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Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber

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Ruth Norris Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber 'In her stories, Angela Carter challenges conventional notions of love and desire.' To what extent does your reading of The Bloody Chamber support this view? Traditionally, women would marry a man chosen for them or for money, security or convenience. In such patriarchal societies, women were inferior to men and marriages lacked equality, with women having no power or rights. Alongside this came the repression of female sexuality; women were apparently incapable of experiencing sexual desire and the stereotype of them as passive objects for men's sexual fulfilment was readily accepted. Even today, women are far from equal to man in terms of societies acceptance of their sexuality. One way Angela Carter continuously challenges conventional notions of love and desire, is by questioning the importance and power of female sexuality. The Bloody Chamber is an ongoing dialogue between feminism and psychoanalysis, in which she asks: are women erotic or inert? The notions of love and desire are explored throughout the collection but there is a particular focus in 'The Bloody Chamber', 'The Tiger's Bride', and 'The Erl King'. ...read more.


Through this story, Carter presents the power of female sexuality and the importance for women to discover and experience desire. The traditional passivity assumed of women is confronted when showing "the fleshy nature of women" to the beast makes the girl feel "liberty for the first time in [her] life". The idea of women as objects of male desire is portrayed with Carter's frequent reference to the male gaze, cinematic technique. In 'The Bloody Chamber' the girl's "excited senses tell her that the marquis is "gazing at" while in 'The Erl King' the girl is "drawn [...] inwards" by the "black vortex of his eye [...] that exerts such a tremendous pressure". There is strong symbolism in the eye of a man of consumption and entrapment; the male gaze has the power to consume and possess a woman. In 'The Erl King', Carter conveys that "there are some eyes that can eat you", and uses the well known line from 'Red Riding Hood': "what big eyes you have". ...read more.


By entering the forest, she has chosen to explore her unconscious desires and she is well aware that it is "easy to lose yourself in these woods." The female character in this story experiences a mixture of desire and repulsion towards the Erl king, who is an embodiment of male sexuality - "His touch both consoles and devastates me." Similarly, in 'The Tiger's Bride' and 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' the females experience this unsettling combination of emotions. Throughout 'The Bloody Chamber', Angela Carter challenges the conventionally notion of women as passive in relation to desire. However, the empowerment each female character experiences leads to different endings, from the murder of the male embodiment of sexuality in 'The Erl King' to the conscious decision to become a beast, and embody female desire. My reading of The Bloody Chamber strongly supports the view that 'Angela Carter challenges conventional notions of love and desire' as she rejects the traditional view of women as sexually inert and highlights the ambiguities of desire, citing violence as an integral part of sex. ...read more.

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