Overview Of Masculinity In Victorian Gothic Novels English Literature Essay

The oppressive nature of Victorian society is highlighted in both Robert Louis Stephenson ‘s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Bram Stoker ‘s Dracula and is used in the novels as a vehicle by which to research maleness. The oppressive nature of the society in which the novels are set is obviously the principal cause of anxiousness over gender and how people presented themselves to others. In Stephenson ‘s novel, maleness is governed by the thought of self subject, as the supporter Jekyll will non let himself to destroy his repute in subjecting to his corrupt alter self-importance. Similarly, Stoker ‘s Dracula introduces the thought of maleness as being threatened by an outside force, viz. the sexual power that the female characters attain, ensuing in a danger to patriarchal control. Although Victorian political orientation is non overtly challenged in the novels, as there is a clear disapprobation of any signifier of self release, the manner in which the masculine maps within the texts reveals a slightly extremist gender political orientation, contending Victorian outlook in many ways.

Whilst many critical plants remark on subjugation faced by the female within Victorian society, the same subjection facing the male is normally overlooked. The disempowerment of the female is good documented in footings of unfavorable judgment, yet critics frequently neglect the fact that the male suffers in the context of the same societal rigidness. George Landow remarks that the ‘feminist analysis of the Gothic focuses on the concern of the stereotyping of the female characters harmonizing to male phantasy ‘ , yet Stoker ‘s Dracula challenges this theory in overthrowing stereotyped female characters who are weak and non sexual, allowing adult females a grade of power by agencies of sexual release. The fresh challenges Landow ‘s theory by showing masculine subjection as a effect of societal control, demoing that both work forces and adult females under marginalization. Cyndy Hendershot contests political orientation of the clip as she argues that Victorian maleness is an equivocal construct as the stereotypes which are presented are seldom queried. Critic Collini recognises the ambiguity of Victorian maleness, noticing that there appears to be a general concurrency of gender ideals where the ‘accepted individual, stiff thought ‘ of Victorian maleness is undisputed. He suggests that the ground why the Victorian male is stereotypically heterosexual is because there is an premise of heterosexualism as the criterion in footings of sexual penchant. As a consequence, it seems that the novels work to dispute recognized functions of gender and gender within the Victorian period.

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It is interesting to see the function of the male characters within the novels as it is apparent that the masculine is non, as it would foremost look, prioritised. Furthermore, the skip of the female, which would by and large propose deficiency of authorization on the portion of the feminine, suggests here that the male characters are debatable to themselves, exposing the failing of the male in a purportedly patriarchal society. Many critics suggest that maleness is frequently presented as an adaptable and indefinite sphere within the novel, a factor which has permitted a grade of reimagining the construct of the male in literature. Critic Cohen argues that from every bit early as the 1880s, ‘fictional word pictures of English maleness frequently narrativise the difficulities of male incarnation as a splitting within the male capable exactly in order to asseverate new manners of self-representation ‘ . He suggests here that the male figure was less often written as a stable representation and was more normally represented as a character with more than one character. In Jekyll and Hyde, the manner in which the male characters are so obviously dying about adult females and gender, despite the fact there are no prevailing female characters, suggests that the masculine domain is continually threatened by female influence. In many ways, the remotion of the feminine exposes the defects of the masculine, and shows that it is non the female who causes the male to endure but the male entirely. The menace of female sexual look, despite the deficiency of females within the novel, establishes the psychological convulsion the work forces face under the restraints of the Victorian society. Dracula uses female gender as a menace to work forces, once more showing the power that adult females hold over the work forces and accordingly underscoring the failing of the male.

