Victorian Sexology in "Dorian Gray" and "Dracula" Comparison Essay by serendipity

Victorian Sexology in "Dorian Gray" and "Dracula"
Explores the the historical and direct influence that Darwin and post-Darwinism had on the themes in "Dorian Gray" and "Dracula."
# 49432 | 7,096 words | 19 sources | MLA | 2004 | US
Published on Mar 08, 2004 in Literature (English) , English (Comparison) , Women Studies (General)

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This paper begins by exploring the three distinct themes or influences from Darwin that shaped the course of the works, "Dorian Gray," by Oscar Wilde, and "Dracula", by Bram Stoker. First, the theme of ambivalence toward religion is discussed. Next, the paper discusses the theme concerning the overwhelming fear of monsters hidden within our own genetic code. The paper then examines the last theme of degeneration and entropy. In addition, the issue of racism and how it arose from this fear of degeneration is looked at, as well as how the sexual abuse of African women was justified because of these racist views. Furthermore, cannibalism as a form of sexual lust is discussed and related to the notion of devolution. Finally, the paper compares and contrasts how all of these themes are expressed in both novels.

From the Paper:

"At the fin de siecle, a great confusion settled over the intellectual communities. Darwin's theories of natural selection had radically altered the scope of society and the popular imagination since the Origin of Species was released in 1858. By the end of the century, however, scientific criticism of the theory had combined with an increased popular paranoia regarding its logical (and less than logical) consequences. Specifically, the idea that we had evolved from the animals began to develop into a fear that we might retrace our steps and descend once more into bestiality. Fear of intrinsic degeneration and the beast within was heightened by its symbolic merger with a sort of imperial self-doubt, as the poets and prophets of the era increasingly foresaw coming changes to the British Empire and a waning of national power. The basic foundations of the British world were crumbling, though they still appeared outwardly bulwarked."

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