Essay on The Dark Themes of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Dracula"

Essay on The Dark Themes of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Dracula"

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The concerns of Victorian England about the status of faith and manhood have left a deep mark in the literature of the period. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula are good examples of this concern. In both books there is an emphasis in the corruption of the body and of the soul as maladies that haunt the greatness of England. The aristocracy is pointed as the social strata from where this decadence will spread. These books show a population of youth that lacks the guidance of parents and are apparently deprived of fertility as a consequence of the disorientation that reigns among them. This corruption is shown in conjunction with a lack of religious faith and an excess of sin that will result in the transference of England to the forces of evil.
In order to discuss the decline in masculinity (or manhood) and moral values, synonym of religious values in both books, it becomes necessary to define what Late-Victorian society considered them to be. In Dracula, masculinity is defined almost exclusively by contrasting it with femininity. The men in the book are praised when they show the opposite qualities that women are described as possessing. While women are shown as obedient and complacent, men are stern and in command of themselves and situations. Men are expected to protect women while women expect and cherish the protection of men. While men are expected to face the unpleasant facts of life, the darkness and the evil, with integrity and courage, women are to be sheltered from danger to avoid the breakdown of their fragile characters. When the group headed by Van Helsing starts their mission of vanishing the Count and all the dangers he brings for England, the men unanimously decide to hide all the unpleasant facts f...


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...ed to kill Basil Hallard) and dies, his corpse acquiring the shape of his soul and the painting, his soul, regaining the purity of his youth. To regain the purity of his soul he must expose himself as he really is to the eyes of the world. It is, in short, an act of confession that will grant him salvation through the mercy of God. In Dracula, Arthur’s liberation of Lucy’s soul through strong thrusting of the stake, a three-foot long phallic symbol, through her heart is the regaining of the masculinity of England’s youth. The elimination of the Count and the resulting withdrawal of the forces of evil (the gypsies and the wolves) represents the reaffirmation of that masculinity against the foreign threat of the count. This ordeal has helped them to reencounter their true virtues and will enable them to guide the country to a brighter and more prosperous future.

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