The Sexual Content in Angela Carter´s “The Bloody Chamber”
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, is a selection of fairytales which have been re-written by Angela Carter to place them in the modern day. Carter has taken seven fairytales whose “latent content” she says were “violently sexual”, (qtd by Robin Sheets, “Pornography Fairy Tales and Feminism” 642). The stories include a variation of classics fairytales such as “Bluebeard”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Little Red Riding Hood” with sometimes more than one version of the same original tale, for example “Wolf-Alice” and “The Company of Wolves”. In re-writing these fairy tales Carter has given the new versions a specifically sexual content and focuses on the female protagonist, which as a result, has become the issue of much debate and criticism. In particular, the sometimes explicit sexual content of the stories has raised questions among some feminist writers regarding Carter´s stance on the issue of the role of women and pornography. Focusing mainly on the main story of the collection, “The Bloody Chamber”, this essay will aim to highlight Carter´s intentions for the sexual content of her stories. In doing so, whilst commenting from some critical essays regarding Carter´s stance on pornography, this essay will also address “Lovely Linda”, a review of Inside Linda Lovelace, by Linda Lovelace a porn actress, which was written by Angela Carter. In her essay, Robin Sheets compares “The Bloody Chamber” to another of Carter´s books The Sadiean Woman and the Ideology of Pornography. Sheets takes one of ten short stories in the collection and using only this story tries to define Carter as either one of “Sade´s new Juliettes” or a “new Justine”, (qtd. by Sheets pp636-637). These titles, which make reference to characters from works by the Marquis de Sade, were created by Robin Morgan in her criticism of feminist activists who opposed or supported the antipornography movement, those who support pornography being the “new Juliettes” as they align themselves with sex based on domination, where the “new Justines” are said to always portray themselves of the victims of male brutality. Antipornography activists described pornography as a “cause of women´s oppression”, (Sheets 637), and Sheets focuses on this in “The Bloody Chamber” as a means to decide which flag Carter is flying. Like all fairy tales the original story of Bluebeard contained a moral. Sheets comments that although over time there have been variations made to the story in order to change the moral the one that has prevailed has been that which advises women against curiosity, (Sheets 643). Whilst comparing the Marquis of the story to the Marquis de Sade, Sheets links the sadistic acts of the Marquis in “The Bloody Chamber” to that of de Sade. When one takes into consideration Carter´s review of Linda Lovelace´s book, Inside Linda Lovelace, when addressing the sexual content of “The Bloody Chamber”, it is easy to understand Carter´s opinion of pornography and as result her reasons for using it in her stories. At the start of the review Carter describes Lovelace´s fame as a result of the “demands of a society that uses libidinal gratification as a soporific in a time of potential social disruption”. From the outset of this review Carter´s negativity towards “our Lady of Hard-Core Porn”, is evident, so what is different about Linda Lovelace and the content of her own works that attracts so much argument regarding its pornographic nature? In her review she goes on to remark that “libidinal gratification” is now unlimited but that this has changed as a result of society changing as in short that although we are sexually free now it is only because society says so, which means that if we have to wait for society´s permission we still are not free, (Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg 54). This oppression of women is one of the most commonly debated aspects of pornography. The debate develops into deciding what...
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