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In The Bloody Chamber, childhood fairytales become the stuff of adult nightmares.

It is instantly evident that the stories in The Bloody Chamber have been written by Carter in order to shock the reader, as they do contain many elements which are widely associated with fear and nightmares. The stories in The Bloody Chamber are re-workings of traditional fairytales, but it should not always be assumed that the original childhood fairytales did not possess any themes or dark imagery related to what may be related to an adult nightmare. In fact, it can be argued that many of the childhood fairytales did contain controversial elements, such as an exploration of sexuality, but they were masked by seemingly innocent characters and morals. Every individual story in The Bloody Chamber does deal with issues which may be considered the stuff of adult nightmares; the themes explored, symbols incorporated and even the language used creates an eerie aura which are likely to affect the adult mind, and in this respect they can be compared to an adult nightmare. A nightmare can be defined as A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress., and The Bloody Chamber includes all of these. Fear is felt by the reader as a result of the intense descriptions present and language used throughout the stories; the settings are described to minute details, creating an atmospheric and vivid image in the mind of the reader. In most cases, the eerie setting provides for an insight to the events which will occur as each story progresses. The first half of The Company of Wolves outlines the various wolf attributes, such as being carnivore incarnate whilst creating a bleak setting. An example of this is where Carter uses second person address, You are always in danger in the forest....for if you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you, to create the feeling that we are experiencing what the heroine is. Including the reader in such a manner allows the story to resemble a nightmare as a nightmare typically includes the involvement of the person dreaming. In The Snow Child, which is arguable the most nightmarish story in the collection, the language used is also shocking. Carter describes the Countess as bare as a bone and how the Count thrusts his virile member into the dead girl. Using such shocking descriptions allows for the explicit themes to be present, such as necrophilia, rape and paedophilia all of which are present in The Snow Child. The young girl in the story is portrayed as being helpless, and simply an object of the Counts desires; she is used solely for his sexual pleasure, which may be considered reminiscent of an adult nightmare. However, it cannot be said that the language in every story is included solely to create a sense of fear. Carter has previously stated that Puss-in-Boots is the first story that I wrote that was supposed to be really funny; various imagery in the story such as Puss tonguing his arsehole may be seen as rather comical to the reader, which deters it from being classed as an adult nightmare.

It is important to consider the content of the original fairytales to assess if childhood fairytales have become the stuff of adult nightmares. Fairy tales are often associated with the supernatural and unordinary, with the inclusion of illogical events, mythical creatures and magic. They sometimes even include dark content such as death, curses and fear. All of the aforementioned concepts can also be found in The Bloody Chamber there are talking animals in The Courtship of Mr Lyon, werewolves in The Company of Wolves and a sense of fear and magic in The Snow Child, as she is created as a result of the Counts wishes. When considering the makings of both a childhood fairytales and adult nightmares, it becomes clear that both deal with similar issues. Carter writes in the introduction to The Bloody Chamber that I was taking the latent content of those traditional stories and using that; and the latent content is violently sexual. She is stating how rather than writing adult versions of the stories, she has in fact exposed the dark themes which are explored in fairytales, but masked by their childhood associations. At first it may seem like there is an opposition between both childhood fairytales and adult nightmares, but in fact they are similar and rather than having been transformed into adult nightmares, they are being revealed as adult nightmares. One example of this is Bluebeard, the fairytale which The Bloody Chamber is linked to. The original fairytale should not be classes as childish as it is about a young girl who is married to a wealthy aristocrat who has a dark secret - he murders his wives and hangs them from hooks upon walls. Carter extracts the narrative from this story but builds upon it, as she links the adult themes and fairytale together, extracting the shocking latent content from Bluebeard, allowing it to form a whole new story which is a comment on gender complying with her feminist views, as it portrays the objectification of women. The protagonist in Bluebeard is a stereotypically passive woman, so Carter includes this character in her story but ensures her passiveness becomes explicit so that the reader comes to realise that these portrayals of women are, in fact, extremely old fashioned. In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf eats the grandmother of the young girl, which also occurs in Carters The Company of Wolves, which shows that both the fairytale and Carters reworking possess nightmarish qualities. Charles Perrault had originally written it in the 17th Century to warn women of the advanced of men, and Carter includes the sexist ideas of the original story, that females need protecting at all times, and completely subverts it. She exposes how the girls red cape, which may have been previously overlooked, is in fact an advertisement of sexual readiness as it is as red as blood on snow, perhaps representing the menstrual cycle and loss of virginity. The protagonist in the story decided to embrace her independence and sexuality by having sex with the wolf; in this sense she is distancing herself from being an old fashioned portrayal of a female as she states she is nobodys meat. This sense of female empowerment which is present in many of the stories in the collection allows the reader to come to the realisation that the language used and theme portrayed are actually not the stuff of adult nightmares, and are used to allow for the positive messages that Carter aims to showcase to become clear. The

transformation of the heroine in The Tigers Bride from beauty to beast upon discovering her true self is unlikely to be compared with a nightmare, as the image of self revelation may please and positively affect many readers. The Bloody Chamber is a gothic collection, and in order for it to stick to that genre it contains various elements to create a sense of the supernatural, fear, gloom and the link between death and sex. Most of the stories include a pure, virginal female protagonist, which is typical of a gothic novel, who loses both their innocence and virginity. In some cases, this innocent attraction to the powerful male character can lead to their downfall, which is displayed in The Erl-King. This sense of doom is present in other gothic texts such as Frankenstein, where Victors actions lead to the creation of a monster which he cannot control. The novel was based on a nightmare that Shelley had and in that respect, it can be stated that all features of gothic literature can be considered the stuff of adult nightmares. Some may argue that the fairytales which Carter has based her stories around, are in fact pieces of gothic literature themselves as they contain all the elements of the gothic. After analysing both The Bloody Chamber and traditional childhood fairytales, we can see what Carter believed that the fairytales had already held the stuff of adult nightmares. They contain adult themes and underlying content which already shows a male dominance in society. Although The Bloody Chamber contains many elements which are widely associated with adult nightmares, the original fairytales do too. For example, Little Red Riding Hood and even other tales not explored such as The Pied Piper portray the dark side or human nature, as does Carters collection as they allow for a grim depiction of realism; the only true difference is the language used which is due to the intended audiences. It would not be entirely correct to say that childhood fairytales have become the stuff of adult nightmares, as what Carter has done is made the content explicit: she uncovers it and reveals it for the reader.