Essay on Gothic Conventions in The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

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Gothic Conventions in The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Gothic is often distinguished by an atmosphere of terror, darkness, mystery, the unexplained and the transgression of boundaries. This essay will attempt to dissect how Angela Carter uses
Gothic conventions in the passage taken out of her novel, 'The Bloody
Chamber'.

One of the most predominant conventions manipulated here is that of a dark and mysterious atmosphere. Throughout the passage the feeling of terror prevails. This is first started by the protagonist's taking of a "forbidden key". This stirs up a feeling of disquiet, as it implies a certain degree of prohibition and disapproval towards her task. She later enforces that her bravery is somewhat foolish
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This gives the idea that urbanity cannot touch the place; technology is invalid there, and hence adding to the obscurity of the atmosphere. She then adds that the castle was "adrift" and it
"floated…at (her) orders". This gives the story a fantastical twist.
By adding an element of magic and the supernatural, Carter has sowed the seed of doubt in the mind of the reader as to the credibility of the story. It is a blurring of boundaries, where the surreal and reality cannot be made mutually exclusive.

This idea of the supernatural is later picked up again in a painting,
"Rape of the Sabines", where the focuses of the picture "suggested some grisly mythological subject". Here, the supernatural strikes terror as well, displaying itself in a horrific, but at the same time, erotic, manner. This act of sexual brutality plays a role in creating the tension of the atmosphere. Also, this is where inanimate objects are put in a sexual light - "rich breast of a woman", "naked sword",
"naked stone". This could be because the writer is trying to suggest that in the castle, everything is stripped down to its bare elements - everything is in its primal state, just as sex is a primal desire, which will lead the protagonist to strip away the "garments" of her innocence; the heart of Man is corrupt. This alludes to the Freudian theory of the Superego, the Ego and the Id. The Id is the centre of
Man, and