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The Bloody Chamber

Analysis of the stories that make up 'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter :)

Jessica Salisbury

on 22 January 2013

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Transcript of The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber
Angela Carter The Bloody Chamber The Courtship of Mr Lyon The Tiger's Bride Puss In Boots The Erl King The Snow Child The Lady of the House of Love The Werewolf The Company of Wolves Wolf Alice Themes Marriage Sex Wealth Love Death Themes of sex, death and love are entwined and the boundaries of love and lust are blurred. Although it is clear that the Marquis has a distorted and violent view of passion and love, the vulnerable maiden in the story is described to have a "potentiality for corruption" that must be accounted for in the turn of events.
Marriage in this story is an entrapping contract, with the painful loss of virginity as the final signing. Carter's feminist view is highlighted quite obviously as marriage is shown to lead to the objectification of women (the Marquis' collection of corpses in the bloody chamber).
The Bloody Chamber itself could be viewed as a representation of the womb and how the burden of children can be potentially life threatening and restricting to the woman, yet it also could be viewed as the dark unconscious desires of men, the journey down the long corridor a representation of the regression into the corners of the mind. Characters The Girl The Marquis The Mother The Piano Tuner The plant imagery supports the girl as the stereotypical Gothic victim, she does little to attempt to escape her fate and is driven into the Chamber by her curiosity. However she can also be viewed as defiant "like Eve" and is said to have "nerves and a will" from her mother. She is also a stronger character due to her self-awareness, she understands her "potentiality for corruption". The mother defies the Gothic stereotype and shoots the Marquis "without hesitation". She takes the place of the brothers in the original fairytale and is descriptively very masculine. She could be viewed to replace the male hero stereotype. The piano tuner changes roles from simply a role in the house to the lover of the protagonist in a relatively short space of time. He is a very feminine character and is very loyal and intuitive. His blindness rules out the possibility of the male gaze. The Marquis is a typical Gothic villain, he is bestial, similarities between the tiger the mother shot are drawn, he is Godlike, he is described as "the king" of the chessboard and "the puppet-master", he is also unusual and the reader is actually encouraged to feel sympathy for the "atrocious loneliness of that monster". Arguably here his role is subverted, but not for long. Structure The story is broken down into episodes of a few pages each separated by a blank line, a key event occurs in each episode making it seem as though stretched out over a long period of time. To build suspense Carter alternates between short sentences for effect and long sentences with forced pauses and ellipses. "eagle-featured indomitable mother" "into the unguessable country of marriage" "antique service revolver" "cobra-headed, funeral lilies" "into marriage into exile" "potentiality for corruption" "she bare as a lamb chop" "The lilies I always associate with him; that are white. And stain you" "All
to see you" "A dozen husbands impaled a dozen brides" "I was not afraid of him but of myself" "the
of love
is the
one is
evil" "absolute
darkness" "little museum
of his perversity" "-oh, horrors!-" "one
of the
stumbled" "humbly
as a
dog" "the atrocious loneliness of that monster" "put a single, irreproachable bullet through my husband's head" Themes Marriage Reality Wealth Loyalty Appearance Themes of appearance vs reality are explored and the extent of choice in marriage for women is questionned. Not everything in the story appears as it first seems, Mr Lyon metamorphoses back into human form at the end, but at the same time Carter provides an unexpected turn through the spaniel's lack of metamorphosis.
Beauty is barely given choice in the story and although she returns to Mr Lyon it is not through love but force from the spaniel. She initially only stays with Mr Lyon as payment from her father, highlighting the reification of women and their use in economic exchange by men.
Marriage in this story is also an entrapping contract, yet is presented much more positively. Gothic themes of the liminal and the other are also covered through the 'otherness' of Mr Lyon's house and garden. The house is extensively personified to show how wealth is used as company in society, yet is still not enough to replace Beauty.
Links can be drawn with TBC and TEK as the flowers in Mr Lyon's house could be interpreted as previous lovers he has trapped. Characters Beauty The Spaniel The Father Mr Lyon The opening presents Beauty doing household chores, supporting the girl as a stereotypical Gothic victim. She is surrounded by descriptions of innocence and youth initially, but after leaving Mr Lyon's house is shown to become gradually more vain, smiling at herself in mirrors "a little too often". At the close of the story Beauty is shown to cease looking inwards and begin to notice the human features of Mr Lyon. Unlike TBC where the protagonist's self-awareness could be argued to save her, in TCML Beauty's self-awareness only hinders the recognition of her love for Mr Lyon despite his differences. (Arguably not even love) A very weak character, at the beginning it is shown how he cannot even get the only gift his daughter asks for, the white rose. He then turns to theft and as a consequence is faced with the intimidating Mr Lyon. He further shows his weakness by willingly giving up his daughter despite her devoted loyalty to him. A female character that perhaps shows the loyalty of women even is their 'master' is unworthy and evil. She arguably aids Mr Lyon's trapping of the girls and could perhaps be viewed as the stereotypical Gothic femme fatale character, the seduction being perhaps the trust people put into domestic animals. It also shows the domestication of women and perhaps how they need a man to take care of them. Structure The story is broken down into episodes of a few pages each separated by a blank line, a key event occurs in each episode. Each episode also ends on a cliffhanger leaving the reader to wonder what is coming next, structurally similar to how one might tell a child a story. The end arrives very abruptly and implies a lot of time has passed, it highlights how their meeting circumstances are important, not how they came to be married. Could possibly be similar to TEK planning and trapping girls as debts of their fathers. He is very emotionally manipulative, using the kindness of the girls to his advantage. He arguably overcomes his differences and gains love, but arguably he uses his power to force marriage between himself and a girl.
He is presented as a very bestial character that is designed to disgust the reader.
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