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Thread: Was Stoker a Chauvinist?

  1. #1
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Was Stoker a Chauvinist?

    I have recently read Dracula which of course I loved considering my interest in the Gothic, as well as my long time obsession with vampires. I thought the book was a true work of brilliancy........but to get to the topic at hand.

    I am currently involved in a discussion of the book with a group I belong to on Goodreads, and a few people have expressed their belief that Stoker was a chauvinist and one of the primary reasons for this opinion was because of his referral to Mina's intelligence as being "man-like." I myself simply accepted this as the general thinking of the time period.

    While certainly there are what can be seen as chauvinist ideas expressed within Dracula, many of these I think are in part a product of the age, and the simple fact that one must take into account that whatever Stoker's personal feelings may have been, he was writing the story to be published and read by others, so he did have to take into account the audience which would be reading the book.

    The character of Mina I think was actually quite unconventional for the time period, she does come off as being very independent, courageous, intelligent and logical minded, and of course none of these traits would have been connected to women at the time, thus I see that his reference to her has thinking like a man as being a way to allow him to indeed make Mina so intelligent, otherwise the ideas might have been seen as being too radical and controversial.

    Stoker was not writing Dracula to make some political statement or challenge the social conventions of the day, he simply wanted to write an enticing, terrifying, and entertaining horror story. That is not say that there are not more complex ideas expressed within the book, as it certainly does say much about sexuality, but I would not deduce from reading Dracula that Stoker was a chauvinist.

    I do not know much about what Stokers political-social views were, nor his position on gender, did Stoker hold chauvinistic views?

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #2
    Unlicensed Reader steve12553's Avatar
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    Non PC answer

    To say Bram Stoker was a Male Chauvinist would be similar to saying Neandrathals were anti-mathmatics. The species of Homo Sapiens did not start out with a full knowledge of fairness and equality or even right and wrong. All these concepts have been and are being developed over a long period of time. Writers and their works need to be judged by the understanding of these concepts in their times. In a less populous and less technical world there was a need for more offspring. Farm famiies needed more help and many people died young. With more women having more children just to keep the species from dying out most women had a full time carrer as wife and mother. Today and in the decades approaching the 21st century women in a fully populated and eventually over populated society are much freer from the demand to have children. Children are more of a choice and technology puts less demand on the mother. Eventually many, though not most people, by any means realize the intelectual equality of the genders and with only a partial use of the technology available the physical equality of the genders. Even if Stoker was someone with his eyes wide open until there is enough light he still couldn't see everything.
    "...when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth..."

  3. #3
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    Who can really know? But I agree mainly with what your main statements, DM. The novel was published in 1897. Historically woman didn't even have the vote in the US. Women were not viewed as equals to men. Their role was to serve and have babies, not to think. This is were I think you make a very good point, DM, that Mina's character was unconventional. Stocker did run with some pretty talented writers such as Oscar Wilde, according to his biography. I believe he valued intelligence and to create a character that did not fit into the conventional framework of the times was quite inspiring to his female readers. This may have added to the popularity of the book at the times it was published.

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    No. But Dracula was because he never let any woman eat carrot before a programmed sucking and promoted French Champagne.

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