The Bloody Chamber

Transformation and Transgression in Gothic Literature: Analyzing Stoker and Carter 11th Grade

The Gothic is undeniably intertwined with transformative states, both literally, such as with the presentation of supernatural beings that lie between life and death, and also thematically, with the idea of transitional time periods and settings. One of the great contradictions of Gothic literature is how, while transformations are integral to the genre, there remains a divide between novels that use this to portray a transgressive message, and others that promote conformist morals. This contradiction becomes even more apparent when comparing Angela Carter’s 20th century The Bloody Chamber with Bram Stoker’s 19th Century work Dracula, as while both present transformations, the former uses this as a positive force whereas the latter can be viewed as cautionary and moralistic.

Both Carter and Stoker combine the gothic trope of the ‘abhuman’ with the idea of transformation to convey wildly different ideas on sexuality and gender. Dracula is perhaps most famous for its eponymous vampire, who acts as the main antagonist of the novel. The vampire itself can be seen as a being that is inherently transformative, anthropomorphic on the whole but with uncanny corpse-like differences such as “sharp, protruding teeth” and “pallid”...

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