Feminism in "The Tiger's Bride"

Feminism notes for "The Tiger's Bride" with comparisons to "The Bloody Chamber" and some background on Carter

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Angela Carter Background

  • Angela Carter was a radical-libertarian feminist. They:
    • Believe that all women will continue to be supressed by men regardless of the situation
    • Believe that the patriarchy use rigid gender roles to keep women passive and gentle.
    • Want women to reclaim their sexuality
    • Fight for sexual equality with men.
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Use of Fairy Tales

  • Criticised for works being too fantastical
    • The way protagonists fight for equality is so magical it is unrealistic and women cannot relate.
    • Patricia Duncker and Avis Lewallen claim it fails to show women having autonomic desires.
      • Fairytale framework prevents this
      • Heroines simply succumb to and embrace sexual desires as they know men will always have power over them.
        • Men always the ‘beast’ to women.
  • Duncker “the fairy tale itself is so entrenched in patriarchal restrictive kinship systems that no amount of revision can free it up for positive feminist aims”
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The Collection

  • “Utopian stories”
    • “Carter develops a vision of sexuality of mutuality, exchange and reciprocity”
      • “The Tiger’s Bride”, “Wolf-Alice” and “The Company of Wolves”
  • “The Tiger’s Bride”, “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Erl King” have a first person confessional narrator
    • Allows muted female voice and agenda to speak out
      • Suppression of the female voice in the construction of fairy tales was a central element.
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“The Tiger’s Bride” and “Beauty and the Beast”

  • Beauty and the Beast
    • Oedipal attachment- shifts from a father to a suitable male
    • Self-sacrifice over hedonism- truly feminine woman
    • In patriarchal myths women do not grow up they simply change masters
  • Differences in The Tiger’s Bride
    • Not a master/slave relationship- equals?
      • Freedom from paternal domination- no paternal bonding
        • Beast not a replacement or a father figure
  • Bettelheim “animals in fairy tales represent our animal nature”
    • Significance of “Beauty and the Beast” to him “there comes a time when we must learn what we have not known before- or to put it psychoanalytically, to undo the repression of sex”
      • Carter keeps the undoing of the repression of sex but “The Tiger’s Bride” is also about undoing the repression of gender.
        • Beauty discovers the animal in herself, only by stripping herself of social expectations.
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The Tiger’s Bride (and “The Bloody Chamber”)

  • P.70 “I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves… I certainly meditated on the nature of my own state, how I had been bought and sold, passed from hand to hand. That clockwork girl who powdered my cheeks for me; had I not been allotted only the same kind of imitative life amongst men that the doll-maker had given her?”
    • Discovers identity in the patriarchy
      • Nothing to lose.
    • Soubrette society’s ideal creation of femininity 
      • Men treat her like it/see her as the soubrette
        • Females as a creation of a patriarchal society- social construct to satisfy the needs of men.
        • Objectified. No matter how hard she tries to be equal she’ll always be an imitation
          • Equal to the beast who wears a mask to pretend he is a man.
  • P.71“the lamb must learn to run with the tigers”
    • Must break free from weak doll-like (lamb) social identities and embrace the strong
      • Women are tigers who have been made to think they are lambs
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The Tiger’s Bride (and “The Bloody Chamber”) (Cont

  • P.75- equals
    • Transformation
      • Lit- she too becomes a beast
      • Met- becoming sexual equals?
        • Escapes oppression?
    • Beast seen as a representation of female sexual desires
      • Reclaiming her sexuality/makes her sexuality a part of her.
      • Animal aspects of human sexuality.
    • Becomes “the mirror image of his feline predatory sexuality” however Duncker states that “all we are watching, beautifully packaged and unveiled, is the ritual disrobing of the willing victim of ***********”
    • Narrator and Marquis in “The Bloody Chamber” do not become sexual equals
      • However achieves different kind of sexual ‘equality’ through sexual castration of Jean-Yves?
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The Tiger’s Bride (and “The Bloody Chamber”) (Cont

  • Beauty approaches Beast but he has to come to her
    • Far more proactive- less being acted upon (like in “The Bloody Chamber”)
    • Asserting her own sexuality.
    • Able to live in harmony in the end despite partaking in ‘dangerous’ activities
      • Veering away from domestic, patriarchy set roles.
      • Acknowledges own personal curiosity
  • Sade’s roles of Justine (good) and Juliette (bad)
    • More like Juliette? Than Beaumont’s?
  • Moving from clothes to skin to fur, she represents the multitude of female identity
    • Beaumont emphasises the danger of this while Carter celebrates it.
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The Tiger’s Bride (and “The Bloody Chamber”) (Cont

  • “The Tiger’s Bride” opens with the father openly bartering his daughter at a games of cards
    • Trade-off enlightens protagonist about the confines of her nature as a woman in a patriarchal society.
      • Beauty means to her father the money he needed to pay off his debts (slight link to “The Bloody Chamber”? mother would rather be poor than have her daughter in a loveless marriage opposite in this?)
      • Objectification of women in society
  • Ability to transcend patriarchy occurs in the form of the beast?
    • Metaphor for sexual predator?
  • “where the eyes that watch you take no account for your existence” (74)
    • Male gaze theory? E. Ann. Kaplan.)
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