Angela Carter is up next with her collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories. The series of short stories were published in 1979, despite how contemporary the themes are. The characters are based on known fairy tale figures, such as Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty (Simpson 2006, p. 10). Each story is uniquely disturbing with sexual twists establishing a Gothic nature to the collection. Hughes (2013, p. 1) qualifies change as fundamental to Gothic literature, as he states:
“Change is characteristic of the Gothic, both in terms of the standards of the genre and its adaptation to new cultural and linguistic environments.”
Interestingly, Carter transports her works beyond what is Gothic as it is an elasticated genre relative to the narrative. The short story shares similarities as Carter (1980) states “the short story is not minimalist, it is rococo.” Carter refers to the possibility for short stories to exceed common expectations, to be rococo; decorative (Liggins et al. 2010, p. 17). As readers, we can employ Carter to enhance our understanding of a short story. This will be the following step in getting out of that slump I keep mentioning.
The feminist writer flips usual gender norms into a skilful act of subversion. Typically, women are placed into narratives as objects of desire. However, ‘The Lady of the House of Love’ centres the female – the Countess – as the protagonist who feasts on her male visitors. The Countess longs for humanity more than anything else, she feels guilty by eating the rabbits wishing they were her beloved pets. However, her natural instinct interrupts this wish. The vampire goddess meets a soon-to-be war hero. The young virginal soldier represents purity, modernising the dynamic between male and female. Fiction written by women often interlink feminism with postmodernism. As the lines blur within “…‘art’ and ‘life’, masculine and feminine, high and popular culture, the dominant and the marginal” (Waugh 2012, p. 6). Similar to Atwood, Carter warps the presumed fixed romantic tale into a tragedy worth the read. Romance is an underrated genre, although, when feminism is inserted, it becomes engaging.
Apart from ‘The Lady of the House of Love,’ give ‘The Company of Wolves’ a read, as well as ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon.’ Later, we will come back to discussing themes within these two.