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"The Bloody Chamber" Summary

"The Bloody Chamber's" heroine narrates the story in retrospect. At the time of the story she is a poor, seventeen-year-old Parisian pianist. She begins her tale by describing the night she traveled alone to her new husband, the Marquis's palace. She lies in her train compartment, excited to be leaving her childhood behind and entering into womanhood. She imagines her mother back at her childhood apartment, putting away her girlhood belongings, and is suddenly struck by a sense of loss. She feels as though she has "in some way, ceased to be her [mother's] child in becoming a wife." The heroine recalls how when her wedding dress arrived, her mother asked whether she was sure she loved her husband-to-be. She replied, "I'm sure I want to marry him." Even though she seemed unconvinced that her daughter was making the right choice, she kept silent out of her wish for financial security. She herself married down in society, and when her husband died at war, she and the narrator were left penniless. Back in the train compartment, the heroine can hear the Marquis's heavy breathing and smell his scent. He is big, strong and catlike, but also gentle and romantic. He is much older than the heroine and his eyes have an "absolute absence of light." He reminds the narrator of a lily, because he is so quiet and emotionless that he seems to be wearing a mask all the time. Even when he proposed to her, he did not show emotion. These characteristics make the heroine fear the Marquis, and she hopes that once they are at the castle, he will reveal his true self to her. One explanation for the Marquis's seriousness is that he is still in mourning for his last wife. She died three months into her marriage, supposedly in a boating accident, although her body was never recovered. The wife before that was the model for a famous painting. The Marquis's first wife was a renowned opera diva, whose performance enthralled the narrator as a child. The narrator is bemused that the Marquis would choose her to be his wife after having been with such enchanting women. She describes herself as "the poor widow's child with my mouse-colored hair that still bore the kinks of the braids from which it had so recently been freed, my bony hips, my nervous, pianist's fingers." The heroine recalls the night before their wedding when the Marquis took her to see the opera Tristan. All eyes were on her, her massive opal wedding ring, and her wedding gift, "a choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat." The necklace belonged to his grandmother, who had it made as an ironic reminder after she escaped the guillotine. At the opera, the narrator notices for the first time that her husband looks at her as though she is "horseflesh." When he looks at her as a sexual object, the heroine is shocked and excited; she recalls, "for the first time in my innocent and confined life, I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away." The heroine reaches the castle at dawn. It is cold November by the seaside. She is delighted with her bridal suite, located in a tower overlooking the ocean. It has a music room furnished with a fine piano and a portrait of Saint Cecilia playing an organ. The heroine is touched by the fact that the Marquis compares her to a saint. The bedroom is filled with lilies, which are reflected in twelve mirrors that surround the bed so that the room appears to be an "embalming parlor." The narrator, like the lilies, is reflected in the mirrors so that she becomes "a multitude of girls." She

watches her husband undress her-undress his "harem" of girls-in the mirrors. She tells us how the Marquis seems unexcited at the prospect of taking her virginity; "he approached the familiar treat with a weary appetite." She is both aroused and disgusted. Then the Marquis abruptly says he must attend to business and leaves her. The heroine dresses and wanders into his library. There, she finds a book with sexual and violent images including one called "Reproof of Curiosity." Just then, the Marquis enters and mocks her for finding the images. Then he forces her back to the bedroom and makes her put on the ruby choker, "kiss[ing] the rubies before he kiss[es] [her] mouth." Then he takes her virginity. As the narrator describes it, "A dozen husbands impaled a dozen brides." In the morning, business in New York compels the Marquis to leave the castle for over a month. He and the heroine enjoy a sumptuous dinner before his departure. Then the Marquis gives the narrator her instructions. She is not to take off the choker. He hands her a ring of keys to every lock in the house, all of which she is free to open, explore, and enjoy the contents of save one that leads to a private chamber. He calls it "the key to my enfer." He quips before leaving, "There I can go, you understand, to savour the rare pleasure of imagining myself wifeless." The next day, the narrator meets the piano tuner, a kindly blind man named JeanYves. She promises he can listen to her play occasionally. After a distraught call to her mother, she satisfies her "dark newborn curiosity" by exploring the castle and ordering the staff around like a spoiled child. While exploring the Marquis's office, she finds an envelope filled with remnants from his past marriages. The discovery puts her in a momentary, sober trance that makes her accidentally open the key ring and drop all the keys on the floor. The first key she picks up is the one to the forbidden room. Convinced that the room holds the key to her husband's identity, the heroine ventures fearlessly there. Her search takes her to a far, dark corner of the castle. When she enters the room, she sees instruments of torture: a rack, a wheel, and an iron maiden. In the middle of the room she finds a bier with candles around it and lights them to the embalmed corpse of the Marquis's first wife, the opera singer. It is clear from the marks on her neck that she was strangled. Behind the bier hangs the skull of the Marquis's second wife, dressed in a bridal veil. Then the heroine finds the corpse of the last wife inside the Iron Maiden, run through with "a hundred spikes." Seeing how the murdered woman's blood is still flowing onto the floor, the heroine wonders how recently the Marquis murdered her. She drops the key into the blood and bursts into tears. Regaining her presence of mind, the narrator decides to escape the Marquis. She covers up all evidence of her snooping and flees the chamber. The heroine tries to calls her mother, but the phone is dead. She tries to calm herself by playing the piano until the piano-tuner, Jean-Yves, comes to return the keys she dropped. His presence calms her so much that she faints. When she awakes, he is cradling her. She tells him that the Marquis is a murderer and is planning to kill her. He says that the locals' nickname for the castle is "the Castle of Murder" and that villagers have spread tales of murderous Marquises for ages. In the breaking daylight, the heroine sees the Marquis's car returning to the castle. She and Jean-Yves try to wash the key to the forbidden room, but a bloodstain remains no matter how hard they scrub it. She sends him away, undresses, and awaits the Marquis in bed. Despite her attempts to put on an unaffected air and seduce him, he senses what has happened. The thought fills him with dread and then primal excitement. He commands the narrator to retrieve the key ring. Upon

inspection, he finds that the bloodstain on the key has formed a tiny, perfect heart. He orders the narrator to kneel and presses the key against her forehead, leaving an equally perfect mark between her eyes. Then he proclaims, "My virgin of the arpeggios, prepare yourself for martyrdom." The Marquis tells the heroine he will decapitate her. He orders her to bathe, put on the dress she wore to Tristan and the ruby choker, which he calls "the necklace that prefigures your end." Although the Marquis has sent all the servants away to the mainland, the narrator does not see Jean-Yves leaving amongst their ranks. When the heroine goes downstairs to the music room, she finds him waiting for her. Then she looks out the window and sees her mother riding frantically toward the castle. With newfound hope, she leads Jean-Yves to a courtyard where the Marquis waits by a chopping block, holding a sword. Upon the Marquis's order, she gives him back his ring. He says it "will serve [him] for a dozen more fiancees." Then he commands her to approach the chopping block and swears to kill Jean-Yves after he kills her. The heroinw tries to stall, but the Marquis lays her head on the chopping block and cuts her dress off of her. He raises his sword, but is distracted by her mother's loud arrival. The mother's fury freezes the Marquis in his tracks momentarily, "as in those clockwork tableaux of Bluebeard that you see in glass cases at fairs." Then he charges the Marquis and kills him with a single bullet through the head. The narrator brings us to the present. She, Jean-Yves, and her mother have converted the castle into a school for the blind. They have given her fortune away to charity, disposed of the corpses of the Marquis's other wives and sealed the door to the "bloody chamber." They all live together on the outskirts of Paris where they run a music school and live modestly. As for how the narrator's mother knew to rescue her-she intuited from her daughter's first phone call that something was terribly amiss. Even though she the heroine escaped the Marquis, no amount of washing or makeup can cover the red mark on her forehead. She says she is glad Jean-Yves cannot see the mark, because it spares her shame.

"The Bloody Chamber" is based on the legend of Bluebeard. Carter preserves the legend's plot, casting the Marquis in the role of Bluebeard, who kills his wives and stores their corpses in a secret chamber. Like Bluebeard, the Marquise entices each new wife to explore the forbidden chamber and then kills her once she has discovered his secret. Carter goes so far as to reference the Bluebeard legend toward the end of "The Bloody Chamber." When the heroine's mother storms the Marquis's palace, he stands still in shock, "the sword still raised over his head as in those clockwork tableaux of Bluebeard that you see in glass cases at fairs." This allusion, rather than likening Carter's story to the legend, has the effect of distinguishing "The Bloody Chamber" from it. By likening the Marquis to Bluebeard, Carter makes it clear that he is not Bluebeard. In doing so, she draws attention to the ways her story is distinct from the legend of Bluebeard and, moreover, from fairy tales in general. One distinguishing feature of "The Bloody Chamber" is its narrator. Unlike a traditional fairy-tale narrator, generally an impartial third person, this narrator is the heroine herself. By giving the heroine a voice, Carter challenged the fairy-tale tradition of our seeing, from the outside, events befall an innocent girl. Letting the heroine tell her story empowers the figure of woman by putting her in the traditionally male-dominated roles of storyteller and survivor instead of relegating her to the role of helpless princess. In The Bloody Chamber, the heroine tells us personally about how her suffering became the source of her enlightenment.

Of the heroine's namelessness, Rosemary Moore writes, "Carter acknowledges that in fairy tales characters are generally abstractions and her young bride is nameless because she is defined by her role as Marquise." Indeed, without her title the heroine is of little importance to the Marquis or anyone but her mother and Jean-Yves. However, it is also significant that Carter never actually refers to the heroine as "Marquise." One reason is that the heroine tells the story in hindsight, when she has already settled into a new and modest life far from the castle. She has become wise through her experience and no longer considers herself a Marquise, a title that only implies deference to the Marquis. Secondly, by leaving the heroine nameless, Cater universalizes her triumph so that she represents all women. Even though Carter empowers the heroine on a literary level, in the story she is forced into a position of subjugation and ignorance. She marries primarily for money and position, because as a peasant woman she has little opportunity or encouragement to earn these for herself. As she tells her mother, she may not be sure that she loves the Marquis but she is "sure [she wants] to marry him." The narrator takes on a gently mocking tone to describe how she viewed love as a young woman. She recalls how the romantic opera Tristan made her feel as though she loved the Marquis, saying, "And, do you know, my heart swelled and ached so during the Liebestod that I thought I must truly love him." The heroine smirks at how she conflated her love of music and romance with love for the Marquis. Then she makes it clear that her desire, while real, was for the wealth and position that the Marquis gives her; she follows the first statement with, "Yes. I did. On his arm, all eyes were upon me." In addition, she refers to her husband as her "purchaser" and herself as "his bargain," and makes a point to tell us that when he takes her virginity, he kisses the rubies around her neck before kissing her mouth. Clearly, the Marquis is more concerned with his wealth than with his wife; in fact, he loves his wives more when they are dead-and truly objects-than when they are alive. Despite her excitement at being married, the heroine's early statements tell us that she is afraid of her husband and mistrusts him. She describes him as both beast-like and plant-like; he is strong and imposing like a lion but so emotionless that he reminds her of a "funereal lily." With these references to devouring and death, the heroine establishes the Marquis as a destructive force. She also connects his passion explicitly to destruction when she describes her anticipation at losing her virginity: "It was as though the imponderable weight of his desire was a force I might not withstand." The heroine feels instinctively that the Marquis's desire for her is tied with a love of destruction. The heroine also equates her marriage to the Marquis with banishment when she states, "into marriage, into exile." Instead of feeling as though she is escaping poverty, she considers her marriage a forced isolation. With these words, the heroine indicates that by getting married, she is not gaining but surrendering power. Power in the story is located primarily in sexual interactions. What makes the heroine appear so powerless to the Marquis and perhaps to herself is her virginity. Being a virgin, the heroine has not yet learned to access her sexual power and is submissive to the Marquis, relying on his experience as a non-virgin and a man. Because of her youth and inexperience, "The Bloody Chamber" is for the heroine a story of sexual self-discovery. She delights in her newfound sexual awareness, which Carter brings to life with vivid words such as, "I lay awake in the wagon-lit in a tender, delicious ecstasy of excitement, my burning cheek pressed against the impeccable linen of the pillow and the pounding of my heart mimicking that of the great pistons ceaselessly thrusting the train that bore me through the night, away from Paris, away from girlhood, away from the white, enclosed quietude of my mother's apartment, into the

