Beginning with “The Tiger’s Bride”, the unnamed narrator sets a scene of a cold, melancholy place. She talks of frosty winds that prick at her skin or cold drafts that leaver her shivering. It’s a recurring theme that forms a pattern, but it can best be seen in this passage from Carter’s story:
As far as eye could see, not one thing living. How starveling, how bereft the dead season of this spurious Eden in which all the fruit was blighted by cold…Suddenly a sharp, freezing wind arose and pelted my face with a dry rice of powdered snow. The mist lifted sufficiently to reveal before me an acreage of half-derelict facades of sheer red brick, the vast man-trap, the megalomaniac citadel of his palazzo.
It was a world in itself but a dead one, a burned-out planet. (57)
This description of the narrator’s journey to and first glimpse of the The Beast’...
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...g, so they expect nothing” (154). To die as a child then is to meet Death as the tiger’s wife and the narrator of “The Tiger’s Bride” meet their tigers in the end, without pretense, expectation, disdain or even fear.
The tiger’s significance in both stories comes from the fear its power and ferocity inspire, and those images which tie it to Death and the devil. But while The Tiger’s Wife deals heavily with Death and dying and also living with Death, what it ultimately concludes is that a child’s hope is how to best handle Death. It tells us that we should approach Death with openness and faith, and “The Tiger’s Bride” reinforces that idea through the vulnerability of being naked before a beast. These stories tell us that Death is no more vicious or cruel than the tiger that wanders confused or weeps for its bride, and as such, we need not fear what it means to die.
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