Getting Ahead by Walking in the Opposite Direction:
Changes in Melanie’s Scale of Values in Angela Carter’s Magic Toyshop
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Modern British Literature and Culture BTAN22008BA-K3
28th November, 2012
Angela Carter’s probably most famous work is The Magic Toyshop in which she writes about “slipping out of your precarious middle-classness into the house of […] horrors” (Sage 8). Through Carter’s interpretation we can get an insight of a pubescent girl’s life which turns upside-down when her parents die in a plane crash. However, she had everything she could dream of before the catastrophe, silver hairbrush, money, good education and freedom; the difficulties she go through, and the loss of her comfort-zone have rather positive effects on her superficial values after all. Actually by losing everything she gets a chance to build up a better life without other’s affection and expectations on her, and the chance of gaining everything in the end. The first chapter of the novel perfectly represents Melanie’s, fifteen-year-old mentality which shows “a moment of hesitation between childhood and adulthood” (Gamble 69), her evolved ideology about gender, family and sex. Her ideologies stem from her family background, since she lives in a house of “red-brick, with Edwardian gables” and “it smell[s] of lavender furniture polish and money” (Carter 7). Her living conditions are far above the average, in luxury she gets everything, she desires, without realizing how temporal it is. In her visualization she can only imagine her future “Fancy. It must be fancy” (Carter 7). Carter indicates to the sinister future, as a moon-daisy fall from Melanie’s hair “like a faintly derisive sign from heaven” (Carter 7). This bourgeois lasted only fifteen years for her, but while it lasted it was marvellous, she had silver-backed hairbrush, transistor radio and so on, without mentioning the primary importance of central heating and piped hot water, she did not even noticed and appreciated until they disappeared from her life. The shield of financial security over her let her develop a semi-false illusion about life and role of gender. She always considers her mother as a perfect woman who “was keeping Daddy company” (Carter 3). Her only role is to wear her gloves and hat and to be the companionship of her dad, no matter what. Her only hardship with visualizing their parents making love is that she unable to imagine them naked. In her eyes they were born with the clothes which represent their social status. Her upper class sense combines with a portion of vanity and the approach of the sixties, that there are nothing more shameful than a woman without a respectable husband by her side. However, she lost her faith when she was thirteen, she prayed: “Please God, let me get married. Or let me have sex” (Carter 8). As a fifteen-year-old-girl she begins to consider herself as a woman rather than a child, so the role of her mirror is priceless, she “discovered she was made of flesh and blood” (Carter 1). She like posing naked in front of the mirror discovers her shapes, her breasts. Since she is in her early puberty she is rather interested in what others would think about her body, whether she would find a husband or not, or at least...
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