The Uncanny Bedrooms of Dracula as Explored in Restored Victorian Homes

Erica L Brusky

Abstract


In the nineteenth century, Bram Stoker introduced audiences to one of Britain’s most renowned Gothic horror novels, Dracula, and there has been an extensive amount of literary analysis and research produced since its publication. Unlike many of these publications, this research explores, with an interdisciplinary approach, how Stoker upsets the natural psychology of the bedroom scenes and how this reveals ideologies concerning women in the nineteenth century. Bedrooms similar to Lucy and Mina’s have been examined to study the psychological implications of the materials and interior design for nineteenth-century women. Freud explains two ways that a place, object, or situation becomes uncanny: the phenomena of double and defamiliarization. Stoker uses both to transform the bedroom scenes from a natural place of safety, fertility, and comfort to a haunting locus of fear for Mina and Lucy. Using research conducted in historical homes on nineteenth-century material culture and architecture, I posit that while bedrooms should create a sense of safety, privacy, and comfort, in Dracula, the uncanny affect strips away these natural qualities. This paper explains—using evidence of material culture that I have collected from the houses, interviews I have conducted with historians, textual research, and Freud’s “The Uncanny”—just how uncanny Stoker made the bedroom scenes in Dracula and what this communicates to readers about the ideologies of nineteenth-century women. In sum, literary criticism, history, material culture, and written communication may effectively illuminate how the bedroom settings in Dracula significantly contribute to the novel’s uncanny effect.

Keywords


historical homes, Dracula, The Uncanny

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