Literary Analysis — The Pale Lady: The Two Brothers

Summary: Grégoriska and Kostaki fall in love with Hedwige at first sight. Each of them expresses their love for her in their own way: Grégoriska overflows her with attention, and Kostaki claims her as his and no one else's and that he'll kill her before giving her to another man.

Hedwige falls in love with Grégoriska, but their feelings are almost forbidden, as Semérande favors her favorite son. To make things worse for Hedwige, Kostaki forgoes almost all his forays, spending more time at the castle to make her fall in love with him.

One day, Hedwige receives news from one of the men escorting her through the Carpathian Mountains and learns that her father has died defending the castle from the Russians. Having no one in the world, Kostaki tells her that this is when she needs more support, and Smérande agrees. 

From that moment on, Kostaki's insinuations doubled, as did his mother's tenderness. Grégoriska was unperturbed, but Hedwige knew he deeply loved her because of Kostaki's jealousy. However, she needed to be sure that Grégoriska loved her as much as she loved him.

One night, Grégoriska knocks on the door of Hedwige's room and asks her a question. Hedwige permits him, and Grégoriska asks her to turn off the lights in her room and open the door for him within thirty minutes so that no one will suspect them. 

At the agreed time, Hedwige opens the door. Grégoriska proposes to her and asks if she feels the same way about him. When Hedwige says yes, Grégoriska asks her to run away together, as they cannot be happy as long as they're in the castle. Grégoriska sold land, flocks, and peasants to the monastery of Hango and obtained a million francs. Once sure that they love each other, they agree to run away the following morning. Grégoriska cannot do so before, as he must first return to the monastery to leave his will with the priest.

Before leaving the room, Grégoriska kisses Hedwige, and out of such emotion, Hedwige cannot sleep that night.

The next day, at about eleven o'clock in the morning, Grégoriska leaves the castle on his horse and announces he'll return in the evening. Kostaki looks at him with hatred, suspecting something. Hedwige is uneasy all day and even more when Kostaki leaves on horseback at about seven in the evening for the monastery of Hango.

Minutes go by slowly for Hedwige. At about a quarter to nine, she feels sad for no reason. To her relief, Grégoriska returns on his horse at nine o'clock.

Smérande meets and asks him about Kostaki, but Grégoriska replies that he and his brother didn't go out together. Hedwige notices a drop of blood on Grégoriska's forehead and warns him to wipe it off before his mother, or anyone else, notices.

Smérande takes Grégoriska and Hedwige to the dining room. But before they taste the food, a servant reports that Kostaki's horse has returned covered in blood and without him. Grégoriska turns pale, and Smérande runs to examine the horse. Smérande deduces that Kostaki was mortally wounded head-on in a duel and by a single enemy. She then orders them to look for his body, as they'll take care of his murderer later.

After a while, the servants bring Kostaki's body to Smérande. She examines it, discovering a wound made with a straight, double-edged blade. 

Hedwige realizes that Kostaki's wound was made with the hunting knife that Grégoriska was carrying that morning on his way to the monastery. The irrefutable proof to her is that he didn't have it with him when he returned to the castle. 

Fortunately, Smérande doesn't notice these details. However, she asks Grégoriska to bury Kostaki next to his father. Then, she makes him swear, in the name of the family curse, that he'll kill the murderer, his wife, and his relatives. If he doesn't, he'll suffer the same kind of curse as her. Grégoriska promises that the murderer will die by his hand.

At that moment, something strange happens, and Hedwige sees Kostaki's eyes open and fixes on her as if he were alive. The gaze is so penetrating that Hedwige fades away.

Style: Hedwige tells from the first lines of the chapter how much she despises Kostaki and loves Grégoriska, this being the first hint of the central theme of the chapter. Soon after, Kostaki's hatred of Grégoriska and his detestable love for Hedwige is portrayed in his jealousy and flashing gaze as he looks at Hedwige when he's dead.

Point of View: Hedwige relates her drama about how she became Grégoriska's and Kostaki's romantic interest. They both express their love for her. Grégoriska's being freeing and warm, and Kostaki's being tyrannical and tormenting. 

