The Fall River Axe Murders Analysis

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In her short story “The Fall River Axe Murders,” Angela Carter treats us not to the blood-soaked depiction promised by the title but, instead, a far more in-depth look at the curious individual who was Lizzie Borden. Through precise word-choice and careful detail, Carter delves into the long-held and everyday struggles faced by the troubled Borden and, in doing so, paints a clear picture of a woman with little outward purpose, a bleak future, a contentious relationship with her father and step-mother, and questionable mental health. Her individual response, or lack thereof, to each of these hardships faced would ultimately result in a cumulative anger within Borden ready to boil over with the slightest nudge. When an act of betrayal on her …show more content…
“It was well known in polite circles in Fall River that Lizzie suffered from occasional “peculiar spells” as the idiom of the place and time called odd lapses of behavior, unexpected, involuntary trances, moments of disconnection---those times when the mind misses a beat. (48)” Were these spells an outward symptom of a much larger issue that befell her at the time of her monthly menstrual cycle or were they a cover for more devious activities? The burglary of the Borden household threw Mr. Borden for a loop. It was quickly determined that some seedy individual from the less wealthy part of town must have committed the crime which left Mr. Borden feeling so violated. However, Lizzie had been home at the time of the burglary and Carter’s telling of her account raises many questions, “What was she doing, standing clad only in her corset in the middle of the sitting room? How had she got there? Had she crept down when she heard the screen door rattle? She did not know. She could not remember. (48)” Taking into account the very personal act that “the intruder pissed and shitted on the cover of the Borden’s bed. (48)” and her strained relationship, at best, with her father and step-mother, one could deduce that it was Lizzie whom had carried out this heinous act. If this was …show more content…
It is doubtful that any two individuals who read this short story would view Lizzie in the same light. Carter has made her a sort of Rorschach test for the readers to digest and enjoy in whatever manner they see fit. She is both sympathetic and devious. Worthy of empathy yet cold to her core. Taking into account all the circumstances which led to her viciously taking the life of her father and step-mother she appears to be, above all, a deeply troubled woman, both a victim of circumstance and society, who was pushed to her brink and beyond over the course of many years by her father’s distance and her step-mother’s mere disgusting presence. It would appear the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden that summer morning were a long time coming. Lizzie Borden needed little more than the nudge provided by her father to see through what was likely her plan all

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