1. Background to the time the book was written
2. Social Aspects: Characters in Society
3. Women in Society
4. Religious Aspects
1. Background to the time the story was written
To reveal the social background of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" , as well as the aspects of religion and science that influenced on society, we have to consider the events of that time. "Dracula" was written in the year of 1897. It was the so-called Victorian Age that was expressed by a high morality which was especially celebrated by the upper class who more than ever felt superior towards the poor working classes. It was a time when great social and economical problems struck society, especially its poor levels. But it also was a time of great scientific progress that lead to an upper society becoming richer and the working class remaining poor. The final result was a strong belief in materialism on the side of those who considered scientific progress as important and positive and a growing interest in Roman Catholicism, parapsychology and spirituality on the side of those who were more sceptic towards science and materialism. Society was more and more divided into rich and poor and the problems on the side of the poor increased. That was one reason why the church lost its power and influence on the majority of the society. Another reason for this was Gladstone's "Disestablishment Act".
But it was also a time when England invaded other countries to increase their number of colonies that could be exploited.
In the Victorian Age, men felt superior to women. So women were suppresed, repressed and oppressed by men to a high degree. They were supposed to stay at home and to care for the family and the household. It was unthinkable for men to allow their wives to work for money and to work outside the house. Women had to be the "angel in the house", pure and motherly. They were not expected and allowed to have an own opinion.
This may serve as a background to the following examination of "Dracula" on social, religious and scientific aspects that are closely related in the presented social classes.
2. SOCIAL ASPECTS: characters in society
Mainly, Bram Stoker presents the characters of this novel as members of the ruling class, the haute bourgeosie or the aristocracy. The lower classes do not occur in this story despite of the gypsys that support Count Dracula. This reflects that the lower classes were not considered as that important to that time and that it was quite impossible to mix the different social classes.
Marriage was arranged with love but also with care about the social ranking and money.
1) Lord Godalming is a representative of the English aristocracy. He represents wealth, money, tradition and even generosity as he gives his money to make the fight against Dracula possible. His first name, Arthur, refers to 'King Arthur', his last name to 'God Almighty'. This conveys a certain importance of that character for the story. Bram Stoker underlines the meaning of Lord Godalming throughout the run of the story by these means. This importance for the development of the story and even for other characters and his courage to stand in for the ones he loves is shown in the following lines of Dr. Seward's diary:
"...'You can do more than any that live, and your courage is your best help.' 'What can I do?' asked Arthur hoarsely. 'Tell me and I shall do it. My life is hers, and I would give the last drop of blood in my body for her.'" ( p.128 )
Lord Godalming has all the qualities that were expected of a member of that social class. He is polite, generous, calm and full of courage. With one word, he is a gentleman through and through. That can be seen in Mina Harker's words:
"...He is too true a gentleman." ( p.242 )
2.Jonathan Harker embodies all Victorian ideals: he has got power and energy, the strength of youth and a strong belief and faith. As a lawyer he is a representative of the state and a member of the professional class. He stands for law, order and knowledge. By his strong belief in the good things of life and his deep faith he wants to give strength to those who are full of doubts.