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Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Writing, Journaling, and Messaging Theme Icon
Illness, Madness, and Confinement Theme Icon
Christianity, Science, and the Occult Theme Icon
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon
Life, Death, and the Un-Dead Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Dracula, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Theme Icon

Dracula contains a long meditation on "proper," socially-sanctioned love, and "improper" relations of lust and seduction. Much has been made of this aspect of the novel, particularly in 20th-century criticism, and with good reason: it is impossible to separate the act of Dracula's forcible blood-sucking, directed at unsuspecting women, from the process of violent seduction and sexual assault.

Jonathan and Mina Harker, and Arthur (Lord Godalming) and Lucy, are the novel's two primary romantic pairs. Their loves follows remarkably similar tacks, but the former survives, and the latter, sadly, does not. An early romantic intrigue in the novel is Lucy's entertaining of three suitors: Dr. Seward, Arthur, and Quincey. But this "romantic intrigue" so typical of Victorian novels is only a prologue, in this novel, to the actual drama of Lucy's life—the fact that she is bitten by a vampire, and becomes a vampire herself. Thus, not only is Arthur robbed of his future wife—he must participate in her "true killing" (that is, the freeing of her soul from the cycle of undeadness). Van Helsing believes that Arthur will be able to let go of his love for Lucy by helping to drive a stake through her heart and cut off her head. It is a gruesome, if necessary, end to their love.

On the other hand, Mina and Jonathan have a love characterized by mutual help during times of illness. First, Mina cares for Jonathan after his nervous collapse, prompted by his stay at, and escape from, the Castle Dracula. Later, Jonathan fights bravely to kill Dracula—to release him from his own undeadness—in order, also, to free Mina from Dracula's spell. Opposed, then, to these "natural" processes of romantic love are the processes of demonic possession and seduction. Harker is "seduced" by the Three Sisters at Dracula's castle, though he manages to avoid falling into their clutches. Dracula "seduces" both Lucy and Mina. In the former case, he suggestively "penetrates" Lucy's neck while Lucy, who had been sleepwalking, is sprawled over a mossy embankment, outside. With Mina, Dracula is found forcing Mina to suck Dracula's own blood from a cut in his abdomen. This, also highly sexually-suggestive, creates a bond between the two that can only be broken by Dracula's true death.

Thus, at the end of the novel, the killing of Dracula allows Jonathan and Mina to live together as husband and wife, and to start a family—this is considered the "natural" outcome of a Christian marriage. Meanwhile, the others of the group, those whose hearts were broken by Lucy, find their own separate loves in time and marry as well.

Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity appears in each chapter of Dracula. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity Quotes in Dracula

Below you will find the important quotes in Dracula related to the theme of Romantic Love, Seduction, and Sexual Purity.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will. Now go! go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done.

Related Characters: Count Dracula (speaker), Jonathan Harker, The Three Sisters
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

This is the first explicit, and truly bizarre, supernatural act in the novel. The narrator never reveals the exact identity of the "Three Women," but they do appear to be under the direct control of Dracula. Dracula, for his part, argues that Harker's blood is, first, for him, and that only after he is done with Harker might the Three Women have their turn.

Here, Stoker makes most clear the link between sexual desire and a hunger, either for blood or for flesh. Throughout the novel, correspondences will be drawn between a hope for sexual coupling and for the satisfaction of Dracula's need for human blood. Dracula is, then, both a "real" character in the text and an embodiment of an abstract characteristic - sexual submission and perceived "sinful" perversions, afflicting (as seen in this passage) both women and men. Harker, for his part, is powerless to resist the Three Women, and it is only when Dracula intervenes that he is "saved" - although it is unclear for how long. 


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Chapter 4 Quotes

At least God's mercy is better than that of these monsters, and the precipice is steep and high. At tis foot a man may sleep—as a man. Good-bye, all! Mina!

Related Characters: Jonathan Harker (speaker), Count Dracula, Mina Harker
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Harker writes in his journal and hopes that his imploring might somehow make its way back to Mina, his beloved (in case he dies without ever seeing her again). He has, at this point, largely given up hope that he might survive his time at Dracula's castle unscathed. He is completely imprisoned, threatened constantly by the strange forebodings of Dracula and the Three Women, and he has come to discover that Dracula sleeps in a coffin and feeds off human blood. He is, to Harker, a "monster."