Tone: Unexpected

Fixed literary devices:

  • Transversal themes:
    • Friendship and Enmity
    • Freedom and Tyranny
  • Transversal symbols:
    • Castle
    • Forest

Mutable literary devices:

  • Symbols:
    • Switching off the light
    • Fifteen minutes
    • Flashing glance
  • Chapter theme:
    • Love and Hate

Conflict: Love vs. hate

Thematic elements:

  • Love vs. Hate:
    • Hedwige loves Grégoriska and hates Kostaki.
    • Kostaki loves Hedwige and hates Grégoriska.
    • Grégoriska loves Hedwige, and while he doesn't hate Kostaki, he knows he's very dangerous.
  • Friendship and Enmity:
    • Grégoriska and Kostaki are in enmity because they're opposites. They distance themselves even more as they dispute Hedwige's love.
    • Grégoriska is Kostaki's enemy, being the one who kills him.
    • Grégoriska's friends will become enemies if he fails his word and doesn't follow through by avenging Kostaki's death, as he promises Smérande.
  • Freedom and Tyranny:
    • Hedwige's freedom is restricted, as she's limited to staying in the castle. And she has no choice but to remain there once she learns her father has died defending his castle. 
    • While Grégoriska's love is liberating because he respects Hedwige and her will, Kostaki's is tyrannical. Kostaki forces her to love only him, for if she doesn't, he'll kill her.


  • Castle: Being the representation of protection, Hedwige doesn't leave it, as she doesn't want to fall into Kostaki's hands or lose Smérande's protection.
    When Kostaki realizes that he won't be able to seduce Hedwige outside the castle, he gives up his trips to the forest and spends more time at the castle. As the enemy is inside the castle and favored by its princess, this symbol loses its protective status. It turns into a battleground for Hedwige's love.
  • Forest: The meaning of danger remains intact and is even stronger when Kostaki goes through it to meet Grégoriska and die in it.
    Grégoriska crosses the forest to go to the monastery of Hango, symbolizing his journey through hell to heaven, giving him a chance to be happy with Hedwige.  
  • Turning off the lights: This action represents a desire to keep something hidden or secret. It leaves others "in the dark" about something.
    Hedwige turns off the lights in her room to make everyone believe she has gone to sleep. No one can know that Grégoriska will enter her room. At the same time, this action is a literary device that implies complicity between her and Grégoriska and that they will keep a secret hidden from everyone else.
  • Fifteen: Kostaki dies at 8:45, and Grégoriska returns to Brankovan Castle at 9:00. The number fifteen is related to the time a vampire can survive once his human form dies. The classical Orthodox vampire can only live for 15 days after his first death. In the story, the number of days relates to the number of minutes that elapse from Kostaki's death until his murderer returns to the castle. This symbol becomes even more relevant in the fourth chapter, as Hedwige begins to be visited by Kostaki at the time of his death.
  • Lightning gaze: Kostaki has a piercing gaze that carries hatred. Lightning has a negative charge as it's electricity. Therefore, there's something negative in his look, and he throws these vibes at those he sees. In particular, to Grégoriska and Hedwige, realizing that the woman he likes loves her half-brother and not him.
    At the same time, lightning heralds a rebirth, as electricity can keep the heart beating when people are between life and death. The first mention of lightning takes place in the first chapter. However, this symbol becomes more important in the third chapter, as Kostaki shows a sign of life while dead by looking at Hedwige just after Grégoriska swears to avenge his death.


  • Romania
    • Carpathian Mountains
    • Forest
      • Brankovan Castle
      • Monastery of Hango


  • Abel and Cain: Biblical story about the eldest and youngest son of Adam and Eve: Cain and Abel, respectively. According to Christian researchers, among them Raúl Lanzelotti in his book Inteligencia Caída No Humana, Cain and Abel were half-brothers. Cain is Lucifer's son and Abel Adam's son, one being the representative of evil and the other of good.

