Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Travis Kelleher

Abstract

Dracula has long been associated with the repressive qualities of Victorian society and the oppression of the emerging New Woman. However, taking into account that the novel is part of the gothic genre, a genre which endeavours to infringe the social boundaries in any given era, this thesis will demonstrate an equally visible and potent transgressive feminine element playing out in Dracula. Using Michel Foucault's idea of discourse to show how subjects are generated, the novel can be seen as facilitating both productive and repressive ideas of femininity. Power, as it operates through discourse, tends to produce its own resistance, and so at the same time as a discourse serves to reinforce the dominant ideology, it also acts as a starting point for opposing discursive strategies. One discourse functioning in the novel is a monstrous femininity that is projected onto Lucy and the female vampires, producing their bodies as a site of contamination and danger. Operating simultaneously, though, is another representation of femininity, a type of resistance produced by the very discourses that attempted to repress Lucy and the female vampires, and label them as deviant. Through Mina and the male characters, the novel constructs a transgressive femininity, which functions to redefine and revalue notions of the feminine, thereby prising open a new discursive space in which the New Woman could develop.

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