‘The role of women in the gothic genre is as victims always subjected to male authority’, compare and contrast to which this interpretation is relevant to your three chosen texts.
By Kristina Addis
Within My Last Duchess, The Bloody Chamber and Dracula, there is evidence to suggest that women within the gothic genre as portrayed as victims of male authority, as well as evidence to disprove this argument, instead suggesting that it is the women within the Gothic genre which makes themselves victims. ‘Angela Carter is particularly interested in the portrayal of women as victims of male aggression as a limiting factor in the feminist perspective of the time’[i] Carter, with her modern twist on traditional fairytales places a
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However, it is the countess who gains the knowledge, not the heroine. The countess is a striking figure ‘glittering’[x] and ‘shining’[xi], she is dressed in ‘pelts of black foxes’[xii], this is an anthropomorphic image of her sly and cunning sexuality, this again is evidence to suggest that women make themselves victims of male authority, by their beauty and behaviour. The girl dies because she is a victim of male fantasy; the picking of the rose by the countess is a symbolic combination of the perfection of natural beauty and the town as a metaphor, for the inevitable pains of loving. The count fails to protect the girl from the jealously of his wife and the girl dies bleeding and screaming in pain, again showing how women make themselves victims by their own behaviour. The scene of graphic necrophilia ‘unfastened his breeches and thrust his virile member into the dead girl’[xiii] that follows it ‘perhaps the most extreme image in the whole collection’[xiv] as it expressed the victimisation of women by male authority. Carter suggests that this image shows that ‘women know men would rather indulge themselves with dead fantasies than accept women as they really are, a depressing and morbid view of human relationships’ [xv] The ending of this tale is also ambiguous, the countess discovers that the rose ‘bites’[xvi] however it is unclear if she dies like the girl or whether she lives. This