    In the Bible, Cain murders Abel out of jealousy, as God prefers his offering.

    In The Pale Lady, Bocage refers to the biblical brothers to draw a parallel between Grégoriska and Kostaki, the former representing the divine and the latter of the infernal. Furthermore, within the chapter, it's used to explain what happened between Grégoriska and Kostaki in the forest, with Grégoriska becoming the presumed murderer of his half-brother.


  • Fifteen: The reference to the number fifteen heralds the birth of a vampire, as this number is related to the span of days one of these creatures survives after death as humans.
    • "The quarter chimed. The vibration echoed, sombre and melancholy, then the finger resumed its silent progress, and I again saw it crossing the distance it had to move with the regularity and slowness of a compass needle. A few minutes before nine, I seemed to hear the gallop of a horse in the courtyard."


  • Hedwige: Having been at the castle for a day, Hedwige realizes that both Grégoriska and Kostaki have fallen in love with her. This reality causes her a big problem. Although she's in love with the older, while at the castle, she cannot express her affection for him because Kostaki begins to spend more time there, and Princess Smérande favors him and not Grégoriska.

    Hedwige and Grégoriska conceal their love, although they know they feel the same for each other. Their feelings are evident even to Kostaki, whose jealousy doesn't go unnoticed in Hedwige's eyes.

    Before three months with the Brankovans, Hedwige receives the unhappy news that her father died defending the castle. Having no one in the world, Smérande doubles her affection for her and Kostaki his insinuations, arguing that now is when she needs the most support for being alone in the world.

    Unlike them, Grégoriska stands firm and keeps everyone from suspecting that he plans to run away with Hedwige, which he proposes to her one night by sneaking into her room.

    Once sure they both feel the same for the other, Hedwige learns that Grégoriska has made plans and sold lands to the monastery in exchange for gold, jewels, and bills of exchange in Vienna. They can start a new life together far away from the Brankovan Castle.

    Afterward, Grégoriska tells her that she must make final preparations at the monastery of Hango and that they'll escape together the next day after dinner.

    Hedwige agrees to the plan, and they kiss.

    Hedwige can't sleep that night because of the anxiety. And the next day, at about eleven o'clock in the morning, Grégoriska sets off on her horse for the monastery. Kostaki suspects something and looks at him with flashing hatred. As if Hedwige's anxiety were not enough, she's even more worried when she sees Kostaki leave at about seven o'clock on his way to the monastery. It's clear to her that he's on his way to meet his brother.

    As night falls, Grégoriska arrives at nine o'clock. Hedwige notices a drop of blood on his forehead. Soon after, the castle servants see that Kostaki's horse has returned bloody and without him.

    When Smérande examines his son's lifeless body, she deduces that he was wounded from the front and by a single enemy. At that moment, Hedwige knows that Kostaki died from the wound inflicted by Grégoriska's hunting knife, as he isn't carrying it with him at the time.

    Hedwige sees how Smérande makes Grégoriska swear to avenge his brother's death in the name of the family's curse. Grégoriska promises to do so. At that moment, Hedwige looks at Kostaki's corpse and sees it opening his eyes, giving her a look that penetrates her heart until she loses consciousness.
  • Grégoriska Waivady: Being romantically interested in Hedwige, he's very attentive to her. However, he hides his love for her from everyone in the castle to avoid suspicions. Despite his efforts, it's clear to Kostaki that his half-brother is interested in Hedwige and that she reciprocates his feelings. Kostaki's jealousy is noticed by Hedwige and by Grégoriska himself.

    When Grégoriska learns that Hedwige's father died defending his castle in Poland, he secretly thinks of an escape plan. He knows they'll never be happy in the castle.

    Once Grégoriska confirms that Hedwige loves him as much as he loves her, he tells her about his escape plan and how they'll execute it if she agrees to run away with him. Agreeing to their complicity, Grégoriska and Hedwige kiss.

    The next day, Grégoriska leaves in the morning for the monastery of Hango to make final preparations with the priest.

