BoswellEnglish 9 Per 6January 8, 2018Dracula’s undertones in complexion: Scales of “pale” “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space,” said Orson Scott Card. Dracula is a prime example of this. Bram Stoker skillfully weaves undertones into all crucial parts of the story. One undertone I found fascinating was of the imagery of pale skin. While the link between lethargic behavior and pallor is discernable, there are underlying meanings. Though the word “pale” takes up several connotations during Dracula, Bram Stoker primarily uses “pale” to subtly hint at interference by Count Dracula. When Stoker uses the word pale, he molds it to suit different parts of the story.
In the beginning of the book, “pale” is used to describe Dracula and other vampires. “For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor. Hitherto I had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine.
” (Stoker 27). As shown by the text, Dracula has an unusual pallor. Even though blood is shown as a metaphor for life, Dracula has none of it, giving him a pale hue. Oddly enough, he is immortal. This irony is only one of the many literary tools Stoker uses in Dracula. Another observation that can be made about the text is how much of an impact Dracula’s association with blood has had on society. Dracula’s bloodthirsty tendencies have given rise to medical conditions such as Renfield’s syndrome (named after the character) which is the obsession and attraction to blood. Interestingly enough, another disease called porphyria could have influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Porphyria is an incurable genetic disease, the symptoms of which align perfectly with those ascribed to vampires. Sufferers shun bright light because it irritates their skin and hurts their eyes. Their skin shrinks, and when this occurs around the mouth, the canine teeth appear to be more prominent.
Discoloration of the skin also gives a pale appearance and, fittingly, garlic exacerbates these symptoms, so it should be avoided (Roy 2011). Porphyria was first reported in 1887 and Stoker published Dracula 10 years later. Although there is no way of knowing, Porphyria could have influenced Stoker’s perception.
A. As the book progresses, Stoker also uses pale to describe reactions of major characters. “He was very pale, and his eyes seemed bulging out as, half in terror and half in amazement, he gazed at a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl” (Stoker 206).
The second connotation “pale” is assigned isn’t as negative as others. Stoker once again utilizes irony with this connotation. The characters become pale at looking at Dracula’s waxen figure.
They feel that this paleness is a marker for Dracula’s sin and lechery because of what he did to Lucy and Mina. However, Dracula wastes no time at pointing out at this hypocrisy. “You think to baffle me, you–with your pale faces all in a row, like sheep in a butcher’s.
“You think to baffle me, you–with your pale faces all in a row, like sheep in a butcher’s. You shall be sorry yet, each one of you!” (366) Supporting Claim #2: However, upon closer examination, Dracula plays an unobtrusive role in almost all situations when pale is used to describe a character. The third and final connotation of the word is arguably the most important one. B. We can first see hints of something far more intricate when Lucy looks paler than usual (Stoker, 185). Her gums are described as “drawn back from the teeth, which thus looked positively longer and sharper than usual.”C. As seen in chapter 19, Mina has also started looking pale and thin.
This is reinforced when Van Helsing says that his blood runs cold “to think of what had occurred with poor Lucy when the Count had sucked her blood.”i. From the beginning of the book, when Jonathan meets the Count, Dracula is to be “deathly pale, just like a waxen image” (Dracula, 448). Furthermore, he is also characterized by protuberant “sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory” (Dracula, 27). All characters who are revealed to have been bitten by Dracula, bear this semblance.ii.?