On one level ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is a feminist remix of the tale of Bluebeard, but the narrative has other layers. There is no straightforward ‘key’ to its mysteries: it is packed with psychoanalytic imagery, mythic symbols and literary allusions, including embedded homages to de Sade as well as Perrault. Carter relocates the story to the coast of fin-de-siècle France. The narrator, who has recently married a wealthy Marquis, enters a forbidden room in his castle and makes a horrific and life-threatening discovery. There’s a gripping conclusion, revealing whether she escapes or becomes a victim of uxoricide, but this tale of gothic horror also provokes reflection on the darker aspects of passion and sex.
First published in The Bloody Chamber, Victor Gollancz, 1979. Currently available from Vintage Classics