The Kindle, Sexism, and Dracula

I got a Kindle for Christmas. My dad purchased them for all of us (mom, sis & fiance). Opening it was a mixed bag of emotions at first. My reactions ranged from “Cool! A new literary toy!” to “Oh shit! I’m contributing to the downfall of print literature.” I’m aware this is ridiculous.

The long and short of it is: the Kindle is cool. I like that you can loan books. I like that books are cheaper to download on the Kindle. I like that when I think or hear of a book I want to read, I can add it to my wish list and then download it. I like that I can make notes and annotations on the Kindle. Will I ever stop buying paper books? Does the sun shine in the sky? Please.

One of the aspects of the Kindle I like the most is you can download classics for free, so over Christmas I read Dracula. It was enjoyable; however, I was struck by the contradictory roles of women in the book. The two main female characters Mina and Lucy, are annoyingly traditional and yet interestingly progressive at the same time. For instance, before Lucy has the misfortune of becoming a vampire, she enjoys the attentions of three separate suitors who desire her hand in marriage. She talks about each of them, in detail, in a letter to Mina. Her view of them and how she handles their proposals reminds me a little bit of Sex & The City. She’s an attractive, intelligent capable woman who can have the pick of the litter. However, at the same time the way the men treat her in the book is very stereotypical. It is obvious Lucy is tough. She braves the transformation of becoming a vampire, she puts up with her dying mother and she manages to deal with strange incidents of sleepwalking and waking nightmares. However, the men in the book treat her like some sort of wilting flower. I mean, she’ the waking dead for crying out loud.

This is even more apparent in Mina’s character. After all of the men in the book come together for the common purpose of hunting down and destroying Dracula, they realize they need to organize all of their written accounts. Who volunteers to do this? Mina. She’s brilliant and as far as I can tell, a lot more organized than any of the men. However, even before she falls victim to Dracula herself, there is a constant (almost irritatingly constant) discussion about whether she should be spared the details of their quest for this fanged phantom. This is the only part of this book that I find ridiculous because it seems to me that if Mina has the strength to deal with her husband, Jonathan’s, terrible ordeal, the loss of her best friend Lucy, and the ravings of Renfield, she can probably hear about travel plans.

Despite all of this, I do enjoy this book. I like the way Stoker used diary entries and incorporated different viewpoints into the story. I also love reading a book about vampires that does not mention the names Bella, Jacob or Edward. Me? I’m on team Bram.

One thought on “The Kindle, Sexism, and Dracula

  1. I think you are absolutely correct when you say Mina and Lucy are contradictory. Mina is the quintessential Victorian woman who tries to resist temptation in the name of chaste love, and Lucy is the skank that represents what is frightening to the Victorian era about women in that she is sensual, and therefore dangerous. Her spiral into vampirism represents what Victorian society believed would happen to a woman that behaved immorally: she would obviously grow fangs, scare the s*** out of everyone, and eventually be destroyed.

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