unguessable country of marriage." Carter's use of the word "bore" compares the heroine's journey to her married life to a rebirth. The comparison emphasizes how the heroine is not just getting married, but being transformed from a girl, "away from girlhood" into a woman. The heroine's arousal on the train, heightened by sexual verbs such as "pounding," "thrusting" and "burning" comes not so much from her attraction to the Marquis but from her curiosity at the "unguessable" act of sex that she anticipates. Even though the Marquis evaluates her as though she is "horseflesh," his condescension excites her because it makes her realize her own "potential for corruption," for sexuality and desire. She does not find out until later how literally the Marquis makes love and corruption into a single act with the fetish of murdering his wives. He takes his favorite quote, by Baudelaire, literally: "There is a striking resemblance between the act of love and he ministrations of a torturer." For him, the act of love is the act of torture. Because the Marquis's objectifying remarks and actions excite the heroine, we can see that until she realizes the extent of her dilemma, she is somewhat complicit in her own subjugation. Images of rebirth and sexuality make the narrator's entrance into marriage seem full of life. But the moment she arrives at the castle, this feeling is tempered with symbols of death that foreshadow her own near-death. She arrives at dawn, a time of freshness and possibility, but in the month of November in late fall, which traditionally represents a decline into winter and death. The sea has an "amniotic salinity"-the word amniotic referencing birth, but it surrounds the castle when the tide is high, so that for all its majesty the palace resembles a prison. She describes it as, "at home neither on the land nor on the water, a mysterious, amphibious place, contravening the materiality of both earth and the waves ... That lovely, sad, seasiren of a place!" To the heroine, the castle seems like a place where reality is suspended and strange things happen. When she compares it to a siren or mermaid, who lure sailors and then drown them, she evokes another symbol of death and foreshadows her fate. The bridal chamber itself is filled with symbols of death and martyrdom. On the wall hangs a painting of Saint Cecilia, who died by decapitation. The Marquis sees the heroine as his own personal Saint Cecilia, whom he plans to kill in a sick bastardization of martyrdom. The heroine's necklace, which the Marquis instructs her not to remove, references the same bloody death. At the time, she does not realize that the necklace symbolizes the death that the Marquis has planned for her. Twelve mirrors surround the bed, the number twelve symbolizing the twelve apostles and therefore referencing Christ. Since Christ is the ultimate martyr, the mirrors comprise another death reference. Finally, the Marquis has filled the narrator's room with so many lilies, which are reflected in the mirrors, that it appears to be a "funereal parlor." The heroine connects sex with death most explicitly when she uses the word "impale" to describe the Marquis's penetrating her. It is not the bridal chamber, but the Marquis's secret murder room, that lends the story its title, "The Bloody Chamber." However, the bridal chamber is a 'bloody chamber' of sorts because it is there that the Marquis spills the narrator's blood by taking her virginity. Being a place for the consummation of marriage, it also represents the murder that always follows. The events that surround the forbidden chamber echo Eve's temptation and fall in the Garden of Eden, thus connecting each wife's downfall to the idea of original sin. As Jean-Yves explains, the heroine "only did what [The Marquis] knew she would" just as, he implies, God knew that Eve would taste the forbidden apple and be sentenced to pain and (eventual) death. The

Marquis sees himself as God because he is a man and a royal figure; therefore, he feels it is his mission to tempt and punish women. But far from being godlike or right, the Marquis's actions are perverted. He is like the man in his engraving, "Reproof of Curiosity," who arouses himself by whipping a naked girl, only he is worse for being a murderer. The allusion to Eve suggests that inasmuch as the "bloody chamber" is a place of suffering and death for the other wives, it is one of learning and rebirth for the heroine. In this way, the term "bloody chamber" can also refer to the womb; it is a physical symbol of birth and of Eve's punishment; pain in childbirth as well as the pain of knowledge. Like many traditional fairy tales, "The Bloody Chamber" ends 'happily ever after.' But the heroine's happiness does not come from finding a stereotypical prince charming and living out her days in luxury. Rather, she marries a blind piano tuner, gives away her fortune, and lives with her mother and husband on the edge of town. This ending embodies a feminist perspective. The heroine starts out as a nave sexual object, manipulated into submission with the promise of material comfort. The Marquis condemns her to death for refusing to obey him blindly and remain ignorant. Her triumph, as Moore explains, is in recognizing her own intelligence and mettle as a human being, and rejecting the role of submissive child. Having learned from her experience, the heroine rids herself of all remnants of that former identity. She rejects wealth, which is what the Marquis used to win her nave trust. She marries a blind man, who cannot objectify her for her beauty because he cannot see her. She even rejects the traditional household of two in favor of living with her mother as well as her husband. By doing so, Moore says, she "avoids the institution of marriage with its requirement to love, honor, and obey a husband till death. [She] replaces a relationship between power and submission with one of mutual affection and equality." Even though the heroine is married, she does not rely solely on Jean-Yves for money or love, because she earns money giving piano lessons and has her mother's company. Even though the mark on the heroine's forehead proves her triumph over both death and misogyny, she is ashamed of it. The key that made the mark was, as Moore says, "the key to her selfhood," but she does not consider the mark a badge of success; to the heroine, it is a permanent reminder that she let herself be lured, bought, and mistreated. In rejecting wealth, earning a living, and residing with her mother, the narrator not only fulfills her wish for independence; she does a sort of penance for allowing sexist abuse in her former life. This penance she also does by telling her story, in hopes that other women might not fall prey to a man like the Marquis.

"The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" Summary

A young woman named Beauty stares out the window at snow gleaming in the dusk. We are told that her skin resembles the snow because it possesses the same "inner light" that seems to emanate from within. The snow is unspoiled by footprints, "white and unmarked as a spilled bolt of bridal satin." The young woman worries for her father's safety because he said he would be home before dark, and he cannot call her because he phones are down. The young woman's father has gotten his car stuck in the snow far away from home. He is returning from a meeting with his lawyers, where he has discovered that his fortune is gone. He does not have enough money even to buy Beauty the single

white rose she requested. His spirits dampened, he comes upon an enchanting house that seems deserted except for one illuminated window. As he approaches the gate, he spies a single white rose blooming on a snowy bush amid the storm. As he enters the gate, he hears "a great roaring, as of a beast of prey." Beauty's father gathers his wits and knocks on the door. He notices that the knocker is a lion's head made of solid gold. To his astonishment, the door opens and then closes behind him without anyone touching it. Inside the house, candlelight illuminates countless crystal jars filled with flowers. He is not afraid, because he senses that the house's master is so rich that he is not subject to the laws of reality. A King Charles spaniel wearing a diamond necklace greets Beauty's father and urges him into a fire-lit study. There, he partakes of food and drink that is laid out for him. He calls a tow-truck service from the number on a thoughtfully provided card. However, when he tries to call Beauty, the lines are down again. The spaniel leads him out the door. As Beauty's father makes his way out of the estate, he bumps into a rosebush and knocks the snow off another single, peculiarly perfect white rose. He hears another bout of roaring. However, thinking that the estate's master will not mind, he plucks the rose. Suddenly, the Beast, a great creature with a lion's hea, appears next to Beauty's father and "[shakes] him like an angry child shakes a doll." Beauty's father appeals to the Beast, explaining that he stole the rose for his daughter. When Beauty's father shows the Beast a photograph of Beauty, the Beast is pacified. He tells Beauty's father to take the rose but bring Beauty to his house for dinner. When Beauty meets the Beast, the sadness in his eyes touches her. The Beast asks Beauty's father to serve himself and his daughter, himself eating nothing. He explains that he does not keep servants because being around humans constantly would make him feel mocked. The Beast and his house frighten Beauty; she feels as though she is his "Miss Lamb, spotless, [and] sacrificial." The Beast calms her momentarily when he promises to help her father regain his fortune. Yet the price of his help distresses Beauty; she must stay with the Beast while her father is in London. Luxury surrounds Beauty at the Beast's estate. But she cannot enjoy it because she senses that the Beast cannot either. She also notices that he avoids her as though he, the mighty predator, is scared of her; the Beast has the "shyness ... of a wild creature." Beauty amuses herself by reading fairy tales until the Spaniel shepherds her into the Beast's den. Beauty feels comfortable with the beast, as though she has always known him. When the clock strikes midnight, the Beast throws himself on Beauty's lap and lavishes her hands with passionate licks. Then he suddenly bounds out of the room, to Beauty's "indescribable shock ... on all fours." Beauty is happy at the Beast's estate. She spends her days exploring the house and garden and her nights conversing with the Beast. Then one night, her father calls with the good news that his fortune is being restored. The Beast is devastated. Before leaving, Beauty promises him to return to him "before the winter is over." She departs for her new, luxurious life in London. Beauty has never experienced luxury before; her father lost his fortune before her mother died giving birth to her. Consequently, wealth changes the unaccustomed Beauty from a pure, unspoiled young woman into a spoiled girl. Though Beauty sends the Beast white roses, she largely forgets about him and is relieved to be away from him. Because the weather does not change much in London, Beauty does not realize that winter is about to end. As Beauty gazes at herself in the mirror one day, she hears a scratching at the door. The Beast's Spaniel has come to retrieve her. It does not resemble the well-kept

creature that was her companion at the Beast's estate; it is filthy, starved, and distraught. Beauty realizes that the Beast is dying and hurries to his house. Even though spring has broken, the Beast's estate is as desolate as if it were midwinter. It looks deserted except for a very faint light in the attic. The gold door-knocker is covered in black fabric. Inside, the house is dusty, dark, and filled with an air of desperation. The flowers in the jars are dead. Beauty ascends to the Beast's threadbare room in the attic, where she finds him bedraggled and close to death. The roses she sent him lie dead at his bedside. The Beast tells Beauty that he is dying of hunger because he has not had the will to hunt since she left. He tells her, "I shall die happy because you have come to day goodbye to me." Beauty throws herself upon the Beast, and kisses his paws as he did so often to her. She begs him not to die and promises she will never leave him again. As she cries, her tears fall on his face and, restore him so that he is human once again. Even in human form, Mr. Lyon still resembles a lion because of his "unkempt mane of hair" and broken, lion-like nose. He invites Beauty to join him for breakfast. The story ends with "Mr. and Mrs. Lyon" strolling through the grounds of their estate together while "the old spaniel drowses on the grass, in a drift of fallen petals."

"The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" is based on a classic story, "Beauty and the Best," and told in the "once upon a time" third person common to traditional fairy tales. Carter's classic backdrop of basic story and narration emphasizes her tale's unconventionality, with its feminist themes and plot reversal. Like many of Carter's stories, far from "classic," "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" is a tale of self-discovery and rejection of female objectification. According to Meyre Ivone Santana da Silva, the story's primary thematic difference from "Beauty and the Beast" is its manipulation of that story's "act of mirroring." In "Beauty and the Beast," we are forced to see Beauty and Beast as diametrically opposed forces; Beauty is feminine, beautiful, innocent, and gentle, while Beast is masculine, ugly, experienced, and wild. The original story suggests that the sides of this dichotomy are irreconcilable, or in da Silva's words, "completely dissociated."

