“Homosexuality in Drachma” The legendary novel Drachma is gothic, bloody and oozing with sexuality. Abram Stoker’s vampire plot reflects his ideology and experience and Drachma received a lot of attention from critics who showed various complex interpretations. During this course we have looked at critical essays that looked in depth at different scenes in Drachma and we drew different images from critics’ interpretations, which were built on their understanding of these scenes.
Most of these critics, like Seen and Wicked, could argue within a small-scale circumference of sexuality, emphasized in the sexual desire of the Count to vamp women, or in how the innocent women are involved in sexual scenes after being seduced by Count Drachma’s charming smile or appealing demeanor. This made me wonder why the Count doesn’t show direct interest in the male characters; even though he mentions Jonathan “belongs to me”(43). In addition, throughout the novel but especially in London, Mina and Lucy act like rivers; which the men have to go through before interacting with each other.
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Most interactions between Count Drachma and the crew of light can’t happen directly; rather a woman character is involved. Examining Craft’s paper ‘”Kiss Me with Those Red Lips’: Gender Inversion in Abram Stoker’s Drachma”, as well as Schaffer critical essay ‘”A Wiled Desire Took Me”: The Homoerotic History of Drachma’, I pull together pieces which both critics share to demonstrate that, unlike Seen and Wicked, claim Stoker expresses a homosexual desire in the novel.
In addition he combats his personal feelings about homosexuality and bisexuality in the different scenes of the evolve by illustrating certain features in the characters, especially Jonathan Harder and Count Drachma. I’m going to use Seafarer’s thesis to further develop the argument that draws a direct connection between Stoker’s life and the novel.
It is equally important to note that I’m going to use Craft’s claims of forbidden man-man relationship and his focus on the homoerotic embrace between Harder and the Count”(Craft 110) to build up a structured argument that further investigates the homosexual relationship in Drachma. In his novel, Stoker uses blood to symbolize doily fluids, it is a major theme in the novel and is used as a mask for sexual penetrations. On the one hand, many critics explicate the different themes that blood symbolizes in Drachma.
Seen argues in her critical essay that the crew of light is afraid of the Count because he is more openly sexual then they want, yet, the sexual openness that Seen examines is limited to man-woman relationship only. Furthermore, Wicked is another critic who outlines blood and vamping as a form of sexuality in the novel ” The vampire consumption of blood in Drachma is simultaneously and complexly a sexual act”(Wicked 479).
She highlights the possibility of a sexual relationship between Mina and the Count, which shows an agreement with Sense’s claim; both critics through their papers argue that blood symbolizes sex or sexual relationships or rape and sexual violence. On the other hand, I argue that those critics interpreted those symbols from a narrow point of view, where sex is viewed only between heterosexual figures such as: Drachma and Lucy, Drachma and Mina and the three female vampires with Jonathan in the Castle.
Along these lines, female, but also a wider scope of homosexual and bisexual relationships formed throughout the bloody scenes in the novel. The count shows interest in men’s blood when he notices Harder bleeding after cutting himself shaving, “his eyes blazed with demonic fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat”(31) hence, this moment changes Count Drachma’s features as he shows that interest and changes of facial expression in the same moment.
As I investigated Stoker’s life and aimed to better understand his ideology of sex, women, men and sexual relationships between opposite and similar genders, I pulled critical information that shows a direct connection between Stoker and homosexuality. In her critical essay, Schaffer points out that Stoker’s friend ‘Oscar Wiled’ was convicted of sodomy’s; a crime or sin which society accused and punished homosexuals for during the Victorian era. As I consider sodomy’s in my reading of the novel, “Drachma explores Stoker’s fear and anxiety as a closeted homosexual man during Oscar Wild’s trial. (Schaffer 381). ‘ agree with Schaffer that Stoker has meant to demonstrate his emotions and Wild’s status in society at the time, in Harmer’s character, making use of a confidently-masked homosexuality which is represented by Count Drachma as if he is Stoker’s way of peeing up to the people and showing his true self. In the beginning of the novel, we see homosexuality making its appearance as soon as Jonathan enters Drachma’s Castle in Transylvania and meets him personally for the first time.
It is important to mention that not only did Victorian society pay a great deal of attention to sexuality and completely rejected homosexuals, Victorians were indeed disturbed by the reversal of sexual roles and by homosexuality. Just like Vampires, in the Victorian era homosexuals could not express their inner feelings or homoerotic desires in public. Similarly, we see Jonathan describing pleasantly Drachma’s smile in the early pages of his Journal saying he had a “Charming smile”(24). Soon after that, as Count Drachma gets to Jonathans end of the table Jonathan is no more able to repress a shudder. 24) Jonathan sounds affected by Count Drachma’s admirable characteristics, yet, he is not sure if he is to express his feelings to a male foreigner or not. Therefore, we see him writing it down in his Journals, strengthening my claim from what Jonathan declares: “l think strange things which I dare not confess to my own soul”(25). Jonathan himself knows that if he expresses those feelings to Count Drachma he might get into trouble, which is not what he came for all the way from England.
Craft claims that Stoker uses the castle scenes to set up the primary idea of homosexuality for the readers, but due to social norms they can’t accept it directly and openly; however, eventually the readers will unconsciously accept it as they continue reading the novel (Craft 130). Similarly, I argue that Stoker is providing a subtle hint in the beginning of the novel for the reader to think and consider this kind of abnormal homoerotic relationship hat will indirectly take place in the novel.
