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Psychological Tug Of War In Angela Carter’s Short Fiction

3013 words - 13 pages

Diana Long
Mr. Oakes
Vale of Blackmoor
14 April 2014
Psychological Tug-Of-War in Angela Carter’s Short Fiction
In Angela Carter’s collections of short stories Saints and Strangers (1985) and The Bloody Chamber (1979) the heroines of each story’s identity plays a role in the psychological position the characters become manipulated into by the villain or antagonist in each story. Many of the stories in The Bloody Chamber focus on the idea of liminality. By this, the heroines exhibit qualities of personalities in both states of being simultaneously, meaning their identities are being tested and manipulated. These two halves of the liminal being will tear at each other so that one can dominate ...view middle of the document...

When she is caught in one of his secret chambers, he orders her back to their bedroom coercing her into to put on a ruby choker. He ends up “kiss[ing] the rubies before he kiss[es] [her] mouth." (Carter 23) This shows that he claims her to be like a dog and a slave to him and promptly forces her virginity from her as though she is only a personal pleasure object and not a human being with personal or intellectual abilities and capabilities of a female. Her husband, Marquis also planned to turn her into part of his display of collectibles in his bloody chamber by making her a corpse. In "Our Lady of the Massacre", the main character is a eighteenth-century white runaway slave named Nas and in her surroundings of being with people of her own color; white, they treat her as worthless for her habitual acts of whoring around to make money and survive. Her owner had attempted to rape her therefore she ends up mutilating him and becomes looked down upon by her own people after having her capabilities of being a good slave ignored and treating her as though she is worthless. But she comes to join a family of Redskins and her identity is changed. This ties also to another recurring theme that Carter loves to incorporate into her cerebral style of writing.
The identities of the characters in majority of the short stories from both collections are found to be tested. Characters in these stories struggle to balance their separate identities, but ultimately one dominates over the other and becomes fortified. From Our Lady Of The Massacre, Sal “was as if struck with love and though want made a thief of me, first, it was avarice perfected me in the art of whoring was my cover for it”. (Carter 43) but becomes a sacred mother of honest attributes when she finds a new home in the Indian community. When confronted of her past of being a bad woman, Sal claims that “there is no[thing] in all the village [that] excites my old passion of avarice.” (Carter 49) In the most significant story from Saints and Strangers, The Fall River Axe Murders, Lizzie Borden is trying to be an obedient daughter towards her biological father while trying to be civilized and tolerating her disturbing negligent stepmother. Written based on the true mystery case of the murder of the hacking of her father and stepmother, Lizzie’s personality is being questioned by officials and interested readers. She comes off to be a not optimistic person of keeping to her own self, sensitive and introverted but is thought to have been turned into a woman of sociopathic and manipulative traits having been challenged by the boils of nature within her broken family. “From puberty, she had been troubled by these curious lapses of consciousness that often, though not always, came at the time of her menses; “ (Carter 15) as well as motivating factors like her current menstruation cycle, debilitating heat, and Victorian-era attitudes could’ve sparked the transition between her innocence to an outrage of...

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