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Drawing upon at least two stories in 'The Bloody Chamber', explore the ways in w hich Carter can be seen

to re-interpret Gothic conventions. One of the key conventions within the Gothic genre is the setting. Authors set t heir stories using characteristic topography, such as castles, cathedrals and fo rests, to create a vertiginous effect on the audience. In 'The Bloody Chamber', Carter replicates this technique with her description of the Marquis' castle. Sh e describes it as being surrounded by "spiked gates" and as "at home neither on the land nor on the water, a mysterious, amphibious place, contravening the mate riality of both earth and the waves". The imagery used here creates an atmospher e of isolation and fear which are synonymous with the gothic genre. Carter uses setting to convey the general themes in all of her short stories in 'The Bloody Chamber', other examples of this are the thick, unnavigable forests in 'The Were wolf' and 'The Company of Wolves'. Carter keeps the Gothic presentation of sett ing intact to create a platform to portray her own personal morals and messages. The background of a fantasy world related to magical, surreal landscapes contra sts with the real world messages she intends to convey to the reader such as the roles of women and the sexual perversions in modern literature. The stark contr ast emphasises the messages and makes them more poignant. Carter can definitely be seen to re-interpret the roles of women in the Gothic. The general convention for this Gothic genre is that women are the stereotypical trembling victim, largely silent and an innocent 'gender ideal' with an emphasi s on purity and virginity. Carter subverts this role by portraying women as inde pendent and in control of their own fate; they can be seen to a certain extent a s antagonists. In 'The Company of Wolves' the girl is unafraid of the beast's th reats to eat her. The narrator states, 'The girl burst out laughing; she knew sh e was nobody's meat.' The girl's fearlessness can be attributed to her self-real isation of her power. She then uses her female sexuality as a weapon by sacrific ing her virginity and 'marrying' to the wolf in order to save herself. This is a binary opposition from the typical gothic woman, for example Justine Moritz in Shelley's 'Frankenstein', who passively accepts her fate. Another Gothic convention is the appearance of a dominant, male protagonist. The se protagonists are constructed by the author to follow a general set of criteri a such as, a high social status, a strong sexual presence and an association wit h what is bestial or non-human. Men like these can be found in Carter's stories e.g. the beast with the head of a lion in 'The courtship of Mr Lyon' and the 'le onine' Marquis in 'The Bloody Chamber, however Carter re-interprets the roles of these men as they are not dominant over the women in the texts. The matriarch o f the story 'The Bloody Chamber' stops the seemingly inevitable murder of her damse l in distress daughter. Without a moment's hesitation, she raised my father s gun, to m, and put a single, irreproachable bullet through my husband s head. This shows Carte r's belief that women are as strong as men and in this case she diminishes the p ower of the Marquis. Carter's subversion of the conventional dominant male prot agonist is a feminist perspective on the traditional Gothic presentation. Anothe r example of the female 'dominance' of the secondary male character can be found in 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' where Beauty assumes the 'male' role in that she 'courts' the beast. Because this is very different from the traditional gender r oles both in society and in the Gothic genre, it highlights the absurdity of the m. Typically, Gothic stories end tragically after the terror has consumed the reade r. Carter's stories are different from the Gothic in that the story develops to include a 'happy ending'. This can be found in many of the stories in the collec tion, notably in 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' where the final sentence is 'Mr and Mrs Lyon walk in the garden; the old spaniel drowses on the grass, in a drift of fallen petals.' The romantic, peaceful imagery here symbolises the resolution o f all which is dark and 'bad' within the story. This type of conclusion is gener ally found in fairy tales to offer comfort to the young reader after the 'obstac le' within a story has been overcome. The endings of Carter's short stories ofte n seem comical in light of the baleful previous plot, the inclusion of comedy an d the fairy-tale ending is a way in which Carter subverts the Gothic genre. It is important to consider that genres in literature are fluid and change over

time. Along with political movements and fashions, they are not black and white. Carter re-worked the Gothic to include feminist ideals and fairy-tale which was fairly ground breaking because it was so different to the conventional Gothic s tyle, created in Walpole's 'The Castle Of Otranto'. The publication of 'The Bloo dy Chamber' also coincided with the feminist movement of the late seventies whi ch would have helped to highlight Carter's presentation of strong female charact ers. In 'The Bloody Chamber', it can be said that Carter reinterprets not only the Go thic conventions but also the fairy tale in order to create stories which explor e female sexuality and expose the misogynistic aspects of the modern woman s relatio nship with men. The culmination of these two genres is perfect for Carter to voi ce her opinions as it creates a fantasy land which contrasts and emphasises the real issues she is addressing.