Melissa McCann 4/1/12:
While rereading Friday’s virtual class discussion, female sexuality and desire was obviously a topic that lead to a rather involved analysis of the female characters in the novel, particularly Lucy. In the beginning of the novel, I hadn’t really considered the presence of human women’s sensuality. Through our class discussion, I realized not only was such desire present, but that it would play a much larger role in the determining the fate of the characters. When Lucy wished she could be with three men, this yearning to have three partners much more represented the sexual urge of vampires, mainly the three weird sisters in Dracula’s castle, foreshadowing that her eventual transformation into a vampire will more appropriately align with her sexual desires. Taking a look at chapter ten, I was intrigued with the transfusion of blood from Arthur (Lucy’s fiancé) to Lucy and from Dr. Seward (the man in love with Lucy) to Lucy. Even before she actually becomes a vampire, Lucy is already requiring blood from humans, interestingly enough from men that she has had feelings for, in order to survive. Arthur and Dr. Seward currently volunteered their lives and their blood to save Lucy, but will they be so enthusiastic about it when she is no longer human? 

After reading all of Dracula, there is something that still strikes me about VanHelsing's speech and how it works as communication and manipulation within the text. Mostly I noticed the continuous and pervasive use of the word "friend" used as a tag when addressing his companions. This word may not seem terribly out of place and certainly could be explained as simply a quirk of his speech (which is that of a foreigner). However, VanHelsing seems to use this terminology more heavily when his is trying to manipulate those around him, or when he is playing the role of leader. One particular instance that struck me was when he is telling each man his task as they hunt down Dracula: "must think. Now let us organize. You, friend Arthur, go to the train and get the tickets and arrange that all be ready for us to go in the morning. Do you, friend Jonathan, go to the agent of the ship and get from him letters to the agent in Galatz, with authority to make a search of the ship just as it was here" (114-15). The list continues by doling out other tasks to the rest of the group. To me, and I feel a little hesitant to draw the connection, this reoccurring use of the tag "friend" seems to echo the stereotypical communist "comrade" tag. While it is meant to equalize everyone (and indeed, VanHelsing uses "friend" to refer to all the other characters including the female Mina), it does not realistically reflect the nature of the group dynamic. VanHelsing is the leader, no question, and while the others can have input, all ideas are sanctioned or dismissed by him. However, at the same time that VanHelsing is dictator ruling over the others, they seem unaware of how much power they actually give him over themselves. I feel that the title "friend" or "comrade" is partly responsible for building up verbally the ideal of an egalitarian body that is still controlled by a single man. I'll admit this idea may be a stretch.
Meagan Gagnon (A close reading)
Something that confused me in this reading was a line right as the men enter Mina's room in Chapter 21. There was an extreme amount of detail in this Chapter, as Seward explained that he would do ("not a detail that I can recall must be forgotten" (241 Norton Critical Edition)), yet all of the detail ultimately serves a greater purpose. The purpose of Van Helsing's fall, however, seems to be less apparent than others. "...The door did not yield. We threw ourselves against it; with a crash it burst open, and we almost fell headlong into the room. The Professor did actually fall, and I saw across him as he gathered himself from hands and knees."  The Professor is usually more agile. What makes this instance different? Why did the other, less physically-capable men able to keep their balance?  I would argue that this demonstrates the extreme passion that Van Helsing has, for often times he moves without much thought. He, in this instance is putting everything into his actions, while his companions retain enough composure (typical of the British) to remain balanced. His fall is almost comedic, and is further juxtaposed with the horrifying yet majestic man inside of the room. Perhaps there is another meaning that I am missing, or perhaps I am questioning a passage that does not need it, but regardless it is a passage that demonstrates the true nature of this Professor in which these characters have so much faith.
One of the things I found most interesting in our discussion in virtual class was when we looked at Lucy’s virtue versus her sexuality. She’s depicted with a lot of symbolism showing her virtue (i.e. dressing in white), but she is also quite sexualized, which we see in the scenes where she is getting the blood transfusions. The mixing of fluids and Jack’s eagerness to give his “lifeblood” to the woman he loves is very reminiscent of sexual relations. I think Lucy’s sexuality acts as a bridge between the weird sisters and Mina, which is also represented in the beginning of her transformation into a vampire.

