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The Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter)

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Introduction

Huang Yanting Farah (03) 02A05 JC 1 Term Three Assignment The Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter) The Gothic is often distinguished by an atmosphere of terror, darkness, mystery, the unexplained and the transgression of boundaries. This essay will attempt to dissect how Angela Carter uses Gothic conventions in the passage taken out of her novel, 'The Bloody Chamber'. One of the most predominant conventions manipulated here is that of a dark and mysterious atmosphere. Throughout the passage the feeling of terror prevails. This is first started by the protagonist's taking of a "forbidden key". This stirs up a feeling of disquiet, as it implies a certain degree of prohibition and disapproval towards her task. She later enforces that her bravery is somewhat foolish ("foolhardiness") giving the reader an ominous feeling. She then mentions a "castle". Its presence contributes to the feeling of mystery as we do not know what lies ahead within this icon of the past. Also, here lies the starting of her description of the "dark" that seems to constantly surround her - "very late", "ill-lit", "absolute darkness", "dim...light". There is an emphasis on the dimness and this makes her environment seem very bleak and unwelcoming. Furthermore, evil is thought to be more rampant and stronger in the twilight. ...read more.

Middle

The Id is the centre of Man, and it is greedy, selfish and lives by the pleasure principle. That is, to do whatever feels good despite whatever society's norms are. The protagonist's innocence is merely a cover for her own distortion. This disturbs the reader's mind into questioning his own projected image and perturbs him. There is also a sense of violation, as the character's innocence is taken away from her through events in the castle. The concept of isolation is also eminent. First we know the castle is in the middle of the ocean, cut off from all correspondence with any form of civilization. The "silence" is repeated: "the silent ocean...all silent, all still." This stress on the quiet is to further isolate the protagonist. Later the backdrop seems to take on a sinister quality as it uses the silence to strangle her: "The heavy hangings on the wall muffled my footsteps, even my breathing." The inanimate objects are becoming diabolical, further augmenting the enigmatic atmosphere. Also, the quiet seems to be getting heavier, whereas in the beginning she could still hear the "murmuring of the waves", she could not even "hear the sound of the sea" later on. This might be attributed to her being in the "viscera of the castle", symbolically seen as the fountainhead of the wickedness. ...read more.

Conclusion

The protagonist then talks about "desecration", implying how evil pervades everything. She talks of "funerary urns", a "sacerdotal" smell of "incense" and "white candles". It gives rise to the impression that she has stumbled upon an ancient (evidenced by the "funerary urns of great antiquity") ritual of death. Moreover, the catafalque is "in the centre of the room", and is seen as the 'highlight'. The idea of death and brutality is incorporated with eroticism, when the "blue imprints" of the "strangler's fingers" are contrasted to the opera singer's "white breast". A sadistic image is also exhibited by the smile formed by her "dead lips". An indication of a double is also present. Right after the protagonist speaks of taking of her "garments" of innocence and hence becoming "naked", the spotlight is swiftly pushed to the dead opera singer who "lay quite naked" as well. Just as the opera singer was strangled, so did the character find earlier her "breathing" was being "muffled". This creates a morbid fascination within the reader, who will want to continue to find out if they will share the same fate. Hence, we see that Carter has successfully maneuvered the Gothic convention of a dark and mysterious setting in the text while effectively integrating other elements of the Gothic, allowing the reader to experience what the protagonist is going through. ...read more.

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