Themes of Gender and Sexuality in the Films
“The theme of gender and sexuality can be discussed in the films When Animals Dream and Dracula. Both of the films depict very different perspectives toward the role of gender and sexuality with a comparable idea. Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, investigates themes such as women, sexuality, and gender throughout his novel. Some women are described as “pure/prudently chaste” or highly sexual. The idea of women remaining pure before marriage is extremely critical during the Victorian era. Women are more appreciated by the Victorian community if they are prudently chaste and women who are not typically don’t get as much respect. Dracula’s three daughters are not a great representative of what Victorian women should be. They are highly sexualized and do not seem to bother about what other people think of them. They are evil and very disrespectful toward others. Jonathan describes these women as ‘monsters’ because they seduce men to get what they want. On the other hand, Mina, Jonathan Harker’s fiancée, is an excellent example of what is known to be the perfect Victorian woman. Mina is very independent, highly educated and has a great job. She also takes care of her fiancé and assists him with whatever he needs. Van Helsing also stated, ‘She is one of God’s women.’ Though, later on in the novel, Mina returns to the feminized role of being the traditional woman.
Another character that should not be depicted as the perfect Victorian woman is Lucy or Mina’s friend. She appears to be more sexualized than Lucy because she has three different suitors in which she cannot determine who she wants to be with. In the end, Lucy transformed into a vampire because she was bitten by Dracula. She also receives a blood transfusion from all of her suitors. At some point, she eventually gets killed and is placed in her grave. Lucy is one of the most powerful characters in the novel and when Stocker takes her off the book, most people might start thinking if it has anything to do with female sexuality.
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In the film, When Animals Dream, the author uses a young female as the main protagonist. This film symbolizes female sexuality just like Dracula but in an unconventional way. The main character, Marie, is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives with her parents, Mor and Thor. Her mother is very sick and mute while her father is always depressed. Therefore, she has to work in a fish processing plant to support and take care of her family. Marie’s mother is confined to a wheelchair and she relies on her daughter, Marie and her husband to take care of her. At work, her male colleagues often abuse and haze her through pranks. However, when she starts undergoing physical changes, she finds herself in a very strange position. At some point in the film, she mentions to her co-worker Daniel, “I’m transforming into a monster, but I need to have a lot of sex first. Do you think you can help me?” If we were to compare Marie to the female characters in Dracula, we would see a big distinction. As described, Victorian women should be pure before marriage. Marie is everything that a Victorian woman should not be. Even though she is a kind-hearted girl who takes care of her family, she is still not a typical Victorian woman. When Animals Dream was made based on the modern-day werewolf story and it is one of the reasons why the main character, Marie, isn’t pure before marriage.
When Animals Dream is a quiet and horror film. It is one of the classic werewolf horror films because the producer produces the scene of the werewolf howling at the moon. You can usually see this scene in almost every werewolf movie. Though, When Animals Dream is very different from the other werewolf movies because the main character is a female, but most movies are male. Lars, Marie father, has one of the smaller roles in the movie but has the most impact on the main character, Marie. The producer seems to expect the audience to already know how the werewolf culture works. This film has both strengths and weaknesses. One of the greatest scenes happens when Marie transforms into a werewolf in front of everyone in her town.
In conclusion, both of the films are a great example of symbolizing the theme of gender and sexuality. Though, in my opinion, Dracula is a better example of what women in our generation should be. After reading and watching these two different elements, I’ve gained a better understanding of how the authors were trying to teach us.”