Pale Fire


Vladimir Nabokov

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Gerald Emerald Character Analysis

Gerald Emerald is a member of the English Department at Wordsmith College and Kinbote’s nemesis. According to Kinbote, Emerald and other Wordsmith faculty are cruel to him because they’re jealous of his close relationship with Shade. However, it’s clear that Kinbote and Shade are not actually very close, and it seems that Emerald is primarily mean to Kinbote because he is gay. While Emerald is cruel to Kinbote, Kinbote is also unpleasant to Emerald in return. Gerald Emerald wears a conspicuous bottle-green velvet jacket, which links him with the Zemblan extremist Izumrudov (also wearing a green velvet jacket) who informs Gradus that they have found King Charles’s American address. In fact, izumrudov means “emerald” in Russian, and this concordance between Gerald Emerald and Izumrudov provides evidence that Zembla isn’t real but is instead just a delusion in which Kinbote can construct the world more to his liking. On the day that Shade dies, Kinbote claims that Emerald gives Gradus a ride to Shade’s house. This is obviously false, though, as Gradus’s own story—that he hitchhiked with a trucker—makes more sense, and Kinbote himself admits that Emerald would never own up to having given Gradus a ride.
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Gerald Emerald Character Timeline in Pale Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Gerald Emerald appears in Pale Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
...once overheard a young professor in a green velvet jacket, whom the narrator will call Gerald Emerald , saying that Shade had left with “the Great Beaver,” mocking the narrator’s beard. As... (full context)
Commentary: Lines 873-1000
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
Loss and Longing Theme Icon
Gerald Emerald , who had left the group to search the encyclopedia for a picture of King... (full context)
Identity, Delusion, and Loneliness Theme Icon
...that she just saw Charles leave. As Gradus looked through a directory for Charles’s address, Gerald Emerald —who was checking out a bestseller—came up beside him and offered to drive him to... (full context)