Essay: Lucy and Mina in Victorian

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[. . .] Instead of showcasing this overly sexualized version of the female and in any way glorify her, Browning omits her character's return and seemingly sexual actions that would end her afterlife. It is an interesting touch that it is Mina who witnesses the vampire Lucy in the Browning film when she had no interaction with this Lucy in the novel. Their bond would appear to be stronger in the film based on this fact.

Both women are faced with marginalization in Tod Browning's version of Dracula. Stoker's Mina is a fairly bland young woman whose only goal is to marry Jonathan Harker upon his return from Transylvania. She wants to be the proper Victorian "Angel in the House" fulfilling her husband's needs. Mina listens to Lucy's chattering about the men in her life and neither judges nor encourages her friend's coquetry. Mina as a character is used both to assist the vampire hunters in their quest to destroy the monster and as a contrast to the more sensual women in the story who become overly sexualized by their conversion to vampirism. Unlike the other women, she is never portrayed as anything that would induce sexual desire in any of the male characters. Like he did to Lucy, Browning enacts many changes to Mina's character. First and foremost she is now the daughter of Dr. Seward who in the novel was one of Lucy's suitors. She does not have to be as devout a woman as the Mina in the novel. In Stoker's Dracula, Jonathan Harker is kept prisoner by the Count in Transylvania for a long period of time. It is Mina's job at this time to remain certain that her love will return to her and to never give up home. Movie Mina is never given this task because her Jonathan does not go to Transylvania. Moreover, Mina Seward has a very different experience with the Count than does her literary counterpart.

After Mina is forced to drink blood from Dracula's chest, she constantly decries herself as being unclean. "Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a think stream trickled down the man's bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress" (Stoker 247). Mina is symbolically sullied in this moment by Dracula. White is the color of virgins. On her wedding night, the virgin's maidenhead is broken by her husband and she bleeds onto her sheets. He too is in a highly sexualized state, his clothes disheveled and "his eyes flamed red with devilish passion" (247). Mina is dirty after engaging in the exchange of bodily fluids with a man who was not her husband. Indeed she is marked by this monstrousness when Van Helsing touches her skin with a communion wafer. "As he had placed the Wafer on Mina's forehead, it had seared it -- had burned into the flash as though it had been a piece of white-hot metal" (258-259). The film Mina is far more docile after her encounter with Dracula. Though the cross is still utilized in the film all other religious iconography has been removed. Stoker's Mina is unable to protect herself any more than Browning's but at least she makes a definite effort to assist them in her salvation. Mina Murray goes to Transylvania in the attempt to help fight the monster. Mina Seward is trapped in the basement of Carfax Abbey waiting for the men in her life to save her.

Of the main characters in Bram Stoker's Dracula, only two women begin the story as human. Neither survives the story unchanged; rather each becomes stronger versions of their original character types. Lucy, the coquette, reveals herself to be even more sexually overt as a vampire. Mina who is so determined to be a useful wife that she teaches herself to use the typewriter becomes even more determined to be the ideal wife and mother in the time period in which she lives. To a large extent, Browning took these woman and diluted them down so that Lucy became less sexual, not even allowing her vampire self to be shown, and that Mina becomes weaker and unable to save anyone least of all herself.

Works Cited

Dracula. Dir. Tod Browning. Perf. Bela Legosi. Universal, 1931. DVD.

Stoker,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Lucy and Mina in Victorian."  Essaytown.com.  December 17, 2010.  Accessed March 23, 2019.
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