therefore he hated himself. In today’s time, this parental rejection becomes one of the greatest causes of a homosexual’s internalized homophobia. This can lead to many dark paths. Some youth commit suicide because they fear they will never be accepted by their parents. Some turn to substance abuse to forget about the pain. That homophobia turns into self destruction. This idea of self-destruction is shown through the corpse of Dr.
Henry Jekyll, “Utterson knew that he was looking on the body of a self-destroyer. “(Stevenson 54). Dr. Jekyll ends up losing his battle with his other half, Mr. Hyde. Since he became Mr. Hyde through the drinking of an elixir, it can be said that this represents substance abuse as Dr. Jekyll tried to separate his heterosexual self from his homosexual one, the being that he loathes. Homophobia not only afflicts pain inwardly, but also outwardly. In Frankenstein, all of Victor’s loved ones die. Probably the most tragic event that happened in Victor’s life was the death of Henry Clerval.
However, the first to die was Victor’s mother, “She died calmly and her countenance expressed affection even in death”(Shelley 29). The death of Victor’s loved ones can be seen as the rejection by his family due to his homosexuality. It would make sense that Victor’s mother was the first to die, since she had his life planned for him, as mothers do. Since he was young, she had a plan that he would marry Elizabeth. It can be seen as Victor coming out, and his mother being the first to reject him because her plans and hopes would never come true for her son.
Next is the death of his younger brother, who looked up to him, and being only the age of 10, cannot fully think for himself. When his mother rejected Victor, he thought to something was wrong, so he rejected Victor. After is Justine Moritz. She loved William like her son, and since William left Victor’s life, she too left with him. Next is Henry, Victor’s love interest and childhood friend. Perhaps, he leaves because he does not want to be found out and face the same fate as Victor. After Henry, Elizabeth dies. She loved Victor, and grew up with him. No matter what, she stood by him, until they day of their wedding.
The last to die of heartbreak, is Victor’s father Alphonse. Victor was always the light in his father’s eyes, and he was until everyone else turned on him, and as the patriarch, Alphonse too had to leave with his family. It can also be seen that inwardly, Victor hated himself. He became a recluse when he was making the creature, which is his isolation as he deals with his inner homosexuality. Because of his isolation, he pushed his family away, because he feared they would reject him if they knew, so he rejected them as a defense. In Stevenson’s story, Mr. Hyde negatively affects society.
He commits murder. It can be seen as a defense mechanism because of his homosexuality. Oliver S. Buckton studies a case in which a man was accusing another man, Symons, of sexually molesting him in his sleep, “[… ]Symons constructs a defense for his inner desires, preventing others from having access to them; but this process results in ‘two selves’ that become ‘separate’. The outer self, unsurprisingly, is viewed as artificial, suggesting that the concealment is unsatisfactory as a way of resolving his sexual dilemma. ”(Buckton 74). This can be seen as a “Jekyll and Hyde’ syndrome.
The man suppressed his homosexual feelings, so they found another way out. In terms of an outward attack due to homosexuality, Count Dracula becomes a very violent figure. The Victorian age masculinity felt threatened by “sexual and cultural dissidence”, and when a combination of both faced the Victorian male, they began to attack back, therefore the homophobia grew. (Buckton 15). Muskovitz “states that “if fixed gender roles represent order and gender roles in flux stand for chaos (a lack of order), then one might argue that Dracula, the vampire, represents chaos and threatens English values of gender roles” (98).
The character of the vampire definitely carries in itself the anxiety in respect to homosexuality. The act of bloodsucking is a metaphor for coitus as the canine tooth penetrates into the orifice on the neck. ”(Muskovitz par. 2). The act of penetration becomes a recurring theme in Dracula. Count Dracula is a major threat to Victorian gender roles, and exposes the inner homosexual desires of the Victorian man. ( Whitnall par. 2). Another major theme in the novel is masculinity, which is challenged by Dracula. There is a scene in Dracula in which Van Helsing makes a comment to Quincy that suggests that the men are losing their masculinity.