(I definitely tried to post this before Monday, but on second check it never actually pos
      From our class virtual discussion, what I found rather interesting was the developing ideas of everyone where the roles in which either Lucy and Mina was explained as having where either too simple or too extreme. This discussion in itself nagged at me as though there was some type of vital information that I should know but didn't. Yet later as I continued to read more of both the discussion and the book I came to the conclusion that the objectification of Mina being labeled as is nothing more than the common woman is pure "BS". Which lead to the big question that is constantly circling throughout my head, which is: Why is it that because Lucy's characters is giving more of a feminist perspective through her actions, along with her acceptance of woman sexuality, why is it that she has to be perceived as "a ho" or "slut"? Why is is that Dracula who embodies these same characteristics but instead uses Lucy's same approaches to ensure his survival isn't every verbally vocalized? Although gender is a major issue in literature during this time, is it because of the audience/readers personal expectations or desire to consantly ridicule the extreme in one person more than the other (without always thinking about it as being solely focused on man/woman ?
                             - Kimberly Belgrave
I like the comparison between Lucy and Mina. There are many interpretations of their sexualities and their motives. I still do not see Lucy as that sexual of a being before she is transformed, she just reminds me of an empty headed, boy-crazy teen, in a good way. Mina, on the other hand, is far more pragmatic. She seems to be as much of a “vampire hunter” as society allows her to be due to her gender. Maybe we could think about Mina as a predecessor to Buffy? - Peter

One of the questions raised in the virtual discussion was whether Lucy could be considered vampiric from the start. I believe the text supports this claim insofar as Lucy's gender deviance gives her the same kind of threatening quality that the Weird Sisters have, because they elude male mastery. Mina remarks that Lucy must be the kind of woman every man wants to marry, because she's always saying things that are appropriated to a sublimated role in marriage; however, there's an undercurrent of independent desire in her that acts against her willingness to be mastered. There's something vampiric in the way she uses the affects of men to this end. This was first embodied in the episode of the proposals, where she used the fact that men want her to create a situation of choice and self-mastery. In the reading for today, we see that Lucy is literally feeding on the affections of Arthur, Seward, and Van Helsing. Each time she receives a blood transfusion from them, or sleeps the night with one of them looking out for her, she wakes with a sleepy content. She seems to be feeding off their attention and affection the same way a true vampire literally feeds off blood. - Ariel
Our "class" on Friday made me think more about what it means to be a sexualized Victorian woman. We discussed for a while how both Mina and Lucy are representations of various types of powerful women-- Mina is independent, while Lucy is sexual. We also discussed the power of the three sisters. Before class, I hadn't realized what a big deal this was. There was often (in class) mention of the threatening nature of this sexuality for men, as well as the general implications of this sexuality for society in general. I think that this point was emphasized further in the reading that we did last night, where Mina mentions the "New Woman." "Some of the 'New Women' writers will someday start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other sleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the New Woman wouldn't condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself." (87 Norton Critical Edition) This New Woman is independent, sexual, and completely reverses the previously specific understanding of gender relations. This is something that we see in Mina, who later arranges the hour of the wedding while her fiancé is asleep, taking the engagement and eventual marriage into her own hands. Though officially ashamed of the concept, she, as well as the other female characters in this novel, become representations of the "New Woman," whether they like it or not.
Meagan Gagnon
            After the forum conversation, I thought more deeply about other perspectives of gender dynamics within the Dracula novel. I found that a student had a very interesting take on Lucy’s character, because since Lucy desires three men, she believes men are superior. On the other hand, I commented, “Well Lucy's sexuality seems threatening because she is thinking like a man. She wants to have the same ability to do the same things that males do and not get publicly sanctioned for her actions. For instance on page 60, she wishes she had three male partners. Fundamentally, she wants to be equal to the man and does not want the female to be discriminated based on their sex.” Overall these women have some type of desire to be submissive to a man, especially Mina. Mina refers to herself as if she is under men because she wants to see herself useful. Furthermore, other students posted about the ideas of white and darkness of women and good and evil.  White and darkness is also a representation of which character represents good and evil. For example, Mina and Lucy are pure characters since Lucy is referred to a white garden. On the other hand, Mina is good, and Lucy represents evil because of the differing values she has from Mina. Lucy spoke about having three men while Mina chooses to be loyal and useful to one man. Could Lucy be a vampire? She signals to three men and vampires prefer the number three.

Last fridays class mad eme thik about Mina more than I did before. She was always the "smart one"
while Lucy was the "pretty one" but there's more to her. She seems to be the perfect Victorian woman. she is an assistant school teacher and knows how to use machines and such, which could be seen as masculin traits yet  there's a whole thing about her purity and her sexuality. She is presented as the antithesis of Lucy yet we don't know which one of them is going to get turned because they both have repressed sexual desires.  Mina is clearly a supporter of  women having skills
and a sort of power and thus represents the change in England at the time, but I think that's why she doesn't get turned. 
To be turned into a vampire gives you strength and an opening ot your repressed Lucy would benefit from it more.
That said, for all her strength and smarts, she is still a woman, therefore she is dutiful to her husband and  doesn't compromise her reputation.  She is representative of the duplecity women of England faced.