It Has Been Said That Carter’s Stories Are Just ‘Grossly Repellent’. Are They Any More Than This?

2531 words - 11 pages

There is plenty of opportunity for interpretation in Carter’s writing, particularly in her book ‘The Bloody Chamber’ which is commonly considered to be her masterwork, brimming with intertextualities and ambiguities. Some may find her work to be excessively violent or savage, perhaps even alienating. Yet others may have found this no-holds-barred approach to be exhilarating and refreshing in comparison to other authors of her time. In her re-writing of Perrault and Beaumont’s classic tales, Carter proposes a reading of several well-known stories with intent to unveil through a feminist perspective the ideological content they present. “The Bloody Chamber” is her take on the tale of Bluebeard; “The Werewolf” is her variation of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood; and “The Snow Child” is a very brief but equally powerful story based on the tale of Snow White. Whilst some may find her writing to be ‘grossly repellent’ and most certainly did at the time of its original publication, it remains clear that there are numerous aspects of intertextuality within her writing which delve beyond the face value of her work, that there is much latent content within every story in the collection.
A bloody chamber is repeatedly seen in alternate forms within each of the book’s ten stories, which is perhaps a clear indication as to what inspired Carter to select the title. Though the form or representation of the bloody chamber varies from tale to tale, each example has the same implied symbolism of feminist empowerment. For example, in Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber”, an exuberant rewriting of the classic tale of Bluebeard which shares the title of the collection itself, there is a room where sadomasochism and personal revelation occur simultaneously “..to see a room designed for desecration” Carter (1995, page 17) yet it is also a scene of transformation for the unnamed heroine where she develops a near-instant empowerment. Carter’s use of the term ‘bloody chamber’ can be seen to be in union with the vagina or womb of a woman, lending emphasis to the connection between female sexuality and the common abuse faced by women; perhaps a direct result of Carter’s feminist perspective towards society. This in itself begins to uncover a deeper meaning to her literature; both obvious and latent in ways which create a curiosity to analyse the text in-depth. With ‘The Bloody Chamber’ collection, Carter made a clear attempt to demythologise classic fairy tales, using them not only to deconstruct traditional masculinity, but also to highlight liberation and re-evaluate the female standpoint within a patriarchal society. Carter herself argued that although 18th century aristocratic writers who penned these tales sprinkled in some morality in order to convert them into suitable parables for children, the darkness of their content and belittlement towards women remained. Carter (2013, page unknown) To counter this, her stories restored the female psyche of her protagonists by...

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