Monday, February 2, 2009

Sex, Victorian England and Vampires

"I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The fair girl went on her knees, and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited - waited with beating heart." (Chapter 3) 

So writes Bram Stoker in the classic horror thriller, Dracula. I first read Dracula when I was in high school and I know it didn't occur to me what Stoker was trying to do. Write a book about sex without actually writing about sex. In other words, Dracula is a metaphor for sexually suppressed Victorian England. Say what? OK, let's do it this way. Victorian England was the time during which Queen Victoria was queen (duh), from 1837-1901. During this period, women had no rights WHATSOEVER. They had no independent legal status, no right to any money, no right to make out a will (why did she need to, she couldn't own anything), and she had no claim to her children. If, when her husband died he wished to leave the kids to someone else, he could. As far as sex, well, the upper and middle class girls, if around men, had to be escorted at all times. Premarital sex was a big no no. All a girl could do was perhaps give a squeeze of the hand or a brief small kiss on the cheek. If the upper and middle class men wanted sex, they either had it with the servants or with a prostitute. So, in this environment, Stoker wrote Dracula. It is generally agreed that the novel is about suppressed sexuality, especially female sexuality. There are 5 women in the novel four of which are vampires. Lucy, a prim, proper girl at the beginning of the novel is turned into a shameless slut once Dracula has her drink his blood from his chest. A strong sexual yearning in a woman during the Victorian age was feared. It would tear the fabric of their society! Anyway, when Dracula has Lucy drink from his chest, many critics ascertain that that is the sexual act, as in sex, exchanging of bodily fluids. OK then. And the staking of a vampire was equivalent to penetration. OK then.

So, flash to modern times. There have been numerous Dracula movies, and in this progression, Dracula just gets sexier and sexier. Enter Ann Rice and her Vampire series. Who can forget the ultimate vampires of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt? Good enough to eat. Of course, there's the teen sensation of the Twilight series. But, since the books cater to adolescents, there is very little sexuality. I just finished reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlain Harris. HBO created a series based on these books, True Blood. Now the vampires in these Sookie books are uber sexual. The sex scenes between Sookie and her guy, Bill, are hot, hot, hot. Since some vamps (like Bill) are hundreds of years old, they have had PLENTY of sex and have acquired quite a sexual repertoire. Sounds good to me.....If you want some mindless drivel to pass the time or to just have some fun reading to close out the "real" world, read these novels by Harris. You'll be yearning for more True Blood.....

My favorite quote from Dracula? "I never".

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