The Piano

The Appropriation of Perrault's "Bluebeard" in Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" and "The Piano" 11th Grade

The fairy tale of Bluebeard has fascinated writers, filmmakers, photographers, and artists throughout history and across national boundaries. Coming from the European oral tradition, the first, and most famous, written version is Charles Perrault’s La Barbe Bleue, published in 1697. Developing a tale of a murderous aristocrat who whose wives have all mysteriously vanished, Perrault’s tale inscribes patriarchal power structures; elevating males figure while emphasising female oppression and silence. By appropriating Perrault’s Bluebeard, feminist writers have been able to subvert traditional assumptions about knowledge and power to critique the tale as a discourse that produces a disparate representation of the genders. In her short story The Bloody Chamber (1979), Angela Carter takes the essence of the original tale, and reworks it so that its social contexts of patriarchal power dynamics become significant to modern day readers. Jane Campion’s film The Piano (1993) also retells the Bluebeard story within the context of nineteenth-century New Zealand. Both Carter and Campion’s texts engage with late 20th century values and feminist principles. The prevailing notion of a woman’s curiosity, traditionally perceived as...

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