Yet Carter's characters are more "ambiguous." In the story of "Beauty and the Beast," according to da Silva, "One side is always empowered in relation to the other." Although "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" begins this way, Carter quickly reverses the convention. Beauty begins as a penniless, helpless girl, whom the rich, powerful

and world-weary Beast forces to live in his house. However, she rapidly becomes the more active, experienced, and adventurous character. While the Beast hides from the world, she is confident enough to live a high-profile life in the city. While at first she is afraid of him, she comes to realize that he is actually afraid of her. In the end, Carter totally reverses the Beauty/Beast dichotomy; the Beast takes on the role of fairy-tale princess, wasting away in his attic "tower," guarded by a beast (in this case himself), and needing Beauty to rescue him from that beast or beastliness. Carter uses symbolism in "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" to emphasize her main feminist agenda. She employs a paradigm commonly found in literature, distinguishing the city as a masculine place of experience and corruption and the country as a feminine one of inexperience and purity. However she uses this literary convention to undermine a gender convention; the Beast is trapped in isolation in the country while Beauty has free range of the city. Because the characters need to access both their "masculine" and "feminine" attributes in order to be happy, they are both are unhappy when they are limited to being in one place. The country is so "innocent" or devoid of activity that it weakens the Beast almost to the point of death. The city is so "worldly" and full of superficial interactions that it hardens Beauty and begins to replace her inner beauty with a spoiled, false air. Carter uses the city and country as symbols to strengthen her contention that a person needs to be both "masculine" and "feminine" to have an authentic and fulfilled existence. Carter uses food or sustenance as an equalizer because it is symbol of both animal and human nature; both animals and humans must eat in order to survive. At first, food signifies civilization and humanity. When the Beast leaves out food for Beauty's father, he shows his humanity by being courteous to his guest. It is the same when he feeds Beauty; he may be a lion who eats raw flesh, but he provides her with the finest human food. At the story's end, food signifies animal nature. The Beast is dying because he is not eating, just as humans can die from starvation because we too are animals. Beauty proves herself to be more than a traditional fairy tale heroine, but in the beginning, she conforms to the paradigm. Like many of Carter's heroines, she must start within and then break free from the restrictions and assumptions of patriarchal society. As da Silva phrases it, "The daughter is conscious of her annihilation in the patriarchal society but she doesn't have autonomy to overcome it." While Beauty is living with the Beast, she finds amusement in reading fairy tales. It is as though despite living in a modern world with telephones and automobiles, Beauty wants to believe in the conventional "happily ever after." Her request for a single white rose also conveys this wish for conventionality; the rose symbolizes her chasteness and delicateness. Carter emphasizes Beauty's femininity, innocence, and virginity by comparing her to the immaculate snow upon which she gazes. By saying the snowy road, and by association, Beauty is "white an unmarked as a spilled bolt of bridal satin," Carter seems to insinuate that Beauty's uniqueness lies in her gentle femininity and that her destiny is marriage. However, knowing Carter's motives, we can assume that Beauty's virginity represents possibility more than it does naivete. Beauty may be trapped within a society that objectifies her, but her innocence empowers her; she is pure of mind enough to see through its conventional dichotomies and claim her own destiny, as she does at the story's end. In fact, Carter reminds us explicitly early on that Beauty has "will of her own"; she actually empowers herself by consenting to live with the Beast because in doing so she is choosing to step out of her role of child and act as protector to her father.

Like Beauty, the Beast does not conform to his side of the "irreconcilable binary" of Beauty/Beast. Also like Beauty, in the beginning of the story, he seems to conform. As a lion, 'king of beasts,' he is the embodiment of masculine power, strong, confident, and rough. When we first encounter the Beast, this seems to be true of him. His very anger ignites the house with "furious light" and he roars with the strength of not only one but "a pride of lions." He is strong enough to "[shake] Beauty's father like an angry child shakes a doll ... Until his teeth rattled." But it quickly becomes clear that the Beast's strength is an impediment to human interaction. When he speaks, Beauty wonders "how [she can] converse with the possessor of a voice that seemed an instrument created to inspire ...Terror." The first time he kisses her hands, Beauty is terrified by how rough his tongue is until she realizes he is not trying to harm her. The Beast is so ashamed of his appearance that his only companion before Beauty is his spaniel. By the end of the story, we see that the Beast's loneliness makes him weak and inactive. Beauty's absence weakens him so much that he is unable to do so much as feed himself, and he almost dies of despair. At the end of the story, Beauty is still a beautiful woman, but she is active and brave; she is a mixture of Beauty and Beast. So too is the Beast, who retains remnants of his leonine appearance when he transforms into a gentle human. He also retains the name Lyon, signifying his former identity. Beauty takes his name when she marries him. While taking one's husband's name can be seen as an act of submission, in this case it is an acknowledgment of Beauty's own masculinity. She is claiming her rightful title, for she too is a strong Lyon/lion.

"The Tiger's Bride" Summary

"The Tiger's Bride" takes place in Italy. As in "The Bloody Chamber," the narrator is also the heroine. She tells us, "My father lost me to The Beast at cards." She then sets the scene of her and her father's journey to Italy. She says that to Russians like her, the South is supposed to feel like a warm Eden; but the winter there is as cold and snowy as in the North. In addition to enduring the cold, the heroine is forced to watch her father feed his gambling addition with countless games of cards with The Beast. Even though she chose to visit this remote part of Italy because it had no casino, she was unaware that every man who stays in the Beasts's territory must play a hand of cards with him. The Beast is ashamed of his animal appearance and attempts to look as human as possible. He wears a mask with a perfect man's face painted on it so only his yellow eyes are visible. He wears old-fashioned clothing, including a wig, gloves over his uncannily large hands and a scarf to cover his neck. He smells so strongly of cologne that the heroine wonders what sinister smell he is trying to conceal. His actions are awkward because he forces himself to act human; the heroine says he "has an air of self-imposed restraint, as if fighting a battle with himself to remain upright when he would far rather drop down on all fours." Furthermore, he speaks in such an incomprehensible growl that his valet must translate for him. The heroine is a radiant beauty who was born on Christmas Day. She faults her father's gambling and adultery for her mother's early death. As her father loses at cards, she tears apart a white rose that The Beast gave her when she arrived at his house. When the heroine's father has lost all his money to The Beast, he bets his daughter. As dawn breaks, the narrator's father loses her to The Beast and she must

her report to his estate the next day. Suddenly comprehending what he has done, her father sobs, "I have lost my pearl, my pearl beyond price." The beast responds in a roar that his valet translates to mean, "If you are so careless of your treasures, you should expect them to be taken from you." The valet arrives to take the heroine away, bearing a bouquet of white roses. When her father asks for one as a sign of her forgiveness, she pricks her finger on it by accident and hands it to him "all smeared with blood." She is furious to have to endure such "humiliation." The heroine wonders what kind of creature The Beast is. She recalls her nursemaid's stories of a tiger-man who would "gobble [her] up" if she was naughty and other tales of half-men-half-beasts. She is afraid to be being married to and have sex with such a creature. When the heroine arrives at The Beast's home, she finds that it is threadbare and dirty; he has "bought solitude, not luxury, with his money." He keeps his horses in the living room and all his furniture, including his chandeliers, under fabric. The portraits he owns are propped against the walls so that their faces do not show. Many windows and doors are broken so that wind blows through the house. The narrator describes the house as "dismantled, as if its owner were about to move house or had never properly moved in." The Beast summons the heroine to him, and the valet explains that his master's sole wish is to see her virgin body naked. After that, he will return her to her father with all of his property and gifts. The narrator laughs defiantly and tells The Beast that she will concede only to pull up her skirt for him while hiding her head with a sheet. She says it is his choice whether he will pay her or not. To her joy, she sees that she has hurt him; he cries a single tear. The valet takes the narrator to a room that resembles a prison cell. When she threatens to hang herself he replies, "Oh, no, you will not. You are a woman of honour." When he tries to give her a diamond earring, she throws it into a corner. Then he introduces her to her companion, a wind-up soubrette. It resembles the narrator so much that she calls it her "clockwork twin." In the little mirror the soubrette holds, the narrator sees her own, tear-covered face as it was when she arrived. He explains before locking her in the room that "nothing human lives here." Later, the valet takes the narrator to see The Beast again. Seeing her dread at disrobing before him, The Beast sheds another tear. For hours after that, she can hear him pacing outside her door. Then the valet arrives with a second diamond earring. The narrator throws it into the corner with the other. Then the valet tells her that The Beast has summoned her to come riding.. As the heroine rides with The Beast and his valet, she suddenly feels as though she is more similar to them and the horses they ride than to anyone else she knows. After all, don't men treat her as less than human because she is a girl? As she puts it, "I could see not one single soul in that wilderness of desolation all around me, then the six of us-mounts and riders, both-could boast amongst us not one soul, either, since all the best religious in the world state categorically that not beasts nor women were equipped with the flimsy, insubstantial things..." Men objectify her and treat her as "carelessly" as they do animals and inanimate objects. When they reach a river, the valet explains that if she will not let The Beast see her naked, she must see him naked instead. She consents out of fear. When she sees The Beast as he is, a tiger, she is overcome with emotion. Then, as a gesture of equality, the heroine removes her shirt. The beast is embarrassed, so she goes no further. He and the valet leave her to wander while they hunt. Then all three return to the house. When

the heroine peers into the soubrette's mirror, she sees her father sitting amongst his belongings and money. The Beast has kept his word and is sending her home. The narrator realizes that she does not want to leave. She strips naked, which she finds to be an excruciating task, as if she were "stripping off [her] own underpelt." She dons her diamond earrings, wraps herself in a fur that The Beast gave her, and runs to his chamber. On the way, she meets the valet, who is also naked. He shows himself to be an ape, "a delicate creature, covered with silken moth-grey fur, brown fingers supple as leather, chocolate muzzle, the gentlest creature in the world." The narrator's fur turns into black rats, which flee. She finds The Beast pacing in his urine-tainted, bone-filled room. As she approaches him, she realizes that he is terrified of her. Then, seeing that she accepts him, he lumbers toward her, purring so loudly that the walls shake and windows break from the vibration. He licks her with his rough tongue, stripping off layers of skin to reveal her beautiful pelt.

Like the heroine of "The Bloody Chamber," the heroine of "The Tiger's Bride" tells her own tale in retrospect, therefore claiming control of both her life and the literary tradition. The first theme that arises is the objectification of women, with the heroine's father losing her to The Beast at cards. Arguably, we have seen a similar transaction in "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon," where Beauty's father is forced to give her to the Beast because he stole the rose. However in that story, the father agrees to 'trade' his daughter's company out of fear whereas in this story, the father wagers her carelessly, as though she were a mere possession. Carter uses diction to emphasize that this transaction, while seeming outdated and unlikely, is not far from the objectification of women seen in our own society. How often does a woman blush happily to hear herself called "pearl" or "treasure?" These words are considered compliments, but Carter reveals their objectifying overtones by having both the heroine's father and The Beast use them, respectively, in the context of her sale. From the story's beginning, we are aware that the heroine is seen as an object that can be bought, sold, and leveraged for her owner's pleasure and advantage. The heroine's objectification continues throughout the story, culminating with the surprise ending. When out riding, the heroine contends that men see women as soulless, just as they see animals as soulless; she says, "the six of us, mounts and riders both-could boast amongst us not one soul ... Since all the best religions in the world state categorically that not beasts nor women were equipped with the flimsy, insubstantial things." For this reason, she feels closer to Beast, the valet, and their horses, than she ever has to a man. Instead of wishing for a soul, she denigrates them by calling them "flimsy" and "insubstantial"; after all, the men who claim to possess souls consider her no more than an item of physical worth. Carter surpasses the heroine's comparison to animals by likening her to the soubrette. Not only is the soubrette a doll, but she powders the heroine's cheeks so that she resembles one. This symbolism is not lost on the heroine, who ponders, "that clockwork girl who powdered my cheeks for me; had I not been allotted only the same kind of imitative life amongst men that the doll-maker had given her?" Moore points out that the soubrette is a "social creation of femininity"; she embodies the vanity and vapidity that characterize society's idea of a woman. The soubrette needs someone to wind her up so that she can perform her maid's tasks; so too, women are thought unable to think and act for themselves. Once the heroine begins to claim her own desires, she says that she no longer resembles the soubrette. Since she can no longer submit to society's female stereotypes, she plans to send the soubrette home in her place: "I will dress her in my own clothes, wind her up, send