In this message, Harker hints that perhaps the only way to escape Dracula is to kill himself - to throw himself from the walls of the castle-prison. Harker, nevertheless, plans to escape the fortress by crawling along its side, the same way Dracula does. Harker has noticed that Dracula is capable of moving in these strange, inhuman ways, especially at night - that Dracula assumes, essentially, the form of a bat in the evening. But Harker at this point does not fully understand Dracula's supernatural powers - he knows only that the Count is not of this earth, and that there is little he, Harker, can do to defeat him outright. He must instead escape him through cunning - or if he fails to escape, he must end his life on his own terms, and thus remain a "man" rather than being corrupted and transformed into a "monster." 

Chapter 5 Quotes

I am very, very happy, and I don't know what I have done to deserve it. I must only try in the future to show that I am not ungrateful to God for all His goodness to me in sending to me such a lover, such a husband, such a friend.

Related Characters: Lucy Westenra (speaker), Arthur Holmwood
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy is painted, at this point in the novel, as a model of purity, chastity, and "polite" female desire. She loves Arthur, and she claims that she will do anything for him - she is utterly devoted to him and believes herself lucky for having found so suitable a husband. With perhaps a touch of condescension, she tells her friend Mina that perhaps there is another man for her - Dr. Seward - although it is clear that Mina is committed to Harker, who is, at the time of this writing, still imprisoned in Dracula's castle.

Stoker takes pains to establish Lucy's purity in large part to undercut it later on. When Lucy is stalked by Dracula, and has her blood drunk at night, her behavior becomes impossible to predict. She blushes and appears more ravenous, more sexually and physically - more disposed to passionate fits that defy society's rules of female modesty. Stoker therefore uses Lucy as an example of what vampiric "infection" can do to even the most morally-upright of individuals. 

Chapter 12 Quotes

Once again we went through that ghastly operation. I have not the heart to go through with the details. Lucy had got a terrible shock and it told on her more than before, for though plenty of blood went into her veins, her body did not respond to the treatment as well as on the other occasions. . . .

Related Characters: Dr. Seward (speaker), Lucy Westenra
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

The operation that Dr. Seward describes involves what would, today, be termed a massive blood transfusion. The blood of "four strong men" is poured into Lucy - interestingly, this blood is not checked for blood type, perhaps because Seward and Van Helsing are unaware of the scientific existence of blood types at this point in medical history. Nevertheless, the transfusion itself seems to work manageably. What is more difficult, however, is the process of retaining this blood - Lucy seems to be "leeching" blood out, although no one is sure who is taking this blood from her.

At this point, the dramatic irony in the text becomes so overwhelming as to be almost unbearable. It is clear that Dracula, or one of his minions, is sucking the blood from Lucy, such that no amount of blood can replace it. But apart from Van Helsing, who has experience in the hunting of vampires, no other character in the novel is aware that Lucy is being preyed on in exactly this way. 

Chapter 16 Quotes

Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!

Related Characters: Lucy Westenra (speaker), Arthur Holmwood
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

Lucy, in her un-dead state, has become possessed not only with new "demonic" life. She is also more overtly sexual in her behavior. She has lost, in other words, the late-Victorian decorum that has characterized her behavior with Arthur for so long. She no longer observes the sexual mores of her time and place, no longer feels it necessary to comport herself like a modest lady.

This change is not coincidental. In Stoker's telling, Dracula not only takes the blood from those he attacks - he creates in them a thirst for blood itself, an unquenchable desire that can only be temporarily slaked through intimacy with another. Thus Lucy, when she beckons to Arthur, does not really wish to love him, or to engage in "appropriate" sexual relations with him - as she might have asked in private in her waking life. Instead, Lucy in her vampiric form uses this form of intimacy to attack Arthur, to attempt to drink his blood and therefore tap into his life essence. 

