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

By Sanna, Antonio | Interactions, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

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


Sanna, Antonio, Interactions


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). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

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

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.