Mina's Transcendency: Sexuality, Class, and Power in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about mental illness and vampirism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and focused especially on the way Mina and Lucy, the two female characters and victims of Dracula, embodied a lot of aspects of what was considered to be mentally ill in the Victorian Era. Mental illness is front and center in the novel, considering that a lot of it takes place in a mental asylum and two of its main characters are “brain doctors.” Sexuality, however, takes more of a backseat, relegated to innuendo and suggestion. Three female vampires try to feed on one of the male characters, Jonathan, in a very sexually charged manner. When Lucy becomes a vampire, the chaste young woman becomes much more alluring and “hungry.”

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic series that ran from 1999 to 2007, sexuality is much more explicit. Its first issue gives a modern twist to many of the classic Victorian monster and adventure stories, from Bram Stoker’s novel to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In her introduction in the comic, we learn that Mina was “ravished by a foreigner,” which excludes her from the polite society to which she previously belonged. The “foreigner,” of course, is everyone’s favorite Transylvannian vampire, and her being “ravished” is a clear reference to the events of the source material, in which she was fed on and partly turned into a vampire. In the novel, she was cured of the vampire’s curse when Dracula was slain and of the potential damage to her reputation by marriage to Jonathan, but in the comic series, she is without her cadre of male protectors and left to fend for herself in a society that rejects her for her perceived “sexual deviance.” The association between the vampire bite and sex or sexual assault is made much more explicit than in the source material and used to exclude Mina from middle-class Victorian society.

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