her back to perform the part of my father's daughter." Carter tells us that this view of women weakens their character and prevents them from fulfilling their potential. In "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon," Beauty is unspoiled and content when she lives in the country, away from society's influence. But when she moves to the city, she transforms into a petulant young woman obsessed with her looks and belongings. Until the spaniel reminds her of her authentic self, she is content with living as a 'social construct of femininity.' The heroine in "The Tiger's Bride" realizes that men treat her like the soubrette, that no matter how hard she tries to equal them, they will always see her as a poor 'imitation' of a person. Suddenly, she is no different from The Beast, who wears his mask painted with a man's face in order to pretend he is a man. The perfection of this mask "appals" the narrator because it represents the model of perfection, civility and tameness to which she is bound. She does not want to be an object and therefore is disgusted that he looks like one. The heroine again expresses her hatred of objectification when she throws her present of diamond earrings into a corner. The surprise ending to "The Tiger's Bride" takes Carter's feminist bent farther than the ending to "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon." In the latter story, Beauty must accept the Beast in order for him to become a person, so that they can live happily in the human world. In "The Tiger's Bride", the heroine and The Beast must accept the animal nature in themselves and in each other so that they can be free of the human world with its social constructs and assumptions. Women, Carter conveys through the tale, must break free of their weak, doll-like social identities and embrace the parts of them that are strong, alive with desire, and 'ugly'; "the lamb must learn to run with the tigers." It is not that women are lambs and must learn to be tigers; they are tigers who are made to think they are lambs. After all, the heroine has been a tiger underneath her skin for all her life. Instead of Beauty and Beast being opposites, they are wed into one stronger identity at the end of "The Tiger's Bride." Sex and sexual desire are the catalysts for the heroine's transformation into a beast. We see this fact foreshadowed by symbols early in the story. The rose that the heroine gives her father when she leaves him represents her virginal self because it is white and beautiful. When she pricks her finger on it and hands it to him "all smeared with blood," she foreshadows her own loss of virginity and her transformation from whiteness, the absence of lust and life, to blood-redness, the embodiment of those things. The heroine also refers to The Beast as a "clawed magus," magus meaning an ancient priest with supernatural powers; even though she fears him, the heroine has some sense that he has the power to transform her. It is not just anything sexual that causes the narrator to transform-it is her desire and willingness to be sexual. When she first refuses to disrobe in front of The Beast, she hurts him. She does not know at the time that his wish to see her is not mere voyeurism; he also deeply wants her to accept him. If The Beast were a mere voyeur, he would accept the heroine's offer to lift up her skirts for him while hiding her face. He is not interested in the heroine's body so much as he is in her true, animal self. The heroine's transformation into a tiger combines the acts of sex and birth into one. When she takes off her clothes, she can already feel herself changing; she feels as though she is "stripping off [her] own underpelt"; but she needs The Beast's action to help her change. He rips off her skin by licking her, which can be seen as a sexual act, but this gives way to the act of birth; the heroine is reborn as a tigress with "a nascent patina of shining hairs." In this act, The Beast and the heroine reclaim sex as a collaborative act of creation, casting aside the idea of sex as an act of fetish and

control wherein the man objectifies and claims the woman. The heroine here, in fact, is claiming herself. Carter makes it clear that coming into one's selfhood is a painful and arduous act that calls for more than the wave of a wand. It requires the heroine to endure the excruciating pain of giving birth (to herself) in order to attain the relief and freshness of being reborn.

"Puss-in-Boots" Summary
"Puss-in-Boots" takes place in Spain and comes to us from the perspective of the title character, a conceited "ginger tom[cat]." Puss explains that although he is Spanish, he speaks French because "that is the only language in which you can purr." He hyperbolizes about how good he is at wooing female cats, doing acrobatic tricks, and singing. However, it is clear that his perception of at least this last claim is off-base; Puss describes how "fans" at his concerts "deluge [him] with pails of the freshest water, vegetables hardly spoiled and, occasionally, slippers, shoes and boots." What Puss perceives as raining gifts are actually pieces of refuse thrown in anger at his yowling. Puss acquired the boots he wears, and which give him his name, during one such show of "adoration" by an angry patron. After the young man who threw his boots at Puss saw the cat putting them on, he called for Puss to come to his chamber. When he arrived, Puss smiled "involunta[rily]" because, as he explains, all cats have "their smiles ... painted on." This makes them all "have a politician's air" and make people distrust them. But Puss noticed that the young man smiled in the same mischievous way, and because of it, they got along instantly. The young man employed Puss as his valet and companion. Puss kept him warm at night, delivered messages to women for him, helped him cheat at gambling, and stole food for them both. Puss says that he and his master get along so well because they are both "proud as the devil, touchy as tin-tacks, lecherous as liquorice, and ... as quick-witted [rascals] as ever put on clean linen." In other words, Puss and his master are a team of clever, trouble-making bachelors. They were having a great time together until Puss's master fell in love. At first, Puss did not believe that his master was really in love. He thought his master only loved adventure, because he was smitten with a woman who resembled a fairytale princess; she was confined to a tower except for ventures to church, and even then she was veiled and in the company of an evil-seeming "aged hag." In retrospect, Puss is proud of how he helped his master see the young woman's face. One night, as they returned from their revelry, they saw the young woman walking with her guardian. Puss rubbed against the young woman's leg so that she would bend down and scratch his ear. When he responded by purring and dancing for her, she laughed and pulled her veil aside. Her face, Puss relates, was like "an alabaster lamp lit behind by dawn's first flush." Her beauty won his master's heart completely. Puss could scarcely believe that his master was in love after bedding so many women without loving them. What's more, he discovered that the young woman with the beautiful smile was already married to a miserly, impotent old man named Signor Panteleone. However, nothing could shake the master from his lovesick reverie. He followed the young woman to church on Sundays just to touch her dress when she kneeled, he stopped sleeping with other women, and he even stopped eating. Puss decided that the only way to win back his master's attention was to get the young woman to sleep with him; then, Puss thought, his master would forget her.

Puss began his mission by befriending Tabby, Signor Panteleone's cat and his wife's only true companion. Because Tabby pitied her lonely, unhappy mistress, she agreed to help Puss. She explained that, unfortunately, the old hag was allergic to cats so Puss could not win her heart no matter how charming he acted. But she agreed to deliver a letter to her mistress from Puss's master. Later, she reported to Puss that her mistress cried upon reading the letter and wanted to meet his master. On hearing this, Puss's lovesick master decided to serenade the young woman, but the piazza was so noisy that she could not hear him from her high window. He sent Puss up to her balcony to get her attention. After a dangerous climb, Puss told the young woman to watch his master below. Then he performed a never-before-seen "deathdefying triple somersault" and dropped three stories to the ground. Although Puss was immensely proud of his acrobatic feat, his master was too busy tuning his mandolin to notice. Puss's master sang so beautifully that he charmed not only the young woman but everyone in the piazza. Then the hag slammed the lady's shutters abruptly, ending the serenade. After the serenade, Puss and Tabby decided that Puss and his master should pose as rat-catchers in order to gain access to Signor Panteleone's house. They arrived at the house in disguise (Puss disguised as a human), and bearing a sign that reads, "Signor Furioso, The Living Death of Rats." The terrified hag welcomed them into the house, where Tabby had made a fine show of dead and half-dead rats. The young lady convinced the hag to leave her alone with the rat-catchers in her chamber. There she and Puss's master had passionate sex while Puss made a racket to simulate the catching of rats. When they let the hag back in, she asked why the sheets were so rumpled. His master replied, "Puss had a mighty battle with the biggest beast you ever saw upon this very bed; can't you see the bloodstains on the sheets?" Then Puss demanded an extravagant fee, which the young lady insists the hag pay from her own (stolen) money. Puss was disappointed to find out that taking the young woman's virginity had not cured him of his love. But Puss's love for his master eclipsed his frustration and he sets off to help him once again. Tabby told Puss that Signor Panteleone's fortune was vast enough to sustain the master, mistress, and the two of them for the rest of their lives. Because he got up in the morning without lighting candles, it would be easy for her to trip him on the stairs. Puss's master arrived at the house disguised as a doctor and the hag let him in to see Signor Pantaleone. It was clear immediately that Tabby did her job well; Signor Pantaleone has died of a broken neck. While the hag rushed off to find Signor Pantaleone's will, Puss's master and the lady had sex on the floor (since Signor Pantaleone's corpse occupied the bed). At the same time, Puss noticed that Tabby was pregnant. He resigned himself to leaving his bachelor days behind and building a life with her. The young woman sent the hag away with generous severance pay. Then she proclaimed, "I am a rich widow and here ... is the young man who'll be my second husband." Puss's master and Tabby's mistress settled down together, the latter already pregnant. Since she is a cat, Tabby's offspring were born first-they were three "newminted ginger kittens" that made everyone smile. Puss and Tabby were so genuinely happy that they not only "smile[d] all day long," but "put [their] hearts in it." Puss ends the story by wishing the audience: "So may all your wives, if you need them, be rich and pretty; and all your husbands, if you want them, be young and virile; and all your cats as wily, perspicacious and resourceful as: Puss-in-Boots."


In "Puss-in-Boots," Carter uses to one of the best-known fairy-tale cliches, the imprisoned princess, to examine the objectification and subjugation of women. In the traditional tale, a beautiful and virginal princess is trapped in a remote tower that is guarded by a dragon, which the hero must kill in order to save and marry her. In "Puss-in-Boots," the beautiful virgin is trapped in a tower in the middle of town. By placing her in the midst of a busy town, Carter omits the excuse of remoteness for the townspeople who ignore her plight. They do not help the miserable young woman in their midst because they find it acceptable for a man to control his wife. The young woman in "Puss-in-Boots" is imprisoned literally in the house, but more importantly, she is the prisoner of chauvinism. Signor Panteleone is a miser with all of his possessions, including his young wife. Because he sees her as his property, he feels justified in keeping her locked up, letting her look out her window for just one hour a day provided that she doesn't smile, and permitting her to leave the house only to go to church, veiled and supervised. The young woman is still a virgin because Signor Panteleone is impotent, or as he claims, does not want to waste his precious energy on sex. When he does touch her, he treats her like an animal; "since she is his prize possession, [he] consents to finger her a little. He palpitates her hide and slaps her flanks: 'What a good bargain!'" Carter's diction, "hide," "flanks," and "bargain," make it clear that Signor Panteleone considers his wife subhuman. The ironic "consents" suggests that he thinks he is doing her a favor by treating her this way. We can assume that the young woman married or was made to marry Signor Panteleone for economic and social gain, like the heroine in The Bloody Chamber. When she has sex with Puss's master and fires the hag, we learn that she is in fact a bold and vibrant person; it is only her fear of her husband that has pacified her. In "The Bloody Chamber," the heroine's objectification makes her realize her own sexual potential. The Marquis mistreats her, but in doing so awakens her sexually. In Puss-in-Boots, the young woman's objectification stifles her sexual nature. She remains a virgin despite her husband's unwanted prodding until Puss and his master intervene. Then, she reveals herself as an unbridled, sexual being, surprising Puss; he observes that "extravagant screeches break forth from that (who would have suspected?) more passionate young woman as she comes off in fine style." At the story's end, she shows how assertive she is by snatching the key ring-the symbol of her husband's power-from his dead hand. "Once she's got the keys secure," Puss explains, "she's in charge of all." Unlike female sexuality, male sexuality in the story is immediately and boldly evident in Puss's sexual bravado and bawdy sense of humor. At the tale's start, he calls himself and his master "lecherous as liquorice." He often brags of how nicely he cleans his genitals, his prize possessions, flaunting, "[I] ... washed my face and sparkling dicky with my clever paw." He introduces himself to Tabby by "accost[ing]" her sexually. He narrates: "Grasping the slack of her neck firmly between my teeth, I gave her the customary tribute of a few firm thrusts of my striped loins." Tabby welcomes Puss's thrusting, but Puss's wording is just as chauvinistic as Signore Panteleone's. He considers sex his "tribute" to Tabby-as though he is doing her an honor-just as Signor Panteleone "consents to finger" his wife. Puss and his master find the loves of their lives at nearly the same time, but even as Puss's master becomes so lovesick that he cannot eat, Puss retains his chauvinistic character. He finds the pretense humans display around sex cute because for him it is a purely animal act. After all, he is an animal. He tells his master to con the young woman into having sex with him, saying, "Convince her her orifice will be your salvation and she's yours." He also narrates the human couple's first sex act together as a sport,