    Suspecting that something has happened between Hedwige and Grégoriska, Kostaki goes after his brother in the evening. He and Grégoriska fight a duel at a quarter to nine, and Kostaki is mortally wounded.

    Grégoriska returns to the castle pale and trembling, although he successfully dissimulates his disturbance in front of his mother. However, Hedwige realizes that she has fought Kostaki and that something dreadful has happened.

    Before they eat, the servants announce that they have found Kostaki's horse covered in blood. Grégoriska is at a loss for words, but Smérande doesn't suspect him even when the servants find his half-brother's body in the woods on the way to the monastery of Hango. While Kostaki died from a stab in his chest, Smérande doesn't know it was Grégoriska because she didn't see that he had the hunting knife with him when he left in the morning. Only Hedwige noticed it.

    At Smérande's request, Grégoriska swears by her mother's curse that he'll kill his brother's murderer and his entire family (*).

    (*): This promise is important because it seals a fatal destiny for Grégoriska. Having sworn by a curse, death will take his word for it in the next chapter. 
  • Kostaki Koproli: The day after receiving Hedwige, he declares his love for her and tells her he'll kill her before giving her to another man (*).

    (*): This attitude of tormenting possession is classic in gothic stories, particularly those dealing with vampires.
    In these stories, the antagonists are always cruel men who make the heroine's life an ordeal, becoming misogynistic figures. Kostaki is a Gothic character through and through. A man devoted to his desires and who doesn't respect the will of his romantic interest.

    As Grégoriska is his rival, Kostaki gives up his raids and begins to spend more time at the castle. As Kostaki is favored by Smérande, Grégoriska cannot get close to Hedwige as he would like. He cannot express his love for her so as not to cause division. Kostaki takes advantage of the situation and wastes no day telling Hedwige that he loves her.

    Before Hedwige completes three months in the Brankovan Castle, Kostaki learns from one of Hedwige's escorts that her castle was taken, burned, and destroyed. And that her father died defending it. Kostaki takes advantage of the situation, doubles down on his insinuations, and insists that now that Hedwige is alone in the world, she needs their support. However, despite how hard he tries to win her heart, he knows that her heart belongs to her half-brother, of whom he's terribly jealous.

    One day, Kostaki greets his beloved Hedwige in a more sinister way than usual, as if suspecting that something has happened between her and Gregoriska. That night at seven o'clock, Kostaki leaves on his horse for the monastery of Hango to confront his half-brother, for he knows that Hedwige loves him.

    At about a quarter to nine, Kostaki loses his life when Grégoriska accidentally pierces his chest with his hunting knife. His steed arrives at the castle without him, and the servants find his body after nine o'clock.

    As soon as Grégoriska promises Smérande to end the murderer's life, Kostaki's dead body opens its eyes and looks at Hedwige, causing her to faint.
  • Smérande Brankovan: Realizing that Kostaki has fallen in love with Hedwige, she sides with him and helps him win her heart. As the days go by, she learns to say in French "Kostaki loves Hedwige," and says it several times to Hedwige, as she wants her to accept the feelings her favorite son has for her.

    Months go by, and Smérande welcomes Hedwige as her true daughter when the news that her father has died defending his castle reaches her ears.

    One evening, Grégoriska and Kostaki are late in returning. Hearing a horse, Smérande hopes it's Kostaki. Seeing Grégoriska instead, she asks her where she has left her brother, thinking the two of them went out together.

    Grégoriska tells her they weren't riding together and that he doesn't know where he is. Smérande then orders the castle gates to be closed, and whoever is outside will sleep outside.

    Shortly before closing the door, the servants report that Kostaki's horse has returned covered in blood and without him. Smérande examines the horse and infers that his son was wounded from the front and by a single enemy. Then, she orders them to look for his body in the woods.

    Soon after, his son's body is found. Smérande examines it and sees that a double-edged weapon penetrated his chest, killing him.


  • Lanzelotti, R. (2022) “El ADN de Satanás,” in Inteligencia Caída No Humana. Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Universa Editora, pp. 94–95.

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