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The Courtship Of Mr Lyon By Angela Carter Analysis and Summary


Here is a complete analysis of the short story 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' which is one of ten short stories (with 'The Bloody Chamber' being a novella) in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Feel free to skip to the parts most relevant to you.


Summary 

There is a young girl called Beauty. He father is on the way home from a trip to see lawyers because his fortune has gone. However, his car brakes down and he is now upset that he cannot get Beauty the one gift she requested: a white rose.

The father finds an enchanting house and sees a white rose in it's garden. He takes it and hears and tremendous roar come from within the house. A Beast comes out of the house and is angry at Beauty's father for taking the rose in his garden. Beauty's father tells the Beast that it was for his daughter and shows the Beast a picture of Beauty. Beast likes Beauty and creates a deal where he will let Beauty's father have the rose if he and Beauty comes to dinner at the Beast's house.

At dinner, the Beast tells Beauty's father to go to London to sort out his 'fortune' he lost leaving Beauty by herself with the Beast. At midnight, the Beast throws himself onto Beauty and kisses her hand and then runs out of the room like a Lion on four legs.

Beauty enjoys her time roaming the house waiting for her father's return. Her father calls one day saying that his fortune has been restored so Beauty makes way to London to see her father. Beast is upset at this so Beauty promises to see him in the future again.

The Beast's spaniel found Beauty and looked starve. Beaut knew the Beast was dying so Beauty travels up to the Beast's house where she sees he has become weak because he hasn't been able to kill and eat anything because he hasn't the heart to kill.  Beauty kisses the Beast's hand and cries on him. From this, the Beast turns into a man where the story leaves us with Mr and Mrs Lyon go to eat some breakfast.


Critical Terms

  • This short story is a pastiche. It is based on the classic fairy tale, 'Beauty and the Beast'.
  • The denouement (climax of the story) is when Beauty is at Beast's bedside when he is dying or when the father is met by the angry Beast for the first time.

Key Themes

  • The Bloody Chamber - The Bloody Chamber is the Beast's room. The Beast does not want to hurt anyone. Therefore, the room represents the violent and bloody reputation of a Lion. It is also a place of transformation for both the hero and heroism (where Beauty realises her love for the Beast where he is transforming back to a human).
  • Objectification of Women - Beauty's father uses Beauty as a payment for his debt to the Beast for taking the white rose. Although she is treated very well with luxury like the heroine in 'The Bloody Chamber', she is seen as property.
  • Mirrors - The reader will see the transformation of Beauty from an unspoiled child to a pampered women from the amount of times she looks at herself in the mirror. She is becoming obsessed with her physical image although she prefers the Beast's image of her as someone to have conversation with.
  • Roses - The white (white represents purity) rose represents Beauty in that it continually grows un-naturally in winter and is still perfect: like Beauty who is unspoiled, gentle and a virgin. Beauty and her father both want the rose, concurring to an idealized idea who she is. When the father steals the rose, it represents his desire to keep beauty perfect and maintain her virginity. Beauty sends the Beast roses of which he cherishes as the rose is Beauty's representative identity of a perfect women.
  • Love - Between Beauty and her father /Beauty and the Beast.
  • Beauty - Of the rose, spaniel, Beauty and the animalistic beauty of the Beast.
  • Vanity - Of Beauty.
  • Alienation - Of the Beast. He cannot interact with the outside world as he feels he will be mocked by other humans (which is why he doesn't have any servants).

Form and Structure 

  • This is a pastiche of the fairy tale 'Beauty and the Beast'.
  • The narrative form is third person, 'He drew his head back and gazed at her'. However, there are snippets of 1st person 'all he is doing is kissing my hands'.
  • This gives the impression that this story cannot be subjective. However, due to the snippets of first person narration, it could be seen that it is partly subjective in areas making the reader feel pity for the Beast.
  • This is a short story.

Language and Effect

  • P47 Mid - 'Take her the rose, then, but bring her to dinner', he growled'. The Beast is bargaining with Miss Lamb's father. Fairy tales often feature a bargain of some sort strengthening the point that this story is a pastiche.
  • 'When the sky darkened towards evening'. Carter foreshadows the transitions of the girl and the as-yet-to-know Mr Lyon.
  • 'Indescribable shock...on all fours'. This shows the naivety of Beauty as, to the reader, it is obvious that as a Lion, the Beast will behave in an animalistic manner.
  • 'that pearly skin of hers was plumping out', 'a certain inwardness was beginning to transform the lines around her mouth'. The apparent physical change mirrors that of the Beast, showing that they are at one, foreshadowing the ending.
  • Gothic - In 'The Courtship Of Mr Lyon', Carter creates the idea of claustrophobia around the Beast's castle, 'it might have been the reflection of a star, if any stars could have penetrated the snow that whirled more thickly' - The idea of shielding the castle from the Beast from outside world.
For more language and effect analysis, have a look at 'The Courtship Of Mr Lyon Key Quotes To Remember'.


Connection to Others

  • Tiger's Bride - 'Has an air of self-imposed restraint, as if fighting a battle with himself to remain upright when he would far rather drop down on all fours'. The Tiger's fight to remain human-like contrasts to the Mr Lyon's resignation to the Beast as he is 'on all fours'.


Interpretations

  • It could be seen that it is a pastiche of 'Sleeping Beauty' at the end.
  • The setting of being snowy could suggest a pastiche of 'Snow White' too.
  • It could be seen that Beauty sees the human in the Beast before he transforms when she feels 'indescribable shock' when he goes down on all fours. The indistinguishable line between man and beast provides the idea that there is a beast in all of us.


Literary Context 

  • The first published version of Beauty and the Beast was a rendition Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villneuve, published in La jeune americaine, et les contes marins in 1740.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

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