Lady of the house of love Analysi
"The Lady of the House of Love" is based loosely on the story of Sleeping Beauty, and incorporates vampire legends as well as the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. On one level, the story can be seen as an allegory of the triumph of reason over unreason. The Countess represents unreason. Reason states that death is definite, but she defies this law because she is the living dead. She lives in the dark, which represents ambiguity and mystery. The narrator refers to her suite as "Juliet's tomb" to indicate that just as Juliet was alive in the guise of death, the Countess is dead in the guise of life. Legend tells us that vampires die when exposed to light because their bodies disintegrate. However, we can also say that light kills vampires because it exposes them as impossibilities. It is not only light but also enlightenment that they cannot withstand. The Countess's irrational existence gives her great power, but it condemns her to misery. She is trapped in an unasked-for and seemingly irrevocable destiny, just as her lark is trapped in its cage. She takes pleasure in caging the lark because she herself is caged. Whereas she cannot free herself from her illogical fate, she enjoys having control over the lark.
In sharp contrast to the Countess, the soldier represents reason. He does not believe in the supernatural, so he does not shiver in fear when he enters the Countess's lair. He is not afraid of her even when she tells him, "You will be my prey." He also rides a bicycle, which symbolizes human reason at work; the bicycle functions on the basis of human laws and has no power beyond their stipulations. When the soldier initially refuses to give the governess his bicycle, he is symbolically denying a belief in the irrational. He refuses to be separated from his bicycle just as he refuses to be separated from reason. Because the soldier embodies 'the light of reason' so completely, his face actually blinds the Countess so that she must wear glasses in his presence. At the story's end, light floods the Countess's room, showing it to be false and chintzy. Symbolically, reason invades the realm of unreason, showing it to be no more than an illusion. Her voice confirms postmortem, "I was only an invention of darkness." The Countess herself transforms from an impossible creature, a vampire, into a creature of reason, a human. She also succumbs to the definiteness of death. One conflating factor at the end of the story is the rose that the soldier takes back to the barracks. He performs an act of unreason by restoring the rose not only to life but also to its full glory. The rose's revival suggests that, despite reason's triumph, unreason has a small place in life. Additionally, the Tarot cards' correct prediction lends validity to the "unreasonable" art of fortunetelling.
Central to the Countess's torment is desire in the absence of sex. Because the Countess is dead, she is devoid of sexual desire because her sole lust is for blood. The narrator tells us, "However hard she tries to think of any other, she only knows one kind of consummation." The Countess's lack of sexuality is never more obvious than when she is luring the soldier into her bedchamber. He assumes that she is making a sexual advance uses the word "prey" to tease him, when she really intends to murder him and make him her literal prey. So unable is the Countess to understand sexual desire that she dies before she can lose her virginity. Hence, she leaves the rose-representing her vagina and the desire she longs to experience-for the soldier. She laments, "And I leave you as a souvenir the dark, fanged rose I plucked from between my thighs, like a flower laid on a grave. One a grave." Carter invokes the idea of vagina dentata by describing the rose's thorns as fangs. Just as she was able to kill but not kiss with her mouth, the Countess was unable to experience pleasure from her "thorned" vagina. The rose is dead like the Countess and her chance to experience love and sexual fulfillment. In addition, thousands of roses bloom above places in the ground where the Countess's victims are buried. They are not only numerous but illogically decadent, beautiful, and fragrant, echoing the Countess's physical perfection. Being symbols of femininity and sex, they mock the Countess's sexless existence within the mansion that is her prison. Only when she is dead can her palace truly be "The House of Love," full of light and potential.
The narrator continually invokes both Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk to underscore how enlightenment and death are inseparable for the Countess. Even as we are reminded that one kiss was sufficient to awaken Sleeping Beauty, we are also reminded that the Countess, like the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, is the natural antagonist of mankind. Therefore the Countess cannot help but want to destroy the man who can save her. Unlike the giant, the Countess is so "obscenely" beautiful that she appears unreal; "her beauty is a symptom of her disorder, of her soullessness." Because it has no flaw, her face is as falsely human as the mask The Beast in "The Tiger's Bride" wears. Only when she has transformed and consequently died does her face look "far older, less beautiful and so, for the first time, fully human." The reversal at the story's end confirms one last time that love cannot survive in the Countess's sleepwalking world of torment. Although she intends to **** the soldier's blood, he ends up tasting her blood when he kisses her wound. She transforms from a creature that bleeds others dry into a woman, 'a being that bleeds.' The act of spilling blood can be interpreted as loss of virginity as well as menstruation; the Countess is coming of age as well as getting a taste, however brief and painful, of sexual contact. As we know, her "enlightenment" is brief and destructive; she cannot survive in a world of reason, so for her, "the end of exile is the end of being."
For the Countess, a lack of sexual understanding and experience is a weakness. For the soldier, virginity and sexual naivet are sources of strength. The narrator explains, "he is immune to shadow, due to his virginity" and, "he has the special quality of virginity, most and least ambiguous of states; ignorance, yet at the same time, power in potentia, and, furthermore, unknowingness, which is not the same as ignorance. He is more than he knows." According to the narrator, the soldier's sexual and transformative power is so great precisely because it is untapped. Like the force of the water behind a dam, his stored potential is more powerful than potential already released. The soldier is indeed "more than he knows," because he is able to transform the Countess into a human by kissing her. His reason or "lack of imagination" is heroic and overwhelms her unreason. We have said that the soldier's act of restoring the rose to life concedes some validity to unreason. We can also say that the "resurrected" rose redeems the positive aspect of illogical or magical things. Even as the solder destroys the Countess with reason, he redeems a part of her, somewhat illogically, with love and reason. In the story's ultimate sentence, the narrator reminds us that the soldier is still human despite his great power, and that the reason he exemplifies goes hand-in-hand with mortality. His regiment embarks for France, where he may be killed fighting. The story's ending need not be seen as ominous, however, because as a participant in the First World War, the soldier also represents the opportunity for righteousness, change and progress.