Within the two novels, Bram Stoker and Emily Bronte present men and
women as gothic victims through their presentation of their characters and
their use of language. In the context of the Victorian epoch, in which both
novels were written and published, the qualities of these characters during
those periods were seen as preposterous and eccentric; however, from a
contemporary standpoint these characters would be viewed differently and to an
extent even liked. Within modern perspectives there are more aspects introduced
such as feminists concepts and an inside view of societal structures. An
example of this is the infamous Dracula, during the Victorian era he was possibly
viewed as a repulsive man who perverted the laws of nature and societal
structures, whereas now he is adored and seen as being part of society. When
referring to Wuthering Heights, men within Wuthering Heights could possibly be
seen as gothic victims as they are shown to be exploited by gothic features,
for example Heathcliff is a victim due to the sheer obscurity in Heathcliff’s
origin it adds to how he relates to gothic themes which are interpreted by a
modern reader; his isolation and mystery. Also, through the use of women in
Stoker’s novel he presents how women are inherently villains, this is done
through the entries of Lucy Westenra and how she was twisted and turned into
what was thought a figment of nightmares. What’s more, the use of Mina is
crucial as she is continuously presented as a reliable source that is pure like
how women were traditionally expected to be, however she is still preyed upon
by Dracula. Whereas Heathcliff is not presented the same way, at the surface a
brute but through deeper knowledge we ironically don’t find out through Nelly
that Heathcliff had a rather challenging childhood-“a dark-skinned gypsy in
aspect”. The use of these two sides of Heathcliff presented by Brontë is useful
in creating a love and hate relationship between the character and the reader,
whether he should be deemed as a victim of others and his societal views that
have caused him to be as such or whether he is just insane. However, one could
argue that Heathcliff’s character could be seen as less of a victim; Charlotte
Brontë in her preface for her novel she mentions her sisters character and
described Heathcliff as, ‘unredeemed; never once swerving in his arrow-straight
course to perdition’, she sees the Heathcliff as a detestable character and one
that is unimaginable that he has been created due to his lack of humanity.
However Heathcliff could also be interpreted that “he is possessed of a
determination, love and power, great desire for individual freedom and
undoubted sexual potency which lea to tremendous capacities misdirected and
thwarted”. Due to the transformation of society, such characters that were
originally feared and disliked are now loved and are seen to having more than
one side. Therefore, when arguing whether men are more gothic victims than
women or inversely, you must account that the
crux of the matter is that attitudes have changed and they must be
accounted when discussing such questions.

Within my two novels, Wuthering Heights and Dracula men are presented
as gothic victims; both Stoker and Brontë present men as gothic victims whether
through their origin story or their depictions in the novels. Firstly, with
Wuthering Heights, Brontë presents men within her novel as gothic victims
through gothic elements such as the idea of outsiders and curses. Heathcliff is
one of the men victims of gothic literature within Emily Bronte’s novel, he is
presented as an outsider as he is neglected due to his social class and his
skin colour-“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff.”  Heathcliff is described as being an orphan
who was brought home by Mr Earnshaw from a trip to Liverpool, this meaning that
he had no blood ties to the family but was still within it which could mirror
his position within society as he has no certain class within society.
