Bram Stoker’s Dracula – female potency etc

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Her theoretical approach is not one I like to work with, but there were still a couple of things I liked about what Barbara B. Birge wrote in her analysis of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She writes:

Few would disagree with the notion that vampires are evil. Alluring and seductive as some vampires might be, these are deadly, unnatural creatures of the night, preying and feeding on the lives of others, and “sucking” their victims into their eternally unfulfilled and predatory existence. They are fiends who even devour babies, their mouths greedily dripping with blood. Worse than any addict, they show no compassion in their obsessive search for the substance they crave and depend on. They are the “undead who know no peace, returning nightly from their coffins to hunt the living.
The vampire can be viewed as a metaphor of predatory, self-concerned, emotionally insatiable people who use and drain others without compunction (“devouring” mothers and narcissistic lovers come to mind). Vampiric relationships are surely less than desirable. As Jungian analyst Julia McAfee has noted, ”The vampire describes a psychological process where the struggle into being through love has gone awry. Vampirism is a paradigm of a blood-sucking, life-sucking love, a fatal possession.”
In his film Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, director Francis Ford Coppola has presented a vision of the vampire, however, that compels us to look again at this traditional profile. While Coppola has offered a truly horrific portrayal of the vampire Dracula, he has also revealed another dimension of the vampire that is unsettling in its complexity. Furthermore, he has depicted the heroine of the story, Mina, in nearly as complex a light. As a result, the vampiric relationship between these two characters is not so easy to dismiss as negative. Indeed, despite the seemingly destructive situation, it has positive effects on both characters.” (p.22)

“Persephone in her mother’s perpetual care, Eve in Eden, and Mina in Victorian England – each woman begins her story as a relative innocent in a hghly restrictive world. But each woman, in her own way, refuses to remain separated from the wisdom and potency forbidden her. Each reaches [-p.34] out for it and even takes it into her body through consumption, as if to say, “Now it is in me and you cannot have it back.” In many if not most cultures, this refusal to obey, to be split off from what is yearned for, to be distanced from one’s own potential, necessitates transgression. Transgress literally means “to cross over,“ as in crossing a boundary. And where a boundary separates these heroines from the potency they must have, that boundary must be crossed.
Returning to the Dracula story, this crossing over is especially demonstrated in Mina’s persistence in loving Dracula even when she sees him for the monster he is. This is no blind love, no dependent (or co-dependent) delusion. Mina is fully, humanly ambivalent, living with her mixed emotions and (in object-relations terms) refusing to”split” Dracula into good and badHer ability to cross boundaries is poignantly embodied when she kisses him in his hldeous state. Crossing the boundary and touching the wolf, crossing the boundary and drinking the blood, crossing the boundary and kissing Dracula in his monstrousness, all make it possible for the split cross to come together in the end.” (pp.33-34)

Ref: Barbara B. Birge (1994): Bram Stoker’s: Dracula: The quest for female potency in transgressive relationships, Psychological Perspectives, 29:1, 22-36

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