The Bloody Chamber

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Themes and Colors
Sexuality and Violence Theme Icon
Virginity Theme Icon
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Power and Objectification Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Bloody Chamber, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Angela Carter was influenced by the writings of the Marquis de Sade (the source of the word “sadism”) in the writing of The Bloody Chamber, and she especially illustrates his idea that sex is often inextricably linked with violence. The most potent example of this is in the title story, “The Bloody Chamber,” where the Marquis (a reference to de Sade) has a collection of violent pornography and a chamber where he tortures his…

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Related to the principle theme of sexuality is the idea of virginity, and many of the heroines (and one hero) of the stories are virgins. In the world of The Bloody Chamber, virginity is both an invitation for corruption and a kind of strength or shield. In the stories that focus on sexual violence and manipulation (like “The Bloody Chamber” or “The Tiger’s Bride”) the virginity of the heroines is their most attractive quality…

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Many of the characters of The Bloody Chamber are creatures who are half-human and half-beast, or else undergo some change from beast to human or vice versa. These creatures, like The Beast, the Erl-King, and the huntsman werewolf, exist in an in-between space in the world, neither fully human nor fully non-human. They are the traditional creatures of the ancient fairy tales, but Carter also links their kind of “life on the…

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The book’s sexual violence and Carter’s feminist worldview create a theme of manipulative power and the objectification of women. This is part of the “latent content” that Carter tried to expose in the old fairy tales. In most of the original stories there is already a divide between a poor, virginal heroine and a wealthy, powerful man/monster, but in Carter’s versions this divide also leads to sexual oppression. In “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Courtship…

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