He writes, "Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness" (Stoker 225). It is clear that wantonness is not a characteristic to be admired in Victorian times, because he compares her wantonness to cruelty, as well. Clearly, both these novels echo the time they were written and society's views on women. Women play insignificant and "wanton" roles in both books, and they are a source of motherly love and distress. One critic, however, feels the novel may be a beacon of change, too. He writes, "Dracula is not only a threat but also imaginative and physical vitality, a catalyst for change. The novel suggests that a new understanding of sexuality and decay is necessary for any attempt to attain social order and growth" (Boone). What is most interesting about these two novels is that they portray relatively like views of women, yet one was written by a man, and the other a woman, indicating how pervasive (and persuasive) society's view of women was at the time, but that at least one author thought those views warranted societal change.
While there are many similarities between these two horror novels, there are some clear differences, as well. There is a distinct Christian influence in "Dracula" that has been noted by many critics and reviewers. The characters often call on God throughout the novel, such as, "God pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril; and in mercy pity those to whom she is dear!' Then she began to rub her lips as though to cleanse them from pollution" (Stoker 288). On the other hand, Shelley uses God more in times of despair, and there is not such a feeling of good and evil, God vs. The devil in her story. Instead, it focuses on the weaknesses of man and their desires, without as much interest in the spiritual side of the story.
In addition, Stoker sets his novel mostly in Victorian London, a location that many of his early readers could certainly relate to, while Shelley prefers much more exotic locations, such as the North Pole, Geneva, and Scotland, which gives an air of mystery and excitement to her book. To give his novel excitement, Stoker creates Transylvania as a home for vampires and other evil beings, also using an exotic locale, but associating evil with that locale that still lives on today. Shelley uses exotic locations, but does not manage to infuse them with evil the way Stoker does, and that sets these two novels apart.
Yet another difference between these two horror classics is the way they are written. Stoker creates a type of literary journal with letters and even some "newspaper" articles thrown in, while Shelly's work is a narrative, looking back at events after they occurred. While Shelley creates a few letters for the opening and closing of her book, most of it is told by Victor Frankenstein himself, it is written in a first person narrative, creating a marked difference between the works. In addition, "Dracula" uses several narrators and protagonists, while "Frankenstein" uses only two, Victor himself and Robert Walton, the ship's captain that finds Frankenstein on the ice.
In conclusion, these two classic horror novels helped begin and continue the genre of horror fiction, and they remain two of the most recognized horror novels even today. They indicate the morals and social issues of the times, but they also are thought provoking, using common themes to raise the consciousness of the reader. Women and the place they play in society is easily recognized in the two novels, and they have other similarities, as well. Ultimately, they both serve a vital role in the genre of horror fiction.
Boone, Troy. "He Is English and Therefore Adventurous: Politics, Decadence, and 'Dracula." Studies in the Novel 25.1 (1993): 76+.
Nitchie, Elizabeth. Mary Shelley: Author of "Frankenstein." Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1970.
Hoeveler, Diane Long. "3 Frankenstein, Feminism, and Literary Theory." The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Ed. Esther Schor. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 45-60.
Schor, Esther, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003.