“Carter spins a subversively dark and sensual version of the familiar fairy tale and legend “Bluebeard”, giving it exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition”
Author: Angela Carter
Genre: Short Story, fantasy, drama
Year: 1993 (1º published 1979)
Length: 28 pages
We’ve all, in one way or another, heard the story of a man who gives his wife permission to enter every room in his castle except one, the story of how curiosity overtook obedience and made the girl open that one door anyways, the story of the room where the man had killed all his previous wives and planned to do the same with this one, the story of Bluebeard.
In The Bloody Chamber, Carter takes Perrault’s classic short story and gives it substance, character, and life. We get the original story but in a more contemporary setting, with an interesting backstory for the girl, a greater insight into her thoughts and feeling (which shows us the complex evolution she goes through; from childhood to womanhood, from innocence to maturity, from the marquis’s sexual object to part of a healthy and equal relationship…) and a reversal of gender roles by the end of the story that is more proper of today’s readers.
I really enjoyed Carter’s writing, despite my expectations not being too favorable (I was a bit weirded out when I read The Snow Child, so…). She has such a metaphorical and visual style that makes the narration come alive. And you could tell through her words how the girl is developing slowly; how she goes from an idealistic and fantasy-like vocabulary to a more factual and realistic speech as she slowly realizes the gravity of her situation.
Apparently, this is part of a collection of short stories with the same theme of twisting classic fairy tales (including stories like The Beauty and the Beast and such) and I can’t wait to read more of that. Definitely an interesting read and recommend it to anyone who wants to re-experience such a classic story.