Monday, 28 February 2011

The Courtship of Mr Lyon

A few notations on Mr Lyon.. (even though we haven't finished it yet).

Immediately 3rd person narrative – different to the bloody chamber.

‘Lyon’- similar to ‘lion’ – suggests he is going to be violent and beast-like, similar to the Marquis. However the ‘courtship’ suggests he will be the one doing the wooing.

The girl is presented initially to be a very innocent character, similarly to the Bloody chamber. Her ‘inner light’ with skin all of ‘snow’ indicates she is pure and ‘lovely’. She is also doing ‘chores’, something we often see within the traditional female role in fairy tales.

Her thoughts interrupt the narrative – we are giving an insight in to her feelings, “father said he would be home before nightfall”.

We see paternal love – “I hope he’ll be safe”.

She is a seemingly good virtuous girl.

We are introduced to another useless paternal figure (in contrast to the powerful maternal figure in the Bloody Chamber).

We are disconnected from the outside world and suspension of the reader’s disbelief is emphasised – “barred all within it from the world outside the walled, wintry garden”. The magic which surrounds the setting suspends our disbelief (out of reality anything is possible). “Where all the laws of the world her knew need not necessarily apply” further distancing from reality. “Suspension of reality” enforces this idea further. “Drink me” and “eat me” remind the reader of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and we are aware that Alice comes across this situation once she is down the rabbit whole, once she is in another world – reminds us that we are in a special place in the story and rules of reality are suspended.

There is personification present. “The crystals of the chandelier tinkled a little, as if emitting a pleased chuckle”, “door of the cloak-room opened of it’s own accord”, we get the idea that the house is alive, that it is humanlike.

Slight indications of the ‘male gaze’ however it seems corrupted. “With a strange kind of wonder” – The beast is captivated by the girl, suggests an inverted male gaze, her eyes pierce him, he is affected by her.

He also seems in awe of her. “Master his shyness” and “hesitantly” in the way he acts around her suggests this. He has no confidence and she seems more in control.

Direct contrast to the bloody chamber in terms of the scene with the library. “French fairy tales about white cats” – the imagery is completely innocent and opposite to what the reader was subject to in the Bloody Chamber.

Sunday, 27 February 2011


Carter’s intent was to ‘extract the latent content from the traditional stories and use that as the beginnings of new stories’ when writing the Bloody Chamber. What ‘latent content’ can be found in the bloody chamber and how does Carter use that in her story? 1 HOUR

During the course of this essay I am hoping to look at what latent content has been used in Carter’s short story; the Bloody Chamber in reference to traditional stories. I am also hoping to explore why she uses this, whilst also challenging the traditional latent content within her story.

There is an immediate sense of latent content when the idea of a journey and of separation which is emphasised on the first page. “The train that bore me through the night” describes her travelling away from “Paris, away from girlhood” and the separation from her mother; “I ceased to be her daughter in becoming his wife”. This is a recurring theme throughout traditional stories whereby the daughter is usually separated from her caregiver; however there is an immediate challenge. An element of choice is highlighted by her mother, asking her if she is “sure” she “loves him?” The depiction of choice humanitises her situation, adding a modern twist. She is not forced to move away as traditional fairy tales often depict, allowing an instant challenge to the amount of latent content. Arguably Carter may do this to absorb the reader deeper in to the story, whereby with the use of the modern twist they can share a deeper understanding towards the main character, or Carter may do this in order to challenge the traditional morals and to incorporate her ideals and beliefs in to her writing based on her opinions on marriage and choice.

The idea of female ownership is also a theme present within the Bloody chamber which links to the latent content of traditional stories. It is seemingly obvious that the female narrator in the Bloody chamber is a very passive character, she is objectified by the Marquis in ‘becoming his wife’, ‘away from white’, ‘away from girlhood’, driving her away from purity. There are also suggestions of female repression within Carter’s writing. The Marquis controls and defers the sexual gratification until they reach the castle and objects such as the ring and the choker are arguably identify his power and control over her. She is ‘horseflesh’ and ‘cuts on a slab’, surveyed by his ‘carnival avarice’, which links back to Mulvey and the idea of sexual repression and objectifying the women as the objects of male desire. It is obvious that the love between the narrator and the marquis is reduced to hunger suggested by ‘cuts on a slab’ which holds negative connotations of meat and violence as their love is reduced to a physical appetite. The marquis also gains power by taking her virginity, the one thing that attracted him to her is now gone and she is left unclean. The mirrors multiply the power he has over her, he can see her from many different angles and can objectify her deeper. Carter may do this in order to exaggerate the theme of female virtue and repression that we see as an ongoing undertone within traditional stories, which all hold key ideas surrounding the ownership of women.

