• Created by: caitlinrt
  • Created on: 19-03-18 10:25

The Bloody Chamber - Sexuality ad violence

Angela Carter was influenced by the writings of the Marquis de Sade in the writing of The Bloody Chamber, and she especially illustrates his idea that sex is often inextricably linked with violence. The most potent example of this is in the title story, “The Bloody Chamber,” where the Marquis (a reference to de Sade) has a collection of violent po*n and a chamber where he tortures his wives.

The violence Carter associates with sex and sexual awakening often leads to objectification and manipulation as well. Even in a “happy” ending like that of “The Company of Wolves” or “The Tiger’s Bride,” sexual freedom only comes at the price of some kind of pain. This recurring theme results in the very gothic, sensual tone of the stories as they show how fairy tales portray the darker side of human desire.

"His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat." His love and affection is dangerous and violent.

"It was as though the imponderable weight of his desire was a force I might not withstand."

“he approached his familiar treat with a weary appetite”

“She was pierced, not by one but by a hundred spikes”

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The Bloody Chamber - Virginity

In the world of The Bloody Chamber, virginity is both an invitation for corruption and a kind of strength or shield. In the stories that focus on sexual violence and manipulation (like “The Tiger’s Bride”) the virginity of the heroines is their most attractive quality to the bestial men who desire them. To the Marquis, for example, the heroine’s virginity is an innocence that can be corrupted and destroyed.

"He stripped me, gourmand that he was, as if he were ********* the leaves off an artichoke… And when nothing but my scarlet, palpitating core remained"

“the white dress, the frail child within it, the jewels round her throat bright as arterial blood”

“I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away”

“one false step and into the abyss of the dark you stumbled”

“No paint nor powder can mask that red mark on my forehead"

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The Bloody Chamber - Objectification and power

 In most of the original stories there is already a divide between a poor, virginal heroine and a wealthy, powerful man/monster, but in Carter’s versions this divide also leads to sexual oppression. In “The Bloody Chamber” the heroine is indebted to bestial man for lifting her out of poverty, and so she must endure his desires.

P*rnographic image, like the sadistic pictures the Marquis collects in “The Bloody Chamber,” is the ultimate example of the woman as object and the man as powerful manipulator. The women appear totally powerless and objectified in the story, until the end when  the girls mother gains greater agency over her fate and kills the Marquis. Carter retells the fairytale story where the women are more empowered.

"His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat."

"I saw him watching me in the gilded mirrors with the assessing eye of a connoisseur inspecting horseflesh, or even of a housewife in the market, inspecting cuts on the slab."

 I saw, in the mirror, the living image of an etching by Rops… He in his London tailoring; she, bare as a lamb chop. Most pornographic of all confrontations. And so my purchaser unwrapped his bargain.

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