Psychological Tug-Of-War in Angela Carter’s Short Fiction Essay

Psychological Tug-Of-War in Angela Carter’s Short Fiction Essay

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Psychological Tug-Of-War in Angela Carter’s Short Fiction
In Angela Carter’s collections of short stories Saints and Strangers (1985) and The Bloody Chamber (1979) the heroines of each story’s identity plays a role in the psychological position the characters become manipulated into by the villain or antagonist in each story. Many of the stories in The Bloody Chamber focus on the idea of liminality. By this, the heroines exhibit qualities of personalities in both states of being simultaneously, meaning their identities are being tested and manipulated. These two halves of the liminal being will tear at each other so that one can dominate over the other, because the contradicting identities can’t seem to co-exist while being whole. In one of the more significant short stories from Saints and Strangers, The Fall River Axe Murders for example: Lizzie Borden’s identity of being either a sensitive introverted woman versus one of very sociopathic and manipulative traits is being challenged by the boils of nature within her broken family. In The Bloody Chamber, the narrator is a youthful seventeen year old pianist who is transitioning from childhood to womanhood while being constantly challenged by her new husband to disobey him so she can be “punished”. Carter’s writing style is known for it’s ability to bring to light the psychological tug-o-war in which all the characters in her short stories struggle to win against themselves. In both her short story collections Saints and Strangers (1985) and The Bloody Chamber (1979), Carter accentuates the dark foils of the childhood legends and myths with her various styles of incorporating how the liminality of one’s identity plays a role into revealing the psychological entities of the charac...


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...haracters, the 'oppressed female seeking liberation' is a common theme and concept that is explored throughout the collection. The characters seem to blend into each other and become indistinguishable from one another when recognising this theme in the text. Carter effectively draws out the theme of feminism by contrasting traditional elements of Gothic fiction ; which usually depicted female characters as weak and helpless ; with strong female protagonists. By contrasting the barren and horrific atmosphere found typically within the Gothic to the strong heroines of her story, Carter is able to create sexually liberated female characters that are set against the more traditional backdrop of the fairy tale. In doing so, Carter reinvents the outdated fairy tales and offers insight on the archetypes and stereotypes of women in these well-known and celebrated stories.

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