Heathcliff is described as an “unreclaimed creature, without refinement,
without cultivation” which strongly suggests that he does not belong in or to
any social structures; this could be concurrent with the Marxist reading of the
novel from ‘ A Marxist study of the Brontë’s’; in which Terry Eagleton says
that Heathcliff’s arrival to the house created uncertainty between himself and
other remembers of the family such as Hindley, according to Eagleton is due to
the obscurity of Heathcliff’s origin and his ‘lack of social status or clear
social role’. Furthermore the fact that he is named after a dead elder son of
Mr Earnshaw creates more uncertainty of his place within the family and whether
his role is as a substitute or rather a servant. Brontë’s lack of presentation
of Heathcliff’s origins have created him to be a gothic victim as the mystery
around his place and role in society causes confusion, clearly between the
characters and also with the reader. This is due to the fact that to a
Victorian reader the fact that he has no constraints to any societal constructs
may arouse anticipatory views of him as an outsider and legitimise his
illegitimacy and would be scrutinized for his lack of belonging. However, to a
21st century reader, he wouldn’t be scrutinized but rather given
sympathy for his lack belonging and the mystery of his origin, this would be
due to the fact that within our society currently immigrants are not seen as
negatively and if those views were made public the individual or group would be
labelled as bigots. Similarly, within Stoker’s novel he also presents Dracula
as an outsider which ultimately makes him a victim of gothic. Dracula
immigrated to London, thus he is a pre-disposed outsider as he is not within
his realm of “Transylvania” and even though he is in Britain he is
still not part of society;” In the library I
found, to my great delight, a vast number of English books, whole shelves full
of them, and bound volumes of magazines and newspapers.”. To understand
Dracula as a gothic victim, we must first separate the actions of Dracula from what those actions represent in relation
to the overall view of whom Dracula is, Stoker uses Dracula’s vampirism and
horrific acts as vehicle to highlight the difference between him and the other
characters within his novel; Dracula is used to create a bodily version of
Victorian fears of outsiders and foreigners, therefore it could perhaps be seen
that Van Helsing and his partners are the attackers and protectors of the
Victorian social conventions in which Dracula transgresses as an outsider
rather than the “undead” or supernatural. Ultimately Dracula’s death
could not be seen as his literal death but rather his rejection from Victorian
society hence making him the victim of the story and not who we perceive are
the victim due to the fact that he is a vampire. Just like Heathcliff, Dracula
is typified not only by the characters within the novel but also by us the
readers as we are given at the beginning of the novel are biased idea of
Dracula by the villagers as “Satan”, therefore affecting how we may
perceive him on everything he says, “I
long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the
midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its
death, and all that makes it what it is.”. Originally this would be viewed
as Dracula insinuating, he wants to be within London in order to feast upon
human blood without being stopped as in London we are in such a rush; however,
if the reader was never aware of what kind of human Dracula is they would just
see it as a person who desires acceptance into a new society due to the fact
that; “Well I know that, did I move and speak in your London, none there
are who would not know me for a stranger. That is not enough for me. Here I am
noble; I am boyar; the common people know me, and I am master.” Showing that he
just desires to fit in and blend in with society and assimilate a new identity
as a stranger rather than someone of status in Transylvania.  However, same as Heathcliff social
conventions prevent them from transgressing expectations and becoming
assimilated, hence how they are gothic victims; Heathcliff
and Dracula are made victims as they threaten societal norms and values and both
authors, Bronte and Stoker show how society brutally rejects them.

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Another way Heathcliff is presented as a victim by Brontë is through
the fact that his skin colour is linked with “something diabolical” for example
Hell; “you must e’en take (Heathcliff) as a gift of God; though it’s as dark
almost as if it came from the devil”, Heathcliff is linked with the devil which
adds some gothic elements to him and reinforces the view of him as a “wicked
boy”.  This creates Heathcliff as a
gothic victim as he is being judged and being given a prejudiced label all
based on his skin colour, moreover the fact that his skin colour  was linked with something dark and hellish.
Closely related with the previous point, due to the fact that he is contrasted
with the theme of hell and darkness, a Victorian reader would be more inclined
to disliking Heathcliff hence making him a victim of something he is not,
within the novel the views of the Victorian reader would correspond to the
characters within the novel as they would see Heathcliff as a villain due to
his uncanny skin tone. Furthermore, these views would be seen as reasonable
during Victorian times as it pre-equal rights, so by demonising Heathcliff as a
‘dark little thing’ would have been allowed, however a modern reader would be
more aware of equality and discriminatory language and connotations, hence why
they would see Heathcliff as a gothic victim but also a victim of his time.
