How Does Angela Carter Extract the ‘Latent Content’ from Bluebeard to Create a Gothic Story?

Topics: Gothic fiction, Bluebeard, Southern Gothic Pages: 3 (1147 words) Published: January 7, 2013
Before analyzing the way in which Carter created a Gothic story from the tradition fairy-tale of Bluebeard, we must first understand the meaning of ‘latent content’. Freud explains latent content to be ‘the forbidden thoughts and the unconscious desires which appear in the manifest content but are disguised and unrecognizable.’ However, in saying this, the manifest and latent content can sometimes be indistinguishable (referred to as ‘Infantile dreams’); much like in the case of Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. Carter uses a process called ‘dream-work’, whereby she takes the latent content in Bluebeard, and transforms it into manifest content, to create something new and, in this case, Gothic.

In the original tale of Bluebeard, the chamber itself is only described in two brief lines; one describing how it was dark as ‘the windows were shut’, and the other describing the ‘several dead women, ranged against the walls’. Carter saw that this ‘chamber’ had a greater role in the plot of the story than the original showed it to have. In naming her version of the story ‘The Bloody Chamber’ she allowed the setting to hold great importance – and in doing so, she managed to change its form from ‘a background-to-a-plot’, to an actual character; which is required of a setting in a Gothic novel. Carter even goes as far as giving the chamber emotion-like qualities, “The walls… gleamed as if they were sweating with fright”. This not only personifies the chamber, but also builds a stronger connection between the chamber and the character of the wife, as the emotion of ‘fright’ would have been one the wife would have experienced upon entering the chamber; in allowing a reflection in the two’s personality, it reemphasizes the importance of the chamber, which the original version isn't able to accomplish.

It is very easy for readers in the present to interpret Bluebeard’s purpose in giving the key to the chamber to his wife and his warning against going into the chamber was to...
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