McGunnigle analyzes this line, “’ I suggest you use your big bowie knife. ‘ This side comment can mean one of two analogies: one that [Quincy] reasserts his masculinity by slaying Dracula with his phallic weapon, or two, an indulgence in a homoerotic act”(McGunnigle par. 10). If it is the first meaning that McGunnigle presents, then it suggests that the men must reclaim their dominance. If it is the second, then it is suggesting that as masculine as these men are, they still have some homosexual desire. Dracula altered the the gender roles of the Victorian age in this novel, and “[… brought to greatness a war between the establishment of gender roles, threatened by the overtly (homo)sexual presence of Count Dracula, who turned women into harlots and men into sissies, before Abraham Van Helsing and his Crew of Light and Count’s reign of terror to reaffirm their own faltering masculinity. ”(McGunnigle par. 1) According to Richard Dellamora, author of Masculine Desire: The Sexual Politics of Victorian Aestheticism, believes that Dracula is a piece of literature that creates a masculine crisis. The act of penetration changes for men, because of Dracula, turning men into the receiver, instead of the penetrator.
Jenna Whitnall, writer of “Taboo: Dracula and Stoker’s Forbidden Sexual Metaphors”, explains the greek belief of homosexuality, “ According to Halperin;s recount of Caelius Aurelianus’s work on molles(Greek men who desired to be in a sexually submissive role)’the male desire to be penetrated by another male… represents a voluntary abandonment of the culturally constructed masculine identity in favour of the culturally constructed female one’”(Whitnall par. 10), She is arguing that some men do secretly have a desire to be submissive, since men are always thought to be dominant.
This secret desire is depicted through Johnathan Harker, when he is about to be penetrated by the three female vampires in Castle Dracula, “I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited-waited with a beating heart”(Stoker 41). In a way, he was excited that he wasn’t in control, and even more excited at the thought of being penetrated. In fact, Harker is the major depiction of men’s masculinity shifted to women’s frailness. “[Harker’s] behavior strays from stereotypical masculine machismo as Dracula’s women hold him prone and frightened much as one might expect from a female stereotype”(McGunnigle par. 0). McGunnigle’s argument is shown in many part of the novel, including more than just Harker’s femininity”, “I tried to be stern with him, as one is with a woman under these circumstances[…] Men and women are so different in manifestations or nervous strength and weakness”(Stoker 186). This quotation shows that there is indeed a distinction between what is considered masculine and what is considered feminine. This quotation is about Johnathan Harker, who is being made weak because of his wife’s lack of health. Arthur Holmwood is made feminine also by Dracula. He reeled and would have fallen had we not caught him. “(Stoker 232). This happened when they had taken Arthur to slay his undead fiance Lucy. Not even the leader of the Crew of Light, Van Helsing, could escape Dracula’s gender inversion. “The great Abraham Van Helsing suffers from bouts of hysterical behavior, a tendency whose very semantics come from the Greek hysteria, meaning the womb, implying femininity. ”(McGunnigle par. 7). Van Helsing actually had many of these “bouts of hysterical behavior” and probably cried the most in the novel.
It is one of those things where people say an extremely masculine man is making up for something that he lacks. Even in Jekyll and Hyde was there a moment where a man became a woman. “[…] weeping like a woman or a lost soul[…]”(Stevenson 51). Poole explains to Utterson that he and the other attendants are hearing crying from inside Jekyll’s lab. Since Jekyll is the only one in the lab, Stevenson is effeminizing his main character, strengthening the argument that Dr. Jekyll is homosexual. Dracula not only reducing men to their weaker forms, he also strengthens women to make them dominant.
By turning men into the receivers, women become the penetrators, as Whitnall suggests that, “The fangs of the female vampire, thus, are the male phallus, and their penetration of the male’s neck is the sexual intercourse. It is through this phallocentric argument that the homoerotic undertones of the novel begin to reveal themselves. ”(Whitnall par. 7). In Stoker’s novel, only the women are made Vampires, and only men are the victims. The three women in Castle Dracula are the first that appear in the novel, and from the instant they appear, they begin to dominate Johnathan Harker.
