As part of the module LIT3033 Late Victorian Gothic: Deviance, Decadence, Degeneration I am reading Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. Many are familiar with the story as a direct result of the numerous film and television productions that have given it a fair chunk of media attention. I read it because after enduring Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series in order to prove a point (that they were badly written), I felt that I needed to have a taste of quality vampire fiction to get me back into the groove of it. Stoker by no means invented the vampire, but he arguably invented the modern vampire (and no – not the type that sparkles!). His Dracula is the perfect creation – he can move from Transylvania to London and around the streets undetected, he is able to adopt the guise of the perfect English gentlemen to suit his needs and he takes advantage of the sexualised Lucy.
Vampires often go hand in hand with sexuality. In my opinion, J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’ is a more sexualised tale, drawing out the power dynamic and creating steaming tension, presenting the readers with a scene that cannot be read in any way as other than a homoerotic experience between the two women.
But sexuality is not something that I am looking at in my research project on Stoker’s Dracula, I have decided to stretch myself somewhat beyond what I would call my “safety zone” and allow myself to pursue my long-standing interest with psychiatry by applying this to Dracula. I’ve thus far looked at the legal reforms that took place over the 19th century and how this could have shaped Stoker’s narrative. No doubt I will provide you with suitable and sufficient reading to stick your own teeth into as I read secondary criticism and look at documents from the 19th century that can aid my understanding of mental illness at this time.