The Narrative Voices in Stoker’s and Carter’s Works Essay
Updated: Apr 5th, 2019
Authors often resort to the first person narrative when writing their great novels. This helps authors create a very special atmosphere of a person’s confession. Authors manage to reveal the deepest emotions which become so true to life. Bram Stoker and Angela Carter created really specific confessions which can be regarded as semi-realistic.
The works by the two authors are fables, but, at the same time, they reveal inner world of the two real individuals. Notably, the two authors resort to different means to tell their stories and make people feel particular emotions. The two writers use different means to uncover their inner worlds. However, the common feature of their works is intimacy which is created with the help of specific tools.
To take a closer look at these points, it is possible to analyse the narrative voices in such works as Dracula by Bram Stoker, “The Courtship of Mr Lyon”, “The Tiger’s Bride” and “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter. Thus, the major peculiarity of these works is specific intimacy.
However, it is also necessary to understand which tools the authors exploit to achieve their goals. The most overt tools used are epistolary narrative voice, character narrative voice and third-person subjective narrative voice combined with stream of consciousness voice. These narrative voices help the authors create a really special atmosphere of intimacy.
As has been mentioned above, the works in question have specific narratives. The authors do not alienate themselves. Thus, Dracula is a compilation of various personal documents (diaries, personal letters, etc.). The reader is forced to believe that the story is “an entirely true account of extraordinary events” (Johnson 2009, p. 73).
The characters are really precise when noting some facts (dates, names, addresses, etc.). They are also concerned with revealing their ideas, emotions, thoughts. Thus, Jonathan Harker writes about a really intimate subject (i.e. religion) in his journal: “It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavour and as idolatrous should in time of loneliness and trouble be of help” (Stoker 1986, p. 29). Admittedly, people tend to think of such topics a lot without sharing them with strangers or even some close people.
Likewise, Angela Carter uses similar approach. Though she does not write epistolary stories, she tells the story in the first person. For instance, in “The Bloody Chamber” the girl (the heroine of the story) reveals her feelings and her excitement concerning her marriage:
I remember how, that night, I lay awake in … delicious ecstasy of excitement” that the train bore her “away from girlhood… into the unguessable country of marriage. (Carter 1995a, p. 1)
Thus, the reader feels the anxiety of the girl who is about to become a mature woman. Likewise, the story “The Courtship of Mr Lyon” reveals the inner world of the girl who has to save her father sacrificing herself.
The words “I hope he’ll be safe” can be regarded as a kind of motto of the heroine (Carter 1995b, p. 43). Interestingly, even though there is a narrator in the story, it is still intimate as the story is full of remarks and ideas which belong to the girl’s mind. It is even possible to state that the story is a combination of a narration and the stream of consciousness.
The other story is also a kind of confession where the girl reveals her deepest emotions and her secret thoughts. The girl contemplates her past and she laments over her destiny. The girl claims: “It was a world in itself but a dead one, a burned-out planet” (Carter 1995c, p. 63). The author reveals her heroine’s inner world. The story could be a memoir of the girl who contemplated her past.
It is necessary to note that all these means contribute greatly to the development of a very intimate atmosphere. The authors create credible fables. Of course, this credibility is not about particular facts true to life. However, this credibility lies in another plane. Jodar (2009) points out that Dracula could be a product of human mind. The researcher claims that the story is very specific as the reader does believe that the story is constituted by the true letters and diaries. However, the whole story is seen as a product of someone’s imagination. Jodar (2009) notes that it is possible to believe that the story did happen in the main characters’ imagination.
Likewise, Carter creates the stories which are re-written fables known to everyone (Makinen 1992; Lau 2008; Roemer and Bacchilega 1998). However, Carter creates a bit different stories which could ‘happen’ in real life. Again, it is all about people’s minds, not the real world. Thus, it is possible to state that the works in question do not simply reveal some fables. The stories can be regarded as a kind of representation of their author’s personalities, their inclinations and aspirations.
