Gothic Women’s Liberation Meeting
A couple of years ago I took a gothic novel class. It was really fun, because you could tell it was a class the professor cared about and truly enjoyed. Because of this, the students were able to enjoy it as well. Our final project was to take at least two characters from at least two different novels we had read and make them interact. I wrote a short scene with a bunch of the women in the books.
In gothic literature, women are most often put into one of two categories; the angelic woman or the demonic woman. The angelic woman is innocent, dull, and needs men to think for her. She is easily victimized and if she does not meet ruin it is because of a man saving her.
The demonic woman does not submit to men. She is overbearing, often set on world domination and prone to violence. She is the reason that women must be tamed and cannot be trusted. She is often used as a case for denying women education.
The one exception to this rule is Mina Harper, from Dracula. She is smart and capable of reason and logical thought, but uses her knowledge to help her husband, so is neither the demonic or angelic archetype.
I thought it would be interesting to put a bunch of these very different women together at a woman’s lib meeting and see what happened. This is the result.
CARMILLA from Carmilla
SHE from She
MADAME DE LA ROUGIERRE from Uncle Silas
MINA from Dracula
AGNES from The Monk
LUCY from Dracula
ANTONIA from The Monk
MAUD from Uncle Silas
MILLIE from Uncle Silas
LAURA from Carmilla
Setting: A dimly lit basement area that looks like a meeting room, with lots of open space. Chairs are set up in a large semi-circle. Only about half the chairs are filled. The occupants of the seats are spread out, staying in their cliques or not speaking to the others.
CARMILLA stands in the front of the room. MILLIE, MAUD, and LAURA, all sit huddled together at one end of the row. MADAME DE LA ROUGIERRE sits several seats away from them, looking bored. MINA and LUCY sit further down, making occasional comments on the meeting. AGNES sits a few seats over, intentionally avoiding the solemn gaze of ANTONIA.
CARMILLA : Hello, everyone, and welcome to our first Gothic Female Liberation meeting! We are here because we have sat idle for too long while the men in our lives exploit us! Our chauvinistic authors have unjustly portrayed us as one-dimensional, manipulating, and pure evil! Others of us, (gestures at MAUD and LAURA) have been shown as dim-witted, uneducated, and altogether dull! Even those of you who are completely pure and faultless (Antonia, who has been moping, looks up forlornly) have been doomed to unpleasant fates! What have we done to deserve this treatment?
(Silence, MAUD, MILLIE, and LAURA continue chatting quietly with each other, MADAME DE LA ROUGIERRE picks at her fingernails, LUCY looks bored, MINA is rapt, focusing intently on what is being said)
CARMILLA waits for an awkward moment before continuing.: Nothing! Nothing! That is what! We have merely existed, and our actions have been misinterpreted for us. I invade a naïve young girl’s dreams, sorry Laura dear, and suck the blood of a few women and am shown as a lesbian trollop. Dracula, on the other hand, causes suffering for thousands of people, and is seen as intelligent and even sexy at some times! Why does HE get a harem? Why can I not have a following of gorgeous women willing to fulfill all of MY desires!?!?!
(Clears throat) Anyway. The point is, we need to stand up for ourselves! We need to demand our rights! In order to do this, I have taken the liberty of signing each of you up for times to protest in front of the Gothic gentlemen’s club, the Villain’s Lair downtown, and the Author’s Lounge up on thirty-third street. We will have people picketing during all business hours, with extra people during peak hours, which are…”
SHE: From offstage, “PICKETING!?!?!” storms across the stage. “PICKETING!?! We are being severely ill-treated by men, of all creatures, who are certainly the weaker sex, and all you can think to do is PICKET? What is waving a few signs going to do? You might as well stay in this basement and keep talking about “how this makes us feel!” How useless can you be? No wonder LeFanu just had you killed off in an inconsequential scene, you didn’t matter enough for him to waste any time on a significant death!”
CARMILLA: EXCUSE ME? At least I didn’t just walk into a pillar of fire. Someone forgot to read the instruction manual!
MADAME: “Ladies, ladies, this is not necessary! We don’t need to fight each other! We need to fight the men! We must RIP their throats out! Each and every one! But not completely, for death is too easy for such swine. We must leave them mostly in tact, but mute, and too weak to resist. We will then make them follow our every order!” (laughs maniacally)
AGNES: I personally do not see what the problem is. You are all over-reacting. Yes, we have all been through hard times, but that is part of life. The men haven’t had it easy either. You are downplaying their sufferings and focusing only on your own.
LUCY: (mutters) Easy for the whore with the happy ending to say.
AGNES: Excuse me? Miss “I have three suitors but I think I’ll go for the vampire”? Where do you get off judging me?
MINA: (stands up) Okay, okay, we all need to calm down. Just because some of us have not made the best decisions, doesn’t mean we stop supporting our sisters! Turning on each other is not going to solve anything. Neither is killing the men. We can’t just go from one extreme to the other. We must love and respect our men, so that they will love and respect us in return. We must make ourselves useful to them, and they will see that we deserve equal rights.
SHE: (scoffs) You think that will work? Men are oppressors! The only way to fight oppression is to push back! We must enslave them, for the sake of all the fair slaves that have come before us!
MILLIE, MAUD, and LAURA all stand up.
MAUD: Well, this has been very pleasant, but we’re going to go horseback riding now. We meet the most lovely gentlemen on our weekend carriage outings.”
MILLIE, MAUD, and LAURA exit
CARMILLA: See what you’ve all done? I was going to trick them into working the late shifts!