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To what extent are gender stereotypes reinforced or challenged in your chosen story from The Bloody Chamber?

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To what extent are gender stereotypes reinforced or challenged in your chosen story from ?The Bloody Chamber?? The ?Lady of the House of Love? just as a title, creates a very simple image in terms of gender stereotypes; the female role being the obedient, or arguably oppressed, housewife and the male role being the breadwinner and the figure of authority within a patriarchal society. The title thus initiates the notion of the ?angel of the house?; in the 1800?s the ?angel of the house? was the wife who played a passive role within the household. The timeframe in which ?The Lady of The House of Love? is set is ambiguous in the sense that the reader is given little information as to its timeframe. The time in which a story is set has a major influence on the gender roles and whether they?d support or defy the ?stereotype? of being male or female. The only evidence we have that suggests it is set in the early 1900?s as there is a mention of World War 1, and the soldier?s fate in ?the trenches of France?. However at a glance, the reader may assume that gender roles based from the 1800?s is what the title suggests. However, The Countess or the ?Lady of The House? can be shown not to play the classic passive female role, and is more empowered than the title first suggests. ...read more.


Carter describes The Countess to be ?a girl who is both death and maiden?, with fingernails ?pared to a fine point?. This violent illustration is not typical of a female fairytale character. And an example of her irony, she further described the Countess to have ?teeth as fine and white as spikes of spun sugar,? this oxymoron observes the violent appearance of The Countess as well as giving Carter the opportunity to use the more fairytale-like referral to sugar adding a duality to Countess? . Another more modern female ?label? is that of an empowered temptress which fits more within the temporal context at Carter?s time of writing during the feminist movement. The Countess, although a character imprisoned, is able to seduce men into her bedchamber, and fulfil this stereotype. The narrator states that she is an imprisoned woman, ?And now she is a woman, she must have men.? This again is Carter twisting the typical fairytale style and adding a sexual element, for the Countess is dead, and so no longer has a lust for sex, but a lust for blood as ?she knows only one type of consummation.? The theory is that, due to the Countess? devoid for sexual desire, she may have died before losing her virginity, thus she presents the rose ? symbolic of her own vagina ? to the soldier and laments ?And I leave you as souvenir the dark, fanged rose I plucked from between my thighs,? suggesting ...read more.


Plus the fact that he is a virgin further proves his femininity, for women are the gender who is honoured for their virginity. Gender is not the only ?order? which is challenged in ?The Lady of The House of Love?, but also the barrier between life and death. This adds a very gothic element to the story, and crossed the genre to more of a gothic fairytale. The story is also an allegory of reason over unreason; life over death. The Countess represents unreason, reason is that death is imminent ? but the Countess is the living dead. Her bedchamber is referred to as ?Juliet?s Tomb? suggesting that just as Juliet in ?Romeo & Juliet? was is a masquerade of death, the Countess is playing the masquerade of life. The Soldier on the other hand represents the side of reason, not only does he have his bicycle as a symbol of his rationality, but he shows no fear at the Countess? blatant statement ?You will be my prey.? In addition, near the end of the story where light enters the Countess? chamber it is a symbol of rationality invading the realm of irrationality and the Countess alters from an impossible being into a being of reason: a human. Angela Carter manipulates the gender roles within ?The Lady of The House of Love?, for she miraculously proves within both main protagonists that they can be equally androgynous, sharing both masculine and feminine traits, and overall challenging the stereotypes that society has set. ...read more.

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