Chapter 17 Quotes

We women have something of the mother in us that makes us rise above smaller matters wen the mother-spirit is invoked. . . .

Related Characters: Mina Harker (speaker)
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

Mina admits to an overarching care not only for Lucy, whom she has seen destroyed by vampiric illness, but for all those in the circle, whom she rightly believes to be in danger at the hands of the Count. Mina, it is revealed in this section, displays this (stereotypically feminine) "mother-spirit" in numerous ways, not the least of which is her desire to write down the events she has seen. In other words, Mina's journal becomes the basis for the entire account on which the book is based. Mina is the secret author of Dracula, and Stoker is (within the fictional world of the novel) merely using her words to form the "total" account after compiling it with other journals to which he has, presumably, gained access.

In this way, Dracula is not only a story about blood, lust, and the supernatural. It is a story about the telling of stories - the way that stories unfold from documentary accounts of things. Mina is the "writer" and the "editor" here, and Stoker, by this logic, is merely the publisher of her words. 

Chapter 21 Quotes

First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as well be quiet; it is not the first time, or the second, that your veins have appeased my thirst!

Related Characters: Count Dracula (speaker), Mina Harker
Related Symbols: Blood, Bats
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

For the first time in the novel, the Count remarks explicitly on what it feels like to drink the blood of a human, to feed on the life essence of a living being. For Dracula this feeding satisfies several urges. It is, first, a way of refreshing his energies. It is not dissimilar to a human eating "normal" food. But it is, too, a way of restoring a supernatural balance of power. of refreshing his "un-deadness."

This is the paradox of the Count. He is a being who is so dead as to be beyond death - he lives in that state of un-deadness that Lucy also occupied. In order to maintain this state, he must consume the very thing that keeps human beings actually alive - and that is the blood that runs through their veins. Thus blood, symbolically, is revealed to be the key of human life, and also the key to life beyond the pale of the human, in the realm of those existing beyond death. 

Chapter 26 Quotes

We are truly in the hands of God. He alone knows what may be, and I pray Him, with all the strength of my sad and humble soul, that He will watch over my beloved husband . . . .

Related Characters: Mina Harker (speaker), Jonathan Harker
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel, Mina does not abandon her religious faith. She remains a Christian, even when she encounters the demoniac energies of Dracula, and sees what can happen to one when possessed by the spirit of the devil. Indeed, this devilish quality in Dracula gives more fire to the passion Mina feels in her Christian beliefs. She does everything she can to continue to pray, and to put her faith in divine providence - in the idea that God has a plan for her, and for the other members of the circle.

This is another component in the novel's complex relationship to belief and rationalism. For Van Helsing argues that Dracula can be killed using a mixture of scientific rigor and folk charms - some of which are known, in early chapters, to the people of Romania among whom the Count lives. But along with this rigor, there is, too, a sense that absolute belief in the power of goodness will help the circle to overcome their terror. This belief is not opposed to the rationalism of the remainder of the novel, but instead works alongside it. 

Now God be thanked that all has not been in vain! See! the snow is not more stainless than her forehead! The curse has passed away!

Related Characters: Quincey Harker (speaker), Mina Harker
Page Number: 325
Explanation and Analysis:

The idea of a "curse," and the related idea of a "mark" or "stain," are central to the text. The reader becomes aware of Dracula's presence through physical traces - that one character seems pale, or that another has bite marks on her throat. Dracula steals the soul, the essence of a person (and also violates them in an almost sexual manner), and in doing this, he leaves unmistakeable marks on that person's body. These traces are the clues by which the scientific mind can work to find Dracula. And even though Dracula is a cunning villain, he can nevertheless be tracked using these clues.

Thus Stoker combines, again, the spiritual elements of a religiously-infused thriller with the cold, hard scientific rationalism of a detective novel. We know Dracula's presence by his physical traces, and when Dracula is defeated, we see those traces, as if by magic, removed from the bodies of those who have been afflicted by him. This is a perfect cycle of, and encapsulation of, Dracula's power and influence in the text. He is the presence always present, always noticeable to the trained eye - and yet he is terribly difficult to track, and even more difficult to defeat. Here, he is finally overcome.