Even Lucy, after she is transofrmed, becomes extremely dominant, and tries to seduce her fiance. Whitnall also argues that, “Assuming that all female vampires in the novel are male- internally through their sexuality and externally through their fangs- one must agree that whether the vampire is anatomically female or male, the siring of a male human can always be paralleled to homosexual intercourse”(Whitnall par. 8). Therefore, the underlying tone of homsexuality becomes extremely prominent, by saying that every vampire bite counts as homosexual intercourse.
This means that Harker was awaiting sexual intercourse when he was about to be bitten by the women, waiting with a beating heart. Women, after being infected by Dracula, take on much more masculine roles. They gain much strength, and they gain fangs, which as mentioned previously, represent the male genitalia. Whitnall explains that, “[… ]after Dracula’s vampiric children have died, they are reborn with internal drives of a hegemonic male while retaining their female anatomy”(Whitnall par. 6), this, again, is stating that after vampire has gotten to a woman, they take on the characteristics of males.
Even in Othello there is an inversion from female to male roles that disrupts the Elizabethan society. Iago tells Cassio, “Our general’s wife is now the general[…](Shakespeare II. iii. 297-298), when Cassio fears that he will never get Othello’s love back. This is showing that Othello is under control of his wife, and that his life surrounds her. What makes this worse is that this is all part of Iago’s plan, and that he has turned Desdemona into Othello’s whole life, but in a negative way. “It is nonetheless one of the most erotic and sexually saturated novels of the Victorian Era. (Whitnall par. 1). Dracula is a non-heterosexual character on his own, even without the threat to the gender roles of the Victorian era. Dracula is the cause of the inversions made in Stoker’s world, and is the source of the homosexual acts presented in the novel. The women in Castle Dracula present an interesting point in their dialogue. McGunnigle analyzes one line of dialogue from the novel, “’Are we to have nothing to-night? ‘(40). Apparently, Dragula’s harem is sexually deprived by him because of his either impotent or homosexual nature. ”(McGunnigle par. 28).
It is just strange, that a man can be secluded in a castle with three obviously promiscuous women, and not engage in intercourse with them. This adds to the argument that Dracula is a homosexual, along with the fact that he “[… ]makes clear his intentions that Harker is to be his boytoy”(McGunnigle par. 29) In the words of Freud, vampires are amphigenously inverted, which means that they have sexual interests for both sexes. (Muskovitz par. 10) In other words, they are bisexual. Bisexuality challenged the gender roles even more, because it no longer was a battle between heterosexuality and homosexuality, but now there was an added opponent.
Bisexuality has negative reactions in society, much worse than homosexuality does. However, it is gets negative reactions from the homosexual society. This means that bisexuals have increased isolation, which would explain why Dracula’s castle lies in the middle of nowhere, and why only 4 people are in his life daily; the three women and his messenger. Many homosexuals believe that bisexuality is just a step before a person calls themselves homosexual. They believe that bisexuals do not want to face the retribution that ‘out’ homosexuals face, and so they maintain sexual relationships with the opposite sex.
Others think that bisexuals just choose not to claim homosexuality of bisexuality because they just want sex, and don’t care where it comes from as long as they get it. To the hetero society, bisexuality is just as bad as homosexuality, if not worse. Whitnall agrees with this belief, when she says, “Dracula’s potent sexual powers dominate not only females, but males as well. “(Whitnall), which means that Dracula not only holds attraction for women in the novel, but for men. This could explain why he makes Lucy Westenra his first female victim, and Johnathan Harker his first male victim.
It would also explain why Dracula wants to use the women, Lucy and Mina, to get to the men. To go further into the “Dracula is gay” argument, further, one point must be made. Blood is a major object in the novel, since it is through the blood that Dracula alters his victims. It is apparent that blood, specifically Dracula’s blood, represents semen. Semen is a life giving liquid. (Whitnall par. 9). Arthur, Lucy’s husband-to-be gives his blood to the girl, three days later followed by Dr Seward, one of Lucy’s former suitors. The third operation is done by Quincey Morris and finally Dr Van Helsing provides blood.