Within Victorian society and, accordingly, the society presented in Stephenson ‘s novel, one of the cardinal concerns was the thought of continuing a respectable repute. Dr Jekyll ‘s major concern is the manner in which others perceive him and he is careful to keep an honorable repute throughout the novel. On the other manus, the character of Hyde is presented as entirely monstrous and as a agency through which Jekyll can go uninhibited, unleashing the emotions society compels him to incorporate. Alongside this concern lay an anxiousness over gender and how to show and, in bend, suppress, sexual desires. Whilst Stephenson presents the thought that Victorian society regarded shows of gender as indecent, Hyde ‘s actions within the novel are doubtless of a sexual nature. When Hyde is foremost introduced to the novel, there is a description of him oppressing a immature miss under him, and, afterwards he pays for her household to maintain the incident hushed. This incident could insinuate that Hyde was involved in the common Victorian offense of child harlotry or it may connote that Hyde has raped the immature miss, proposing the ruinous effects of societal control doing people to take portion in condemnable Acts of the Apostless as a agency of release. Furthermore, the deficiency of sexual desire towards females on the portion of the male characters may connote that these work forces were hiding homosexual inclinations. Utterson and Enfield ‘s stopping point relationship, where they spend many hours of clip entirely together on walks, may besides connote that these two work forces take portion in some sort of illicit sexual behavior. In many ways, the oppressive nature of society, and accordingly the inability for work forces, every bit good as adult females, to be sexually expressive, merely heightened the captivation of a more baleful side of gender. The characters are dying to stay within the boundaries of societal outlook, yet this overbearing force of restraint is frequently damaging as it is clear in both novels that what is invariably suppressed is finally released.

One of the important subjects within Stoker ‘s novel is the concern environing shows of gender. Female sexual look is endangering to the male as they can non command their imaginativenesss as they take pleasance in what they witness. It is the thought of being out of control which incites anxiousness among the work forces, who are witting that their actions form their reputes. The characters are liberated from the force per unit areas of societal restraint by agencies of the imaginativeness, through which they can give a free rein to their sexual desires. Female gender is cardinal to the novel ‘s geographic expedition of the function of the male within Victorian society as the fresh displacements power from one gender to another, as the females exercise their hot stuff and the work forces act to keep societal order. On his work on feminist theory, critic Heath remarks that feminism ‘makes things insecure for work forces, unsettles assumed places and undoes given individualities ‘ . Stoker ‘s Dracula confirms this theory in its geographic expedition of sexually powerful adult females who threaten patriarchal authorization. On the other manus, the manner in which the female characters transform into lamia harpies is non flatly a feminist word picture as the females merely transform into incarnations of Dracula, intending that they shift and take on a masculine signifier in order to accomplish a powerful position. The three females who become sexualised are noticeably representations of gender corruption as they seek to rule Harker and utilize him to carry through their ain sexual impulses. Yet, in many respects, these females are forced to follow the function of the male in order to get any signifier of power. Their dentitions are phallic symbols, clearly stand foring the incursion of their quarry. Ultimately, the manner females attain power in the novel is through maleness, hence gender ideals are non subverted in this sense. Although female characters in the novel are permitted a grade of power and sexual release, maleness remains as the more powerful gender.

Stoker depicts Victorian horror at the idea of a sexually liberated female in his description of Harker ‘s fright at confronting the lamias. His confusion environing the buss of the lamia, where he feels both ‘longing ‘ desire and ‘deadly fear ‘ at the same clip, is representative of the manner that Victorian society constrained ‘the mobility of sexual desire ‘ for work forces, every bit good as for adult females. His uncertainness as to whether he was woolgathering these visions of the adult females suggest that he will non let himself to see any sexual desire as a genuine or existent and he will non face his feelings. He decides that if the lamias are more than merely phantoms so they will imbibe his blood and weaken him. However, he is still afraid of these lamias if they are simply visions as they still threaten to run out him of seeds, as they are supplying him with sexual satisfaction, as he lies in ‘languorous rapture ‘ . Harker ‘s exposure as a male is revealed when he is described as being both disgusted and excited by the idea of any sexual contact with the female lamias. This demonstrates the oppressive nature of Victorian society in that Harker was forced to repress his desires as he did non hold the power to move upon them. The manner in which Stoker depicts Harker ‘s fright in losing valuable fluid, whether blood or seeds, nowadayss an image of the fall ining patriarchal construction of Victorian society. Stoker may be warning work forces of this societal alteration, but it seems more likely that he is promoting societal political orientation to be reconsidered.

