Free Libertarian Feminism And Angela Carters Patriarchal Text: The Bloody Chamber Course Work Sample

Published: 2021-06-18 06:10:04
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Feminism is a complex concept that is not easy to define. It is an ideology that brings together several different subcategories that uniquely differ from one another. The stylish and radical author of the twentieth century, Angela Carter, exposes her feminist view through her various writings including Fairy Tales, The Sadeian Woman and The Bloody Chamber. As observed by Anna Katsavos in her interview, Carter believes that the view of the female gender is negative with their role being less than ideal to an extent that does not please nor give them glory (Carter and Katsavos 12). In her earliest literature through to the latest writing, The Bloody Chamber, Cater revolves a radical libertarian feminism and critique of the long-time patriarchal roles placed on women.
In most of her literature, the female protagonists take on empowered roles through which they rise against oppression and to fight for a place among equals both politically and sexually. The actions of the women reflect more directly the feminist movement of the 1970s. A fair content of the piece, The Bloody Chamber, reflects the concepts found in this movement that relates to the radical libertarian feminist ideologies. However, there is a debate on the going on in regard to the extent in which she encourages the feminism. Beauvoir says that the main intention of sexually is not to satisfy the major requirement of procreation as many people believe (64). He further argues that under certain restricted social conditions of morality that undermines the individualism and gives way to abstract repressive universality, sexual violence is likely to provide a subversive political strategy for re-establishment of passion and individuality. The driving force behind Carter's writings is the interest to expose the significant role played sexuality in maintaining the status quo.

While it is undeniable that Carter is a definite hardcore feminist, who uses colourful imagery, outrageous imagination, and sensuous prose in portraying her message, the aspect of the controversy is the successfulness of this style. Critics like Avis Lewallen and Patricia Dunker argue that, in her use of female protagonists to progress her feminist beliefs, Carter does not encourage women to reclaim their sexuality, but rather succumb to men's sexual desires instead of fighting for individual sexual needs (Sandra 15). They further argue that anyone who reads Carter's fairy tales can see the baroque in them; however, the reader is still able to understand the feminist messages in them. She uses extravagant and intense style to bring to the face of the audience the feminist ideas.

Like Beauvoir, Carter understands the powers of mystification, and her writings make open the fictions associated with the gender constructs. The revelation of the reality of the desire of the male and its possibilities is where Beauvoir and other concerned feminists lie. Beauvoir remarks that for Carter, “sexuality is a social fact and not a biological matter” (Beauvoir 63). In her latest literature, The Bloody Chamber, Carter appears a devout radical-libertarian feminist who advances her beliefs about empowering women in order to escape the oppressive forces of the male. The critics may hold a wrong view of sexuality as Carter. The beastly sexual desires of the male antagonists in Carter’s tales are a symbol of the sexual desires of the female. Therefore, she claims that when women engage in sexual acts, it is because they are claiming their sexual desires.

Other critics like Kappeler Susanne, argue that the use of Sade’s misogynist works have little reinforcement but rather degrade the patriarchal representation of women. She accuses Cater of “playing in the literary sanctuary” (Kappeler 134). This accusation implies that she refuses to appreciate that some pornographic literature be available for subversive re-appropriation that is likely to challenge the socio-political status quo. Likewise, when commenting on Carter’s use of the fairy tale in The Bloody Chamber, Dunker says, "Carter is writing the tales within the strait-jacket of the original structures" (Dunker 6). In case her discussion of Carter’s work emphasises on the abstract fairy tales, then the subsequent classical revisions try to stress the pornographic nature in which women are represented. This text, like Beauvoir's essay, outlines the relationship between sexual and socio-economics within the patriarchal society. In her revisions of the fairy tale, Carter, just as Sade attempts to expose the reality that such tales seek to disguise. For example, they disguise that the virginity of women operates as a token and a guarantor of the property rights of the ruling classes. Carter writes in The Bloody Chamber that sexual relations that exists between men and women always provides the explicit nature of the social relationship within the society in which such relationship takes place and in any case explicitly described, they form the basis of critique of the relationship.

