In Victorian England, when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, the vampire was used as a symbol for, among other things, society's sexual taboos, including overt female sexuality. Nowhere is this idea better explored than in the characters of friends Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray. In Stoker's book, Lucy is symbol of the improper female, the one who is coquettish and flirtatious and sparks sexual interest in the male. Mina is her opposite. She is the ideal Victorian woman whose function is to be chaste and supportive of her future husband. Mina's attraction to men is always one of potential wife or mother. These ideas were somewhat diluted in the 1931 film version to make a horror story with less moral and more thrill, although the flirtatious girl still dies and her less sexual counterpart still survives. In the novel, the line between good and evil tends to be unclear. Even supposedly decent people can make choices which bring about destruction. In the film, these moments of moral ambiguity are removed to make it clear who are the heroes and who are the villains, explaining why Lucy who is potentially the most complex character in the novel is marginalized and why Mina's role in bringing about the demise of Dracuala is equally downsized.
Although they meet the same ends, the Lucy in Tod Browning's Dracula has little in common with the one in Stoker's novel. The film goes as far as to change her name from Lucy Westenra to the more Anglo Lucy Weston. Later that night, the Count enters her bedroom while she is asleep to feast on her blood. In the novel, Lucy leaves her bedroom in a hypnotic trance after the Count calls to her from afar. One of the rules of the vampire legend is that no vampire may enter a residence unless he is invited in. In Stoker's story, this scene is pivotal because, though in a hypnotic state, Lucy is still responsible for her actions. She chooses to leave her bedroom and go to the monster outside. In Browning's film, her culpability is removed because Dracula enters her bedroom through no fault of her own. She is clearly victim and Dracula is clearly monstrous other.
Similarly, the blood transfusions that Lucy must endure at the hands of the males to keep her alive are changed from a series of nights to a single day of procedures. In the novel, all these transfusions take place in Lucy's bedroom. She is extremely weak and laying near death upon her bed, disheveled and in her nightclothes, something no man but her husband should ever be able to witness. In a way, the transfusions are both lifesaving and symbolic of a violation. Weston, on the other hand, has all her procedures on the same day and it is doubtful that those who gave their blood were her suitors. This Lucy dies in an operating theater with several doctors and an audience in attendance. There is nothing intimate about these transfusions.
Once the creature is dead or undead as the case may be, Lucy becomes red-lipped and sensual; a once somewhat pure being now filled with lust both for blood and for sex. Vampire Lucy is first witnessed Dr. Seward and described as having a "languorous, voluptuous grace" (Stoker 188). A woman desirous of a man's touch is as unnatural as a dead woman returning from the grave. She calls out to her fiancee, "Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you" (188). It is only permissible to murder the vampire Lucy after we witness her making sexual advances towards Holmwood. When she is killed, her betrothed Arthur stakes her with a large piece of wood, piercing her and making her bleed profusely, such as would have occurred on their wedding night.
Lucy Weston does not have these moments in the film. Rather than see Lucy as vampire, the viewer is presented a newspaper article reporting that a "Woman in White" is attacking children. When questioned about this woman, Mina reveals that it is Lucy and that when the two women met Lucy took on the look of a hungry animal. The end of Lucy's story is told through the words…