The Bloody Chamber

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.
Virginity Theme Icon

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 to the bestial men who desire them. To the Marquis, for example, the heroine’s virginity is an innocence that can be corrupted and destroyed.

Though virginity inherently means a kind of innocence, in Carter’s stories it has a unique strength as well. Twice she describes a character’s virginity as like a “pentacle” protecting them from harm, and she illustrates the power of virginity as the power of potential, like a stone about to fall. In several stories, when the heroine loses her virginity this act also releases a kind of transformative power that is more than sexual – often a kind of metamorphosis. Throughout the book virginity is like the blank slate, the potential for sexual violence, a metamorphosis of the self, or both.

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Virginity ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Virginity appears in each story of The Bloody Chamber. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Virginity Quotes in The Bloody Chamber

Below you will find the important quotes in The Bloody Chamber related to the theme of Virginity.
The Bloody Chamber Quotes

I saw him watching me in the gilded mirrors with the assessing eye of a connoisseur inspecting horseflesh, or even of a housewife in the market, inspecting cuts on the slab. I’d never seen, or else had never acknowledged, that regard of his before… When I saw him look at me with lust, I dropped my eyes but, in glancing away from him, I caught sight of myself in the mirror… I saw how much that cruel necklace became me. And, for the first time in my innocent and confined life, I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away.

Related Characters: Heroine (The Bloody Chamber) (speaker), The Marquis
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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He stripped me, gourmand that he was, as if he were stripping the leaves off an artichoke… And when nothing but my scarlet, palpitating core remained, I saw, in the mirror, the living image of an etching by Rops… He in his London tailoring; she, bare as a lamb chop. Most pornographic of all confrontations. And so my purchaser unwrapped his bargain. And, as at the opera, when I had first seen my flesh in his eyes, I was aghast to feel myself stirring.

Related Characters: Heroine (The Bloody Chamber) (speaker), The Marquis
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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I stammered foolishly: We’ve not taken luncheon yet; and, besides, it is broad daylight…
All the better to see you.
He made me put on my choker, the family heirloom of one woman who had escaped the blade… Rapt, he intoned: “Of her apparel she retains/Only her sonorous jewellery.”
A dozen husbands impaled a dozen brides while the mewing gulls swung on invisible trapezes in the empty air outside.

Related Characters: Heroine (The Bloody Chamber) (speaker), The Marquis (speaker)
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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No. I was not afraid of him; but of myself. I seemed reborn in his unreflective eyes, reborn in unfamiliar shapes. I hardly recognized myself from his descriptions of me and yet, and yet – might there not be a grain of beastly truth in them? And, in the red firelight, I blushed again, unnoticed, to think he might have chosen me because, in my innocence, he sensed a rare talent for corruption.

Related Characters: Heroine (The Bloody Chamber) (speaker), The Marquis
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Courtship of Mr Lyon Quotes

How strange he was. She found his bewildering difference from herself almost intolerable; its presence choked her. There seemed a heavy, soundless pressure upon her in his house, as if it lay under water, and when she saw the great paws lying on the arm of his chair, she thought: they are the death of any tender herbivore. And such a one she felt herself to be, Miss Lamb, spotless, sacrificial.

Related Characters: The Beast (The Courtship of Mr. Lyon), Beauty
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Tiger’s Bride Quotes

And The Beast gave me the rose from his own impeccable if outmoded buttonhole when he arrived, the valet brushing the snow off his black cloak. This white rose, unnatural, out of season, that now my nervous fingers ripped, petal by petal, apart as my father magnificently concluded the career he had made of catastrophe.

Related Characters: Heroine (The Tiger's Bride) (speaker), The Beast (The Tiger's Bride)
Related Symbols: Roses
Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Lady of the House of Love Quotes

He has the special quality of virginity, most and least ambiguous of states: ignorance, yet at the same time, power in potentia, and, furthermore, unknowingness, which is not the same as ignorance. He is more than he knows – and has about him, besides, the special glamour of that generation for whom history has already prepared a special, exemplary fate in the trenches of France. This being, rooted in change and time, is about to collide with the timeless Gothic eternity of the vampires, for whom all is as it has always been and will be, whose cards always fall in the same pattern.

Related Characters: The Countess (The Lady of the House of Love), Young Man (The Lady of the House of Love)
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

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Owls shriek; the impedimenta of her condition squeak and gibber all around us. Now you are at the place of annihilation, now you are at the place of annihilation. She turns her head away from the blue beams of his eyes; she knows no other consummation than the only one she can offer him. She has not eaten for three days. It is dinner-time. It is bedtime.

Related Characters: The Countess (The Lady of the House of Love), Young Man (The Lady of the House of Love)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

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She is not sleeping.
In death, she looked far older, less beautiful and so, for the first time, fully human.
I will vanish in the morning light; I was only an invention of darkness. And I leave you as a souvenir the dark, fanged rose I plucked from between my thighs, like a flower laid on a grave. On a grave.

Related Characters: The Countess (The Lady of the House of Love) (speaker), The Countess (The Lady of the House of Love)
Related Symbols: Roses
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Company of Wolves Quotes

She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg; she is a sealed vessel; she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane; she is a closed system; she does not know how to shiver. She has her knife and she is afraid of nothing.

Related Characters: Child (The Company of Wolves)
Related Symbols: Bloody Chambers
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

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Every wolf in the world now howled a prothalamion outside the window as she freely gave the kiss she owed him.
What big teeth you have!…
All the better to eat you with.
The girl burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s meat. She laughed at him full in the face, she ripped off his shirt for him and flung it into the fire, in the fiery wake of her own discarded clothing…
Carnivore incarnate, only immaculate flesh appeases him.

Related Characters: Child (The Company of Wolves) (speaker), Huntsman (speaker)
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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Wolf-Alice Quotes

The wolves had tended her because they knew she was an imperfect wolf; we secluded her in animal privacy out of fear of her imperfection because it showed us what we might have been, and so time passed, although she scarcely knew it. Then she began to bleed.

Related Characters: Wolf-Alice
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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