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By Comparing Two Passages from The Bloody Chamber collection, each from a different story consider how Carter presents male characters.

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By Comparing Two Passages from The Bloody Chamber collection, each from a different story consider how Carter presents male characters.

First Passage: From “The Bloody Chamber”, starting on page 16 “Nevertheless, I opened…” till page 19, “… virtue of Default.”

SecondPassage: From “the Erl King”, starting on page 85 “ A young Girl…” till page 87, “He will keep in Cages”

Intro: Angela Carter is considered by many to be a feminist author and therefore it is not surprising that the male characters in her work are often portrayed in a negative light. In The Bloody Chamber collection Carter mixes fairytales and traditional folklore and updates them for a 21st centaury audience. One of the original uses of folklore was to teach young girls to beware of men, Carter instead readdresses this for more enlightened times and instead tells her readers to beware of becoming subjugated by male oppression, and this is seen clearly in her presentation of the male characters relationships with the protagonists in both “the Erl King” and “The Bloody Chamber”.

First paragraph: Patriarchal society/ demonic men

Point-The male characters in both of the

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Patronising address in the bloody chamber passage eg “ baby”, emphasized with adjectives such as mockery (BC)She’s valued as a possession “Newly bought dearly prised” (BC)Punctuation emphasises commands.; he speaks in short sentences to her. (BC)Adjectives such as “irrevocable hand” (EK)In both of the stories the women are passive sexually Predator prey analogies as a recurrent theme (EK)


Third paragraph: Sexual Predators in both of the stories

Point- Men are portrayed as sexual predators in both of the stories.

Example- there are a lot of example in both of the texts. In BC there are a lot of verbs like “Grabbed my Breast”,  “imperatively on my breast”, Analogy of the picture “the knotted tales of the cat were about to descend”. Then compare with the sexual predator in the EK. Set in a forest with a lot of natural description suggests that this kind of predator is a lot more natural. Look again at the “Birds and Beast” bit at the bottom of pg 85 for quotes on his being a predator here.

Explanation- there is a great difference between the stories in their presentation of men at this point.

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Explanation- carter deliberately tries to shock as later seen in the expletive language she uses. This could be the reason why she brings up such a taboo subject. However it is also symbolic of the male power over women and in work by freud for example “seeing sadism as an excessive manifestation of inherent male aggression, and masochism as merely an exaggeration of the submissive role assigned to women”.In this manner the submissive nature of women in society and the destructive effect it has on them, all the wives die (spiritually maybe but also physically) is symbolised in presenting the male figure as sexually deviant. http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/pain/microsite/culture1.html


Conclude by comparing how Carter, summarising what techniques she uses, presents the two male characters. Then use this presentation to comment on what carter is critising in patriarchal society through the two characters.

Other points you could include:

Jungian reading of the EK, where by the Erl is part of her psyche (talk about the woods being the collective unconscious, and it actually being a dream and what it is symbolic for ect). Ill include my other essay we did for Mrs Turney when I wrote about this.  

You could discuss the nature of males desire for innocence vs. experience seen in all of the stories

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This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

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