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.