where his master is the athlete and the young woman is mere equipment. He says, "She shows him the target, he displays the dart, scores an instant bullseye." Unlike Puss, Signor Panteleone is the least sexual but also the most stereotypically masculine character. As we have seen, he represents male power misused to subjugate women. His name means "Sir Pantaloon" or "Sir Pants," which is ironic considering that while pants are a symbol of male power and virility, he is impotent and so easily felled. Even though Puss, his master, and their wives are happily settled the story's end, "Puss-in-Boots" does not raise marriage on a pedestal. After all, the young woman's first marriage to Signor Panteleone is disastrous. Like "The Bloody Chamber" and other stories, "Puss-in-Boots" advocates loving relationships where all parties are satisfied. Yet even these relationships it acknowledges are a matter of choice; as Puss expresses by saying, "your wives, if you need them," and "your husbands, if you want them." Despite the story's message of mutual satisfaction for men and women, it ends by repeating the stereotypes about the sexes that it seemed before to be rejecting. Puss wishes his male readers "rich and pretty" wives and his female readers "young and virile" husbands. We cannot very well expect Puss-in-Boots to change his tune entirely, because his very name connects him to the idea of male superiority. Puss's boots make him resemble a man. He is clothed in relation to his female counterpart, Tabby, not so differently from the way the Marquis in "The Bloody Chamber" enjoys looking at his naked wife while he is still clothed. Puss's boots are the visible manifestation of his chauvinism and as long as he wears them, we can assume he will retain his 'traditional' views of women. While "Puss-in-Boots" can be seen as an allegory of equality triumphing over bigotry, it can also be seen as one of the triumph of evil. Aytyul Ozum writes, "Carter, in "Puss-in-Boots" combines evil with lechery and proposes the idea that women have this potential and it is not less strong than the evil in men." Even as Signor Panteleone can be seen as the most lecherous character in the story, Ozum suggests that in fact, the other characters are worse. She points out that "lechery goes hand in hand with greed," and the master, mistress, and their cats plot to kill Signor Panteleone out of greed for his wealth and the sexual, perhaps sometimes lecherous want to be with each other. Puss certainly is proud to call himself and his master "as lecherous as liquorice." Ozum argues that "the foregrounded evil is not the cat's but the masters," that Puss and Tabby help their master and mistress execute their own evil ideas. However, the cats are the ones who plot the mistress's adultery and Signor Panteleone's demise. Puss's intentions are more lecherous than his master's from the beginning; he only helps his master reach the young woman because he hopes that once his master beds her, he will again favor Puss. Morality is undoubtedly complicated in Puss-in-Boots because deceit, adultery and murder are necessary in order for sexual mutuality to triumph over sexual subjugation.

"The Erl-King" Summary

The heroine, who speaks directly to the audience, tells the story of "The Erl King." The scene opens on the late October forest, which has an air impending death. The woods are desolate and unwelcoming to people, because there are no manmade tracks to follow there. According to the narrator, the woods are not a place of illusion as fairy-tales make us believe; rather, in the woods, "everything ... is exactly as it seems." We, like Red Riding Hood, get "trapped in [our] own illusion[s]" because "it is easy" for us to "lose ourselves" in the woods.

The narrator describes walking through the woods alone, not realizing that the cold wind she feels is the Erl-King's harbinger, or that the elder-bird call she hears is the sound of the Erl-King's pipe. She warns, "The Erl-King will do you grievous harm." The narrator steps into a "darkening clearing" where the Erl-King sits among the forest creatures, which seem to belong to him. The Erl-King touches her with "his irrevocable hand" and shows her the ways of the forest. The Erl-King lives alone in a one-room hut in the middle of the forest. He eats plants, milk from his goat, and sometimes animals. His eyes are eerily green, "as if from too much looking at the wood" and the narrator warns, "there are some eyes can eat you." She says that the Erl-King is not a hermit but rather a being that "came alive from the desire of the woods." Despite his rustic ways, the Erl-King keeps his home impeccably clean; in fact, the narrator describes it as "musical and aromatic." Herbs hang on the walls along with dozens of caged, singing birds and a string-less fiddle, and a fire burns perpetually in the hearth. Ever since the narrator met the Erl-King, she has visited him to learn his ways and make love to him. When he wants to see her, he calls her to the woods with his birdcall. He likes to proclaim, "skin the rabbit" as he undresses her. When he makes love to her, he bites her neck. The narrator says she is not afraid of the Erl-King himself, who lives in harmony with nature; she is afraid only of the way he throws her senses off-balance. She calls this feeling "the vertigo with which he seizes me." He makes her feel as though she is a bird falling out of the sky, out of the power of the Earth's gravity and into his. The narrator evokes the story of Red Riding Hood again when she declares, "What big eyes you have." She feels as though she will become trapped in the Erl-King's stare like an insect in amber. Then she discovers that he is weaving a cage for her. She is terrified because, although she loves the Erl-King, she does not wish to live in a cage. She knows that she will die if he cages her; she reminds us, "I knew from the first moment I saw him how Erl-King would do me grievous harm." The narrator realizes that the Erl-King's birds do not actually sing, but rather wail because they are trapped and lost. They "cry because they can't find their way out of the wood, have lost their flesh when they were dipped in the corrosive pools of [The Erl-King's] regard and now must live in cages."

The narrator ends her story by describing her plan to kill the Erl-King. She resolves, "I shall take two huge handfuls of his rustling hair as he lies half dreaming, half waking ... I shall strangle him with them." Suddenly, the story shifts to third person. This new narrator says that our heroine will free all the birds, which will turn back into lost girls, "each one with the crimson imprint of [the Erl-King's] love-bite on their throats." She will then cut off his hair and use it to string his old fiddle. The fiddle will then play of its own accord, "Mother, mother, you have murdered me!"

The title character of The Erl-King takes his name from a folklore persona known as an erlking. Traditionally, an erlking is a mischievous sprite or elf that lures young people with the intent of killing them. The narrator and protagonist of The Erl-King is aware of these stories. She seems to quote one sch tale when she says, "The ErlKing will do you grievous harm." This statement also tells us that, like the heroine in The Bloody Chamber, this protagonist is aware of the peril she faces and therefore complicit in her own endangerment. Unlike the heroine in The Bloody Chamber, the narrator of The Erl-King is not a nave teenager at the time of the story. Rather, she is mature and purposeful in her actions; Harriet Kramer Linkin calls her "a highly sophisticated consciousness." Because she is mature and knowledgeable at the time of the story, the narrator is more complicit than Carter's other narrators in her imperilment and consequent subjugation by the Erl-King. Linkin confirms that Carter draws on Romantic ideas in the whole of The Bloody Chamber. However, while the Romantics looked to nature as a source of spiritual enlightenment and life, in The Erl-King, it is a source of confinement and death. The narrator's initial description of the woods already foreshadows her entrapment; she depicts the light filtering through the trees as "these vertical bars of a brass-coloured distillation of light coming down from sulphur-yellow interstices in a sky hunkered with grey clouds." Since the narrator is complicit in her entrapment, she knows that she is "caged" or trapped from the moment she enters the woods. She is subject to their power; because everything in the woods "is exactly as it seems," any person who steps into them imprints her own desires on them. On one level, the narrator desires to be caught, and the cage-like patterns of light are reflections of this desire. She admits her knowledge by stating, that "this light admits of no ambiguities." By referring to the light as "sulphur-yellow," she also references and foreshadows death. In literary tradition, including the Romantic William Blake's poetry, sulfur (also known as brimstone) is an element connected with hell and damnation. In a sense, the narrator is damned to confinement from the story's opening. As someone who "came alive from the desire of the woods," the Erl-King is at harmony with nature. Every animal seems to obey him. He cooks with weeds and fungi, and makes cheese from his goat's milk. A house is typically a symbol of civilization, but the Erl-King's house attracts and blends in with the nature around it; his roof "has grown a pelt of yellow lichen" and "grass and weeds grow in the mossy roof." His very eyes embody the death-in-life quality of the woods. They are both "as green as apples" and "as green as dead sea fruit"; even though they are the color of life and growth, they are "dead."Nature cooperates with the Erl-King; if nature is deathly in the story, then the Erl-King is death's ruler. The Erl-King and the nature around him represent the standing order of things in the narrator's universe. In the reality of the woods, he is the dominating male and she is the submissive female whom he traps. The Erl-King uses music to trap the narrator in what Linkin calls "idealized domesticity's golden cage" or "the cage of Romantic subjectivity" where the female

becomes a "reflexive image," a representation of what the male desires her to be. According to Linkin, Carter is playing on the Romantic hero's wish to tame the women he encounters. The Erl-King, like a Romantic hero, traps women who wander in the woods and in caging them, transforms them from creatures of free will to servants. The sound of the Erl-King's bird call summarizes this idea. The first call sounds like "girlish and delicious loneliness ... made into a sound." In contrast, the second calls sounds "as desolate as if it came from the throat of the last bird alive." The first call is that of the free bird, the independent woman, and the second is that of the caged bird, the subjugated woman, the "silly, fat, trusting [woody] with the pretty wedding [ring] round [her neck.]" Because the woods are away from civilization, one might argue that they should be exempt from social constructs such as the well-behaved, subservient woman. According to the narrator, however, the woods are only "exactly ... as they seem" until a human imprints them with his or her own ideas. As Linkin puts it, "It is impossible for human beings to enter the wood without bringing their own sociocultural maps with them." As we have examined, our narrator's knowledge Erl-King and the tale of Red Riding Hood into the woods with her, with their stipulations of entrapment and endangerment, direct her path straight to the Erl-King's lair. The narrator in The Erl-King "colludes in erecting the bars of the golden cage" because she indulges the Erl-King in his desire to control and even consume her. She allows him to call her naked body a 'skinned rabbit' and to bite her neck. Just as the Marquis's pornographic vision of The Bloody Chamber's heroine stimulates her, the Erl-King's domination of the narrator arouses her. She encourages the Erl-King's domination because she is caught in the "vertigo" between her erotic desire for the Erl-King and her desire to be independent. Summarizing her dilemma in two words, she calls him a "tender butcher"; she knows that he is both her lover and destroyer. She believes that the Erl-King can enlighten her by consuming her; she wishes, "I should like to grow enormously small, so that you could swallow me ... Then I could lodge inside your body and you would bear me." In the end, the narrator's extreme solution is to kill the Erl-King and supplant male domination with female domination. Linkin explains that while other heroines in Carter's stories find happiness in relationships with men, the narrator of The Erl-King rejects them entirely. She must kill the male figure in order to supplant him as creator. At the story's end, the fiddle strung with the Erl-King's hair calls her "Mother," confirming her new, powerful role as absolute author of her own destiny.

"The Snow Child" Summary

The story opens in the dead of winter. A Count and Countess are riding horses through freshly-fallen snow when the Count wishes, "I wish I had a girl as white as snow." Then they come upon a hole in the snow that is filled with blood and the Count wishes, "I wish I had a girl as red as blood." Seeing a raven, he wishes again, "I wish I had a girl as black as that bird's feather." Just then, "the child of his desire" appears at the roadside. She has white skin, a red mouth, and black hair, and she is totally naked. He takes her onto his horse. The jealous Countess begins to plot how she will get rid of the girl. First, the Countess tries to trick the girl into dismounting so that she can desert her in the snow. She drops her glove and tells the girl to fetch it, but the Count says, "I'll buy you new gloves." Suddenly, the Countess's furs jump from her shoulders onto the girl's. Next, the Countess tries to make the girl drown in a pond. She throws her

diamond brooch into the pond and tells the girl to fetch it, but the Count defends the girl. Then the Countess's boots jump from her feet onto the girl's feet. The Count pities his unclothed wife but does nothing. Then they come to a flowering rose bush and the Countess orders the girl to pick a flower for her. The Count says, "I can't deny you that," so the girl picks a rose. She pricks her finger and falls down dead. The Count dismounts rapes the girl's corpse as the Countess watches. When he is finished, the corpse melts away. All that remains of the girl are a raven feather, a bloodstain on the snow, and the rose. The Countess reclaims her clothing. The Count retrieves the rose and, bowing, hands it to his wife. She drops it, proclaiming, "It bites!"

