It is winter, and a Count and Countess go riding through the snowy wilderness. The Count admires the snow and wishes for a “girl as white as snow.” Then they come to a hole in the snow filled with blood, and the Count wishes for a “girl as red as blood.” Then the Count sees a raven, and wishes for “a girl as black as that bird’s feather.”
This story is based on a short tale about a wife telling her absent husband that she was impregnated by a snowflake, and then the husband later killing the child and saying that it “melted.” The bloody hole in the snow is a literal “bloody chamber” in this short story. The stark imagery heightens the Gothic tone.
As soon as the Count finishes speaking, a naked girl appears with white skin, a red mouth, and black hair. The Count lifts her onto his horse and the Countess is jealous. She drops her glove into the snow and tells the girl to get it, intending to ride off and leave her, but the Count says he will buy her new gloves instead. At that the Countess’s furs leave her body and wrap around the naked girl.
This naked, virginal snow child is the ultimate object of desire, literally created by the Count’s wishes. The Countess is jealous of the affection the girl receives, but she doesn’t understand the pain of such objectification yet.
The Countess then throws her brooch into a frozen pond and tells the girl to get it, but again the Count stops her and this time the Countess’s boots leap onto the girl’s feet. Now the Countess is naked and the girl clothed. They come to a rosebush and the Countess tells the girl to pick her a rose, and the Count agrees. The girl picks a rose, it pricks her finger, and she falls down dead.
Along with the hole in the snow, the girl’s body is the other “bloody chamber” of this story. She is never given a voice or character, but is solely the object of desire and sexual violence. The rose here symbolizes the girl’s purity, but also the suffering involved in the objectification of women.
The Count dismounts, crying, and has sex with the girl’s corpse. When he is done she melts and returns to a bloodstain, a raven’s feather, and the rose. The clothes return to the Countess. The Count hands the rose to the Countess, but it pricks her finger too and she says “it bites!”
This short, disturbing tale is a potent condensation of Carter’s themes. The girl’s body becomes the site of sexual violence and then enlightenment for the Countess, as she too is pricked by the rose and understands the “bite” of supporting such violence and oppression.