flourished his sabre.As he ceased, poor Fatima looked up at him with dying eyes. “Ah, sir!” she besought him, “if this curiosity be, as you remind me, my worst sin, you will not be so cruel as to destroy me before I have confessed and asked pardon for it. Grant me, then, just one moment more to fix my thoughts on devotion!”25
“No, no,” was his answer; “recommend thyself to Heaven,” and he swung up his sabre to strike.At that very instant there sounded so loud a knocking at the gate that he came to a sudden stop. His arm dropped as the gate flew open and two cavaliers ran in with drawn swords and rushed upon him. Loosing his hold upon Fatima, who sank fainting upon the grass, he ran to save himself, but the two brothers were so hot on his heels that, afer pursuing him through the vineries and the orange-house, they overtook him just as he reached the steps of the main porch. There they ran their swordsthrough his body, and, afer making sure that he was dead, returned to their sister, who opened her eyes, indeed, as they bent over her, but had not strength enough to rise and embrace them.Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his wife became mistress of all his estates. She employed a part of her wealth to marry her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had loved her a long while; another part to purchase captains’ commissions for her two step-brothers; and the rest to marry herself to a very worthy gentleman who made her forget the short but unhappy time she had passed with Blue Beard.MORAL(For Curious Wives)Wives should have one lord only. Some have reckon’dIn Curiosity t’ enjoy a second.But Scripture says we may not serve two masters,And little keys have opened large disasters.ANOTHER(For Chastising or Correcting Husbands)The very best sermon that ever was preach’dWas a thought less effective the longer it reached.Feminist GothicHere, as a further opportunity for comparison, is a more recent version of the Blue Beard story. Angela Carter’s approach to the Gothic is to take a traditionally misogynistic tale like Blue Beard and re-imagine it as a feminist story. That is, it is a story in which gender politics are at the forefront, and the woman does not need a man to rescue her.Carter’s version of Blue Beard is The Bloody Chamber, which is also the title of her collection of tales that have had feminist revisions. The short story The Company of Wolves, a version of the classic Gothic story Little Red Riding Hood(that was coincidentally made into a film) is also from this collection.26
At over 16,300 words, The Bloody Chamberis rather long for our purposes here, which is to serve as a third comparison text against the Perrault and Quiller-Couch stories above. The story is essentially the same, although with significantly more detail, and one or two confronting sexual images. The part of the text that is of most interest is the ending, which, you will recall, sees the wife’s two brothers (or step-brothers) ride to her rescue, killing Blue Beard just in the nick of time.Here is the ending of
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- Fall '10
- Gothic fiction, blue beard