Carter adapted "The Snow Child" from a Grimm Brothers version of the story, in which the father and not the mother wishes for the child. Carter uses this fact to her advantage, in order to portray masculine control of female identity. The Snow Child is not only "the child of [the Count's] desire"; she is the product of his physical desires. He wishes for her to be beautiful and nothing else, so it is clear that he is interested only in her appearance and her value as a sexual object. Cristina Bacchilega calls the Snow Child "a masculine fantasy," a frozen image without a real life of her own. From a literary perspective, the Count is in the position of author; he has the power to say something and make it so. The girl is a helpless character, unable to control her destiny. Bacchilega goes father to state that, like the Marquis in "The Bloody Chamber," the Count is a pornographer. He, clothed, imagines and then creates a sexual image of a naked woman that he can deflower and in fact defile. Mary Kaiser writes that the Countess is also a pornographic image in relation to the Count. She belongs to him because she has significance as Countess only in relation to him as Count. He not only buys the clothing she wears, but can dress and undress her at will. Clothes associate the Count with civilization while nakedness associates the Snow Child with nature-a cultural cliche. So as the Count dresses and undresses the Countess, he bestows and withdraws her power or "cultural status." Even though the Countess is as subject to the Count's whims as the Snow Child, she sees the girl as an enemy and sets out to kill her. Ozum calls the Countess "a female aristocratic voyeur" because although it is the Count who creates and rapes the Snow Child, she does (and can do) nothing to stop him. Bacchilega explains that because the woman can coexist only as rivals, having no power independent of the Count, they cannot advance themselves. In fact, one of them must die in order for the other to continue existing. Even though the Countess triumphs in the end by winning back the Count's attention and her clothing, the rose pricks her. The rose is a symbol of femininity or the vagina, so the "bite" symbolizes the suffering that accompanies being female, with or without socioeconomic privilege. When the Snow Child dies, she leaves behind only a rose, a feather, and a bloodstain; she amounts to a small collection of objects. It is obvious from the Snow Child's 'remains' that she was never real to begin with; she was only a figment of the Count's libido. Bacchilega explains why the prick of the rose destroys the Snow Child. The Count created the Snow Child as a sexual object, but when she appears, she is still a girl. When the rose pricks her and she bleeds, symbolizing menstruation, the Snow Child "comes of age" as a being capable of sexual intercourse. Once she has fulfilled her purpose of becoming a sexual object, she can die. Because she was not expected to receive pleasure in having sex or otherwise being alive, it is sufficient for him to rape her corpse. Ozm, referencing Elaine Jordan, explains that the Snow Child's death is not "a killing of women," but rather a "killing of masculine

representations." The Snow child is not weak because she is a woman; she is weak because she fits the un-maintainable masculine idea of female perfection, "good, loyal, and submissive" Just as in "The Erl-King" and "The Bloody Chamber," in "The Snow Child," becoming a reflection of male idealization is a death sentence for the heroine.

"The Lady of the House of Love" Summary

The story begins in an abandoned Romanian village on the eve of the First World War, where the Countess, "queen of the vampires," lives. Ghosts live with her in the castle, but she keeps herself alone in a dusty, rotting and lightless suite. She wears her dead mother's bridal gown as though it is a uniform. Her only company is a caged lark. The Countess likes the lark's song because "she likes to hear it announce how it cannot escape." The Countess has no other vampire for company since a priest killed her father, Nosferatu, when she was a child. Therefore she is the sole "mistress of ... disintegration," throughout her village. Despite her power, the Countess abhors her life of living death. She wishes to be human, but does not know if this is possible. Her only consolation is her deck of Tarot cards, which invariably spell out the destiny, "wisdom, death, dissolution." She tries to interpret this repeated fate to her liking, but it is "irreversible." The Countess's governess, an "old mute," lets her out at night to feed. When the Countess was young, she limited her prey to rabbits and other small creatures. "But now she is a woman, she must have men." The governess finds unsuspecting male travelers by the village fountain and leads them back to the Countess's chamber. Each time she finishes sucking the blood from a victim, she is disgusted by what she has done. She buries her victim's remains in her garden. During the day, the Countess lies in her coffin, her nightgown stained with the blood of last night's prey. The narrator begins to evoke the story of Jack and the beanstalk, inserting snippets of that fairytale's most famous lines between paragraphs. "Fee fie fo fum / I smell the blood of an Englishman." Our hero appears. He is a British soldier on vacation, who ventures into the Countess's village. He is special because he is a virgin and is part of a generation that is destined to fight in France; therefore he represents "change and time." He also rides a bicycle, which the narrator explains is the embodiment of reason; therefore it protects the rider somewhat against the irrational and supernatural. But the soldier is about to venture into the Countess's unchangeable land of "timeless Gothic eternity" where reason has no place. Even though we are told her fate is unchangeable, the Countess finds hope when, for the first time, her Tarot cards show "a hand of love and death." The fate on the cards awakens the Countess magically just as "a single kiss woke up the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood." The Countess does not know that she has chosen this hand because the soldier has just crossed into her land. The narrator interjects, "Be he alive or be he dead / I'll grind his bones to make my bread." The soldier stops at the fountain to refresh himself, when the Countess's governess approaches and invites him to the castle. She leads him there through thickets of "obscene" and slightly overripe roses whose scent overwhelms and dizzies him. The castle reminds the soldier of the castles in ghost stories and he is afraid, but he steels himself to enter. The governess manages to take the soldier's bicycle from him

despite his protestations and leads him into the freezing, lightless castle. The narrator is careful to mention that the soldier does not shiver from the cold. The governess feeds the soldier and then leads him to the Countess's chamber. On the way there, his suspicions continue but he convinces himself that his fears are irrational. At last, they reach the Countess's chamber, which the narrator says is like "Juliet's tomb." Once his eyes adjust to the dark, the soldier finds himself charmed by the Countess's sad beauty. At the same time, he finds her lush, "obese" red mouth obscene. When the governess raises her lantern to the soldier's face to show it to the Countess, the vampire queen collapses into her chair with a cry of distress and knocks her Tarot cards to the floor. The soldier's face affects her the way light does, so she must put on a pair of dark glasses to continue being near him. The soldier gathers up the cards and hands them to the Countess. When she revives herself a bit, she serves him coffee. The narrator interjects, "Vous serez ma proie," which means, "You will be my prey." Suddenly, the Countess's inner voice begins to speak. It says, "The bridegroom is come, he will go into the chamber which has been prepared for him ... I will be very gentle ... And could love free me from the shadows? ... See, how I'm ready for you. I've always been ready for you; I've been waiting for you in my wedding dress..." Even though the Countess plainly states her intention to kill the soldier, the narrator reminds us that "one kiss, however, and only one, woke up the Sleeping Beauty of the Wood." Even though the Countess makes the soldier uneasy, he is not afraid because he does not believe in the supernatural. The narrator explains, "this lack of imagination gives his heroism to the hero." The narrator interjects, "Suivez-moi. / Je vous attendaid. / Vouz serez ma proie," meaning, "Follow me. I have awaited you. You will be my prey." Hunger overcomes the Countess. She leads the soldier to her bedchamber. He is still not afraid, wanting only to protect her from whatever torments her. As the Countess tries to undress in front of the soldier, she shakes so violently that she drops her glasses on the floor, where they shatter. She cuts herself on a fragment of glass and becomes fascinated by the novel sight of her own blood. The soldier kisses her gash to stop the blood. The soldier wakes up on the Countess's floor to find the windows open and light flooding into the room. The floor is covered in rose petals. The freed lark perches on the coffin and sings. The trappings of the Countess's chamber look cheap and fake in the light. The Countess herself is nowhere to be seen. The soldier takes the lark on his wrist and joyfully urges it into the sky. Next, he begins to save the Countess. He thinks, "We shall turn her into the lovely girl she is; I shall cure her of all these nightmares." He finds her dead in her boudoir, hunched over her Tarot cards with a single rose. Now that she is dead, she finally looks imperfect and therefore human. The governess ushers the soldier out of the castle and he returns to his regiment by bicycle. Back at the barracks, he finds the rose in his pocket and puts it in water to try to "resurrect" it. As he returns to his room after dinner, the soldier smells the "reeling odour" of the rose from down the hall. He arrives to find it fully restored with all its "corrupt, brilliant, baleful splendour." The narrator ends the story by stating, "Next day, his regiment embarked for France."

"The Lady of the House of Love" is based loosely on the story of Sleeping Beauty, and incorporates vampire legends as well as the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. On one level, the story can be seen as an allegory of the triumph of reason over

unreason. The Countess represents unreason. Reason states that death is definite, but she defies this law because she is the living dead. She lives in the dark, which represents ambiguity and mystery. The narrator refers to her suite as "Juliet's tomb" to indicate that just as Juliet was alive in the guise of death, the Countess is dead in the guise of life. Legend tells us that vampires die when exposed to light because their bodies disintegrate. However, we can also say that light kills vampires because it exposes them as impossibilities. It is not only light but also enlightenment that they cannot withstand. The Countess's irrational existence gives her great power, but it condemns her to misery. She is trapped in an unasked-for and seemingly irrevocable destiny, just as her lark is trapped in its cage. She takes pleasure in caging the lark because she herself is caged. Whereas she cannot free herself from her illogical fate, she enjoys having control over the lark. In sharp contrast to the Countess, the soldier represents reason. He does not believe in the supernatural, so he does not shiver in fear when he enters the Countess's lair. He is not afraid of her even when she tells him, "You will be my prey." He also rides a bicycle, which symbolizes human reason at work; the bicycle functions on the basis of human laws and has no power beyond their stipulations. When the soldier initially refuses to give the governess his bicycle, he is symbolically denying a belief in the irrational. He refuses to be separated from his bicycle just as he refuses to be separated from reason. Because the soldier embodies 'the light of reason' so completely, his face actually blinds the Countess so that she must wear glasses in his presence. At the story's end, light floods the Countess's room, showing it to be false and chintzy. Symbolically, reason invades the realm of unreason, showing it to be no more than an illusion. Her voice confirms postmortem, "I was only an invention of darkness." The Countess herself transforms from an impossible creature, a vampire, into a creature of reason, a human. She also succumbs to the definiteness of death. One conflating factor at the end of the story is the rose that the soldier takes back to the barracks. He performs an act of unreason by restoring the rose not only to life but also to its full glory. The rose's revival suggests that, despite reason's triumph, unreason has a small place in life. Additionally, the Tarot cards' correct prediction lends validity to the "unreasonable" art of fortunetelling. Central to the Countess's torment is desire in the absence of sex. Because the Countess is dead, she is devoid of sexual desire because her sole lust is for blood. The narrator tells us, "However hard she tries to think of any other, she only knows one kind of consummation." The Countess's lack of sexuality is never more obvious than when she is luring the soldier into her bedchamber. He assumes that she is making a sexual advance uses the word "prey" to tease him, when she really intends to murder him and make him her literal prey. So unable is the Countess to understand sexual desire that she dies before she can lose her virginity. Hence, she leaves the rose-representing her vagina and the desire she longs to experience-for the soldier. She laments, "And I leave you as a souvenir the dark, fanged rose I plucked from between my thighs, like a flower laid on a grave. One a grave." Carter invokes the idea of vagina dentata by describing the rose's thorns as fangs. Just as she was able to kill but not kiss with her mouth, the Countess was unable to experience pleasure from her "thorned" vagina. The rose is dead like the Countess and her chance to experience love and sexual fulfillment. In addition, thousands of roses bloom above places in the ground where the Countess's victims are buried. They are not only numerous but illogically decadent, beautiful, and fragrant, echoing the Countess's physical perfection. Being symbols of femininity and sex, they mock the Countess's sexless existence within the mansion that is her prison. Only when she is dead can her palace truly be "The House of Love," full of light and potential.

The narrator continually invokes both Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk to underscore how enlightenment and death are inseparable for the Countess. Even as we are reminded that one kiss was sufficient to awaken Sleeping Beauty, we are also reminded that the Countess, like the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, is the natural antagonist of mankind. Therefore the Countess cannot help but want to destroy the man who can save her. Unlike the giant, the Countess is so "obscenely" beautiful that she appears unreal; "her beauty is a symptom of her disorder, of her soullessness." Because it has no flaw, her face is as falsely human as the mask The Beast in "The Tiger's Bride" wears. Only when she has transformed and consequently died does her face look "far older, less beautiful and so, for the first time, fully human." The reversal at the story's end confirms one last time that love cannot survive in the Countess's sleepwalking world of torment. Although she intends to suck the soldier's blood, he ends up tasting her blood when he kisses her wound. She transforms from a creature that bleeds others dry into a woman, 'a being that bleeds.' The act of spilling blood can be interpreted as loss of virginity as well as menstruation; the Countess is coming of age as well as getting a taste, however brief and painful, of sexual contact. As we know, her "enlightenment" is brief and destructive; she cannot survive in a world of reason, so for her, "the end of exile is the end of being." For the Countess, a lack of sexual understanding and experience is a weakness. For the soldier, virginity and sexual naivet are sources of strength. The narrator explains, "he is immune to shadow, due to his virginity" and, "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." According to the narrator, the soldier's sexual and transformative power is so great precisely because it is untapped. Like the force of the water behind a dam, his stored potential is more powerful than potential already released. The soldier is indeed "more than he knows," because he is able to transform the Countess into a human by kissing her. His reason or "lack of imagination" is heroic and overwhelms her unreason. We have said that the soldier's act of restoring the rose to life concedes some validity to unreason. We can also say that the "resurrected" rose redeems the positive aspect of illogical or magical things. Even as the solder destroys the Countess with reason, he redeems a part of her, somewhat illogically, with love and reason. In the story's ultimate sentence, the narrator reminds us that the soldier is still human despite his great power, and that the reason he exemplifies goes hand-in-hand with mortality. His regiment embarks for France, where he may be killed fighting. The story's ending need not be seen as ominous, however, because as a participant in the First World War, the soldier also represents the opportunity for righteousness, change and progress.

