Freud suggests that fear is “linked in some way to an earlier emotional response that has been repressed.” In chapter 3 Hawker experiences a great amount of fear when he is attacked by the Brides of Dracula, in a dramatic, highly sexual scene. Hawker’s submission and confusion as to whether he is experiencing pleasure of pain could, to follow Freud’s theory, be linked to a past memory in which he repressed his sexual desires.
In the prudent society in which Stoker was writing, the rampant, overt eroticism of the Brides would have been shocking, and in some ways liberating.
Stoker writes: “There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.” The Brides are wholly sexual beings, who are guided solely by their desires, and this need contrasts completely against the typical 19th century men and women- John, Lucy and Mina.
This liberation from repression would and did terrify and shock society, making vampires seem more like animals, monsters.
Freud wrote about the Superego, Ego and Id, the three parts of the human psyche. The Id is natural, animalistic desires, such as sex and hunger and it is the Ego’s job to ensure that these desires are controlled, in order for a human to live in an ordered society. This links well with the idea that repression leads to fear.
Freud also wrote about the ‘uncanny’ which in German translates to ‘unheimlich,’ which means un-homely.
The idea of uncanny is that “within the concept of the homely is the notion of concealment itself,” that where we feel safest may not be that safe at all, and that “home is a place of secrets.” In Chapter three Harker seeks comfort in a room “where, of old, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad for their menfolk away in the midst of remorseless wars.”
He seeks safety and comfort in familiarity, however within the place where he appears to be safest in the castle the Brides of Dracula descend on him. Stoker writes that: “The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it,” however the Brides have appeared and suddenly the atmosphere changes from that of safety and sleep to sexually charged domination.
At the climax of the scene, the vampires are just about to bite Hawker’s neck, and Hawker completely and utterly submits: “I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.” It is this uninhibited pleasure that Hawker experiences that makes the scene so significant, almost as if his unconscious Id has completely taken over his Superego. The Brides do not think, they act, they are, according to Freud, the complete opposite to how normal human beings think they should behave.
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