How does Angela Carter subvert the traditional form off fairy-tale in her short story ‘The Snow Child? Why does she do this? Carter as a feminist was interested in fairy-tales because of hoe gender roles are presented in them. For example, women. Women are normally the lead characters of a fairy-tale. However, there are several different types of women that exist in fairy- tales and the reader is often able to figure out a characters role in a fairy-tale based on their physical appearance.
If the woman is attractive, it is often a sign to show a future of happiness and that she Is a ‘damsel In distress’ In need of her prince harming to come and rescue her. On the other hand, women that are less attractive are automatically classed as a source of suspicion. The ‘evils stepsisters’ from Cinderella are a prime example of this. Carter, as a feminist writer, can unpick and stripe the myths that compose and uphold western social and sexual relationships.
In her opinion, male desire dominated the popular Imagination and as a result of this, female desire became squeezed, denied and twisted.
In ‘The Bloody Chamber’, Carter does not do Versions’ of the common fairy-tales we all know but rather extracts the hidden content from them. One of the fairy-tales that Carter subverts is ‘Little Snow White’ written by the Grimm brothers. There are many similarities and differences in The Snow Child’ and ‘Little Snow White’, one being how both of then begin.
In Grime’s story is starts off by saying ‘Once upon a time, Midwinter’ and in carters story It starts off by saying Midwinter- invincible, Immaculate’.
Both stories draw attention to the setting being ‘Midwinter’ which suggests its cold but Carter’s use of alliteration, ‘invincible, immaculate’, exaggerates the extremity of the weather. Also the way Carter begins her story in the resent tense, which is an immediate departure from the ‘once upon a time’ traditionally shown in fairy-tales. This shows Carter subverting the story already as the beginning suggests It’s a horror story rather than a fairy-tale.
The characters In ‘The snow child’ could be seen as something drawing a connection to ‘Little Snow White’ as there is a husband, his wife and a girl that has all the traits of Snow White. However, where traditionally it’s the woman who wishes for the child, in Carter’s story it’s the man. Again, we are seeing how Carter seems to be subverting the fairy-tale genre here. The Count says ‘l wish I had a girl as white as snow. ‘ ‘I wish I had a girl as red as blood. ‘l wish I had a girl as black as that bird’s feathers’.
As the count wishes for a girl, we are forced to contemplate whether or not his wish Is of paternal meaning or sexual whereas if it where a woman we would assume her desire is maternal. Overall, we get the idea that the count is not satisfied with his wife and wishes for the girl to give him what his wife is not able to give. This is made evident in the simile that is used in the counts wish. The ‘as white as snow’ simile symbolisms the girls untainted virginity and purity. The ‘as red as blood’ however, has a more sinister meaning.
It could suggest danger and could also be foreshadowing omen due to the fact that we associate ravens with death and bad luck. All of the colors mentioned used to describe the girl are traditional, gothic colors, again showing that Carter’s story is nor fairy-tale. The way that Carter’s tale end is very different to what we normally expect to see in fairytale. The beautiful, young girl the count wishes for ends up dead. Traditionally, the beautiful girl lives ‘happily ever after’ with her prince charming and the ‘baddie’ IIS, but that is not the case with Carter’s story.
Instead the girl picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds; screams; falls’. The very brief description of the girls’ death suggests that she was never a very important character in the story. You could also interpret it in another way and say that this shows how men treated woman, used them and disposed of them when they were no longer needed. This could draw attention to Carter’s feminist views. Also, the fact that the girl dies shows that Carter’s story is not a fairy-tale but rather a sinister, gothic, horror story.
However, the fact that the girl’s death is due to the Countess’ Jealousy shows that there is an element of Grime’s story in ‘The Snow Child’ as Carter has arguably created an evil stepmother. We are shown this as the countess constantly asks the girl to do dangerous tasks for her such as purposefully dropping her diamond broach through a frozen pond and asking the girl to ‘Dive in and fetch it’ for her. Looking at all the evidence, it seems that Carter re-writes the fairy-tale as she does to show the different and dark side of femininity.
In traditional fairy-tales the image of a male is mostly associated with the good, the decent, the innocent and naive but Carter has rendered her story completely and shown women in a different light. The fact that fairy-tales have an element of teaching in them suggests that Carter has a message she wants to pass but she doesn’t specifically indicate what the message is, which show that she may want the reader to work it out for themselves. You could also look at ‘The Snow Child’ in a different way and say that it is not Just a re-writing of a fairy-tale to show what goes on in a really think but could also be revealing men to themselves.