Courtship Of Mr Lyon and Wolf Alice Comparison Essay
Extract: The Courtship of Mr Lyon from ‘the voice that seemed to issue from a care full of echoes’ to ‘he went on all fours’.
Using this extract as your starting point and this reference to one other story of your choice, you should:
-Explore Carter’s manipulation of language to develop the voice of the lion and the reaction of the girl to it.
-Examine how Carter exploits the voices of her characters in both stories to comment on attitudes towards characters that are different.
The Courtship of Mr Lyon loosely refers to the main storyline presented with the fairytale; The Beauty and The Beast. It is heavily feminine and throughout strives for the equality between men and women, despite their potential ‘otherness’s’. Combined with Wolf Alice, loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s: Alice through the Looking Glass, Carter uses a variety of linguistics and literary techniques in order to communicate a strong sense of voice to the reader. Developing this, then enables Carter to manipulate language to suggest the reactions and relationships between characters within both stories.
Throughout the extract, Carter uses a third person omniscient narrative in order to create a sense of separation from events, potentially mimicking the attitudes of society. In general those who tend to ‘stick out’ are ignored, abandoned and shunned. The use of this narrative choice enables reader’s to be faced with the reality of their actions and encourage them to change their views. Beauty exists within days of ‘pastel-coloured idleness’, a sense of boredom reinforced by the use of soft sounding constanants and open vowels. The choice of these lexis help to suggest details regarding Beauty’s persona, a passive character, innocent and submissive, unable to make her own decisions, reflecting historical context, many women were considered to occupy this role within Carter’s writing time. With, ‘a kind of halo’ the Beast appears almost saintly, providing a distraction from Beauty’s monotonous existence. This also suggests the Beast is the authoritative figure within the relationship, Beauty possesses somewhat of awe towards him. However, the distinct lexical choice ‘kind’ suggests the Beast is not entirely what he seems, his sense of ‘otherness’ never able to leave him totally.
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The Beast appears to hold the position of authority between himself and Beauty; ‘he was irradiated’ foregrounding the anaphoric references ‘he’, highlighting the importance the Beast possesses. A strong sense of the voice of the lion is created through the Beast ‘forc(ing) himself to master his shyness’ revealing feelings the Beast possesses, through a internal third person narration. However, unlike Beauty, who is unable to defeat the ‘small talk (that) turned to dust in her mouth’, the Beast overcomes his sense of fear, yet again suggesting he is stronger than Beauty, a strong sense of character and voice created through repeated reinforcing of the character of the Beast. He can relate to Beauty, ‘(gazing) at her with green, inscrutable eyes’, he is able to understand that she needs to see herself different, shake off the societal constraints she has become conditioned to obey. Beauty is submissive, no longer shying away from the Beast, she has come to accept the Beast’s ‘otherness’ much more, and realises her potential, of which he has created. Beauty sees her face ‘as if it were a bud’, suggesting her potential, she needs to grow and mature, with her stark realisation; ‘all he is doing is kissing my hands’, reinforcing how far Beauty has already progressed, as at the start, she is afraid to acknowledge the Beast’s existence.
Earlier in the story, when Beauty first enters the Beast’s castle, her father is attacked by the Beast, who shook him ‘until his teeth rattled’ and ‘yapped distractedly’ after. Although these actions are not that expected from a ‘normal’ member of society, and suggest the Beast possesses very little humanity at that moment, the humorous nature of the phrases suggest that the Beast may not be as frightening as initially thought, hinting to the reader foreshadowing, already actions of the Beast are not all as they appear. The Beast sees the ‘absolute sweetness’ of Beauty, an ambiguous syntactic parallel, suggesting to the reader that not only the Beast, but Beauty too possesses ‘otherness’, as her beauty, ‘who looked as if she had been carved out of a single pearl’ hinders her development, she is treated as a possession, and has very little idea how to interact with humans alongside her in society.
