What are some common themes between "The Erlking" by Angela Carter and "Somewhere in America" by Neil Gaiman?

Captivity, freedom, and the incompatibility of freedom with love are common themes in "The Erlking" by Angela Carter and "Somewhere in America" by Neil Gaiman.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Erlking" by Angela Carter and "Somewhere in America" by Neil Gaiman share the themes of captivity and freedom. In each story, the protagonist achieves freedom in an unlikely manner, and freedom appears to be in opposition to love.

The heroine of Carter's story loves the Erlking but understands that their relationship will never be that of free and equal lovers, but of jailor and prisoner. By killing the Erlking, she secures her own freedom, along with that of all the other girls he has captured. Finally, she uses the Erlking's hair, with which she strangled him, to make music of her own, a sign of her autonomy.

In "Somewhere in America," Salim is on the point of suicide when he encounters the ifrit jinn. The jinn does not literally grant Salim's wish for death but allows him to experience a new kind of life, as a New York taxi driver. Driving the taxi is badly paid and hard work, but it offers more autonomy than Salim's previous existence trying (and failing) to sell trinkets and being kept waiting for hours to no avail. Salim makes love to the jinn, as the heroine does to the Erlking, but it is only after the love affair is ended and the lover is gone that either of them can start a new life.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on