This meaning that within our 21st century Heathcliff is seen as a
victim within the book and also through historical context; however during the
Victorian era is perceived to be a perpetrator of the Gothicism. This point
raises the argument whether Heathcliff is a hero or monster. First, it could be
argued he is a gothic monster rather than a gothic victim. Cedric Watts argued
that ‘In Gothic narratives, a central figure is commonly the charismatic
villain’; this description of such a character fit Heathcliff whom is a
mysterious, saturnine, ruthless, powerful and sexually menacing. The
superstitions around Heathcliff within the novel invoke the reader to even
doubt whether he is inhuman, “I have no pity! I have no pity!” or rather
whether he is “Is he a ghoul or a vampire?” (Comparable
to Dracula in Dracula and how the people around his castle are sceptical
whether he was even human or if he a child “of the night” and
“witch”) Charlotte Brontë believed about Heathcliff that he’s
“a man shape animated by demon life-a ghoul”, thus reinforcing the idea of him
being a gothic monster as he is connected with being part of the supernatural. A way Stoker associates Dracula with
the notion of gothic victims is through the fact that his “monstrous”
capabilities is essentially a curse that he is confined to: “whose blood
flows through these veins,” Dracula is a descendent of Attila the Hun and
Stoker’s depiction of ‘Vlad Tepes the Impaler,’ therefore within his origin he
is pre-disposed associated with violence and suffering. Moreover, in Victorian
society blood had a literal but also a metaphorical significance, the idea was
that blood was associated with a person’s identity, family or race and was to
be protected at all cost: “blood is a precious thing”. The theme of
blood is repeated continuously through the novel, where Dracula is seemingly
attempting to take others blood, insinuating he is trying to usurp their
identity as he himself is lacking a place in society.  (Lost my argument)

 However, it could also be argued
that Heathcliff is the Byronic hero therefore reinforcing the idea that he is a
victim of gothic as he is isolated, Brontë perhaps done this in order to
further seclude Heathcliff outside of social conventions. A Byronic hero; Byron has generally been attributed with ‘inventing’
this sub-type of hero of the romanticism, the typical character traits that are
expected from this sort of anti-hero are: treated as an exile, outcast, or outlaw,
sophisticated and educated, self-destructive, sexually attractive, ability to
adapt, arrogant mysterious, troubled past and breaks social conventions. These
characteristics are exerted by Heathcliff, one could say he is the epitome of a
Byronic hero; this view is supported by (‘The Examiner’ in 1848). Furthermore
due to the fact that he is eccentric and is able to adapt (as noted by Nelly upon
Heathcliff’s arrival after he left the grange, “Is it really you?”) to society
and become something through a mysterious occurrence. Brontë’s adaptation of Heathcliff as a Byronic hero
enhances how he is a gothic victim through being an anti-hero, this is due to
the fact that ultimately Heathcliff did have a troubling past even before being
adopted by Mr Earnshaw as during those periods Liverpool industrial life was
difficult for those without wealth, on top of that he was challenged with
trying to fit into a society which looks down upon him due to his skin tone and
“whips” him like an animal. Even though he leaves his new-found prison and
returns a man of wealth and beauty he is still not accepted and his forced into
continuing being an outsider and dies as still an outsider, he is never given
the opportunity to become part of the social groups let alone the life he would
have wanted with Catherine. These imperfections Heathcliff has according to
John S. Whitley is that “he is possessed of a determination, love and power,
great desire for individual freedom”; which was the role given to him by
Brontë. Thematically similar to Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Stoker’s Dracula is
cloaked in mystery and clandestineness, through role as a “feature of the
Gothic and Byronic Heroes” (Carlson 30). The Count displays numerous traits
that are typical of the Anti-hero: “pride in his heritage and status, a
brooding melancholy, and a hypnotic charm” (Gates 62). Similar to Bronte’s
Heathcliff, both are presented to an extent that leaves the reader in awe of
their illustrations, but both authors leave the crucial details such as origin
and past as a mystery, however through Van Helsing’s commentary we learn more
of the legend of Dracula against the “Turks” and his other wars. Even though,
the Count is a Byronic Hero he is still a victim of his urges, his desire to
“sap” the “life-force” from his victims, but the Count is depicted as very
intellectual shown through his vast collection of books and knowledge if it was
not for the urges he has, he would be the same character as Van Helsing. This
introduces the idea of ‘Doppelganger’, originally devised by German author
Jean Paul in his novel Siebenkäs and was further popularized
by the short story “Die Doppelgänger” written by Prussian author E.T.A.
Hoffmann in 1821. The fundamental notion of this gothic element, proposes that
the two characters share common similarities but due to a few intricate
specifics, in this instance both Van Helsing and Count are incredibly
knowledgeable and have such manly aura, however due to their actions they are
pitted against each other, therefore making the Count a gothic victim as his
actions are used to determine his identity.  Therefore Stoker presents the Count as a
gothic victim as his actions create a master status that takes over his
identity and due to the mystery around who he is he is therefore a victim to
Victorian mindsets to determine him as something he is not to an extent.