Symbolically, blood is interchangeable with semen. “(Muskovitz par. 4). The men did the blood transfusions to give life to Lucy. Since semen is life giving, and blood represents semen, then the men are figuratively having sex with lucy, showing their dominance. Even Mina faces the blood of Dracula. She has a child, and “[… ]thinks that the brave spirit of Quincey Morris has passed into the child, but in reality, it is Dracula’s blood that has been transferred into the veins of the little boy. Quincey has two fathers: Jonathan and Dracula.
Schaffer calls this “the rehabilitation of Dracula’s and Harker’s love” (482) and Quincey can be seen as “the child of Dracula’s and Harker’s mutual desire”(Muskovitz par. 5). This means that a same-sex couple has a child, which in today’s society is seen as a monstrosity. One has to wonder what it must have meant during this era? McGunnigle divided Dracula into two alter egos, “Dragula”, and “Wild Thing”, to help explain even more thoroughly why Dracula was a figure of terror in the Victorian era. “Dragula’s drag nature represents and displays the vampire’s sexual ambiguity that makes the vampire so terrifying”(McGunnigle par. 7). The count is a rich, well dressed, well groomed man. He stands out amongst other men, and is easily spotted by Johnathan Harker when he is out with his wife. This shows his effeminacy among the other men, which begins the deconstruction of the boundary between masculine and feminine gender roles. His feminine appearance borders on the line of a drag queen in today’s society, hence the name “Dragula”. McGunnigle also explains, “While Dragula emphasizes the fear of gender deconstruction, the ‘Wild Thing’ is a direct threat because of its representation of uncontrolled human sexuality. ”(McGunnigle par. 6). Dracula can turn into a bat, which is the form he used to haunt Mina and Lucy in their bedrooms. It brings a perversion to his character, by making it as if he enjoys voyeur, and spying on women and men, since he also kept an eye on Renfield while he was in Dr. Seward’s home/hospital. The focus of Wild Thing, however is Dracula’s wolf form, “The werewolf is typically a creature of horrid un-repression, releasing base animal instincts that form the basis for higher passionate desires. The ‘Wild Thing’ expresses this repressed sexual aggression that Dragula’s emasculated form cannot unleash.
It is a creature of pure id instinct, searching for food and reproduction, both combined into the vampire’s bite”(McGunnigle par. 36). In this case, Dracula represents the uncontrolled urge for sexually activity, which in the Victorian era was extremely indecent. Even more indecent considering the fact that Dracula is homosexual. “After all, who wouldn’t secretly rather have a monster in bed, than a monster under their bed? ”(Whitnall par. 15) In these works of Gothic literature dealing with homosexuality, there is something that is missing:Women. At least, that is true in Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde.
In Frankenstein, all the women are killed off, and are barely present in the novel. Caroline, Victor’s mother dies at the beginning of the novel, and Elizabeth dies in the end. There is an absence of women in Jekyll and Hyde, but there is an array of male characters. A strong theme in is the fact that birth happens without a mother’s womb. Victor Frankenstein gives birth to the Creature, on his own, therefore he is both mother and father. He knows that this is wrong, and states, “Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you! You have made me wretched beyond expression. “(Shelley 82).
There is intense guilt in this quotation. Victor knows that it was wrong to have given life on his own. Unlike Victor, Dracula does not feel guilt. He gives birth in a completely different way, however. Since his blood his interchangeable with semen, when he bites a victim, he transfers his ancient bloodline to them. He gives birth to new life, gives birth to his vampire children, after the living being dies away. Muskovitz discusses this in her article, “The vampire does not need a woman to give birth that is why he is a divine creature. In this sense, he is father and mother at the same time”(Muskovitz par. 24).
