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Mother and the English ‘Race’ in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Mother and the English ‘Race’ in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

근대영미소설 v.19 no.1 , 2012년, pp.197 - 221  

Traditionally, critics such as Salley Ledger, Judith Halberstam, and Alexandra Warwick have interpreted famous woman characters in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra, as the embodiment of the dualistic Victorian image of woman: the innocent and the whore. These critics have interpreted Stoker’s vampirism as the ritual of purifying the contaminated female sexuality of Lucy by the proper examination of mother image which Mina Murray restores. This interpretation seems to be based upon Stoker’s argument on the function of literature. Stoker thinks literature as a form of moral education—the moral education on the body—which regulates the desire from the body, the locus of the possible evil. Indeed, this attitude toward human body and desire is similar to the fin de siècle writer’s notion of the degeneracy in the medico-scientific narratives by Max Nordau, Cesare Lombroso, and Francis Galton—the beginning of these discourses could be traced in Thomas Malthus’s essay arguing the need for the regulation on the bodily desire.However, this paper critically examines how both of the woman characters oppose such interpretations by revealing the discoursive cleavages of the dominant discourse that tries to regulate female sexuality and limit it only within the productive aspect—mother. The woman characters reveal the instability of textual endeavor to make the late Victorian history of Stoker’s vampirism by representing their desire (the polygamous desire of Lucy and journalistic desire of Mina who represents the New Woman).The latter part of this paper accentuates the image of ‘the demonic mother’ devouring her children which Count Dracula as well as victims of his attack embody. ‘The demonic mother’ problematizes the epistemology of the Victorian domestic discourse of female sexuality as mother. In conjunction to this, this paper focuses on Dracula’s racial identity as a racial hybrid of Eastern European and Asian race. ‘The demonic mother’ ingenerating the racial hybrid which Dracula embodies problematizes the homogeneous racial and national identity of the British Empire through their vampiric way of reproduction: blood sucking or blood transfusion. Therefore, this paper highlights how the fin de siècle vampirism of Stoker’s Dracula is intensely correlated with the domestic discourse that makes racial and national identity and the colonialism of the British Empire. It, further, aims at debunking the discoursive discordances that the dominant narrative of the text cannot completely contain within its moral education or the fin de siècle version of Victorian history.

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