The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

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This quotation seems particularly apt when applied to the offer the narrator scornfully makes to Milord when his wish for her to strip naked before him is communicated to her by the simian valet:

‘You may put me in a windowless room, sir, and I promise you I will pull my skirt up to my waist, ready for you. But there must be a sheet over my face, to hide it […]’

Spaniel and Simian

By removing the two sisters, Carter effectively changes the whole focus of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, something further emphasized by the fact that Milord (unlike Mr Lyon) never transforms into a human. ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ indeed is explicitly about the broadening of one’s true nature through animality, rather than it’s lessening: the Beast is more of a ‘man’ for his Beast-ness, and the woman more of a ‘woman’ for hers. This offers a profound contrast with the message of ‘The Bloody Chamber’ in which the Marquis’s animality is something that obviously cannot be held up for admiration.

A simple, but notable, change Carter makes to the original is that her two Beasts are unequivocally beautiful: one is clearly a lion, the other a tiger; both creatures generally held to be among the most attractive animals of the natural world. By contrast, Leprince de Beaumont’s Beast is described as ‘horrid’ and a ‘monster’. This is actually one of Carter’s most significant alterations, and it can be connected with another major adaption: the introduction of Mr Lyon and Milord’s two animal companions. In the original tale, everything provided for the guest in Beast’s palace is magical: there are no human servants. To an extent this is mirrored in Carter’s version – the door in ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon’ opens magically for example – but most of the supernatural elements in the original are excised and their function in the plot taken up by the spaniel in ‘The Courtship of Mr Lyon’ and the ape valet of ‘The Tiger’s Bride’.

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the Unkindness of Ravens If you have found our critical notes helpful, why not try the first Tower Notes novel, a historical fantasy set in the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

Available HERE where you can read the opening chapters.

The Unkindness of Ravens by Anthony Paul