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Conference Proceeding

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To perceive how Dracula can perform his puppeteer act, it is helpful to seek answers to several questions: Who is the subject of the cinematic gaze? Who is its object? Who is experiencing pleasure? How is this pleasure achieved? What are the pleasures and consequences of gazing? Of sexual performance? These questions comprise one overarching idea: control. Who is in control? Who is being controlled? Dracula controls the other characters, narcissistically creating a blasphemous cadre of figures who worship his intellectual power and sexuality. Because they both deal in violence and control, sadism and masochism both subvert and pervert traditional gender roles. Therefore, the practices of sadism and masochism, more commonly referred to in tandem as sadomasochism, inform the portrayal of gender in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In this film, the bachelor machine as described by Constance Penley works in conjunction with sadomasochism both to lead women astray and to discipline them for their transgression. Dracula uses men and women differently; therefore, their exploitation should be examined separately. Sadeian sexuality informs the portrayal of female characters, masochistic sexuality the portrayal of males.


Presented at Graduate English Association New Voices Conference 2008, pp. 1-18.