That doesn't necessarily need to be the color of skin, but can also be meant in its dark and threatening way (as for example in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death") or maybe also an interference between these two during this literary period.
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I think a better question might be "How has blackness" in 19th century been interpreted over the years?" you might want to read Toni Morrison's essays on the Africanist presence in American literature from "The Unsleakable Things Unspoken" along with her book "Playing in the Dark." Also, to fully explore this question, you might want to revisit Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil" and particularly Moby Dick. Melivlle writes about the 'blackness of darkness" and the "whiteness of the whale." In so doing, I think you might see a complex dialogue about race and/or the construction of race.
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