0 9 “In The Bloody Chamber Angela Carter reverses gothic traditions so that the males become the victims instead of the females.” Consider at least two of the stories in The Bloody Chamber in the light of this view. Both The Bloody Chamber and The Snow Child can certainly be seen to explore the representation of women both through the latent content of fairy tales, and more generally in societal conventions. The poignancy of the Countess' words, “It bites!” in The Snow Child can perhaps be seen as the most effective example of Carter alluding towards the suffering that accompanies being female, and along with that females 'search for liberation', form the common themes and concepts inherent in each tale. Yet Carter retains an air of Gothic tradition and convention in 'The Bloody Chamber' and gender roles seem to stretch beyond simply 'victims' or 'culprits'. Arguably, Carter's short stories can be read as a critique of the difficulties and potential dangers involved in exploring one's sexuality, and the often unjust balance of power within relationships. The actions of the Count, juxtaposed with the seemingly lifeless and muted quality of both the Countess and child of his desires, suggests that Carter intended on presenting a triumphant male, rather that a 'victim' in The Snow Child. The repetition of the count “wishing for a girl...” accompanied by the “white...red...black” similes, subtly implicates the world in which the tale is set existing as an imagination or dream. Indeed, Cristina Bacchilega called the tale a “masculine fantasy”, a frozen image without a real life of its own. In this regard, Carter can be seen to instead maintain Gothic traditions, alluding towards the “Gothic world as the vision of fallen man...aware of his unavoidable wretchedness” in openly exploring the sexual need and desire and its destructive nature. Furthermore, the depiction of the count as a pornographer, creating and subsequently defiling the girl, coupled by the countess' inability to react, assimilates the male as an authoritative character due to the subservient role women are forced to take and their 'ability to coexist only as rivals'. A Feminist interpretation of Carter's writing could see this unjust 'power balance' as being hard-wired in the pervert world of masculine evil. Yet, The Snow Child could be read as Carter's way of unpicking the cultural assumptions concerning not only women but both sexes. Instead therefore of focusing on 'victims' and reconstructing an image of the young female, I would argue that Carter presents an accurate depiction of marriage, but more generally the desires of men and how that implicates women. Greg. i will post more later stil
Firstly, Greg, I must apologise - the school email was down when you posted this so it slipped through my net...This is great stuff. Come tomorrow and we can chat about it in detail - otherwise I'll leave a comment in response tomorrow. Watch this space! Ms
Does Carter reverse Gothic traditions so that males are the victims instead of females?Although the gothic stereotype - of violent oppressive males and terrorised females - could be seen as part of the manifest content of some of Carters stories, the latent content could be seen to manipulate and reinvent these traditions. In many of her tales the female heroine has little power, arguably due to her gender but often also a lack of money. Yet Helen Simpson commented that in her tales 'passivity is not an intrinsically virtuous state' particularly 'in women,' which is reflected in the Bloody Chamber, the Tiger's Bride and The Company of Wolves where the female character breaks out of this 'passivity,' portraying Carters own feminist agenda. Others may argue the gothic traditions are manipulated to the extent that it is the males who are victimised, are repressed or even die as a consequence. The 'chthonic gravity' of the Marquis' 'presence' establishes him as a physically overwhelming and perhaps uncontrollable character. Acting as 'gravity' on his wife could be seen as a form of domination and repression, heightened by his often darkly patronising tone 'one false step' 'my poor, dear girl,' and his implicated violence towards her. However, his cruel nature transgresses when he is in conflict with his wife's 'wild' mother who is likened to 'medusa'. We see his role reversed as he is 'at a loss,' although it would seem his wife is still more of a victim in this situation than he is, as she waits for the 'heavy sword' to 'divide' her. In the Tiger's Bride and The Company of Wolves the males have conflicts with the women but moreover it is the internal conflicts which could be seen to make them the victims. The typically gothic concept of the abhuman is explored as the tiger and the wolf seem to act as humans. They seem epitomise the struggle Glennis Bryon sees in the Gothic to 'define the civilised' and crucially 'to throw off what is seen as being other to that civilised self'. The females seem to feel secure even when the male creatures try to take advantage of them, in the Tigers Bride this appears in the form of him asking to see her 'unclothed,' and in The Company of Wolves she is close to being his meal. They are victimised yet their response draws an element of sympathy from the readers for the creatures - the tiger who cries a 'tear' of 'shame' and the wolf who is 'laughed at' 'full in the face'. A feminist reading may conclude that although the women reject their roles as victims it should not mean we should automatically reverse these roles in naming the males victims. It would seem that the victim and culprit opposition therefore does not always balance nor does it need to be the antithesis of one another in Carters gothic tales. A.M
gdagreat continued...Told in retrospect, the heroine's first person narration in The Bloody Chamber could stand as an example of Carter 'reversing' Gothic traditions in providing the reader with a gynocentric point of view. Typically, women are depicted as feeble, often helpless characters in the Gothic genre, or as destructive and evil forces of nature (notably so in Macbeth which was to precondition many of the 'uncanny' elements of Victorian Gothic texts). In creating a strong female protagonist, Carter challenges the status quo and re-imagines women's behaviour. What is similarly reversed is the archetypal male hero, who takes the form of the heroine's mother instead. The “irreproachable” bullet shot by the mother is perhaps one of Carter's best ways in asserting this female strength, with the implications of the word being faultless and suggests the women surpassing the masculine 'evil' in the narrative. In light of this, the death of the Marquis being “beyond criticism” could suggest that Carter purposefully designed a 'male victim' in order to champion the female strength. However, I would argue she is more generally advising the reader of the destructive nature of masculine desires, and that The Bloody Chamber can be read as a cautionary tale of the male predator.G.S.