"The Werewolf" Summary

The narrator of "The Werewolf" sets the story's ominous tone with the opening sentence: "It is a northern country; they have cold weather; they have cold hearts." The people in this country are poor and live short, hard lives. They are superstitious to the point of conducting witch-hunts and stoning any witches found (identified by a telltale third nipple) to death. We focus in on a young girl. Her mother sends her into the forest to bring food to her ill grandmother, arming her with a knife and warning her against the dangers of the woods. The girl sets off on her journey unafraid because she knows the forest well.

As she is walking, the girl hears a wolf's cry. She turns with her knife drawn to face the beast, and when it lunges, she cuts off its paw. It retreats back into the forest. She wraps the wolf's paw in cloth and continues on her way. When the girl reaches her grandmother's house, the snow is so thick that no tracks can be seen in it. She finds her grandmother in bed with a terrible fever, and when shakes out the cloth to make a hot compress, the wolf's paw falls on the floor. It has changed into a hand, which she recognizes as her grandmother's because of a single wart on it. The girl uses all her strength to pull back her grandmother's covers and beneath them discovers the cause of her fever. Her grandmother's severed arm is already rotting. Hearing the girl's cries, the neighbors rush in. They examine the hand and declare the wart on it to be "a witch's nipple." They force the grandmother out of bed and to the edge of the forest, where they stone her to death. The story ends with the summary, "Now the child lived in her grandmother's house; she prospered."

Bacchilega calls "The Werewolf" the first of "Carter's three 'women-in-the-companyof-wolves' stories." In this story, Carter combines the characters of wolf and grandmother to create a werewolf. In doing so, she suggests that man is not woman's only enemy. Woman collude in and also plot other women's destruction. As in "The Snow Child," "the other woman" tries to destroy the heroine presumably out of jealousy. The grandmother, like the Countess in "The Snow Child," fears that the younger, more beautiful girl will supplant her. Unlike the Snow Child, who dies without the chance to retaliate, the girl in "The Werewolf" changes from hunted into huntress when she first cuts off the werewolf's paw and then helps the neighbors kill her. Although she helped kill her grandmother in self-defense, the girl perpetuates the idea that women must be rivals and try to destroy one another. She shows no remorse for helping kill her grandmother, but rather "prospers" in her very house. In "The Snow Child," the Countess's clothes and boots give the girl power momentarily, and here the girl takes her grandmother's belongings and uses them to achieve success. Like "The Company of Wolves" and "Wolf-Alice," this story maintains that knowledge is a woman's key to survival against those that mean to harm and consume her. But in "The Werewolf," the heroine's knowledge consists of inherited superstitions and "time-worn warnings" about the various forms of the devil. She lives in a region where people believe in supernatural predators and are jaded by violence even as children. Therefore the girl is no helpless child as we know Red Riding Hood to be; she "a mountaineer's child," accustomed to walking in wolf- and bear-infested woods and to carrying and using a knife. Whereas in traditional versions of Red Riding Hood, the reader is made to empathize with the defenseless heroine, here the narrator separates us from her. The narrator treats the heroine and the other people in her region with the bemused curiosity of a naturalist, explaining, "to these upland woodsmen, the Devil is as real as you or I." Because we are not made to definitely trust or pity the heroine, we do not necessarily have to hate the werewolf. Indeed, we can pity the werewolf as being a lonely and tormented half-creature who does not have enough self-control to refrain from preying on her own granddaughter. Just as we cannot blame the Countess in "The Lady of the House of Love" for her appetite, so we cannot necessarily blame the werewolf. At the story's end, as Bacchilega confirms, we do not know whether to valorize or rebuke the heroine for her actions. After all, she becomes as ferocious as the werewolf in first cutting off her hand and then helping stone her to death. She may even have turned into a witch herself, for how else could she prosper in a region

where people die early from the poverty and cold. Bacchilega suggests that "the devil" in whatever form-witch, vampire, werewolf-is only "the institutionalized projection of our fears and desires." We fear our own potential for wrongdoing, so we create fairy-tale monsters as external projections of it. If evil exists outside ourselves, then it cannot exist within ourselves. The villagers and the heroine in "The Werewolf" subscribe to this "scapegoating" by hunting and killing witches. Carter, Bacchilega says, implicates not only them but us, the reader, as being violent. By uprooting the traditional fairy-tale perceptions of right and wrong, Carter makes the story resemble real life more than allegory; she forces us to criticize not just the werewolf but also the townspeople and to question whether we subscribe to similar delusions of moral clarity.

"The Company of Wolves" Summary

"The Company of Wolves" takes place in a forested, mountainous country in the dead of winter. The narrator explains that wolves are ruthless creatures who live to terrorize and kill those less strong. They are especially ruthless in the winter, when food is scarce. Furthermore, wolves are worse than any fairy-tale killer such as "ghosts, hobgoblins, ogres [or] witches," because wolves are not even part human and therefore "cannot listen to reason." Even though wolves cannot reason, they are clever. They trap and kill any traveler that stumbles into the forest, which is their territory. They sometimes even manage to infiltrate a person's home. Despite the fact that most wolves are simply beasts, the narrator explains that the worst fate is to run into a wolf that is "more than he seems." The narrator invokes the story of an unfortunate hunter who trapped a wolf in a pit. He meant to kill the wolf as punishment for terrorizing his town, so he jumped into the pit, slit the wolf's throat, and cut off all its paws. But when he looked down at the wolf's corpse, it had turned into a man's. There have been other incidents in the town involving werewolves. A witch once turned a whole wedding party into wolves. More recently, a young woman's husband vanished on their wedding night. Soon after he disappeared, she heard howling. When he did not return, she remarried and had children. Years later, on winter solstice, her first husband returned looking as ragged and filthy as a wolf. When he saw the woman's new husband and children, he willed himself to turn back into a wolf. He managed to bite off one child's foot before the second husband hacked him to death. At that, he turned back into a man and looked exactly as he had on his wedding night. The woman cried when she saw her former love dead and her husband beat her for crying. Even though this woman pitied the werewolf, the narrator explains that her first husband may have become one voluntarily. In order to turn into a werewolf, a man must collaborate with the Devil. Before he transforms, he must strip naked. For this reason, the narrator warns, "If you spy a naked man among the pines, you must run as if the Devil were after you." Now we turn to a specific story set in the middle of winter. The story's protagonist is a blond child. Even though she knows that wolves are worst in the barren months, she insists on carrying a basket of food to her sick grandmother. She is armed with a large knife for the two-hour trip but does not think she is in danger because "she has been too much loved ever to feel scared." Unlike other children of the region, whom poverty forces to grow up quickly, this child has been kept young because she is her

family's beautiful and youngest child. She dresses in a red shawl "that has the look of blood on snow" and sets off on her journey. The narrator tells us that the child's "cheeks are an emblematic scarlet and white" and that she is on the verge of puberty; she has just begun to menstruate. However despite her seeming vulnerability, the girl is not only unafraid of the journey; she is "afraid of nothing." As the child walks, she hears a wolf's howl and instinctively clutches her knife. But the sight of a charming, fully-clothed hunter relieves her. They become fast friends and walk together happily; she trusts him so much that she lets him carry her the basket that holds her knife. The hunter, who carries a compass and says he is unafraid of wolves, bets that he can beat the child to her grandmother's house by going off the path. The winning prize: a kiss. She agrees and lets him leave with her basket. Enticed as she is by the hunter, she makes sure to walk slowly so that he will win his kiss. The hunter arrives at the child's grandmother's house carrying animals that he has killed along the way. Unlike a human, he has been chewing the raw meat of his catch. The hunter knocks and imitates the child's voice so that ancient, religious Granny invites him in. When she sees him, she tries to ward him off with her Bible to no avail. He strips naked to reveal his hairy, lice-covered body and devours her. Then he disposes of all evidence of his crime and waits for the child, dressed in Granny's clothes. As soon as the child enters, the werewolf blocks the door to prevent her escape. Seeing his devilish eyes, the child utters, "What big eyes you have," and he replies, "All the better to see you with." Just then, a chorus of howling rises up around the cottage. The werewolf says, "Those are the voices of my brothers, darling; I love the company of wolves. Look out the window and you'll see them." The child looks out upon a multitude of wolves howling in the snowstorm. Instead of being afraid, she takes pity on the wolves for being so cold. She takes off her shawl and then all her clothes, which she throws into the fire as the werewolf bids. She walks to the werewolf and begins to undress him, saying "What big arms you have." He replies, "All the better to hug you with." As the child kisses the werewolf, the wolves outside howl a "prothalamion," a wedding song, outside. The child says, "What big teeth you have," and the werewolf replies, "All the better to eat you with." Instead of being afraid, the child laughs because she knows that "she [is] nobody's meat." Granny's bones begin to clatter from their place under the bed, but the child ignores them. She finishes undressing the werewolf. At that, the narrator begins to describe the child's future with the werewolf: "She will lay his fearful head on her lap and she will pick out the lice from his pelt and perhaps she will put the lice in her mouth and eat them, as he will bid her, as she would do in a savage marriage ceremony." The snowstorm ends and midnight breaks on Christmas day, which the narrator tells us is "the werewolves' birthday." The story ends with the child sleeping contentedly in her grandmother's bed, "between the paws of the tender wolf."

"The Company of Wolves" is the second of Carter's stories based on Red Riding Hood. Like the child in "The Werewolf," the heroine here lives in a bitterly cold region where people grow up fast and live short, hard lives. However this child is not hardened like her counterparts because "she has been too much loved ever to feel scared." Because she is the youngest and most beautiful child, her family has coddled her and protected her from life's harsh realities. In doing so, they have 'civilized' her, made her into the gender ideal of a sheltered, sweet and trusting girl.

The girl's innocence both endangers her and saves her; she is trusting enough to believe in the hunter's good intentions, but empathetic enough to understand his torment and 'marry' him. In this story, unlike in "The Werewolf," Carter keeps the two characters of werewolf and grandmother separate. According to Bacchilega, she does so in order to focus on the wolf and child's interaction as an allegory of the heterosexual relationship. Even though the grandmother in this story is benevolent, the child does not seem to care that the werewolf has eaten her; she even ignores her grandmother's clattering bones in favor of consummating her relationship with the werewolf. Because of the child's irreverence, "The Company of Wolves," like "The Werewolf" and "The Snow Child," occurs in a universe where women, even if they are blood relations, are antagonists. It is not so much that child and grandmother wish each other ill, and more that they do not understand each other. The grandmother's bones clatter as though warning the child not to 'marry' the werewolf. After all, the werewolf has just killed and eaten her, and even if he hadn't, she is weathered and well-versed in the evil intentions of werewolves. She cannot understand that by claiming her own desires, the child becomes immune to harm. The story's end is all the more remarkable because of the tales we are told at its beginning. As Bacchilega point out, while the narrator in "The Werewolf" warns of evil in a removed and bemused manner, the narrator in "The Company of Wolves" seems to believe, fervently, that werewolves are evil and addresses the audience as "you" to convince us of this. The narrator tells us that "the wolf is carnivore incarnate," no more than a machine programmed to kill and devour. The wolf is so completely evil that his very howl is "in itself a murdering." The narrator even tries to dissuade us from pitying the human side of werewolves by telling us that men choose to become them. Still, we can tell that for wolves as for any half-being, existence equals torment. Transforming into a werewolf is a "condemnation." Their howl has "some inherent sadness in it, as if the beasts would love to be less beastly if only they knew how any never cease to mourn their own condition." This statement suggests that even men who choose to become werewolves may regret it because of the misery it causes them. Ultimately, it is the child's pity for the werewolf and his "company of wolves" that moves her to join them. Even though the heroine is young and nave, she wears her sexual desire literally on her sleeve. Her cape, which resembles "blood on snow," is an advertisement of her sexual readiness. Its red color symbolizes both her new menstrual blood and the blood she will presumably shed when she loses her virginity. The narrator calls the cape's red hue "the colour of sacrifices," reminding us that the heroine lives in a universe where women are the 'weaker sex' and surrender to men in the acts of sex and marriage. Indeed, the werewolf fully expects the heroine to surrender to him once he traps her in the house. Despite the fact that sex is presumed to be a "sacrificial" act for women, the heroine's sexuality protects her from harm; "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." Her cape and her hymen, which it can be said to represent, protect her from knowing or experiencing too much. Unlike the people in her town, the girl does not hold fast to such anti-werewolf stories as the narrator tells us. Therefore, Bacchilega declares, she is able to embrace the werewolf's traditions as well as, literally embrace the werewolf.