Epistolary narrative voice
At this point, it is necessary to take a closer look at each tool used by the authors to better understand the way the intimacy is achieved. Thus, Bram Stoker used one of the most conventional ways to make the reader believe that the story could be real. Hollinger (1997, p. 219) calls the novel “an extremely conservative text” in terms of narrative voices. The writer uses epistolary narrative voice which was used by many writers.
Thus, the novel is ‘constituted’ by entries of different diaries and letters, notes and some extracts from newspapers (which are still a part of personal narratives). Notably, the writer inserts some sort of justification for writing diaries. Thus, Mina writes:
I do not suppose there will be much of interest to other people, but it is not intended for them… I am told that, with a little practice, one can remember all that goes on or that one hears said during a day (Stoker 1986, p. 55)
Of course, Mina’s entries are full of some contemplation, but there are lots of details. It could be rather ‘suspicious’ and the writer could fail to reach his aim. The reader would not believe in reality of the notes as no girl’s diary contains so many details and facts. However, the author makes the reader see that there is a particular aim to reach as Mina starts her diary as a kind of exercise. The reader cannot but believe that the entries are real and the story told is also true to life.
More so, the writer makes it clear that all participants were to make notes as they found this task really important since “in the struggle … to rid the earth of this terrible monster” they were determined to “have all the knowledge and all the help” they could get (Stoker 1986, p.223).
Thus, credibility is achieved with the help of specific justification. Apart from various details, the character’s writing is full of their emotions and ideas. Thus, a brave man writes about his psychological state and his feelings: “Of late I have had cause for tears, God knows!” (Stoker 1986, p.223). Of course, such confessions which can be regarded as a specific feature of epistolary narrative voices, contribute greatly to the creation of intimacy.
Character narrative voice
One more way to tell the story is to use character narrative voice. This method also creates a specific atmosphere of intimacy. Of course, it does not guarantee credibility in many cases. Thus, Carter rewrites fables and there can be no credibility. The reader does not think the story actually took place. However, character narrative voice makes Crater’s stories very intimate and it becomes obvious that the stories reveal the writer’s inner world.
Character voice narrative suggests that using the famous plots Carter reveals her vision on the famous (and even conventional) fables. This vision is feministic. Thus, the main heroines of the Carter’s stories acquire feminist voice. The character voice narrative helps the writer reveal her viewpoints and tells the stories from the main heroine’s perspective.
Prokhorova (2011, p. 51) calls Carter’s creations “anti-fairy tales” which are very feministic as they destroy wrongful impact of patriarchal fairy tales which teach girls to seek for the secondary roles in their own lives (e.g. waiting for the Prince Charming make the fairy tale come true).
Obviously, Carter is against patriarchal representation of the relationship between the famous characters (Craven 2002). Thus, the bride telling about her first night with her husband chooses the phrase that can characterize Carter’s view on marriage and relationships with men: “so my purchaser unwrapped his bargain” (Carter 1995a, p. 11).
Carter’s stories reveal tyrannical, aggressive and cruel men. The author touches upon such themes as violence and female sexuality (Sheets 1991, p. 633). Thus, heroine shares her views on relationships between men and women:
And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the
skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shining hairs.
My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur. (Carter 1995c, p. 75)
Notably, Carter is not against male assistance. Thus, she admits that men can help women liberate themselves. However, only Beasts who are not afraid of their wild nature can help women liberate. Those who hide behind conventions are condemned. These condemned try to regain their power over women, exercising this power in a tyrannous way. Admittedly, Carter chooses a very intimate way to reveal her ideas. She made her heroine live through the revelation Carter was thinking about.
Admittedly, no other narrative voice could enable the writer to achieve her aim and reveal her ideas on such important matter. Only the use of the character voice narrative Carter managed to achieve the necessary level of intimacy. Botescu (2010) claims that Carter often resorts to this type of narrative.
Famous plot does not distract the reader from the writer’s inner world. Character narrative voice makes it possible to focus on evaluation of situations. It helps to focus on the characters’ (or rather writer’s) inner world. Therefore, this method creates a really specific atmosphere of intimacy.
