Explore the ways in which Angela Carter conveys a feminist message through The Bloody Chamber.

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Explore the ways in which Angela Carter conveys a feminist message through “The Bloody Chamber.”

‘The Bloody Chamber’ is a collection of short stories written by Angela Carter in 1979, in the midst of the third way feminist movement, which all, in some way or another, round off with an underlying feminist message. Carter criticises the concept of a patriarchal system, and subverts typical fairytale tropes to demonstrate the consistency of this system throughout history. Throughout ‘The Bloody Chamber’, ‘Wolf Alice’ and ‘The Snow Child’, Carter suggests that “women are more deserving than men, but because of the lamb-like nature of their superiority, they also need more protection.’ - Atwood (1994), ultimately emphasising the precedence women could have over men if given the chance.

Carter condemns society for its failure to provide rights for women through the concept of marriage, and how this seems to be the only means of escape, but instead, leads to a lifetime of entrapment. Whilst the narrator in ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is presented as the quintessential damsel in distress, being forced into a marriage by the lack of power over her own freedom, her self-awareness allows the reader to depict her submission to her role in society from her strive for empowerment, and her inherent feminine care for those around her. She emphasises the importance of marriage within a woman’s life, suggesting it’s more of an economic proposition or out of sexual desire rather than out of love; “Are you sure you love him?” // “I’m sure I want to marry him.” By following this with the idea that marrying the Marquis would allow her mother to “banish the spectre of poverty from its habitual place”, Carter reinforces the obedient and naïve characterisation that has been constructed for women in society, criticising their acceptance to behave with absolute propriety. The motif of death recurs throughout the text, but is especially emphasised when linked to the Marquis. The use of “spectre” to outline the presence of poverty indicates that as soon as the narrator married the Marquis, poverty became nothing but a ghost or an entity that now ceases to exist. Carter here could be introducing the idea of man being the saviour of all in a fairytale, almost banishing the mother’s concerns. This is then subverted when the idea of the knight in shining armour turns out to be the mother rather than a male character.

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Whilst the subversion of this trope could exhibit the breakthrough of feminism, for example the British Women’s Liberation Movement which occurred in 1970-1978, Carter reminds the reader of the authority men have over women, and how the government (predominantly male at the time) can control the extent to which women reach equality. She does this through the symbol of the father’s gun. The narrator’s mother uses her father’s gun to kill the Marquis, exemplifying the lingering sense of a patriarchal system, suggesting that the mother could not have saved her daughter, had she not used the father’s gun. This ...

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