One descriptor that is used frequently in the text that I often find strange is color. Typically reserved for conveying emotion through visuals and setting the mood in scenes, color in Bram Stoker’s Dracula appears to develop a deeper connection between the characters. One scene where color conveys a meaning deeper than just mood is when Arthur, Quincey, and Dr. Seward prepare to travel with Van Helsing to the tomb of the undead Mina on the night of September 29th (227). In his diary, Dr. Seward writes, “It was odd to notice that by common consent we had all put on black clothes. Of course, Arthur wore black, for he was in deep mourning, but the rest of us wore it by instinct.” (227). I would argue that although it may have felt instinctual for Dr. Seward and Quincey to wear black, they too were mourning just as deeply as Arthur was, as it was well known that all three of these men had proposed and confessed their love to Lucy earlier in the novel. Additionally, the Count, who is always described as, “…a tall old man, […] clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of color about him anywhere,” has this deep spiritual connection with the undead Lucy and consistently dons black clothing (22). Although color could be describing the emotion these individuals feel, I would argue that color in this novel is actually portraying connections that these individuals have with each other. Whether it be for the love between two living souls or the love of blood and connection with others that are undead, there is, in my mind, no denying that individuals donning black in Stoker’s novel have a deep love connection with one other that may not be obvious at first glance.
2 thoughts on “Fashion, Color, and Love”
I also found this recurring element of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” very interesting as the binary between the colors of black and white, or even more generally, light and dark, is one that we see in a number of Gothic texts including Christina Rosetti’s poem “The World”. In “The World” it is one being that embodies both dark and light, but as you mentioned, there is a clear divide between the two in Bram Stoker’s novel with good and evil being clearly defined. Maybe an evolution of gothic literature as seeing good and evil as no longer clearly divisible?
I think one thing that is interesting is the way those colors of black and white create dualities, where the men wear black and the women white. I think that part of that is that the Victorians seem very keen on painting things into black and white terms where one thing is all bad and the other all good. For example, in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll and Hyde despite being the same person are framed as all good or all bad by those around them even though Jekyll himself admits he too has those desires, those around him still call him entirely good.
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