Narrator of "The Bloody Chamber"
The unnamed narrator of "The Bloody Chamber" has grown up with her mother in a small apartment in Paris. Her father died when she was young. She wants to marry the Marquis because he is wealthy and has worldly experience. She is also flattered that he would want someone like her, with "mouse-colored hair" and "bony hips" and "nervous, pianist's fingers." Once at his remote castle, she begins to feel very lonely, especially because her new husband seems to be more interested in his business dealings than with her. After discovering the Marquis's dark secret, she is resourceful and attempts to both seduce the Marquis and delay the inevitable. After her mother comes to save her, she marries Jean-Yves, the blind piano tuner, and dedicates her life to charity.
The Marquis in "The Bloody Chamber" acquired his wealth both through inheritance and shady dealings with opium. He is a purveyor of pornography and likes to torture women. He courts the unnamed narrator of "The Bloody Chamber" because she is a virgin and he sees in her that she would perhaps enjoy being corrupted. He teases her by making her wear a red choker necklace that bites into her neck, foreshadowing what he plans to do with her.
The narrator of "The Bloody Chamber" describes her mother as "eagle-featured" and indomitable. She grew up on a tea plantation in Indochina, or Southeast Asia, where she once shot a man-eating tiger. The narrator's mother married a soldier for love, and when he died in the war, she raised her daughter in near-poverty. She sells all her jewelry so that her daughter can study piano. She has reservations about her daughter's marriage to the Marquis, and when her daughter cries on the phone, she knows something is wrong and comes immediately. She saves her daughter from being beheaded by the Marquis.
The Countess is the queen of the vampires and wears an antique bridal gown in "The Lady of the House of Love." She spends most of her days sitting alone under "the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors." She turns tarot cards that always come up the same. She hunts small game in her garden and has her servant, an old mute, bring her men as prey. However, she does not relish her role and longs to sing a new song. She has a chance when on the same day she turns the card for lovers, a handsome blond soldier shows up. She is so shaky in his presence that she ends up cutting her own finger, and she finds her own blood strange, as she has never seen it before. Thanks to the blond soldier, she is able to leave behind her undead state and embrace her own humanity, however briefly.
The handsome blond soldier in "The Lady of the House of Love" is on leave from his army regiment and decides to bicycle in Upper Romania. He believes in reason, not superstition, so he has no fear of the Countess, who is actually a vampire. Instead, he worries about her health and sanity. He does not want to take advantage of her but wishes to protect her. When she cuts her finger, he kisses the wound to try and make it better. This act of kindness gives the Countess humanity, and she dies in the morning light, finally free from her despair. The blond soldier returns to his regiment.