The Bloody Chamber

The Liminal Experience in Angela Carter’s The Erl King College

Liminality pervades Angela Carter’s short story collection, entitled The Bloody Chamber, in her characters, physical settings and even her narrative voice. The bloody chamber, as a physical ‘chamber’ can refer to a room where violence and enlightenment occur simultaneously. It is a space of transformation for the heroine that changes her irrevocably. Bloody chambers are often connected with not only the blood of violence, but also with the bloodshed when a woman loses her virginity and when she menstruates. The concept "bloody chamber" can also refer to the vagina or womb, and Carter uses this fact to underscore the connection between women's sexuality and the violence they experience. Carter creates an atmosphere that possesses elements of the ‘bloody chamber’, both power and torment simultaneously, particularly in ‘The Erl King’, a story in which all aspects exist liminally. The narrator in the Erl-King describes the sensation of liminality as "vertigo." When the Erl-King, a liminal creature who is half-human, half-woods, draws her into his "gravity" of in-betweenness, she is unpleasantly disoriented. This disorient translates to the ambiguity of the King’s identity and the narrator’s...

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