Within Wolf Alice, a third person restricted narrative is used to emphasise the central character’s sense of ‘otherness’ within the story. Described as a ‘ragged girl’, with a ‘panting tongue’ that ‘runs on all fours’, Wolf Alice is introduced as different from the rest of the society. The voice of the narrator stating ‘her pace is not our pace’. The inclusive audience address of ‘our’ perhaps suggesting, similar to within The Courtship Of Mr Lyon, that society wishes to separate themselves from people that appear different, or unique, a belief that Carter wishes to challenge, emphasised by the phrase; ‘she was lonely enough’. However, the repetition of the lexis ‘pace’ may suggest similarities between Wolf Alice and the rest of society, even though different, there are similarities also, Wolf Alice is not entirely different. The Nuns, supposedly religious and accepting, ‘poured water over her, poked her with sticks to rouse her’. Evidently, these are against Wolf Alice’s otherness, containing within them the views of the entire society. However, Carter may also be using the Nun’s as an alternative, additional message, that religion too is deteriorating.
Throughout The Courtship of Mr Lyon, the idea of eyes is repeated frequently. A symbol of understanding and potential, ‘as if her eyes’ the Beast is able to see the possibilities Beauty contains and wishes her to encourage her character to blossom. Earlier in the story, Beauty finds the Beast’s ‘bewildering difference from herself almost intolerable’, she focuses only on the differences between themselves, and has a lack of understanding and appreciation. The progression Beauty has made in accepting other’s differences is highlighted as ‘the stiff bristle of (the Beast’s) muzzle’ graze on her lap, and Beauty does not retreat. Within the Beast’s eyes, ‘she saw herself repeated twice’ possibly showing Beauty’s realisation. She is now able to see how she is viewed by society, as well as the changes she has made herself. She is no longer shallow or possesses appearance-dominated beliefs. Beauty is amazed at ‘how is was that she had never noticed before that his agate eyes were equipped with lids like those of a man’, she has finally come to accept both her own and the Beast’s otherness, and is content and comfortable with herself. ‘It was no longer a lion in her arms but a man’, concludes the main idea of the story, both Beauty and the Beast have found themselves and are comfortable, despite the reactions and isolation they experience from society. They are happy together and become one, the idea highlighted with the tense change of the last syntax, the present tense suggesting a continuation, suggesting this occurs in the present, and should continue, an idea which resonates within the reader’s mind.
Finally, the Duke too, within Wolf Alice has differences and repulses society; ‘his thin legs scabbed with old scars where thorns scored his pelt’. Society too has hate for him, he is an outcast, much like Wolf Alice. ‘Old scars’ suggest previous encounters with society, their macabre actions, wounding the Duke. Carter is challenging the reader, just because actions are completed by the masses, does it make them right? The Duke ‘sees, nowhere a reflection of himself’. He has retreated from society, he does not accept his character, further emphasised by his separation from society, living on his own in a ‘gloomy mansion’. Potential fear the villagers have towards the Duke is highlighted within the humorous euphemism ‘lupine fiesta’s’, perhaps suggesting that the reader’s do not want to accept responsibility for the actions they have performed which have driven the Duke to be so un-human. The repeated capitalisation of ‘Duke’ also suggesting respect, if not fear, towards the strong, seemingly soulless character. If they had been accepting and nurturing, the Duke may have been able to blossom and progress, yet their harsh, judgemental actions have secluded the Duke, leading him to live a primal life, no conscious present.
However, throughout the story, Wolf Alice grows and matures from a child to a woman, gradually developing human-like characteristics, such as the need for hygiene, ‘looking for rags to sop the blood up’. After meeting the Duke, Wolf Alice continues to progress and encourages the Duke to do so too. Finally, ‘as if brought into being by her soft, moist, gentle tongue… the face of the Duke’ appears in the mirror. The ideas of the story concluded, similar to The Courtship Of Mr Lyon, Wolf Alice and the Duke both accept their otherness, and encourage the other to do so. All are able to find happiness and live contently despite the views society may possess. Carter is suggesting that feminism does not mean a dominating sex, but equality between them, as each is equal within creation.
In conclusion Carter’s use of literary and linguistic techniques successfully portray the sense of voice and the reactions of characters within both stories to the idea of otherness. Her final ideas are concluded well within both stories, creating a clear message which resonates and questions the reader, encouraging them to consider their actions within a modern-day society.