“dark emotion”, “pale as itself”

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Yantang

New Member
China - Mandarin
Hello everyone,

I'm reading The White Old Maid by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Not a happy story, sorry)
In the second paragraph, there are two expressions that I don't quite understand. They are “dark emotion” and “pale as itself”.
Could you help me to clarify the meaning of each? Thanks in advance. The context is as follows.

[Quoted text reduced to the permitted maximum. DonnyB - moderator]

Paragraph 2: Suddenly the fixed features seemed to move with dark emotion. Strange fantasy! It was but the shadow of the fringed curtain waving betwixt the dead face and the moonlight as the door of the chamber opened and a girl stole softly to the bedside. Was there delusion in the moonbeams, or did her gesture and her eye betray a gleam of triumph as she bent over the pale corpse, pale as itself, and pressed her living lips to the cold ones of the dead?
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Yantang. Dark emotion means something like negative, unpleasant emotion. Pale as itself refers to the idea that she is as pale as the corpse is.
     

    Yantang

    New Member
    China - Mandarin
    Possibly something like anger, menacing, or even hateful. Or perhaps tortured. As you likely gathered, she is talking about how a face looks in semi darkness, with shadows moving on it.
    Thank you for your answer. It helped me understand it better.
     
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