What is the impact of the structure of "The Bloody Chamber" on its meaning and interpretation?

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dashing-danny-dillinger | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Angela Carter’s brilliant “The Bloody Chamber” is a feminist rewriting of the Bluebeard folk tale that places the story in the perspective of the young bride of the bloodthirsty Marquis. By recasting the perspective of the story, Carter immediately emphasizes the female voice that is often overlooked or disregarded by the traditional folk tale. Otherwise, Carter presents a fairly straightforward retelling of the Bluebeard myth: a young woman marries a mysterious, wealthy aristocrat who warns her against setting foot in one specific room in his castle. Naturally, she eventually becomes curious and enters the chamber, only to find the corpses of his previous wives.

A key difference in Carter’s version and the folk tale, however, is who rescues the young woman. In the folk tale, a group of men from the town swoop in to save the damsel in distress. Carter, on the other hand, consciously chooses to have the young woman’s mother save the day:

“The puppet master, open-mouthed, wide-eyed, impotent at the last, saw his dolls break free of their strings, abandon the rituals he had ordained for them since time began and start to live for themselves; the king, aghast, witnesses the revolt of his pawns. You never saw such a wild thing as my mother... one hand on the reigns of the rearing horse while the other clasped my father's service revolver.... And my husband stood stock-still, as if she had been Medusa” (39-40).

By foregrounding the female perspective on this otherwise straight retelling of the Bluebeard story, Carter injects this story with a fresh feminist angle. Carter plays with the gender dynamics inherent in this story in order to add another layer of depth.  

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