Stoker ‘s Dracula investigates the possibility of ‘fluidity ‘ within gender functions. When Lucy transforms into a ‘voluptuous ‘ lamia, any possible suer is warned off as they fear a menace to established sexual individuality. The work forces are perturbed at the chance of a adult female assuming power and subverting recognized functions. Lucy ‘s transmutation is seen as so insubordinate of societal outlook that Van Helsing ‘s work forces are determined to destruct her in order to reinstate societal order. The work forces are fearful that Mina will besides be transformed and hence they insist upon commanding female sexual behavior in order that the adult females do non go disparaged socially. The work forces ‘s frights over the adult females altering into sexualised existences are wholly selfish as they feel insecure with any onslaught on societal order. Dracula scorns them stating ‘your misss that you love are mine already ; and through them you and others shall yet be mine ‘ . He suggests here that his transmutation of adult females into lamias, where their sexual desires are uncontained and liberated, leaves work forces exposed and will finally destruct patriarchate within society. The map of the lamia in the novel can be considered as a symbol of sexual subjugation. The male characters in Dracula all battle to incorporate female gender as they panic for their ain well-being. In Christopher Craft ‘s essay on gender and inversion in the novel, he argues that Dracula uses gender stereotypes in order to back up geographic expedition into gender and in order that societal outlook can be re-imagined. He remarks that the novel ‘s word picture of transmutation, whether from victim to vampire or from lamia to victim, permits an probe into gender and gender.

Stoker uses Freudian theory in his novel in order to analyze gender in the Victorian period without looking explicitly critical of the society in which he lived. The lamia component of the fresh distances the reader from the society being described and yet there are noticeable analogues which suggest Stoker ‘s deliberate effort to dispute recognized political orientation. Dracula begins in a description of Jonathan Harker ‘s description of how he arrives at the palace. Harker uses the word ‘uncanny ‘ in this description which instantly makes mention to Freud ‘s theory, published in 1919, on ‘the eldritch ‘ . This theory is referenced throughout the novel as the lamia, who brings about decease with his oral cavity, is representative of the first phase of psychosexual development, harmonizing to Freud. It is at this phase where, Freud believes, the individual develops an impulse to destruct the life. The characters of Lucy and Mina are presented as being entirely duteous to the work forces in their lives. This artlessness depicts these adult females as both docile and ‘two-dimensional ‘ . Dracula threatens to alter these adult females into ‘devils of the Pit ‘ and give them power through sexualisation, and it is merely through these transmutations that the female characters may get a voice within the text. When Lucy Westerna is transformed into a sexual being by Count Dracula, she changes from a weak and inactive female character into a lamia who seeks to fulfill her ain sexual desires. She is at first submissive at the custodies of the male characters but, one time she becomes sexualised, she hunts to utilize work forces for her ain advantage and carry through her sexual desires.

Freudian theory is besides explored in Jekyll and Hyde as the character of Hyde is labelled as an illustration of the unconscious head, known as the ‘id ‘ . Jekyll ‘s ability to conform to societal outlook is controlled by his ‘ego ‘ which suppresses his unconscious ideas. Critic Michael Kane believes that Victorian society found the unconscious head as detrimental. He remarks that repressed desires were ‘projected upon those it considered inferior ‘ , non merely adult females but any lower order of society, who ‘became the unconscious of respectable society ‘ . His ideas suggest that gender is non the important factor which causes people to move upon their basic impulses ; it is the thought of degrees of category which impose societal rigidness. By this he means that upper category citizens are more likely to stamp down any ‘improper ‘ desire because of their place within society. This statement is non supported by the novel, nevertheless, as Jekyll is a physician so he is clearly educated and he is a respectable member of society who falls victim to the societal subjugation he faces.