However there is another interpretation which contradicts this idea. The narrator is not completely ignorant; she holds understanding and displays this through the graphic imagery her narrations hold and through the horniness she suggests she feels. ‘Like a split fig’ provokes images of a sexual and sensual nature, illustrating her understanding and comfortable nature towards sex. Not only this but she is able to ‘sense corruption’ within herself, suggesting she acknowledges and understands what is becoming of her. This could suggest that Carter does this in order to make her seem like she is not innocent, contradicting the idea of female ownership in relation to latent content within traditional fairy tales.

The mother, the female matriarch of the story is also a direct contrasting idea to what we would normally find in a traditional story. The mother is seemingly the most active character in the story, she is strong and powerful, ‘eagle’ like, animalistic-ally courageous and overpowering. She is an abnormal female figure, she has ‘outfaced a junkful of Chinese pirates’ and ‘shot a man eating tiger’, all this which holds imagery which we would normally associate with the male hero of a traditional story, creating the illusion that the mother is equal to men, equally powerful, equally capable. Carter may do this in order to reflect women’s fight for justice and equality and the struggle for female independence. She may also do this in order to contradict the idea that women in the Bloody Chamber are not without freedom and identity, as the mother holds the idea of choice and power and equality to men.

Another strong contradiction is that of the piano tuner and his passive role as the male hero. In traditional stories the heroic male is the recurring saviour, he is strapping and selfless. However in the Bloody Chamber the piano tuner, the narrator’s ‘lover’ is blind, which holds connotations of weakness and does not play a remote part in the saviour of his lover. This content does not reflect that of a traditional story in fact quite the opposite. Carter may do this in order to represent the good and the evil within her strong depiction of male roles. However she could arguably do it to make the motherly role which Carter seemingly admires, seem ever stronger, as it depicts her as wise and knowledgeable because she was right in questioning her daughter marrying the Marquis.

Over all I would argue that there is latent content used within the Bloody Chamber that reflects the same themes that reside in tradition stories. However I would also argue that Carter uses a number of different elements such as the characters within her plot, which depict the nature of traditional stories very differently, for example the passive nature of female roles.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Monday, 14 February 2011

Women in the BC

Women in the bloody chamber –

The biggest and most direct contrast of the female characters in the Bloody chamber is the one between the narrator and her mother.

The contrast is immediate, emerging noticeably within the first few pages of the short story. The narrator in the beginning is seen as pure – “away from white”, “away from girlhood” and is seemingly very innocent; “my young girls pointed breasts”. She is also objectified not only by her mother but also by the Marquis when she feels she has “ceased to be her child, in becoming his wife”, suggesting she is being objectified, she is passive and without independence.

In large contrast her mother is seen to be not passive, but extremely active. She is a powerful figure and role model, a character which would be un-expected due to the context of production in which men were dominant. The narrator describes her mother; “my eagle featured, indomitable mother”, the use of the animalistic imagery connotes strength and the use of the eagle symbolises her mother’s vigour and courage. She then goes on to say “her mother had outfaced a jungle of Chinese pirates, nursed a village through a visitation of the plague, shot a man eating tiger with her own hand and all before she was as old as I?” She is an accomplished, brave character, and not only has she contradicted every assumption of women of that time, she is surrounded by this idea of accomplishment and individuality, one which the narrator voices in a such a way that we believe she is almost jealous, at disbelief, and is aware she is mightily dissimilar to her mother. Her mother also contradicts society’s norms and values, by emphasising the idea of choice, one which women would not usually captivate. “Are you sure you want to marry him”, depicts the choice she presents to her child and as the reader we know that she is wise, as we are aware of the fate that awaits the narrator, one which the mother has almost predicted.

