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Males in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber

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Jenny Tang

on 16 May 2016

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Transcript of Males in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber

Typical Features of Male Characters
Dominant
Animalistic
Innocence
Metamorphosis - malleable/amendable
The Predatory Patriarch
Desires purity/virgin women, uses their money and status to meet their ends
Animalistic, beastly
Predators, butchers
The Marquis in "The Bloody Chamber"
Erl-King in "The Erl-King"
Puss in "Puss-in-Boots"
"lecherous as licorice"
the Beast in "The Courtship of Mr Lyon"
the tiger in "The Tiger's Bride"
the Count in "The Snow Child"
What happens to the males?
The Male Gaze
women are presented as the object of desire through the perspective of a male spectator

"...a feminist cliché for referring to the voyeuristic way in which men look at women" (Chandler, 2000: lines 4-5)

Women's bodies are displayed as an art form in which they must allow men to inspect their bodies for their own sexual pleasures.
Thank you!
Questions
Typical features of male characters?

What happens to the males?

How does Carter use the male gaze as a vehicle a vehicle for her own beliefs?
Summary
Males are typically dominant and animalistic,
but Carter frequently plays with gender roles
to subvert typical gender expectations
Male characters in The Bloody Chamber are often killed or saved by females in various ways, further challenging stereotypical conceptions of gender relationships.
Carter uses the 'male gaze' to
expose the objectification of women, and
emphasize the animalistic sexual desires of men
Carter also allow female characters to manipulate the 'male gaze:
not only for them to realize their "potential for corruption", but also to gain power and take charge of their own lives
Males in
The Bloody Chamber

by Angela Carter
Setting
"The Werewolf" -
"they have cold weather, they have cold hearts"
'The Snow Child" -
"Midwinter - invincible, immaculate."
"Winter", "white" - symbols of innocence and virginity
heavy emphasis on these symbols of purity encourages the reader to assume a male perspective
focuses on how man see women as sexual objects
"the child of his desire"
"The Bloody Chamber"
Marquis's sadism
voyeuristic gaze
the Marquis sets up a dozen mirrors allowing his gaze to inspect every angle of her body
butchering
dead wives
Mirror: reflects the lost voices of women
first person female narrator, sometimes refers to herself in third person
“when I saw him look at me with lust, I dropped my eyes but, in glancing away from him, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. And I saw myself, suddenly, as he saw me”
The Tiger's Bride
the Beast demands to see the girl naked
Beauty perform her role as the object of desire
she is shy and avoids the male gaze when taking off her clothes
role reversal: female perspective
the narrator critically observes the Beast's physical appearance
“he wears a mask with a man’s face painted most beautifully on it”
P72 "I showed his grave silence my white skin, my red nipples, and the horses tuned their heads to watch me, also, as if they, too, were courteously curious as to the fleshy nature of women."
although narrated from a female perspective, the graphic description of a female body resembles a vision from the 'male gaze' - able to stand outside herself
the girl is fully aware of the attractiveness of "the fleshy nature of women" - she uses her body/sex as a tool
challenges typical perception of females
Beauty demands to see Beast naked
equality between male and female
sex should be a joint experience of pleasure?
The Snow Child
Snow child is the object of the Count's desires
Contrast b/w Child & Countess -- the child has what the Countess does not have - virginity, purity, innocence
the child is characterised by her nudity / lack of clothing “white skin, red mouth, black hair and stark naked”
whereas the Countess is mainly described through her clothing: "shining boots with scarlet heels, and spurs"
the Countess assumes the typically male role of a 'voyeur'
complicit with the Count's exploitation of the child
- Jenny & Meagan
The Absent Father
a male character is supposed to protect the female even if he is not present
daughters objectified
Beauty's father in "The Courtship of Mr Lyon"
"sold his daughter" so he could leave and go to court to reclaim his money
while at the Beast's house, Beauty constantly thinks of his father and waits for his return
Beauty's father in "The Tiger's Bride"
"Gambling is a sickness. My father said he loved me yet he staked his daughter on a hand of cards."
"Werewolf": the girl uses her "father's hunting knife"
knife: phallic symbol
The Innocent Male
Jean Yves in "Bloody Chamber" - helpless, non-threatening, gentle, listener, supportive, forgiving
young soldier in "The Lady of the House of Love" - naive, rational, "lack of imagination", well intentioned
evidence that Carter does not believe / intend to convey that all men are intrinsically evil and predatory
The Marquis
in "The Bloody Chamber"
interested in objectification and subjugation of the female
has a chamber of torture and death (sadistic, perverted, corrupted)
sets up mirrors to gaze upon the girl
The Company of Wolves
p129 "The wolf is carnivore incarnate... once he's had a taste of flesh then nothing else will do."
p130 "They are grey as famine, they are as unkind as plague."
p136 "His feral muzzle is sharp as a knife"
Killed by female
Marquis in "Bloody Chamber" killed by the protagonist's mother
Erl-King (eponymous) killed by the protagonist (girl) using his hair
The naive young soldier kisses the Lady of the House of Love, hoping to save her, but inadvertently kills her
Saved by female
Beauty saves the Beast (Mr Lyon) by leaving her father and her urban life to return to him
Tiger's bride abandons her father to stay with the tiger (tiger is endorsed by the girl - his bride - no longer needs to disguise himself)
Wolf-Alice saves the werewolf-Duke by licking the blood and dirt from his face after he is shot and wounded
The Company of Wolves
Role Reversal - the 'male gaze' assumed by a female
p136 "He strips off his shirt... his nipples are ripe and dark as poison fruit... His genitals, huge."
Intertextuality
"Tiger's Bride" - detailed description of the male's physical appearance from a female perspective - scrutinisation of male physicality by the female
"Snow Child" - contrast of clothed vs unclothed
interestingly, female's nudity in SC is related with purity and innocence, while them being clothed relates to experience and corruption;
here, the werewolf's nakedness relates with its loss of humanity/refinement/culture and the exposure of his bare animality/beastliness
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