This is a major theme in both Frankenstein and Dracula. It can also be argued that Dr. Jekyll gives life without a woman, since he does indeed create Mr. Hyde on his own accord. Along with this birth without the mother, in Dracula there is also a recurring theme of the victimization of women. Dracula’s only victims are women, and the women are the only ones that die in Dracula, because they are hunted by the Crew of Light. There is also a victimization of women in Frankenstein, “I pursued nature to her hiding place”(Shelley 39). “Pursue” insinuates a chase, or a hunt. And by referring to nature as she, Victor is hunting a women.
A big theme of victimizing women exists in Othello. Iago is believed to be homosexual. In fact, he becomes a demon in Shakespeare’s play, and attacks the reputations of women, but rarely does damage to men. Victor Cahn, author of Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Histories, Comedies, and Romances, supports this claim by explaining, “The references to ‘wife’ and ‘spinster’ suggest Iago’s antagonism to women. ”(Cahn 106). He is referring to these words while speaking to Cassio, and using them in negative manners, the way kids today say “that’s gay” for something that is “lame”.
Most of Iago’s antagonism is targeted towards his wife Emilia. He is not fond of her, and makes it apparent to all. He makes it apparent to Cassio, refuting what Cassio was saying about her being a great woman, “Sir, would you she give you so much of her lips/ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,/ You would have enough”(Shakespeare 2. 1. 12-14). He is saying that she talks too much, and that all she does is nag. He has negative feelings toward his wife, and he indeed makes it apparent to all.
However, he refuses to talk about men, the way that he talks about women, which suggests his homosexuality. In this scene, Othello is asking Iago about Cassio, but Iago refuses to say anything that would go against Cassio’s reputation, “Touch me not so near. /I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/ Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio”(Shakespeare 2. 3. 235-237). It is suggested even more that Iago is homosexual because he talks about men highly, and when Emilia and Desdemona are talking about a horrible man, Iago says, “Fie, there is no such man. It is impossible. (Shakespeare 4. 2. 158). He will talk about women, and even explained to Desdemona and Emilia that he has loathing for women by speaking about them in the same light that Desdemona and Emilia are speaking about men. Iago has a very close relationship with men, even if it is not sexually, it is brotherly. Or, in the case of him and Roderigo, master and the ass. He does show great affection for him however, even if it is to allow his plan to come to fruition, “I have professed me the friend, and I confess me knot to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness”( Shakespeare 1. . 379-381). He holds close bonds with many men, like Cassio. These bonds were built through war, which is why all these men that he is poisoning trust him so much. Of these men, his greatest target is Othello. When he plans with Othello to kill Cassio, he says, “I am your own forever. ”(Shakespeare 3. 3. 546). These words resemble a wedding vow, saying that Iago will belong to Othello until death(Hall 81). In this sense, Iago is planning to take the place of Desdemona. He slanders her good name, by titling her a strumpet, which is the cause of Othello’s wanting to murder her.
When she is gone, Iago will have the opportunity to be the only one to love Othello. It is this relationship that makes Iago the most demonized. The whole story is his destroying the life of Othello. He says to Roderigo, “I hate the Moor. My cause is hearted. ”(Shakespeare 1. 3. 408-409). He has great despise for the Moor, and the process through which he tears apart his life is extremely wicked. It demonizes Iago, a homosexual, and gives the Elizabethan society a person to fear. Elizabethan and Victorian society had their own view of homosexuality, though they both greatly paralleled each other and that of today’s society.
There was a fear of homosexuality, because it was something nobody quite understood, and don’t understand today. That fear spawned into aggression and opposition, which is represented in the many works of literature to come out of these times. Society does not truly understand the hardships that gay people face, though it says it does. A person should walk a mile in the shoes of a homosexual, and count the number of times that another person makes them feel less than human. No matter what though, homosexuality is still around, and is becoming more and more accepted as time progresses.
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Cite this Homosexuality in Victorian and Elizabethan Literature
Homosexuality in Victorian and Elizabethan Literature. (2016, Oct 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/homosexuality-in-victorian-and-elizabethan-literature/