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Explore Carter's use of the fairytale genre in The Bloody Chamber

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Introduction

Explore Carter's use of the fairytale genre in The Bloody Chamber In her book, The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter uses traditional fairytales manipulated and crafted, designed to destroy the fixed ideas about men and women associated with patriarchal society. The fixed idea is that the male in the fairytale is the 'heroic prince' who saves the passive female, for example in 'Sleeping Beauty'; the man saves the woman locked up in the tower. Carter uses the fairytales: 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Little Red Riding Hood' and 'The beauty and the Beast'. 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' and 'The Tiger's Bride' are based on 'Beauty and the Beast'. The story lines are very similar; a man gives his daughter to a Beast's possession in order to save himself. Then the daughter falls in love with the beast and the kiss breaks the spell on him. Traditionally in the story the beast turns human after the kiss, however in 'The Tiger's Bride', the beast turns the woman into some kind of animal; 'I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur'. ...read more.

Middle

Carter questions this; do women live 'happily ever after?' Do they really want to be passive and have no independence? Carter implies women want to be free from the cultural pressures and not have to depend on a man. 'The Werewolf' is centrally based on 'Little Red Riding Hood', however the traditional story is that the girl tries to protect her grandmother from the wolf. Carter has changed the roles to make the grandmother the wolf. By doing this, Carter is trying to get rid of stereotypes: men being werewolves. Some people do imagine werewolves only as men, but Carter is questioning again: why cant women be werewolves too? In this short story the girl is active, because she killed the wolf, but the women in the story have not received total activeness and independence, because they are still being accuse of being witches and are still getting hunted; 'they knew the wart on the hand at once for a witches nipple'. She is [pelted with stones until she falls down dead]. ...read more.

Conclusion

She is prey to patriarchal society. However, in 'Wolf-Alice', Alice is not the same. She had been bought up with wolves: she is an outsider. The nuns try to train her by imposing social constraints. Simon de Beauvoir claims that 'one is not born a woman, one becomes one'. The nuns can't make her into a woman of patriarchal society which shows that Wolf-Alice is independent, because if she allowed herself to be passive and let the nuns make her into a 'woman' then she would probably be kept in the convent. Carter slowly introduces the role changes throughout her book: 'in 'The Tiger's Bride' the woman turns into a beast, in 'The Erl king' she plans an escape by murdering the Erl king, in 'The Werewolf' the grandmother is the wolf and the girl attacks the wolf and finally in 'Wolf-Alice' she is free and has her own independence. The fairytale genre has been deliberately used by Carter so she can question the stereotypes and attempt to destroy the fixed ideas of gender roles in patriarchal society. Carter, A, The Bloody Chamber (vintage, 1995) ...read more.

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