Magic Toyshop

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Melanie’s Fall
The Magic Toyshop is the second novel of the feminist writer Angela Carter. It is one of the most popular of her early books. In Carter’s works mythological and Biblical themes often appear, and The Magic Toyshop is a good example of that. This essay is intended to discuss the introductory chapter of The Magic Toyshop, in which Carter rewrites a major Biblical story. The Magic Toyshop follows the story of a teenage girl, Melanie. She is one of three children, her younger brother is Jonathon and her five year old sister is Victoria. They live in the English countryside in a middle class family. Their house is spacious; they all have their own bedrooms. Their parents are rich, successful and the children have everything they need. The children have a middle aged governess Mrs. Rundle. She is overweight, was never married, only added the Mrs. title to her name a few years ago as a present to herself. Melanie has a fear of becoming someone like Mrs. Rundle. She does not believe in God but she prays that she would marry and have sex in her life. She is worried about her weight because she thinks she is too thin, but she would not eat too much either because then she might become fat and never marry. She already sees herself as someone’s wife; she looks at herself as a male would do. (Gamble 69) The novel tells the story of the children becoming orphans and having to leave their home. Their parents are killed in a plane crash and the three children must leave the countryside to live with their uncle in London. Uncle Phillip owns a toyshop and is a toymaker himself. The orphans do not know anything about him; Melanie’s only memory of him is that when she was a little girl he made her a jack in the box which was very scary. They do not know that the world they are about to enter is radically different from the one they lived in until now. At the beginning of the novel Melanie is a happy fifteen year old girl who is starting to discover herself. She explores her body, discovers it as a colonizer discovers the unknown land. She likes to pose in front of her mirror; she plays the roles of the characters of paintings (by male painters naturally). The novel uses the terminologies of explorers thus making us believe there is a male voice behind the words. Melanie’s only wish is to marry well. She is already getting ready for married life, she is making herself ready for a husband. She believes that marriage is the only way to have financial and emotional security, the only way to be a respectable woman and to have a happy life. This is the only way she knows. This is what the culture, the social background of the age indoctrinated her to believe. She is dreaming of a perfect husband who is handsome, gentle, amiable, who has a good job and adequate financial background. Although she is a little worried about not getting this perfect life, not having sex, she genuinely believes that things are going to work out for the best. Melanie is planning to spend her adolescence preparing for the life that comes after. However soon enough she will realize that life is not a fairytale. She will meet and fall in love with a boy that does not fit in the image of the perfect husband she pictured for herself, a boy that she would have never thought to fell for under normal circumstances. She will realize how these circumstances can make her grow up in a few days - or even a few hours as on the train ride to London she realizes she has to be the mother of her little brother and sister - , and how they can suddenly take away all of her dreams and principles. However there is another way to interpret the beginning of the first chapter, the scene where she is exploring her body. Melanie is not only preparing herself for her future groom, but she is exploring her own sexuality too. She is in the age when she realizes that she is a woman, that she has not only grown mentally but physically too. “In...
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