The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

analytical Essay
2038 words
2038 words

There is plenty of opportunity for interpretation in Carter’s writing, particularly in her book ‘The Bloody Chamber’ which is commonly considered to be her masterwork, brimming with intertextualities and ambiguities. Some may find her work to be excessively violent or savage, perhaps even alienating. Yet others may have found this no-holds-barred approach to be exhilarating and refreshing in comparison to other authors of her time. In her re-writing of Perrault and Beaumont’s classic tales, Carter proposes a reading of several well-known stories with intent to unveil through a feminist perspective the ideological content they present. “The Bloody Chamber” is her take on the tale of Bluebeard; “The Werewolf” is her variation of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood; and “The Snow Child” is a very brief but equally powerful story based on the tale of Snow White. Whilst some may find her writing to be ‘grossly repellent’ and most certainly did at the time of its original publication, it remains clear that there are numerous aspects of intertextuality within her writing which delve beyond the face value of her work, that there is much latent content within every story in the collection.
A bloody chamber is repeatedly seen in alternate forms within each of the book’s ten stories, which is perhaps a clear indication as to what inspired Carter to select the title. Though the form or representation of the bloody chamber varies from tale to tale, each example has the same implied symbolism of feminist empowerment. For example, in Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber”, an exuberant rewriting of the classic tale of Bluebeard which shares the title of the collection itself, there is a room where sadomasochism and personal revelation occur simultaneously...

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... ed. London: Vintage Classics.
Carter, A, 2013. Shaking A Leg: Collected Journalism and Writings . 1st ed. London: Random.
Cavallaro, D, 2011. The World of Angela Carter: A Critical Investigation. 1st ed. Carolina: McFarland & Co Inc.
Grade Saver. 1999. The Bloody Chamber Study Guide & Essays. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 January 14].
Marina Warner. 2012. Marina Warner on why Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber still bites. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 January 14].
Unknown. 2012. The Bloody Chamber: AS & A2 Critical Debates: Feminism. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 January 14].

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how carter's 'the bloody chamber' is brimming with intertextualities and ambiguities. some may find her work to be excessively violent or alienating, but others may have found this no-holds-barred approach refreshing.
  • Analyzes how carter's use of the term "bloody chamber" lends emphasis to the connection between female sexuality and the common abuse faced by women.
  • Analyzes how carter points out the objectification and subjugation of women through the theme of pornography in "the snow child."
  • Analyzes how carter creates the figure of a werewolf in "the werewolf" to point out that patriarchy is not the only enemy faced by women.
  • Analyzes how carter uses the notion of pornography and the effects it can have through the objectification of women.
  • Analyzes carter's use of mirrors in some of her stories. in "the bloody chamber," the marquis turns his bride into a pornographic image reflected over and over.
  • Analyzes how carter's understanding of fairy tales and their contribution towards perpetuating patriarchal ideology and a masculine status-quo led her to explore themes of personal transformation by liberating her protagonists from shackled gender roles.
  • Analyzes how carter's baroque and parodist take on fairy tales outlines the darkness of grotesque literature. the bloody chamber is the marquis' enigmatic, locked chamber of torture and demise.
  • Analyzes how carter uses liminality in her stories by creating characters that are not human or ordinary. the girl in "the snow child" represents the notion of women being mere objects.
  • Explains that carter, a, and cavallaro, d, have published the bloody chamber study guide & essays.
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