The image of Victorian London presented by Stephenson is a society about wholly missing in females. The lone adult female who is present in the narration is the amah who witnesses the slaying of Sir Danvers Carew. Her position immediately suggests that the adult female is lower category and she is presented as an about undistinguished member of society. She describes the organic structure of Sir Danvers Carew as ‘beautiful ‘ yet this is interaction between work forces and adult females is a non sexual, isolate incidence. The effects of such a inhibitory society are clearly damaging to the people who inhabit it, as Dr Jekyll proves through Hyde, and this subjugation is demonstrated through the deficiency of unfastened sexual desire within the novel. Furthermore, the absence of adult females within the fresh suggests that the male individuality crisis was a effect of societal control instead than due to female influence. The work forces in the novel are at hazards with their sexual individuality and topographic point in society because of the baronial nature of society itself. The narrative nowadayss the thought of one organic structure which contains two opposing characters. Dr Jekyll, who is knowing and an unsloped member of society is contained within the individual organic structure alongside the entirely immoral Mr Hyde. Dr Jekyll ‘s implicit in desire to emancipate himself from the oppressive society in which he lives is outplayed through his alter-ego Mr Hyde, who enjoys the freedom of moving upon his human impulses. This representation seems to emulate Victorian society ‘s deep rooted captivation with emancipation from societal imprisonment.

The fresh uses the construct of ‘the two-base hit ‘ in order to analyze the manner in which characters of either gender can be identified by more than one province, researching Stephenson ‘s ain claims that every human being contains some signifier of alter-ego. Dr Jekyll is an solid citizen who conceals an immoral ‘monster ‘ in the signifier of alter-ego Hyde. Throughout the fresh the two are presented as wholly distinguishable existences and it is merely in the novel ‘s decision that the reader can to the full understand the two characters as one character. The usage of the dual personality of Jekyll and Hyde is a utile construct when sing male gender individuality, as the double nature of the person is said to ‘destabilise male character itself ‘ . The fresh challenges the thought that ‘the male character represents unimpeachably the corporal properties of a male and a gender political orientation that qualifies maleness as ‘proper ‘ male character ‘ . Despite the fact that the novel does look to face gender stereotypes referenced in the old statement, the thought of maleness is hard to see in the context of societal influence, the thought that society constructs the manner that gender individuality is formed. Stephenson does non reprobate work forces as persons but remarks on the manner that the tightness of Victorian society and its outlooks does non account for the dichotomy of human nature.

Both Stoker ‘s Dracula and Stephenson ‘s Jekyll and Hyde portion the subject of the monstrous as a menace to societal order. The freak within Dracula is the construct of female sexual look through his transmutation of adult females into lamia harpies. Stephenson ‘s novel shows the monster as pent-up desires of Jekyll which are unveiled through the vehicle of Hyde. At the terminal of the novel, Jekyll reveals that he knows Hyde will be no more by the clip Utterson reads his concluding missive. At the terminal of Stoker ‘s novel, Dracula is killed and Little Quincey ‘s birth fulfils Van Helsing ‘s prognostication of ‘the kids that are to be ‘ and restores order among the community. Critic Christopher Craft remarks that the ‘monstrous ‘ menace in the novels is ‘contained and eventually nullified by the narrative demand that the monster be repudiated and the universe of normal dealingss restored ‘ . The Restoration at the terminal of both novels suggests that gender ideals can non be subverted wholly, despite disputing societal outlook to a certain grade. Nevertheless, the decisions of the novels are non optimistic which suggests that, although ideals remain as established, these criterions can be damaging to all. The texts conclude with a common illation that Victorian gender political orientation needed to be revolutionised.

Frequently, the manner in which the novels challenge oppressive Victorian society is overlooked in favor of an evident denouncement of gender inversion. Dracula seems to connote a weakness on the portion of adult females who seek to overthrow conventional societal functions, and yet in many ways the females are non permitted any signifier of power as they adopt masculine qualities when they are transformed into lamias. It can be said that gender functions are non definitively reversed in the novel, as the females must go male as they become lamias. In going male, the female lamias lose any maternal sense as they prey on guiltless kids and they become penetrators in their desire to suck blood from their victims. The novel, hence, has no existent female representation, proposing that Stoker was non puting work forces and adult females up against each other but noticing on society as a whole. In a similar manner Stephenson uses Jekyll and Hyde to show the thought that the inhibitory Victorian society frequently pushed people to the bounds of their ain control, doing uncontrollable impulses to take over. Furthermore, the novel affirms the manner in which both work forces and adult females were susceptible to the anxiousnesss environing gender because of the society in which they lived.



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