Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Werewolf notations

"It is a northern country; they have cold weather, they have cold hearts." -
This immediately separates the reader from the setting. We are not part of the setting and neither is the narrator. (Also note that the setting is also 'cold', connotes evil and negative imagery - suggests the setting is gothic based)

"Dark and smoky within"
"crude icon of the virgin"
"grave yards"

= Gothic imagery.

"crude icon of the virgin" - Religious imagery - mockery?

"Far away" - further separation is created - aids the suspension of disbelief.

"wreaths of garlic on the doors keep out the vampires...oh, sinister" - the mocking of human superstition. Suggests that normal rules do not apply here.

"Then they stone her to death" - Suggests that danger comes from human imagination - could be Carter commenting on a wider idea, with her opinionated input towards our civilization.

"Here, take your father's hunting knife; you know how to use it" - Knife = power.
She KNOWS how to use it. She has experience, much like a man in craft work and knife related acts. Positive, rational paternal figure. Uncommon amongst fairy tales. Also suggests the girl is active not passive, she can defend herself like a man. Similarly suggests she is violent. Uncommon again.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

In case e-mail doesnt work - LOTHOL essay

If sex and the fear of death are Carter's material and psychological concerns in these stories, why are they particularly thought of as feminist tales? Explore the lady of the house of love in light of this idea. (500-700 words)

In this short essay I will be exploring how sex and the fear of death are featured in Carters story; the lady of the house of love, and why if they are featured as the main concern Carter's works are seen as feminist tales.

During the course of the lady of the house of love there are numerous ideas surrounding sex interlinked with death. The countess lures her victims in to the bedroom; a room which is associated with sexual imagery and she murders them there. 'He will go in to the chamber which had been prepared for him', such imagery resembling that of the wedding night and the consummation of traditional marriage in such an arranged fashion. These references to the bedroom and an 'act' which is to take place are interlinked with the idea of fear, despite the soldiers unawareness of the real danger as "since he himself is immune to shadow, due to his virginity - he does not yet know what there is to be afraid of...and though he feels unease, he cannot feel terror". The references to his 'virginity', his pure and innocent form is corrupted by her vampiric act. Vampires are associated with penetration and the exchange of bodily fluids, which evokes similar imagery to that of the loss of a woman's virginity, suggesting she is going to contaminate him, further linking the references to sexual acts and a accompanied association with fear. This implies that Carter's main concern in that of sex and the fear of death during the lady of the house of love. It may also suggest that Carter is trying to associate sex in light of something negative, proposing it is psychologically harmful or perhaps even physically so, which is why such a strong association with fear and death is interlinked around it.

However this association with sex in a negative light could imply that it is taking more of a feminist input. The fact that Carter refers to the bedroom as a place of pain and death may in tern emphasise her pessimistic views towards sex, and or marriage and the repression of women through the loss of their virginity and furthermore purity and power. Despite this however there is a role reversal, which is un common in light of feminist texts, especially the work of Carter. She seemingly equals out the roles of men and women, with the Countess becoming the active character and the bicyclist becoming the passive role. She had 'four footed speed' and 'sharp fingernails' and hunts like a beast, she is animalistic and predatorial whilst the bicyclist becomes her victim, resembling that of week prey. However this is contradicted further by the fact the countess does not want her power over men, she does not want her role, 'nothing can console her for the ghastliness of her condition', she is the 'queen of terror', 'except her horrible reluctance for the role'. In comparison to books such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, the male antagonist is proud of his heritage and thrives in his evil ways, yet the countess wants nothing of it. This could imply from a feminist perspective that Carter believes women enjoy being passive in society to some extent, that they do not crave the power to overcome men, perhaps merely equality is enough?

Overall I would argue that sex and the fear of death are closely linked throughout the lady of the house of love and whilst they are both featured in Carter's material with many ambiguities and possible psychological messages, feminist ideas are still largely featured throughout her work and is a constant undertone in her writing.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

How does Carter challenge or uphold the readers expectations of a gothic text in the lady of the house of love.

How does Carter challenge or uphold the readers expectations of a gothic text in the lady of the house of love.

During the course of this essay I am going to explore the expectations we as a reader may have of a gothic text and explore the extent to which Carter challenges or upholds these expectations in the lady of the house of love.

The setting featured in the lady of the house of love suggests that Carter wants to uphold the readers expectations of a gothic text. The house is "derelict and dark" and has been "neglected" by the female vampire that lives within it. The 'dark' setting immediately creates gothic imagery and the building resembles that of Dracula's castle, a widely recognized gothic text. The seemingly abandoned house could relate to the vampires negative feelings toward her inheritance and her negative feelings towards her surroundings. However it could also create a challenge to female repression, a common theme features in Carter's texts, with regards to her view on the traditional housewife role, with Carter presenting an alternative, inverted female role.

