Sexual Desire: the Root of Irrationality
Throughout the evolution of humans, there has always been one thing embedded deep in humanity’s nature, sexual desire. In Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, a group of individuals fight against the horrors of vampires. Throughout their experience, they witness the death of Lucy, an innocent lady whom falls to vampirism. Throughout the story of Dracula, the subtle sexualized texts reveal the dangers of sexual desire. It demonstrates how the powerful influence of sexual desire can undermine one’s rationality, causing them to lose sight of their objective and becoming unfaithful to the commitments they have made.
Jonathon’s sexual desire causes him to fall for the three female vampires, and almost break his commitment with his fiancé, Mina. During Jonathan Harker’s encounter with the three female brides, he describes, “All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against their voluptuous lips. […] I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips” (Stoker, 40). Jonathan Harker fantasizes how the three female vampires are going to kiss him. The use of the word “voluptuous” highlights the obvious sexual nature of the scene. Harker cannot help himself from developing “a wicked, burning desire” because of the sexualized characteristics of “brilliant white teeth” and “voluptuous lips”. The presence of the female vampires causes Harker to lose his rationality. Although he commits to Mina’s hand in marriage, his feelings of sexual desire completely override Harker’s sense of rationality, and in that short moment, his commitment to Mina.
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Van Helsing’s experience with the female vampires causes him to come to the revelation that anyone has the potential to be corrupted by sexual desire. Van Helsing admits that he hesitates to kill the female vampires because of sexual desire. He writes how, “There is some fascination, surely[…] I, Van Helsing, with all my purpose and motive for hate?I was moved to a yearning for delay which seemed to paralyse my faculties and to clog my very soul.” (402-403). Throughout the story, Van Helsing demonstrates traits of being knowledgeable against vampires and having determination for slaying them. However, when encountering the female vampires, he confesses how he almost succumbs to his carnal desires. He explains how it “seemed to paralyse [his] faculties and [clog his] very soul”. The use of the words “paralyse” and “clog” describes how the power sexual desire has over him. He admits that even with his “purpose and motive for hate”, he still hesitates to kill the female vampires due to their extraordinary beauty. Sexual desire simply trumps his moxie. He sees this situation as “some fascination”, discovering how easily desire can corrupt one’s mind, as well as realize how people are so weak in the face of sexual desire.
Lucy becomes a danger to the group when she breaks out of her sexual repression and gives into sexual desire. Lucy, originally a symbol of innocence, falls to vampirism. “[Lucy] opened her eyes, which were now dull and hard at once, and said in a soft, voluptuous voice, such as I had never heard from her lips: ‘Arthur! Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!’ ” (Stoker, 172). She attempts to lure Arthur in for a kiss, a situation she attempts to use to bite him. If Van Helsing didn’t interfere and stop Arthur from kissing her, Arthur would have fallen for Lucy’s seduction and been bit. The use of the word “voluptuous” highlights the sexual nature of Lucy’s request for the kiss, even going as far as to say “Arthur! Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!”. Lucy’s unusually remarks communicates how she has completely given into her sexual desire. Dr. Seward’s remark of how the voice is like “never heard from her lips”, demonstrating how Lucy’s vampirism changes her personality. Her vampirism causes her to break out of her sexual repression, straying away from what was deemed “proper” by Victorian-era society. Lucy’s sexual desire causes her to become irrational, and ultimately a danger to the group.
Lucy’s corruption from vampirism ultimately leads to her demise. After discovering that Lucy becomes a vampire, the group chooses Arthur to be the one to kill her. Dr. Seward describes, “[Lucy] in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth clamped together till the lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam” (232). Lucy’s death is described in a way that bears great resemblance to an orgasm, with vivid descriptions such as how “the body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions”, “the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam”, and “the sharp white teeth clamped together till the lips were cut”. The sexualized nature of Lucy’s death demonstrates how Lucy’s sexual desire, brought by her vampirism, causes her to become a danger to society.
Over course of the group’s journey, they run into situations in which they are at risk of giving into sexual desire. Those who fail to overcome their carnal instinct, fall to corruption and loses all rationality. Sexual desire causes Lucy to lose her sense of rationality, becoming a danger to the group, which ultimately leads to her death. The three brides almost seduce Van Helsing into becoming hesitant about killing them, allowing Helsing to come to the revelation that everyone is at risk of falling for sexual desire. Jonathan Harker admits how his burning desire for the three female vampires causes him to feel guilty for allowing himself to cheat on his fiancé, Mina. Dracula’s warning for the consequences of allowing sexual desire to override one’s rationality is still prevalent in modern depictions of vampires. In Closer, a music video by Kings of Leon, a vampire’s desire to be with a werewolf causes her eventual death. The man reminds her how she’ll die if she stays with him, but she still wants to be with him. Her failure to think past her sexual desire leads to her eventual death. In the Netflix original, Castlevania, Dracula declares war on humanity and calls together his army to prepare to fight. However, he is blinded by the seductive nature of one of his generals, Carmilla. Dracula’s failure to see past his sexual desire for Carmilla leads to the defeat of his army, as well as his own death. Although each of these examples of modern day depictions of vampires differ in many aspects, they all share a common theme, the presence of sexual desire and the influence over one’s rationality.