Although the protagonist in The Magic Toyshop is female and Angela Carter narrates her novel through her female voice, does Carter approach the book with a male point of view?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literary analysis, of course, is subject to interpretation.  A novel that incorporates surrealistic imagery lends itself to even more interpretation.  Such is the case with Angela Carter's 1967 novel The Magic Toyship.  The story of 15-year-old Melanie and her descent into a world characterized by emotional abuse and unpleasant images, including visions of severed limbs, following the sudden death of her parents, can be told by either gender's perspective.  In the case of The Magic Toyshop, however, it is this educator's opinion that Carter wrote her story most definitely from the feminine perspective. From the novel's opening paragraph, the story seems to reflect a feminine perspective more than a male one, evident in the following passage:

"For months, she stared at herself, naked, in the mirror of her wardrobe; she would follow with her finger the elegant structure of her ribcage . . ."

As the paragraph continues, with the description of Melanie's routine self-exploration and fascinations with the idea of posing for a famous artist known for his ribauld portraits of women, Toulouse Lautrec, one gets the sense that this scene was written by a female author, as is the case with Carter's descriptions of Finn's sexual approaches to Melanie and, even, with the image of the severed hand:

". . .soft-looking, plump little hand with pretty, tapering fingers . . ."

And, Melanie's description of her and her siblings following the death of their parents as "forlorn passengers from a wrecked ship" as they wait for the taxi to set them off on their journey as orphans.  Similarly, in the novel's opening, Melanie puts on her mother's wedding dress, only to damage it while climbing through a window, having locked herself out of the house while wearing the gown -- an act she blames for causing the plane crash that killed her parents.  All of these scenes and descriptions could have been written by a man from the male perspective; to this reader, however, The Magic Toyshop reflects a feminine perspective.  A female would almost certainly have written the description of Melanie's discomfort with Finn's attempts at romancing her.  That, however, is one man's opinion.

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