- Oct 29, 2002
- East of Suez
In the standard cinematic adaptations, the homoerotic theme is most developed in the scene where the vampire sucks the blood from a small cut on his young visitor's hand. Kinsky and Schreck linger over the act in a manner which underlines the act as a sexual pass.
I always took the blood-sucking to be a double metaphor: Dracula feeds on both men and women: the men he emasculates, the women he steals from under the protection of their men-folk, cuckolding them and creating progeny of his own kind
The point, though, is that this loss of masculine and sexual potency was in turn a metaphor for loss of prestige, loss of racial purity and loss of Empire. (See degeneracy: the mood of the 1890s, Nordau, Weber et als).
I always found it interesting that Dracula's passage to Britain is onboard the Demeter. The crew do not know the nature of their cargo, though it haunts and stalks them. And what is the dark underbelly of lofty Greek philosophy, the part left out of the school-room editions? Homosexuality and pederasty. And what of the Eleusian Mysteries, dedicated to Demter and Persephone? They sought--it is believed--to elevate Man to the status of Godhead: the highest presumption, which can only bring a fall...
Bundle all these anxieties up into some kind of monstrously foreign ball and then stake the fucker: make everybody feel better and let them all get some sleep.
Actually, as you should all have recalled, Dracula is not staked--he dies from being simultaneously decapitated by Harker's kukri and stabbed through the heart by Morris's Bowie knife. And what is that? The British Empire with its fiercely loyal Gurkhas, and the wealth and vitality of the New World built on Anglo-Saxon foundations (Jim Bowie, incidentally, being a very interesting figure).
Painting Dracula as simply a 'sexy monster' rather sells the story cheap.