The Erl King Essay

1407 words - 6 pages

Angela Carter – ‘The Bloody Chamber’ – ‘The Erl-King’.
‘The Erl-King’ is an adaptation of a European tale which draws heavily on folkloric traditions of the Green Man. The Erl-King is the personification of nature, as traditions embark this in the Green Man, ‘when he combs his hair that is the colour of dead leaves’, emphasising as though he is a tree. Therefore this can be linked to Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ as it too is associated with nature, in the sense of the wild and desolate moors, representing the wilderness and the isolation of nature. The folkloric traditions of the Green Man perceive him as peaceful as he does no harm, embodying him as the protector of nature, ...view middle of the document...

Within the first paragraph, from a third person narrative associating the weather to ‘this lovely girl, who possessed the same, inner light, so you would have thought, she, too was made of snow’ to a first person narrative of the same girl explain that her ‘father said he would be home before nightfall’. The narrative in ‘The Erl-King’ retains cohesion due to the episodic structure of the story, although the events of the story are not chronological. Carter blurs time and space as ‘the woods enclose’ to create a sense of unease, where reader feels as trapped as the protagonist. This is blurring of time is also represented in ‘Wuthering Heights’ as with Heathcliff’s return you are unaware of how long he has been gone or if he has even aged, ‘the same face’. In ‘Wuthering Heights’ there are two obvious narrators, Lockwood and Nelly Dean, a variety of other narratives are interspersed throughout the novel. The reason for this is that their actions are presented in the form of eyewitness narrations which they have played some part in the narration they describe. Wuthering Heights has a multi-layered narration, each individual narrative opening out from its parent to reveal a new stratum (level) of the story. This complex technique helps to maintain a continuous narrative despite of the difficulties posed by the huge time-shifts involved in the novel. In ‘The Erl King’ the third person narrative that establishes the story gives way to a direct address in the second person: ‘the wood swallows you up’, before a first person narrative account takes control. ‘Young girls are tied to the woods’, readers then realise that the narrative voice is female and we see things wholly from the perspective of the female protagonists. This creates a never ending effect to further disorient the reader, Carter moves from the past tense to the present tense and even the future to deliberately entrance and to also entrap the reader within the story, as well as reading about being entrapped.
The language used in ‘The Erl-King’ portrays the woods as a dangerous place, this is because light does not come through; therefore no one should enter the woods for it would ‘enclose’ you. Due to no light being able to pass through, the woods are described as a ‘labyrinth’ and a ‘system of Chinese boxes’, thus creating the sense of entrapment and claustrophobia, in which you are unable to escape from. Angela Carter repeats this sense of entrapment in ‘The Tigers Bride’, as the tiger’s castle is full of ‘vaulted chambers’ creating the similar ‘system of Chinese boxes’. The ‘Erl-King will do you grievous harm’ is repeated throughout, for its purpose is to warn the female protagonist, in which it has the opposite effect on her by soothing her rather than disturbing her. This then enchants the protagonist to shadow the Erl-King more. The disillusion and the entrapment which is emphasised throughout highlights the fact that ‘The Erl-King’ is a rapist, as the protagonist...

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