A Stylistic analysis of the use of point of view in The Bloody Chamber
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An analysis of the use of point of view in Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' I would like to begin my essay with a short introduction testifying to the method of analysis by which I will be studying this text and within these fields how analysing point of view can compliment and help to enhance our understanding and appreciation of a text's sophistication or cleverness, and then go on to place Angela Carter's work within this context. It is interesting to note that although in terms of the place of women in society there has been a great deal of improvement towards equality since the book's first publication in 1979, Carter's sometimes gothic and gruesome style still proves just as shocking to a contemporary reader, male or female. I would argue that this is predominantly through her use of the poignant insight of a scrambled and sometimes abstract first person narrative that 'deals directly with the imagery of the unconscious,1' and the previously fairly unearthed depths of the female mind, and its passions and desires through an analysis of the narrative. Carter's work has been described to be fairly pornographic and the reason this holds particular significance is because of Carter's frequent choice of using a female protagonist as narrator. As Roger Fowler has noted, a novel 'gives an interpretation of the world it represents;' in the case of this particular work Carter's possible world is undoubtedly a place of fantasy far removed from reality, but it is a possible world that is largely familiar to a reader by virtue of its foundations being laid in the realms of common fairytale. The world of Carter's stories is gruesome, violent and dominated by the male. It could be argued that by virtue of Carter making sure that the female protagonist of the story is constantly enforced as decisively feminine and admittedly passive, Carter is involving a degree of social commentary.
(Carter:2006:1)we can identify a first person narrator who is familiar with the content of the story and also by the capitalization of the first three words identify the reflective/recollecting nature of the privileged narrative and the proceeding boulamaic language, the 'delicious ecstasy' the narrator describes herself at feeling at the time the story is set gives a positive shading in stark contrast to the negative modality expressed later in the story. The narrator describes her excitement at the anticipation of going to 'that magical place, the fairy castle',(Carter:2006:2) and she eagerly described this as her 'destiny.' In terms of point of view on the psychological plane, we can also see a contrast in the narrator's perceptions of herself at the time that the story took place. While in the opening paragraphs she refers to herself, presumably in an assumption of grandeur, as 'the bride,' Carter:2006:2) she later refers to the transition to realization of the truth at a later time in the story as a 'spoiled child,'(Carter:2006:26) marking a change in the character by the recognition of her naivety and childish beliefs. The anticipation, excitement and wonder is replaced by uncertainty about subject matter, speculative commentary and qualification of verbs in relation to the characters thoughts and decisions. For example, the narrator tells how at the time of the story, 'Perhaps I half imagined' which is then qualified/justified by the insertion of 'then,' arguably marking a passage from innocence to experience and almost implying the narrator feels the need to highlight this, 'that I might find his real self in his den.' (Carter:2006:24-25) This sentence clearly displays a lack of certainty and an element of cognitive speculation. The significance of identifying both at different stages in the story is more of importance to analysis of point of view of the psychological plane. On a lightly more literary level the change from positive to negative shading is symbolic of the narrator telling of her own passage from innocence to experience but on a purely linguistic
At this early stage in the story the repeated use of such pronouns indicates on a linguistic level that the clearly female narrative is acted upon by these masculine pronouns; although an active female narrator, this linguistic choice implies passivity on the part of the childlike self the narrator refers to which is then claimed by the narrator to be a previous self by an admission of the narrative being a different temporal plane; for example the narrative gives explanations of the psychological state of the previous self '...I know it must seem [implies must seem to you the reader in the present reading of the past] a curious analogy, a man with a flower, but sometimes he seemed to me like a lily.'(Carter:2006:3) The passivity of the female protagonist, even up until what the character describes to be her accepted, arguably highlights a contrast between thematic and linguistic implications by the fact that the narrator tells how her mother is the one to come and save her life at the end of the story by defeating the illusive 'him.' In conclusion Carter not only thematically challenges gendered assumptions by her version of a traditional fairytale but explores the effects of narrative voice skipping to different points in time, sometimes without direct grammatical signposting, highlighting some of the difficulties of narratology and producing a sophisticated and thoroughly individual narrative practice of her own. As fore mentioned, although some of the narrative is seemingly grammatically incorrect, the shift in focus, or the shift in what we might call the lens of the first person narrative; the evaluative insertions to passages designated to the characters psychological point of view that clearly identify and clarify the different versions of self and the thematic significance of the marked changes from positive to negative shading accompanied by the relishing of violence and sexual experience from the point of view of the female narrator intertwined with an ideological passivity are what gives the text its richness and what marks it as demonstrating 'Angela Carter's narrative gift at its most seductive and shocking.
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