Love for Sale

Love for Sale - Kirsten Ferreri ENGL 140A Prof. Huehls...

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Kirsten Ferreri ENGL 140A Prof. Huehls March 13, 2008 Love for Sale: Marxist Principles in Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” Angela Carter’s short story “The Bloody Chamber,” a feminist retelling of the Bluebeard story, situates itself within the period of Industrialization rather than the distant past usually associated with fairy tales. This begs the question of why Carter chose to modernize such a hidebound story. After all, the tale of Bluebeard hinges on the possibility of arranged marriages, dowries and bride- prices. What similarity can there be between the situation of Bluebeard’s wife, a woman effectively sold into a dangerous situation, and the protagonist of “The Bloody Chamber,” a modern young woman with the ability to choose her own husband for love? Carter suggests, in her narrative, that the situation of women has still not changed. Rather than being liberated by their freedom of choice, women are enslaved by it, since the onus of “banishing the spectre of poverty” (Carter 111) now lies with them. Women are not freed from the necessity of marrying for money; they are compelled to take responsibility for it instead of relying on their fathers and brothers to arrange their financial security. By placing the story in a world which postdates Marxist theory, in which men of all classes are rapidly gaining financial self-agency by means of Socialist innovations such as workers’ unions, Carter implies that women are the new proletariat, both
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Ferreri 2 responsible for their financial security and ultimately victims of the economic landscape. From the very opening pages of the story, the protagonist – who remains unnamed – views her marriage as an effort toward financial security. She rests her head on “impeccable linen,” triumphs over the golden bridal band, and recalls with affection but no longing the poverty which she has just left (111). The potential for marital bliss, and even the love which she feels for her husband, are dependent solely on his ability to purchase her with material wealth. So far the financial situations of the original wife of Bluebeard and the bride of the Marquis in “The Bloody Chamber” seem identical. Both are effectively purchased, and both view their marriage in financial rather than romantic terms. However, Carter emphasizes that unlike the wife of Bluebeard, her protagonist has the opportunity to endorse a different view of marriage. The night before the wedding, when her mother asks if she loves her husband, the narrator recalls that her mother “had gladly, scandalously, defiantly beggared herself for love” (111). Thus, it is ostensibly possible for the narrator, too, to pursue a romantic rather
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course ENG 140A taught by Professor Mitchumhuehls during the Winter '08 term at UCLA.

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Love for Sale - Kirsten Ferreri ENGL 140A Prof. Huehls...

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