Analysis "The Bloody Chamber" by Angela Carter

Categories: Angela Carter

The notion of gender roles is filled with great historic value in literature. Just a few decades ago women were visualised as merely private property’ [1], stripped of literally all rights as they lived under the rule of the superiors- men. As the world evolves the absence from fairy tales, from pornographic fiction, and from the Freudian theory of female development: the strong, loving, and courageous mother’ [2] is slowly but surely a perception which is also evolving.

While in The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter continuously unmasks the conventional perimeters of gender sterotypes, she endeavours in extracting the latent content from the traditional stories’ [3], where in The World’s Wife, Carol Ann Duffy casts the empowerment of females through her features of strong female narrators who highly criticise the patriarchal society at the time to the extent where some claim Duffy had an incontrovertibly feminist agenda’ [4] Nevertheless, both Carter and Duffy persevere in the legitimization of women’s independence as Duffy does so through her cheeky’ and subversive’ [5] poetry and nude, dominant women, where Carter illustrates this through subversive folk and fairy tales and magical realism.

In The Bloody Chamber, Carter fails to challenge gender identities by portraying women to be subservient to men.

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In The Bloody Chamber’- a reflection of the Bluebeard fairytale- the ‘bare’ Heroine, a young pianist, is married off to the rich Marquis. Through the simile of bare as a lamb chop’ the immoral justifications of likening women with animals is immediately conveyed. As seen in the previous passage, she watches herself in many mirrors of the different walls, and again sees herself as an object, here presented as a piece of food; soon enough she’ll be consumed just like the way the macho-men are consuming the women’s chance of equality.

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This very justification is a symbol of the male power and female objectification. Like an animal, this dehumanization further paints the disempowerment that females fell under- just as they were under the males in society. In addition to this, the ‘choker of rubies’ she wears symbolizes the Marquis sadistic tendencies as the ‘choker’ paints the image of a leash, like an animal she is under a leash which suppresses her natural rights. The ‘slit’ throat implies the bloody past as it references to the grisly French revolution, showing that he clearly desires the Heroine, channelling his feelings into violence and bloodshed. The Heroine notes that the Marquis “owns” her completely — it’s implied that she has no rights, no ways of fighting back against the Marquis.

However, everything isn’t black and white as Carter often undeniably about male oppression and female attempts at liberation, but they also toy with sadism and macho-ism, and the idea that some kinds of objectification can be sexually attractive. This concept clearly identifies the ideology of the male gaze’ and how even though men were almost oppressing, there was almost naught that the takers of shit’ [6] could do about this.

Furthermore, in another story within The Bloody Chamber — The Tiger’s Bride’- Carter once again blunders in illustrating women as dominant, independant rather she shows them off as being ‘sexual arenas’ [7] who ‘pose no challenge to the system’ [8]. Setting off with the line: ‘My father lost me to The Beast at cards’ instantly objectifies her for her beauty. In addition, she is conveyed as a ‘treasure’ and a ‘pearl beyond price.’ Ancients believed that pearls attract wealth and luck as well as offer protection.’ [9] It may be argued that due to this it seems almost like the subversion of female empowerment is seeping through however it is also recognised that pearls are also known for their calming effect, pearls can balance one’s karma, strengthen relationships, and keep children safe.’ [10]

Once again, the factor of keeping children safe’ connotes the patriarchal dominance in the late 1900’s; that women stay at home with the youths while the men go out and maintain their breadwinning status. The narrator is nicknamed a Christian Rose and this provides commentary on the traditional significance of a rose which subsequently re-emerges tainted with her blood, reflecting the loss of innocence in the hands of the patriarchy as much as her mother before her who ’did not blossom long.

Similar topics:

Feminism Essays

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Analysis "The Bloody Chamber" by Angela Carter. (2020, May 12). Retrieved from

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