On the other hand, Stoker and Bronte present women as, gothic victims
through their battles with societal expectations and men. Bronte presents women
as gothic victims within her novel is how she uses the settings; the Heights,
Moors and the Grange as the roots for how the women are made victims, which
causes their descent into their ill-fated lives, similarly to how Brontë
herself grew up in the Yorkshire Moors her whole childhood. The idea of
entrapment of women in the novel may be seen as conveying victimization of
women within the novel; this type of entrapment could be seen within the novel
as metaphorically like Catherine (Cathy) Linton or physical entrapment like
Isabella after her marriage to Heathcliff. Based on Brontë’s critical view of
the 19th century conventions around women and how they were typified
in society to be quiet and internalise their feelings. (Closely links to how in
Stoker’s novel not only were women given the voice to express their emotions
and thoughts but they were even praised for it, similar to Nelly.)  Catherine’s marriage to Edgar is a prime
example of how women had to sacrifice themselves in her case especially her
bubbly personality, in order to fit into social conventions, the fact that her
actual feelings was that she felt a yearn for Heathcliff (“I am
Heathcliff”). However, due to her social responsibility as a woman she was
expected to marry a rich and a man of high status rather than an illegitimate,
coloured man, “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff “. Brontë
makes her a victim but an example of how social conventions lead to a lack of
liberty and identity within women. Brontë, through the novel reminds the reader
that there are clear boundaries between male and females; although those
boundaries are not kept rigid through the entirety of the novel, which links to
the gothic element of transgression, which is the violation of societal moral
or natural law and societal conventions. Within the novel marriage is an
instrument that forces women to become submissive to their husbands, therefore
becoming victims of the Victorian society. The idea of transgression could be
applied to Catherine’s marriage to Edgar, they are both from two different
types of worlds and after the marriage she assimilates his culture and loses
her own natural identity and become an “exile, and outcast,” of the
Grange.  This also  could link to the idea of how the settings of
“Wuthering heights” is a place secluded from mainstream society, therefore does
not function like the rest of the 18th century, the location of
“Wuthering Height” is secluded and the people within it, Bronte signifies this
through the lack of diversity of names within the entire novel. Furthermore the
fact that “Wuthering Height” was secluded from mainstream society and was
rather a “dismal spiritual atmosphere”, but somehow able women still fall
victims to social conventions. Hence why the settings could be seen as
juxtaposition due to the fact that “Wuthering Height” should be a place of no
formal social conventions but the characters within it still fall victim to
those expectations. Bronte, implicitly shows how even in remote areas patriarchy
still entraps women into social expectations, which is an attack of Victorian
society and its norms and values it holds towards women. The theme of how women
are presented in Gothic novels and the transgression of those roles are
presented in both “Wuthering Height” and “Dracula”. Where in Bronte’s
“Wuthering Height” she depicts Isabella as a victim and a survivor which cause
her to fall prey to Heathcliff’s façade as a gentleman, after she realises her
mistake: “He’s not a
human being” and she flees from the abuse of Heathcliff. This here is
where she transgresses social conventions, during the Victorian era it would
not be seen as normal let lone acceptable for a woman to leave her husband even
in the face of domestic violence; Bronte perhaps could be critiquing the lack
of women rights during the 19th century, furthermore around the period
Bronte wrote her novel was just the start of the women rights movements. Similarly,
Stoker also uses the women in his novel to present the ways women are presented
in gothic.

Ultimately,
Bronte and Stoker present both men and women as gothic victims, nevertheless it
becomes apparent within my work that women are persecuted more than men in
gothic literature, mainly for the fact that women are used commonly between
both novels to critique society and the structure of its expectations, whereas
men are simply used to help illustrate the issue. Bram Stoker’s Dracula will be
forever one of the most influential Gothic texts of the 19th
century; due to the epistolary Gothic novel published in 1897. Stoker’s Dracula
based on Polidori’s “Vampyre” has helped modernize the concept of vampirism.
Vampires have intrigued people for many years and will continue to captivate
society due to its ability to be adapted in movies such as “Twilight” or
Francis Ford Coopla’s movie; In Stoker’s work the gothic tradition is on full
display especially during the first few chapters where Jonathon Harker travels
to the Counts “vastly ruined” castle and has a rather “grim adventure”. Stoker,
draws on the literary traditions define key gothic elements, such as the theme,
setting, atmosphere and the characters of his story; which were all critical in
the overall effect of his novel as a gothic literature. Similar to Emily
Bronte’s, Wuthering Heights which was published in 1847 under the
pseudonym “Ellis Bell”, will also be very influential, during the 19th
century it shocked Victorian
England with its portrayal of unbridled passions. It sold poorly and was
nearly forgotten before being rediscovered after Brontë’s death. It is now
considered one of the masterpieces of English literature; Wuthering Heights was influenced by Brontë’s experiences, conventions and
culture of her time. In conclusion Emily Bronte’s novel help 19th
century society to re-evaluate their structures and today is a reminder of how
society has evolved.