"“Affirmative consent,” the law says, “means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.” You can read the whole law here."-
(And yes, it shouldn’t have to be made sexy. But at least it’s there.)
the brides are so important to the narrative of Dracula, for all that they’re only present as bookends, and they’re the least explored part of the story and I care so much about them. The very fact of their existence belies every single adaptation and criticism that claims that Drac and Mina have ~something special~, whether or not that involves reincarnation bullshit, and speaks volumes about what kind of a monster Dracula is.
He has a collection of beautiful women who are dependent upon him (for…some reason? I mean, they are all vampires, presumably they could go out and steal babies on their own if they wanted to, but instead they’re confined to the castle and even to only one wing while Jonathan is around and only venture out when Drac is away, which means that either he has some power over them to command them or that they respect him as a leader for equally opaque reasons) and yet, the only emotional responses he has for them are boredom and anger. There’s no suggestion that he particularly cares for any of them, or even any suggestive nature to their interaction (and while I see where the critics who write them as symbolic of Victorian terror of female sexuality are coming from, I feel that’s not their only purpose in the text). The brides are merely a collection, like dolls, perhaps (given his grudging and prickly attitude when he gives them the baby) even a burden, and he deliberately leaves them behind when he journeys to London, like the rest of the relics of his past. Clearly they must have once have had some significance for him - everything in the castle is connected to the Prince of Wallachia and his glorious history - but to suggest that they still do would be absurd, and to suggest that he loves them, unthinkable.
And upon reaching London, Dracula wastes no time on finding another young, lovely woman to fixate upon. With the brides in mind, it’s all too easy to imagine Lucy’s long nightmare as only the latest in a series of predations. This is a creature who views women as conquests, prizes to be won and collected, and once he has won his game against them, once he has collected them, he has no further use or desire for them. He easily abandons Lucy to wander graveyards on her own, not even affording her the courtesy of a coffin in Carfax abbey at his side. Again, these are not the actions of a monster who loves.
There could still be enough wiggle room to read Dracula as capable of love, to read his pursuit of Mina in a romantic light or as somehow ‘different’ from the other games he plays, if it weren’t for the fact that the little band of vampire hunters are so clearly marked by their love for one another, and for lost Lucy. Most importantly, Jonathan and Mina’s love for one another, which is so strong that he would willingly sacrifice his immortal soul and all hope of heaven if it meant being with her, if it meant she wouldn’t have to face that fate alone. And in the scene where Mina has the group read the funeral rites over her, Stoker places huge emphasis on how much these men would do for her, out of love. This is a massive contrast to Dracula’s calculated, manipulative behaviour in turning Mina, and, I believe, shows a fundamental weakness in him. He cannot change, yes, cannot move forward with the ever-moving present, but also, as he cannot feel the kind of pure love and devotion that unites the band of vampire hunters, he has no one at his side, no one and nothing to rely on. The vampire is incapable of human connection, human feeling, and in the end, that is what makes him most monstrous.