In John Haffenden’s interview with Carter, she says that a section of the stories in the book are the results of the uncontrolled quarrels with Bettelheim, in reference to the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as a tale in which the individually held interpretations differ from the psychoanalytic critic’s interpretation. While he held the view that the fable is an allegory of successful maturation of a teenager into adulthood, in Mr Lyon's Courtship, Carter indicates that within the patriarchal society, the autonomous growth of the male gender is often stunted. After reading the entire story in the narrative of Oedipal, Bettelheim suggests that Beauty, as a result of the incest taboo and the desire she had for her father, does not have the right view of the prince but rather perceives him as a beast. Immediately she achieves the goal of successfully severing her Oedipal attachment to the father, is when she can perceive the prince the way he is. In her subsequent revision of the tale, “The Tiger Bride”, she now allows Beauty to escape from the narrative of Oedipal, and offers an alternative model to be used to develop the female sexual desire.

Carter alters the willingness of the child to forsake all for the sake of her beloved father into the willingness of the father to forsake all, including family to his egotism and pleasure-seeking. The place of women as objects of exchange as represented in the story of ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon' is furthered in the story ‘The Tiger's Bride' as the father of Beauty finally loses her to the Beast. This Beauty does not only take the control of the narrative, but in observing her environment from a detached perspective, exposes the predicament of women in a patriarchal system. She remarks in her book, "I watched with the furious cynicism peculiar to women whose circumstances force mutely to witness folly” (Carter, 56). She appears a strong and resilient woman of honour who does not consider herself as delicate as seen in the case of her twin sister in the previous story of ‘The Courtship of Mr. Lyon.’ She is not ready to play the role of a victimised woman.

Carter’s dual revisions of the ‘The Beauty and the Beast,’ a traditional fairy tale is acting as an intra-textual companion of the pieces found in The Bloody Chamber. In addition, it exemplifies the textual tactics of the collection per se. The first one deconstructs the original version of the story through exposure of the contrived differences in gender and the positions that are involved in its formation. On the other hand, the second version, permits the feminine gender to exceed the projected desire that the patriarchal forces that restrict female sexuality in preference to an economic commodity does not allow. In employing Sade's libratory philosophy in a strategic manner, Carter makes open the patriarchal framework that develops such narratives and formulates it into a feminist tale that possess an erotic experience to the reader.

Nevertheless, even though it can be granted that the sexual conflicts in this piece of work is seen as women succumbing to the sexual desire of men rather than embracing their own sexual desires, the re-writings of Carter do not in any way promote women re-enacting the male pornography, but instead search for ways of regaining the possession of their sex libido. It is right for Dunker to refer to men as ‘beast' to women but the analysis that she gives to Carter's tales is quite simple and shallow. Instead, the sexual desires of the beast serve as the women's libido, that makes it autonomous for the women to desire and agree to engage in a sexual act. Therefore, the woman agrees to engage in sexual act not because she is not in a position to give up the fight with men, but as a result of the sexual desires of the ‘beast' refers to the female libido (Gilman 125).

Carter applies the major beliefs and aims of radical libertarian feminism in her earliest works, and from these she has furthered her feminist ideals through her subsequent writings even to the latest ones, The Bloody Chamber. The only distinguishing fact is that while the ideas related to the views held on women empowerment that rise against the oppression and other radical-libertarian feminist, Carter becomes more radical in enhancing these feminist ideas. This promotion of ideas is evident in the facial revisions visible in The Bloody Chamber. Her hardened style helped her to rise to the highest levels of being one of the most effective feminist activists since it presented something unique and new to the minds and faces of many people, The exposes the dirty truth that people were quite familiar with yet none was ever willing to speak of as a result of reservations held by the society. She appeared forceful, horrific, and dramatic in her tales yet still pursued her goal of ensuring that women rose against the oppression and become empowered. Through the experiences of the women protagonists in her tales, Carter provides an example for women to follow as they journey through to equality with men.

Works Cited

Beauvoir, Simone de. Must We Burn Sade? New York: Grove Press. (1953). Print.
Carter, Angela and Anna Katsavos. “An Interview with Angela Carter.” Review of Contemporary Fiction 14.3 (1994): 11-17.
Carter, Angela. The Bloody Chamber. New York: Penguin Books. (1990). Print.
Dunker, Patricia. “Re-imagining the Fairy Tales: Angela Carter's Bloody Chambers,” Literature and History 10.1 (1984). Print.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper and other Stories. USA: Courier Corporation.1997. Print.
Kappeler, Susanne. The Pornography of Representation. Cambridge: Polity. (1986). Print.
Sandra, Gilbert. Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader.New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.

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