There is also religious references featured in the Lady of the house of love, with additional corrupted elements within it. The use of the "bridal gown" could relate again back to the gothic text of Dracula, and the imagery of an anti-Christ figure wearing a wholly outfit emphasises the idea of corruption. Furthermore a bride is traditionally expected to be pure, however the ideas of penetration and the exchange of bodily fluids associated with vampires, strongly infects the idea of wholesomeness and purity. Carter may do this to add a more sinister twist on the theme of religion, whilst maintaining a gothic element within her story, suggesting she intended to uphold the readers expectations of a gothic text.

Another commonly featured idea which is featured throughout gothic texts is that of attraction and revulsion. This is featured in the lady of the house of love with regards to the countess herself and how the soldier reacts to her striking appearance. The countess and her "huge eyes almost broke his heart with their waiflike, lost look; yet he was disturbed, almost repelled, by her extraordinarily fleshy mouth". The fixation on her 'fleshy mouth' could link to Freud's oral fixation theory, whilst also suggesting that he is finding her grotesque and un-appealing, whilst her eyes almost break 'his heart', conflicting his feelings towards her exterior. Carter may use this to rebel against the idea of Mulvey's male gaze, inverting it as the man is intimidated by the female as opposed to objectifying her. This feature of revulsion and attraction largely implies that Carter is continuingly upholding the readers expectations of what we expect of a gothic text during the lady and the house of love.

However during the course of the lady of the house of love the reader becomes aware that there is an idea of role reversal. The 'countess', the female vampire, is the active character, she is also stimulated by a sexual impulse, a lust for men, which is un-commonly featured throughout gothic texts; which for the most part feature strong, hormonal predators with links to a sexual nature. However the 'soldier' is the victim, the passive role, whilst the women is animalistic and predatorial. Carter may do this in order to create equality between men and woman and suggest that women should be free to exploit themselves as sexually as men do. However this is again conflicted by the idea that the countess seemingly does not want her role. She seems disgusted by her lust for men and her vampire nature. Carter may arguably do this in order to imply that women enjoy being the passive character and that men should not be weak.

Overall I would argue that Carter intends to uphold the readers expectations of a gothic text, through the use of religious imagery, setting and the ideas surrounding attraction and revulsion, whilst also presenting conflicting ideas of role reversal which can be interpreted differently depending on the countess and her feelings towards her nature.

LOTHOL notations


gothic references - there are elements of the supernatural featured in the story and references to vampires and tarot cards.

There is the element of death and also the link between that and sex. She 'dealt herself a hand of love and death'. Foreshadowing? So we expect there to be a link later on between the two and we know that death happens in the bedroom - further link between sex and death.

Gothic setting - it is 'neglected' and 'derelict and dark', darkness/gothic aspects. Could perhaps relate to the vampire's (female main character) negative feelings towards her house/life/inheritance or Carter's view on the traditional housewife? She hasn't taken very good care of her home? Inverted female role/expectations.

There are religious references and perhaps a corruption of religion. "bridal gown" - relates back to Dracula. An anti-chirst figure wearing a wholly/pure outfit, an outfit associated with the church and christianity etc. - ALSO a bride is supposed to be pure. however the ideas of penetration and the exchange of all the other men's/victims fluids corrupts this idea of purity in association with vampires.

Attraction and revulsion - She is both attractive and grotesque at the same time to the 'soldier'. Page 116, "Her huge dark eyes almost broke his heart with their waif like, lost look; yet he was disturbed, almost repelled, by her extraordinarily fleshy mouth". - Could also link to ideas of fixation on the mouth with Freud.

She has a title rather than a name - 'the countess'. This could be to place a distance between her and her actions which symbolises her distaste and how she hates what she does. (killing -sucking blood) She does not want to be what she has become, she hates her lust for men. What could Carter be saying by this? Women should not lust for men? or they should lust for men and society shouldn't frown upon female sexuality? Equality in sexual rights?

Could also be part of representing her identity in the wider picture, having a name is something only human's possess, therefore could identify her as a vampire or indicate how much the Countess wishes to be human.

Also the status of 'countess' suggests she has been born in to wealth and social hierarchy, much like Dracula, (gothic theme) although she does not seem proud of it as Dracula was in his heritage. Other antagonists enjoy their evil -ness.

There is also a role reversal present. The men are the victims, active female role. However she does not want this role and this power? Carter suggesting women like being passive?