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Masochism in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Re-Reading R.M. Renfield/Bram Stoker'in Dracula Adli Eserinde Mazosim: R.M. Renfield'i Yeniden Okumak

Academic journal article Interactions

Masochism in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Re-Reading R.M. Renfield/Bram Stoker'in Dracula Adli Eserinde Mazosim: R.M. Renfield'i Yeniden Okumak

Article excerpt

Abstract: In this paper I shall refer to many definitions of masochism formulated since the creation of the concept at the end of the nineteenth century, and apply them to Bram Stoker's Dracula. By analysing many of the sexual metaphors present in the text as well as by referring to the recent critical debate on the novel, I shall argue that the character of R.M. Renfield could actually be interpreted as enacting a masochistic behaviour. Although the various interpretations of the concept of masochism hitherto offered are definitely different in their emphasis and specifications, I shall affirm that they could all be read in the actions and words of Renfield. In this way, Stoker's text (as well as many works belonging to the Gothic genre) shall be seen as allowing such multiple and contrasting readings.

Keywords: Stoker, Dracula, Renfield, Masochism, Sexual Metaphors.

Bu makalede, on dokuzuncu yuzyilin sonunda kavram olarak ortaya atilmasindan itibaren sekillendirilen mazosizmin bircok tanimi ele alinarak Bram Stoker'in Dracula adli eserine uygulanmistir. Metindeki cinsel metaforlarin bircogu incelenerek ve romana dair son elestirel tartismalara atifta bulunularak R. M. Renfield'in mazosist davranislar sergileyen bir karakter oldugu tartisilmaktadir. Mazosizm kavrami icin simdiye kadar onerilen cesitli yorumlar onem ve ozellikleri acisindan kesinlikle farkli olmalarina ragmen, bu yorumlarin hepsinin Renfield'in eylemleri ve sozlerinde gozlemlenebildigi ileri surulmektedir. Boylelikle, Stoker'in metni (Gotik ture dahil olan pek cok eser gibi) coklu ve celisen okumalara olanak saglayan bir metin olarak ortaya cikar.

Anahtar Kelimler: Stoker, Dracula, Renfield, mazosizm, cinsel metaforlar

In this paper I intend to trace many definitions of masochism, a concept which was created and rendered public at the end of the nineteenth century, and apply them to Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was published in the same period. I shall initially refer to the formulations given by the critics of the Gothic genre which link nineteenth-century sexology with literary Gothic at large or with Stoker's text in particular. By demonstrating that Dr. Seward's representation of his patient is neither entirely professional nor separated from his own interest in medical research, I shall initially argue that Renfield could not be necessarily seen as mad man. I shall then refer to the concept of masochism as described by nineteenth-century sexologists and apply it to the text of Dracula. This precise analysis shall be furthermore repeated in reference with many studies regarding masochism published during the twentieth century up to the present. In this way, I shall describe Renfield's actions and words as a representation of masochism, as interpreted according to the works by critics in the field published in more than one hundred years, and analyse his relationship with Dracula as the enactment of a complementary link between a sadist and a masochist. However, since the concept of masochism has been defined and analysed through different interpretations, my study shall often deal with contrasting opinions. Indeed, I shall refer mainly to two opposite interpretations of masochism in the text. On the one hand, we could affirm that Renfield actually recovers from masochism, that he recognizes it to be unconventional and wrong as according to nineteenth-century society. On the other hand, we could affirm that he experiences masochism until his death, that the experience of pain is willingly led to its most extreme consequence. In this way, I will read Stoker's text as allowing the possibility of such contrasting and different readings.

Reading the objects and actions described in Stoker's text in terms of sexual metaphors is what characterizes the academic work of the critics published in the past decades. The very kiss of the Undead, both in the case of male and female vampires, has been repeatedly seen as symbolising an act of penetration with the vampire's mouth seen in terms of its only "sex organ" (Hendershot 23). …

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