Because of her virginity, the heroine bears a striking resemblance to the soldier from "The Lady of the House of Love." Like him, she is sexually mature but a virgin, and her state lends her both ignorance and power. These characters' ignorance endangers them because it allows them to trust their potential devourers, the werewolf and the Countess. The narrators in both stories state explicitly that they do not shiver. They cannot shiver - fear supernatural evil - because they do not know about or do not believe in it. At the same time, their virginity is a welled-up force, ready to overwhelm their potential devourers. The Countess and the werewolf are prepared to consume their captors literally, by killing and eating them; but the soldier and the heroine use their human pity and their immense sexual power to transform the act of devouring into a sexual one. Because of the ignorance and power of their virginity, they both survive. When the heroine strips naked and approaches the wolf, it initially seems that she is 'sacrificing' herself to him. Then, when he says he will eat her, she laughs because "she [knows] that she [is] nobody's meat." Bacchilega interprets this phrase to mean that, "by acting out her [sexual] desires, the girl offers herself as flesh, not meat." Usually a sacrificial victim's body is not seen as being his or her own; it belongs to the deity or other being in whose honor the ceremony is given. So too is it with Carter's women, who 'give' themselves to men even though, because they are objects, men already own them. Since the heroine claims her sexual desire and her flesh as her own, she can give her "immaculate flesh" willfully to the werewolf and also take of him. Carter has even said that the heroine "eats" the werewolf. When the heroine in "The Tiger's Bride" undresses, she symbolically removes the implements of her objectification and subjugation. When the heroine in "The Company of Wolves" burns her cape, she rejects virginal navet in favor of sexual enlightenment. She also renounces her townsperson identity of categorical superiority to beasts. The townspeople burn werewolves' clothes in order to "condemn them to wolfishness," and so the heroine burns her own clothes in order to become one with the werewolf and his kind. The heroines of both "The Company of Wolves" and "The Tiger's Bride" undress in order to relate to the 'beast' in themselves-their sexual desire-and to the actual beasts to whom they become betrothed. They take the initiative to be reborn as selfowning sexual beings. In terms of the idea of rebirth, Carter goes so far as to compare a werewolf's transformation to the birth of Christ; she tells us, "Christmas Day [is] the werewolves' birthday." Although the townspeople are convinced that werewolves make a pact with the Devil, Carter suggests that they are really connected to God. She echoes the Romantic notion of locating the divine in nature, even the parts of nature that are not traditionally beautiful. In a way, Carter tells us through this story that we are all part "beast," and are only authentically ourselves or close to Christ-Christianity's ideal being-when we claim our "bestial" desires.

"Wolf-Alice" Summary
Wolf-Alice is a child raised by wolves. Even though she is physically a woman, "Nothing about her is human except that she is not a wolf"; she runs on all fours, is nocturnal, howls rather than speaks, and does not wear clothes. What distinguishes Wolf-Alice most from other humans is the fact that she is unaware of her own mortality. Peasants discover Wolf-Alice sleeping next to her wolf mother, whom they shot to death. Once they realize she is human, they bring her to live in a convent. She learns to cooperate with the nuns in order to get food, but they cannot break

her of her animal habits. Exasperated, they send her to live with a werewolf called the Duke. The Duke is a lonely, invincible creature who does not cast a reflection. When the moon comes out, he becomes ravenous and devours humans and human corpses. To the townspeople, he is an abhorred ally of the devil, but their attempts to scare him off are hopeless because he is not afraid of garlic or Christian symbols. Even wolves would not accept the Duke, because he eats his own kind. Since he does not belong among humans or wolves, the Duke is terribly lonely. Presumably because she is so "inhuman," the Duke does not devour Wolf-Alice. She lives in the Duke's castle and serves as a sort of primitive maid to him, using skills the nuns taught her. Wolf-Alice lives in a strange state that is neither dreaming or waking. That is, until a major event occurs; she begins to menstruate. Confused by her bleeding, Wolf-Alice is struck with wonder for the very first time. She is accustomed to being dirty, but she cleans up the blood out of shame. While searching the house for rags to stop her bleeding, Wolf-Alice sees her reflection in a mirror for the first time. She tries to play with her reflection because, like an animal or very young child, she does not recognize it as her own. As months pass, Wolf-Alice's menstruation makes her aware of the passage of time. Simultaneously, she acquires a sense of being different from her surroundings. Whereas before she felt at one with nature, as though it was "the emanation of her questing nose and erect ears," now she sees it as "a backdrop for her, that [waits] for her arrivals to give it meaning." Wolf-Alice, previously as engaged in the moment as a baby or animal, starts to become more withdrawn. Then one day, she discovers the truth about her reflection. As she plays with her reflection, she spies a wedding dress behind the mirror. She finds the dress so beautiful that she makes a point of washing herself thoroughly before putting it on. Wolf-Alice leaves the castle wearing the dress. At the same time Wolf-Alice wanders into the town, a young bridegroom is plotting revenge against the Duke for his bride's death. He waits with a group of townspeople in the village church, which he has filled with every known anti-werewolf device including silver bullets and holy water. Wolf-Alice sits outside the church, fascinated by the people's chanting. Just when she smells the Duke approaching, Wolf-Alice senses that something is amiss. She and the Duke flee as the townspeople throw holy water and fire bullets in their direction, one of which hits the Duke's shoulder. When the townspeople see Wolf-Alice running after the Duke in her wedding dress, they assume that she is the bride's ghost wreaking vengeance upon him. Awed and frightened, they flee. Back at the castle, the injured Duke lies bleeding and howling in his bed. Wolf-Alice jumps onto the bed and begins to tenderly lick the blood and dirt off his face. Now we turn our attention to the mirror. Little by little, the Duke's face begins to appear in its glass until it is reflected there fully, "as vivid as real life itself."

"Wolf-Alice" borrows themes from Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. It also invokes twentieth-century case studies of 'feral children' who were actually raised by wild animals, such as world-famous Victor d'Aveyron. In many of Carter's stories, we see heroines embrace their bestial or lustful natures to become enlightened; in "The Tiger's Bride," the heroine even becomes a beast. Wolf-Alice's development is

opposite from these heroines' because she begins as a de facto beast and becomes human. Whereas in "The Werewolf," Carter combines grandmother and wolf into one character, in "Wolf-Alice," she combines girl and wolf into one; hence the title character's hyphenated name. Because wolves raised Wolf-Alice, she behaves exactly like a wolf and has no awareness of being human. By being human and inhuman at the same time, WolfAlice calls into question what defines humanity. It cannot be our physicality, because Wolf-Alice has a human's body. Carter points to several things that distinguish humans from animals: knowledge of our mortality, the ability to feel shame and subsequent desire to wear clothing, and the belief that we are more important than, and masters of, our surroundings. All of these human characteristics are latent in Wolf-Alice, but she cannot realize them until she is in the presence of human things: a house, a mirror, a dress. Wolf-Alice is a somewhat bracing reminder that we are mere beasts without our culture. As the narrator admits, the townspeople "[feared] her imperfection because it showed [them] what [they] might have been." Whereas the heroine in "The Company of Wolves" ends up safe in the wolf's den, Wolf-Alice starts out there. Because she grows up without society to inform her of how she should behave, she is the antithesis of the well-pampered, well-behaved, and sheltered woman. In his book, The Myth of Irrationality, John McCrone examines the case of Amala and Kamala, two children raised by wolves until the ages of three and five, respectively. McCrone says that just like babies, Amala and Kamala were "mentally naked" when they were found because they did not have other humans to shape their thinking. So, too, is Wolf-Alice "mentally naked" as well as physically naked. She walks on all fours because no one has taught her to stand, goes naked because no one has taught her to wear clothes, and howls because no one has taught her to speak. Bacchilega calls Wolf-Alice "a new Eve" because she retains an authenticity of being that has been lost on humans since we tumbled out of Eden. Through her largely undisturbed experience of her surroundings, the audience sees the world objectively and anew. The narrator goes so far as to suggest that WolfAlice's ignorance makes her a visionary and even a messiah by predicting, "[she] could prove to be the wise child that leads them all." Wolf-Alice's penchant for original vision connects her to one of her namesakes, Alice from Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Alice is a young girl who gains knowledge by adventuring through the world on the other side of her mirror. Her strength, like Wolf-Alice's, is her childish curiosity; having no magical powers, Alice manages to step through her looking glass just by wondering what is on the other side. In the same way, Wolf-Alice's enlightenment stems from pure wonder at her own reflection. For a time, Wolf-Alice thinks that it is another creature, whose presence comforts her in her loneliness. During that time, she becomes more restrained and therefore more human simply because menstruating causes her to experience both time and shame. But it is Wolf-Alice's realization about the mirror that truly separates her from her surroundings and makes her realize her own power. Once she sees that her reflection is her "shadow," she understands that she has control over it. Her perspective shifts from animal objectivity to human subjectivity. Once she is human on the inside, she is inspired for the first time to look human on the outside by wearing clothes. Having gained control over her own mirror-image and begun to create a self-image, Wolf-Alice is able to help the Duke regain his own. We can isolate the mirror in the story as a distinguisher of human, beast, and halfbeing. Humans recognize their reflections, beasts do not, and half-beasts cast no

reflection. Both Wolf-Alice and the Duke are trapped in liminal existences, which the mirror brings to light. Wolf-Alice is trapped between being a beast and a human until she recognizes her reflection. Her revelation draws her out of the timeless, undefined beast's experience into the calculated human experience. The Duke is a half-being in two ways; he is a half-beast-half-wolf and is trapped between the physical and metaphysical worlds. He is "an aborted transformation, an incomplete mystery." The Duke is 'real' enough to kill and eat people, but not 'real' enough to cast a reflection in the mirror. His image breezes over it as though he is dead. Just as the mirror witnesses Wolf-Alice transform from beast into human, it witnesses her transform the Duke from half-being into being. When the Duke is shot, he is in danger of disappearing entirely into the metaphysical world. He is so weak that his body barely occupies space in his bed. Wolf-Alice takes pity on the Duke because she recognizes that he is imperfect, just as the wolves pitied her for being a human, a 'flawed' wolf. Like the heroine in "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon," she transforms the tormented half-being by her kindness alone. We must not mistake Wolf-Alice's pity and kindness for human traits, however. The heroines in "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" as well as "The Tiger's Bride" have to become less civilized and less human in order to save their respective beasts. They both reject their fathers' wealth and the urban social scene in favor of lives with their beasts, whom the rest of humanity has forced into seclusion. The heroine in "The Tiger's Bride" regresses so far that she actually becomes a tigress. Wolf-Alice's pity, like the other heroines', is a function of her animal side and not her human side. All the other humans in the story want to kill the beast because they cannot understand his ravenousness and his torment, but Wolf-Alice can because she has experienced these sensations in the way he has. In "The Tiger's Bride," the heroine transforms into a tigress. In "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon," the beast transforms into a human. In "Wolf-Alice," the heroine becomes more human throughout the story, but still retains enough animal kindness to save the Duke. Because her name does not change like Mr. Lyon's does, we know that Wolf-Alice is still caught between worlds. As for the Duke, we cannot be sure whether he transforms into a human or a wolf. We are told only that the mirror reflects "the face of the Duke." Carter leaves both characters in liminal ambiguity to suggest that authentic living requires one balance one's humanity and beastliness.