Vampire stories often show vampires driven by their lust for blood; they tend to vamp people as soon as they see them bleeding. However, the previous shaving scene holds two different possible illustration of homosexuality. Firstly, the Count did not vamp Jonathan because he had already developed some feelings towards him and resisted his nature of vamping. Similarly, Jonathan found the count twice lying in his box of earth and considered killing him, but he did not. This shows that although Jonathan knew that someone he had feelings for.
Secondly, The Count represents a wide range of sexuality. From the same scene I argue that Stoker aimed to illustrate his confident side of homosexuality in Count Drachma, as the Count showed his desire to keep Jonathan for himself: “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me”(43). Although the Count does not clearly indicate his desire of keeping Jonathan, Craft contends that Drachma will never represent so directly a male’s desire to be penetrated”(Craft 1 11).
Stoker did not want to show an explicit man-man relationship n the novel due to gender boundaries set by the culture and society of the time. Over and above, Schaffer concludes her paper by directly claiming that indirect male- male desire is a major theme in Drachma. Along the lines of her argument and although Count Drachma does not declare much in the novel, his speeches often indicate sexual aggression. Highlighting his following dialogue, “My revenge is Just begun! I spread it over the centuries, and time is on my side.
Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine .. .” (267). Here Drachma identifies the procedure of exchange by which the female represents the river in which males are penetrated. Broadening the argument further, Drachma does not only suck Lully’s blood when he vamps her, but also the three male characters’ who have transferred their blood into her. Van Helping himself reveals this decisive information. “… Even we four who gave our strength to Lucy it also is all to him”(181).
Van Helping does not express unhappiness regarding the connection between the male characters and Drachma as if Stoker is saying ‘It is fine’ to have this kind of relationship within society. As Schaffer argued “This interposition of a woman between Drachma and Van Helping should not surprise us; in England, as in Castle Drachma, a violent wrestle between males is mediated through a feminine form”(Schaffer 1 17). Schaffer underlines the framework that Stoker uses to deliver a masked homosexuality whenever he addresses it in Drachma in order to avoid negative sanctions from the readers and society.
As I extend in this paper beyond both Craft’s and Schaffer argument, I examine the scene of Count Drachma arriving in London. This scene strongly explains the theme of homosexuality mentioned in my argument above and proves the Counts homosexuality. The Count arrives on the ship coming from Transylvania, during the voyage to London; the crew members started to disappear without a trace one after another. Without a doubt, due to Count Drachma being on the ship at this time, the disappearance of the crew can be accounted for by his homosexual tendencies.
The trip from Transylvania to London is long enough to require Drachma to vamp, and obviously Drachma had no problems with vamping the crew of the ship. In the novel and mainly in the Captain’s Diary it is clear from the ailerons’ emotional description that the count is physically raping them: “Crew dissatisfied about something. Seemed scared, but would not speak out On 14 July was somewhat anxious about crew expected fierce quarrel, but all was quiet He was in a panic of superstitious fear”(81).
All previous quotes from Drachma shows Stoker’s attempt to reflect his feelings and how he is treated by society. Continuing in this vein, I argue that Count Drachma has enjoyably raped the men on the ship as he vamps rapidly all of them and throws them into the water after fulfilling his pleasure. Deader as a subtext. In addition, declaring that the Captain’s body was found dead explains that Drachma not only wanted to decrease the number of crew members on the ship, but he also wanted to enjoy them physically too.
Without a doubt, Stoker chose a ship to be the counts transportation rather than any other kind of transportation to support his argument by highlighting the male-only atmosphere on the ship which therefore will sustain his argument of homosexual interactions. In London, Count Drachma tends not to express his homosexual cravings in public due to he social restriction of the Victorians, because by disobeying it he will be noticed as a foreigner and therefore his invasion plan will be resisted. Quoting from Schaffer “The conditions of secrecy necessary for nineteenth-century homosexual life… Come ominous emblems of Count Drachma’s evil”(Schaffer 406). Not until he indirectly confesses it to the crew of light saying: “My revenge is Just begun! I spread it over the centuries, and time is on my side. Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine” (267). From this moment, Drachma shouted out his emotions and feelings. Drachma replaces his love for men with women; he is going to practice his open sexuality with females because he can’t get into the males due to the taboo in London.
Along with my argument, Craft highlights this abnormal heterosexual relationship for the Count, saying: “Everywhere in this text such desire seeks a strangely deflected heterosexual distribution; only through women may men touch”(Craft 1 11). The Counts aim to sexuality on men through women symbolize his wild and aggressive homosexual behavior as if Stoker is saying that homosexuals will never be excluded from society and will be fighting or their rights.
As Victorian society fought against homosexuality and completely rejected any threatening manipulation in sexual roles between genders, Abram Stoker aimed to defend his emotions through this sexually filled novel. He wanted to combat and ultimately release himself from societal boundaries. In addition, Stoker provided invisible homosexuality in Drachma and used the novel as a way of communicating with society to tell them about homosexuals’ true selves and feelings, without saying it straight forward in order to avoid the Victorians opposition to homosexuals.