The Bloody Chamber

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The Bloody Chamber Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Angela Carter
Carter was born in England during WWII, and she was evacuated from her home as a child to live with her grandmother in Yorkshire. She struggled with anorexia throughout her teenage years. After high school Carter began working as a journalist, and then studied English literature at the University of Bristol. She won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1969 and used the proceeds to leave her husband (Paul Carter) and move to Tokyo. There she developed her more radical feminist ideas and gathered material for her books. She wrote many novels, short story collections, and essays during her career, but is best known for The Bloody Chamber and her essay The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce and they had one son together. She died of lung cancer at age fifty-one, and is still considered one of the most influential British novelists of the century.
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Historical Context of The Bloody Chamber
The stories of The Bloody Chamber take place in a vague, mythical past, but at the same time some are linked to concrete historical events of the 20th century and all have a “modern” tone. “The Lady of the House of Love” references World War I, and takes place in a more “innocent” Europe before the war begins. Carter’s writings have been seen as part of the feminist movement in Britain, as she subverts the ancient fairy tales to give her female protagonists more agency and sympathy. Her acceptance of the works of the Marquis de Sade was more radical than most feminist thinkers of her time, however.
Other Books Related to The Bloody Chamber
Carter was heavily influenced by Charles Perrault, whose collection of fairy tales Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé was published in 1697. Her themes were also influenced by the sexually violent writings of the Marquis de Sade, especially his book Justine. Isak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales is a precursor of Carter’s writing style and story format, and “The Lady of the House of Love” was influenced by Anne Rice’s vampire novels, including The Vampire Chronicles.
Key Facts about The Bloody Chamber
  • Full Title: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
  • When Written: 1976-1978
  • Where Written: Sheffield, England
  • When Published: 1979
  • Literary Period: Contemporary British Literature, Feminist Fiction
  • Genre: Gothic fiction, magical realism, short story sequence
  • Setting: Fairy-tale version of Europe
  • Climax: The heroine’s mother kills the Marquis in “The Bloody Chamber”
  • Point of View: First, second, and third person varied throughout the stories
Extra Credit for The Bloody Chamber

Vampirella. The story “The Lady of the House of Love” was originally written as a BBC radio play and called Vampirella.

The Company of Wolves. “The Company of Wolves” has become the best-known story in the collection, and it was later made into a full-length feature film. Carter helped write the screenplay.