Angela Carter utilizes her interpretation of “Puss in Boots” to convey a notion pertaining to gender roles within society; notions particularly pertaining to women’s place in the eyes of the populace. Through the character dynamic, and the perception of Puss, Carter is able to impress her ideas pertaining to women’s role within society upon the reader in a commendable manner.
The first vestige of gender role analysis is prevalent in the names of the male characters: Puss in Boots, Signor Panteleone, and Master. These names are a reference to male dominance within society. Puss in Boots, and Signor Panteleone both reference clothing items associated with males, and their authoritative role within society. Pantaloons and boots are both emblematic of assertiveness and domination, and therefore the coinciding reference to their names, and their male nature, causes the reader to perceive that the male characters are supreme in terms of their position in society. Puss’s companion, however, is simply referred to as “Master” throughout the text. This term serves as a reminder of the Master’s power, and the societal expectation that other characters would defer themselves to him; it may also allude to the notion of a male bearing the appellation of Master of the Household. This emphasises the traditional role of males, and their presumed entitlement to power, thus enticing the reader to believe that the character in question is the dominant character within the story.
The phallus is symbolic of male dominance and power. Puss’s pride of his own endowments is a prevalent theme throughout the story. Puss is often seen to glorify and commend his own physique, which leads him to groom himself through-out the novel. This suggests that the male sex organ accounts for a large portion of Puss’s ego, thus being an insignia of Puss‘s dominance as a male, and the justification of his conviction that he is entitled to a position of power within society.
The phallus is further glorified in terms of sexual relations. Puss holds the chauvinistic view that he is honouring, or giving tribute to, Tabby by sexually assaulting her. He finds that she should be honoured to have been touched by him, and his exemplified prowess in terms of sexuality. By assaulting Tabby in order to educe information and coerce Tabby into working with him, Puss is asserting himself as a male. He feels that he is entitled to bed her due to her subjugation, and that sexual relations shall exemplify his power. It also suggests that Puss views Tabby as a sexual object as a result of her gender. In Puss’s mind, she exists only to fornicate with and satisfy the male populace. This emulates the prevalent opinion of the 1970’s. Women, whilst being an inherently sexual object, were expected to gratify one man sexually throughout her life; females were expected to submit to the ruling of the males, and remain open to the sexual advances of the aforementioned male whom she is satiating. Females...