Power And Knowledge In Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’

1115 words - 4 pages

The Oxford University Dictionary defines the word power as ‘authority or control’ over an individual and knowledge as ‘the sum of what is known’. In Angela Carter’s story The Bloody Chamber (1979) knowledge and power correlate with each other. The more information a character possesses the greater authority they have. In The Bloody Chamber Carter utilises a variety of literary techniques to express the importance of knowledge and power in the plot. This essay will analyse the way Carter applies these literary techniques to the story to express the importance of knowledge and power.
Firstly, the literary technique symbolism has been used to represent power. The ruby choker, given to the Bride by the Marquis, is a symbol of power. The Bride describes the choker as a ‘choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat...bright as arterial blood’. This depiction is a useful method of representing the Marquis power because the necklace acts like a collar. This signifies how the Marquis behaves like his Bride’s master. (why master?) An example of the Marquis expressing this power is when the Marquis takes the Bride’s virginity. The Marquis tells the Heroine to wear the choker before consummating their marriage; in relation to power, this shows how the Marquis has the right to her body. Moreover, the overwhelming presence of lilies in the bridal chamber represents the loss of virginity. The quote ‘[mirrors] on the wall...reflected more white lilies that I’d ever seen in my life’ (pg10-11). This exhibits the overpowering image of lilies for the reason that lilies in reality connote death or loss, in the context of the story; this is the loss of the Brides virginity. In addition to this, the resemblance of the choker to a ‘slit throat’ prefigures the form of execution the Marquis has planned for his Bride. This creates a morbid fascination with the reader imploring them to read on as readers wonder whether the Heroine will suffer the same fate as the previous brides.
The key is a significant symbol which also embodies knowledge. The key provides the Bride with access to the knowledge the Marquis conceals in the chamber. The Marquis tells the Bride ‘the key [is] to my enfer.’ An enfer is Hell and even with this warning the Bride defies the Marquis by entering the forbidden chamber. In addition to this, Carter’s use of the literary technique prolepsis builds tension in the story before the Bride enters the chamber. Prolepsis is ‘hinting at the future’ (find quote PBBT), in the story the Bride wonders whether she would ‘find his real self in his den’ (pg25). The Heroine prefigures the idea that the Marquis’s true personality is hidden within the chamber. The Bride previously witnesses this during his orgasm therefore she is aware of some emotion present behind the Marquis’s mask.

Secondly, In the chamber the literary technique juxtaposition is employed as the Heroine says she is ‘left in absolute darkness’ (pg26) This...

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