There is also a noticeable contrast in the way both these characters approach the idea of death in the final scene of the story. The narrator accepts that she is going to die, and passively follows the Marquis’ instructions without hesitation, bathing and dressing herself accurately to his demands; “already almost lifeless, cold at heart, I descended the spiral staircase to the music room”. Not only does she accept her fate but she makes no attempt whatsoever in to escaping it. However at this moment in time her curagious mother is heroically racing towards the castle on horseback, and image which we would normally associate with a prince or a king savior. She takes immediate action in saving her daughter and shooting the Marquis straight in the forehead. “A single, irreproachable bullet”, the idea of one attempt, one chance. Her mother is portrayed as a hero, as a magnificent, efficient and strong, superlative figure.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Male characters in the B.C

In the Bloody chamber we are subjected to the two very different male characters, each character having a very different symbolic representation in terms of the repression of women.

The marquis is suggestively portrayed as the dominant character, he is the active one in the relationship and is in constant control of the female narrator, which she is not oblivious to herself. It is the male Marquis who is controlling and deferring the sexual gratification until they reach his castle. The ring and the choker are physical evidence of the control he has over her, given as ‘gifts’ to his bride. She is objectified; she was no longer ‘HER’ daughter, in becoming ‘HIS’ wife. This illustrates her passive nature and her lack of independence.

She is a beautiful young bride yet she is also ‘horseflesh’ and ‘cuts on a slab’, surveyed by his ‘carnal avarice’. Linking back to Mulvey and her theory of female sexual repression and objectifying the women as male desire, it is obvious that the female narrator is the object of hunger and love is reduced to an extreme desire without feelings, just a simple physical appetite.

He belittles her like she was a child, ‘he doubted...for a chuckle, I would be quite so interested in his share certificates even though they were worth infinitely more’. He depicts what she should be interested in and what she shouldn’t be, he decides what she values more, paper or jewels.

He also holds the power of taking her virginity. He takes her purity away and in doing so gains even more power over her, she is now left un clean. She has lost the most precious gift of all, the thing that most attracted the male marquis to her, which makes her more vulnerable in their relationship.

The idea of the mirrors, multiply the power of the marquis. He can see her from many different angles; he can objectify her even more thoroughly.

In contrast the piano tuner, the other male character, is depicted as a more passive male role. The most significant factor which allows us to see this is he is blind. He does not possess the ability to see her, objectify her and repress her. Instead with regards to the female narrator, she seems to be in control. Instead, she judges him, noting he is ‘satisfactory’. He asks her permission, that one day he might get to listen to her play the piano. The fact that the male character is actually asking for permission from a women directly contrasts the idea of Male dominance and male power over their gaze.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Visual Pleasure and Narrative cinema

Visual Pleasure and

Narrative cinema

Visual pleasure and narrative cinema

A theory based on Laura Mulvey (a professor of film and media studies) A Feminist.

One of the first major essays that helped shift the orientation of film theory towards a psychoanalytic framework – She based her theory on that of Freud’s, Lacan’s.

She was a feminist that argued that in Hollywood cinema, they inevitably put the spectator in a masculine subject position and the woman on screen as the object of desire.

Mulvey suggests that there were two distinct modes of the male gaze of this era: "voyeuristic" (i.e. seeing women as 'whores') and "fetishistic" (i.e. seeing women as 'madonnas').

(Links in with the Madonna whore complex)

She argued that the only way in which to be rid of the Hollywood system was to radically challenge and re-shape the strategies of film making with alternative feminist methods.

Visual Pleasure and Narrative cinema

Visual pleasure and narrative cinema

A theory based on Laura Mulvey (a professor of film and media studies) A Feminist.

One of the first major essays that helped shift the orientation of film theory towards a psychoanalytic framework – She based her theory on that of Freud’s, Lacan’s.

She was a feminist that argued that in Hollywood cinema, they inevitably put the spectator in a masculine subject position and the woman on screen as the object of desire.

Mulvey suggests that there were two distinct modes of the male gaze of this era: "voyeuristic" (i.e. seeing women as 'whores') and "fetishistic" (i.e. seeing women as 'madonnas').