Third-person subjective narrative voice combined with stream of consciousness voice
When speaking of the third method which is used in her story “The Courtship of Mr Lyon”, it is important to note that authors use different narrative voices to articulate their ideas. It is also believed that there can be no story “without narrators” (Fludernik 2001, p. 622). However, Carter exploits a very special method which eliminates boundaries between the narrator and narrative itself.
Carter uses third-person subjective narrative voice combined with stream of consciousness voice. Notably, it is often unclear which words belong to the third person narrator and which lines could belong to heroine. It may seem that the story is told by the heroine herself who tried to alienate herself for some reason. The story seems to be objective as there is a third-person narrative. Nonetheless, it is more like the stream of consciousness. The scene where the Beauty comes to the Beast’s room is very suggestive:
The flowers in the glass jars were dead, as if nobody had had the heart to replace them after she was gone. Dust, everywhere; and it was cold. (Carter 1995b, p. 53)
These lines do not simply depict the room. These lines reveal the impression the room made. Even though it is the third-person narrative, there is something personal in every word. Thus, this combination of semi-third-person narrative and stream of consciousness narrative, creates the necessary atmosphere of intimacy.
Therefore, it is possible to note that the works by Stoker and Carter should be regarded as a kind of reflection of the inner world of particular individuals. The works are really intimate.
This intimacy is achieved through the use of such narrative voices as character narrative voice and third-person subjective narrative voice combined with stream of consciousness voice. Notably, the two authors managed to create untimely works which still broaden people’s horizons as people can learn a lot about archetypal ideas, images and dreams. This can help people better understand their own inclinations and desires.
Botescu, I 2010, ‘Angela Carter and the violent distrust of metanarratives’, Postmodern Openings 3.1, pp. 93-138.
Carter, A 1995a, ‘The bloody chamber’, in A Carter & H Simpson (ed.), The bloody chamber and other stories, Vintage Classics, London.
Carter, A 1995b, ‘The courtship of Mr Lyon’, in A Carter & H Simpson (ed.), The bloody chamber and other stories, Vintage Classics, London.
Carter, A 1995c, ‘The tiger’s bride’, in A Carter & H Simpson (ed.), The bloody chamber and other stories, Vintage Classics, London.
Craven, A 2002, ‘Beauty and the Belles: Discourses of feminism and femininity in Disneyland’, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 9.2, pp. 123-142.
Fludernik, M 2001, ‘New wine in old bottles? Voice, focalization, and new writing’, New Literary History 32, pp. 619-638.
Hollinger, V 1997, ‘The vampire and the alien: Gothic horror and science fiction’, in CM Davison & P Simpson-Housley (ed.), Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Sucking through the century, 1897-1997, Dundum Press Ltd., Oxford.
Jodar, AR 2009, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A study on the human mind and paranoid behaviour’, Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies 31.2, pp. 23-39.
Johnson, A 2009, ‘Modernity and anxiety in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, in J Lynch (ed.), Critical insights: Dracula, Salem Press, Pasadena.
Lau, KJ 2008, ‘Erotic infidelities: Angela Carter’s Wolf Trilogy’, Marvels & Tales 22.1, pp. 77-94.
Makinen, M 1992, ‘”The bloody chamber” and the decolonization of feminine sexuality’, Feminist Review 42, pp. 2-15.
Prokhorova, L 2011, ‘Some notes on intertextual frames in anti-fairy tales’, in C McAra & D Calvin (ed.), Anti-tales: The uses of disenchantment, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Roemer, DM & Bacchilega, C 1998, Angela Carter and the fairy tale, Wayne State University Press, Detroit.
Sheets, RA 1991, ‘Pornography, fairy tales, and feminism: Angela Carter’s “The bloody chamber”’, Journal of the History of Sexuality 1.4, pp. 633-657.
Stoker, B 1986, Dracula, Signet Classics, London.
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