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In The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter shows the strength and independent

nature of the women in her tale. The new bride in The Bloody Chamber is given her own
independent thought, allowing her to make her own decision on whether or not to marry
the Marquis, rather than awaiting the decision of her mother. This directly contradicts the
original fairy tale (and typical stereotypes of women) – where the women in Bluebeard
are seen as dependent upon their mother’s decision to give them away (making them
property of their mother, rather than being the ‘boss’ of themselves) and aristocratic
beauties who know nothing more than a lavish life: “One of his neighbors, a lady of
quality, had two daughters who were perfect beauties. He desired of her one of them in
marriage, leaving to her choice which of the two she would bestow on him (Perrault,
www.pitt.edu).”
The other obviously strong female character in The Bloody Chamber is the new
bride’s mother. She is first introduced as “my eagle-featured, indomitable mother; what
other student at the Conservatoire could boast that her mother had outfaced a junkful of
Chinese pirates, nursed a village through a visitation of the plague, shot a man-eating
tiger with her own hand and all before she was as old as I (Carter 7)?” In the end, when
the new bride is to be executed, she sees her mother coming to her rescue. Most women
would be cowering, or fainting, or waiting for their knight in shining armor to save them,
but the new bride and her new lover help the mother defeat the Marquis by racing to the
door. When the mother bursts into the door, she does not hesitate in the face of danger.
“On her eighteenth birthday, my mother had disposed of a man-eating tiger that had
ravaged the villages in the hills north of Hanoi. Now, without a moment’s hesitation, she
raised my father’s gun, took aim and put a single, irreproachable bullet through my
husband’s head (Carter 40).” Not only is the mother coming to the rescue of her daughter
(and the blind piano-turner!), she is confidentially holding the pistol of her dead husband
to destroy the very thing that is threatening her own flesh-and-blood.
In the original fairytale, Bluebeard, the bride tells her sister to call for help from
the top of the tower, from which she sees her brothers riding to the rescue. They delay as
much as they possibly can before the bride is forced to go downstairs to be executed. Just
as she is about to have her head chopped off, her brothers burst through the doors, chase
down the husband and stab him repeatedly until he is certainly dead. They then return to
their sister who has fainted from the excitement: “The poor wife was almost as dead as
her husband, and had not strength enough to rise and welcome her brothers (Perrault,
www.pitt.edu).” I will have to say that when I read this section, I just chuckled and
shook my head. How typical, I thought, for the women to faint from the excitement of
fighting for we are so delicate that we must not be shown these horrific events of men.
The way that Carter fought this stereotype of delicate women was ingenious! A gun
wielding mother, who fought pirates and man-eating tigers, is coming to rescue her
daughter from evil. While the mother and daughter retain delicacy in their mannerisms
and love, they are undeniably strong-willed women.
The other significant change in the story is the introduction of the blind piano-
turner. As the new bride in The Bloody Chamber plays her piano, the blind piano-turner
becomes enraptured by her music: “When I heard you play this afternoon, I thought I’d
never heard such a touch. Such technique (Carter 32).” At the time when the piano
turner is complimenting her musical abilities, she only thinks, “To see him, in his lovely,
blind humanity, seemed to hurt me very piercingly, somewhere inside my breast (Carter
32). The significance of his blindness, I believe, represents Carter’s way of combating the
Marquis’s obsession with beauty. The Marquis seems to only “collect” the most
beautiful of specimen’s to preserve, whereas the blind piano-turner is able to peer into the
new bride’s heart. He appreciates the kind, innocent human she is and the soul behind
the music she plays, not caring what she looks like.