(Links in with the Madonna whore complex)

She argued that the only way in which to be rid of the Hollywood system was to radically challenge and re-shape the strategies of film making with alternative feminist methods.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Female Eunuch

Feminism during the first pages of ‘The Bloody Chamber’...

The initial introduction to The Bloody Chamber is one of vivid sexual imagery, one which is repressed beneath a variety of alternate meanings, all of which connote sex. The female narrator uses phrases such as “tender”, “ecstasy”, “great pistons”, “thrusting”, “bore me”, all which provoke highly erotic imagery. However the hidden meanings which contain this imagery suggests the idea of the female eunuch, the repression of women’s sexuality and the controversial arguments surrounding it.

There is also reference to the women narrator being merely an object, a female character which to fulfil her role in society, moving from “her child” to “his wife”. She appears to be owned, voided of all freedom and simply a possession. This could relate to further feminist arguments which debate over the true identity of women, and the fight for equal freedom.

However her mother appears to contradict this passive role of the women figure. She emphasises the idea of choice; “Are you sure you want to marry him”, which contradicts the idea that she doesn’t have any freedom or identity. Her mother also appears to be highly powerful, an abnormal female figure. She was described as being “eagle features”, eagles connote great strength and ability and the narrator quotes “Mother had outfaced a junkful of Chinese pirates” and “shot a man eating tiger” all of which holds imagery that we would normally associate with a man, thus creating the illusion that she is equal to men, equally powerful and equally capable. This could imply that the mother’s character reflects women’s fight for justice and equality and the struggle for independence.

Strong feministic views can also be seen arguably in the male figure, in the phrase “that face lay underneath this mask”. This phrase suggests the male figure is ‘faceless’, we as the reader can interpret him, put any face on him we like, therefore he can represent all men. This could suggest that this man is a negative portrayal of the species of man.


“Dracula’s liar lies in that place between waking and sleeping” – Consider Dracula’s relationship with sleep and consciousness.

The idea of sleep is a commonly recurring theme throughout Bram Stokers Dracula. It becomes seemingly obvious throughout the novel that Dracula holds a certain control over his victims, one which is put up on them during a merging state of reality and dreams, which suggests that Dracula’s lair, his domain, remains within the element he is most powerful. However it could also be argued that Dracula is also most vulnerable in his time of sleep, where he appears to be beyond the place of dreams, hanging in the balance of death, which in turn suggests otherwise. Jonathon Harker is the first character to be subjected to these bizarre events and the merging of a dreamy state and reality...

To what extent do you agree with the view that Dracula is a novel with xenophobia at its heart?

I forgot what xenophobia means so looked it up and it said this – “an intense fear or dislike of foreign people, their customs and culture, or foreign things” so please note that my introduction was based on that particular understanding of the word.)

Dracula is arguably a novel with xenophobia living at its heart. Not only does Bram Stoker introduce the reader to a un-recognised species, a long side it comes a completely different way of life which contradicts all of societies norms and values of the Victorian era in which it was written...

Dracula serves as a warning against the movement away from superstition to a wholly scientific culture. Consider the place of superstition and science in Dracula in light of this comment.

Dracula was written during the Victorian era; a time where the idea of technology was filled with optimism, a time for scientific discovery and a time of change. The inner cities provided less and less influence from the Church and the Church’s power was more prominent in rural areas rather than industrial. Religion was being undermined by theorists such as Charles Darwin and his natural selection theories which began to uproot people’s belief systems. However during the novel, Dracula seems to corrupt the idea of technology...

“In Dracula the men are set pieces, void of any personality that does not support their purpose, to pursue the evil and to protect the women” – Consider the role of men in light of this comment.

In Dracula the male characters are seemingly there to fulfil a certain role, without any traits which support their purpose, only to fight the evil and protect the women. In light of the context of production it could be argued that the role of men reflect the way in which Bram Stoker saw the roles of the ‘normal’ man, during the Victorian era. Men were expected to bring in the money, the ‘bread winner’ of the household, they did manual work and protected their wives and family, whilst the women stayed home with the children, cooked and cleaned and fulfilled her role as the passive one within the relationship. In Dracula Jonathon Harker immediately supports this, leaving Mina his wife to travel in light of his job to the home of Count Dracula...