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.
- 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.
- 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.
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’.
- 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.
- 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.