Back in 1997 when Castlevania: Symphony of the Night aka Dracula: Symphony of the Night came out, many work confused by a certain dialogue used in the game. Some magazines and interviews shed some light on the dialogue later on and we moved on. However, it surprises me to see that its not over!
Even today, a lot of people who play the game are suddenly confused to hear “Who Is A Man?” in Dracula: Symphony of the Night. But worry not, I am going to explain what this line means and everything you need to know to fully understand its meaning.
This line in Castlevania is particularly well-known among gamers and has gained a cult status due to its melodramatic delivery and the somewhat philosophical nature of the question posed by Dracula. It’s often quoted and parodied in various contexts, reflecting its impact on video game culture. The line is a reflection of the game’s gothic and dramatic storytelling style, which was quite distinctive at the time of its release.
“What Is A Man?” Understanding The Legendary Dialogue
The line happens when Richter Belmont confronts Dracula in Symphony of the Night. The entire exchange is as follow:
- Dracula: It was not by my hand I was once again given flesh. I was brought here by humans who wished to pay me tribute!
- Richter Belmont: Tribute!? You steal men’s souls, and make them your slaves.
- Dracula: Perhaps the same could be said of all religions.
- Richter Belmont: Your words are as empty as your soul! Mankind ill needs a savior such as you!
- Dracula: What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk, have at you!
When Dracula asks this question, he also answers it in the same sentence. What is a Man? A miserable little pile of secrets.
Dracula’s characterization of a man as a “miserable little pile of secrets” suggests a cynical view of human nature. This line implies that humans are fundamentally defined by their hidden thoughts, desires, and motivations, which they may keep concealed from others. This perspective echoes the ideas of thinkers like Sigmund Freud, who emphasized the importance of unconscious desires and thoughts in shaping human behavior and identity.
The word “miserable” implies a sense of despair or existential angst. This ties into existentialist philosophy, which explores the search for meaning in an inherently meaningless world. Philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche delved into the idea of constructing one’s own meaning in life, despite the inherent absence of any predetermined purpose. Dracula’s description can be seen as highlighting the existential struggle of individuals trying to find meaning while grappling with their inner complexities and secrets.
The phrase could also be interpreted as a comment on the human condition, particularly the solitude and isolation that can arise from our internal secrets and the facades we present to the world. This idea resonates with the philosophy of existential loneliness, where each individual’s subjective experiences can never be fully understood by another.
It’s important to consider the character delivering this line. Dracula, being a vampire and thus an outsider to humanity, provides a unique perspective on what it means to be human. His immortal and supernatural existence contrasts sharply with the mortal and often duplicitous nature of humans, which he distills into this phrase.
What Make “What Is A Man?” A Popular Internet Meme
One of the key reasons for the line’s popularity is the melodramatic and over-the-top voice acting in the original PlayStation version of the game. The theatrical delivery of the dialogue, particularly Dracula’s lines, lent itself to parody and repetition.
Released in 1997, “Symphony of the Night” came out during the early days of internet culture. As online forums and gaming communities grew, users often shared and referenced memorable moments from video games. This line, due to its unique blend of drama and perceived absurdity, became a frequent reference point.
The meme spread via internet forums, websites, and later through social media platforms like YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter. Gamers and internet users often quoted the line in various contexts, sometimes modifying it to fit different situations, which is a common characteristic of internet memes.