The Bloody Chamber is the one of Carter’s most prominent tales and is the core of the collection being the title story. The longest of the collection and the most well know of her reworking. It is typical Carter a reworking of original folk talk combining modern ideas into timeless folktales, to create a story which is a cornerstone of magic realism (in which a story uses magical elements in an otherwise realistic setting) as a genre. It is a story that challenges the way woman are represented in fairytales although this does depend on individual interpretations.
Some may read into The Blood Chamber that the female protagonist is a passive character. Whereas other readers may see the main female character as sexually proactive using her sexuality as a device to gain marriage to bluebeard and in turn wealth. Furthermore she appears in the text to enjoy the sexual activity and take pleasure in it- “I flung my arms around him, for on my seeming acquiescence depended my salvation” This quote from The Bloody Chamber illustrates the main female protagonist’s enjoyment and pleasure at the situation.
The world salvation is significance because she seems it as a sexual and spiritual experience. Such eloquence words about a sexual act a word of religious connotations shows her almost overwhelming enjoyment which may illustrate her apparent sexual pleasure. This sexual content appears to be an illustration of Carter’s use of folktales to incorporate as Freud would put it “the hopes and dreams of a culture” in direct connotation with the heightening feminism and sexual liberation of the 70’s.
This is description of the act is typical Carter and would come under the term used to describe her descriptive style. Many describe Carter’s style as voluptuously descriptive prose. This separate from the sexual nature of her writing is focused on sensuality. It describes how certain aspects appeal to the main female characters senses. One scene in which Angela Carter describes the bluebeard character is a prime example of this “This ring, the bloody bandage of rubies, the wardrobe of clothes from Poiret and Worth, his scent of Russian Leather”.
This description gives the male character an almost regal presence around him emphasising his wealth. The whole idea of this description further shows Carter subversion of the folktale genre as a lot of the content of folktales is of ambiguous vague descriptions to suit children. Contrary to this, The Bloody Chamber a reinvention of the genre changes the stories to appeal to a more adult audience. The Bloody Chamber in some subject matter and description is erotic fiction almost pornographic. Some of the lines are subtle in this way others are openly crude “At once he closed my legs like a book”.
The fact that this is the way things are portrayed and describes adds a shock factor to Carter. It makes the book controversial and more effective as she takes folktales meant for children and seems to turn it into a more adult tale. She also plays with the conventions of the tradition folk tale in this narrative. In canonical European folktales there always exists a male hero who rescues a female protagonist suiting the patriarchal nature of a society. After all as Freud says folktales follow the dreams and subconscious desires of a culture.
The desire for strong male hero figures whereas in fitting with the context of The Bloody Chamber is change. The female protagonist is rescued by her mother a female heroine. Thanks to the fact that it was produced in a growing feminine society and created by a woman associated strongly with this ethos. The Bloody Chamber is a melding together of three prominent genres that of gothic literature, folktales and pornographic literature. Curiosity is a main theme in The Bloody Chamber the way in which the tale turns from just that of and old man with his young wife.
Thanks to curiosity the character of Bluebeard turns from a benevolent character to a serial killer. This isn’t totally a surprise as early on Carter describes him in a way in which he could be seen as a dangerous person. He is described in an animalistic style with features such as a “Lions Mane” and what he says “all the more to see you with”, it’s a reference to Little Red Riding hood. This is in conjunction with the fact that he described as a lion or a wolf. This sort of relates to the feminist view of men as people who are tester one fuelled people who follow their instincts.
This is true for the character of Bluebeard as in the tale he only really has two things in mind sex and violence when his secret is exposed. This also shows the feminist view of men as a threat to women. As with traditional folktales they are used as cautionary tales to warn children of culture away from things and show them how to behave. Following this it is possible to interpret that some people may view The Bloody Chamber to warn young women of the dangers of domestic violence by men.
The magical realist aspect of Carter is very strange indeed as it has aspects of urban culture at the beginning of the story set in Paris. Despite this the traditional folktale castle is omni-present the description of the setting “In the turret suite he had given me for my very own, I could gaze out over the tumultuous Atlantic” “that castle, at home neither on land nor on the water…. the melancholy of a mermaiden who perches on her rock”. This gives the story a typical folktale/gothic feel of a magical castle set atop a rock not unlike Mont St.
Michael giving it an epic and gothic felt to it. The detail and finesse by which Carter describes give the castle an effective looming presence grand yet it may give a slight hint of the horrors inside it. Yet this is in stark contrast to the modern world in which subtle references seems to pin into a specific period the mention of a transatlantic telephone line suggests post 1930 however the reference to Poirot and Worth suggests pre-1945. This amalgamation of a realistic setting with almost magical qualities is typical magic realism. It gives the world of the story a surreal feeling.
Depending on individual readers this can help draw in readers or this magical mysterious aspect can become uncomfortable to different kind of readers. This tale is open to interpretations Carters detail can make the text vague and hard to access for some however others see it as piece of finely crafted literature. Carter uses language effectively with very strange word choices yet they are however effect. Like using the word “acquiescence” to describe a sexual act shows Carter as a true master of language using strong words to bring across a strong yet sensual meaning.
It carries a meaning of passiveness showing that she may be being assaulted or either just enjoying it passively. By using such in depth language it gives the reader an active role as they have to interpret it themselves. It can carry a multitude of meanings showing Carters ability with language to give something unique to the reader every time. Thanks also to the authors representation of the female protagonist the meaning of this furthermore depends on how you view the main female character.
This shows how The Bloody Chamber is an effective tale as it challenges each reader to make their views by leaving different clues to different possible ideas. Through this she adds an air of sophistication to folktales, a genre simplistic in traditional form. In its new configuration she brings folktales to mean new things and reflex the ideas of modern culture. In addition Carter uses her language to make references to wider texts in the Bloody Chamber she references Little Red Riding Hood “All the better to see you with” it references traditional gothic literature through its use of a castle.
It appears in using “Mermaiden who perches on her rock” as an ellaborate description for the Castle reference the Little Mermaid. This variety of references allows a wider depth to Angela Carter showing the deep meaningful style behind her stories. The author in her exploration of the subconscious of a culture (a Freudian/psycho-analytical interpretation) shows a familiar aspect in all the cultures of the world. Throughout the story a main theme for the girl is her coming of age by the end of the story.
The experience changes her and grows her into a woman. Throughout the tale the narrator refers to herself as a child which shows the journey she goes through in the tale she starts out nai?? ve. Despite this in the course of the story she becomes sexually experienced and learns about the evils of the world. Carter shows the reader her idea of the female lead as child through her detailed description of her luncheon “avocado, shrimp, and ice cream”. The fact that she orders ice cream is significant as she is still a child not a woman of more mature tastes.