What is Carter saying about relationships between men and women and their roles in society in ‘The Snow Child’? In ‘The Snow Child’ Carter portrays a patriarchal society in which it is governed by men. Carter also conveys how men sexually objectify women. ‘The Snow Child’ is not a tale you would expect from a feminist writer such as Carter, but she may be conveying the extreme sexual power men have over women. Also how typical heterosexual couples were like when ‘The Bloody Chamber’ was written. Carter portrays a society driven by men and their powerful sexual desires.
The opening describes the Count’s wishes, ‘l wish I had a girl as white as snow. His first wish reminds the reader of ‘Snow White’ and how the mother wished for ‘a child as white as snow. Whereas the Count wishes for a ‘girl’ and his intentions are sexual. Also ‘as white as snow may suggest she is a virgin as fresh snow can be seen as pure and immaculate. This links to the ‘Marquis’ in ‘The Bloody Chamber’ as ‘he was much older’ than the woman he marries. When the Count comes across a hole in the ground with blood in it, he wishes the girl be as ‘red as blood’.
The ‘hole filled with lood’ can be seen as a representation of the womb and menstruation, which could refer to the Snow Child’s sexual readiness. The Snow Child appears as soon as the Count completes his description, there she stood, beside the road’. This shows the power of the Count’s sexual desire as what he wishes for comes true, and this may be showing how in society a this time, men would get everything they wish for. The objectification of women is also portrayed, when the Snow Child dies, the Count ‘unfastened his breeches and thrust his virile member into the dead girl’.
This hocking act of rape shows the lack of remorse and guilt the Count has. The word thrust’ is very violent and adds to the disgust the reader may feel towards the Count at this point. Carter portrays a society where women are passive in the relationship, as there is no evidence of female sexual desire in ‘The Snow Child’ unlike in ‘Company of Wolves’ and the ‘Puss in Boots’. In the ‘Company of Wolves’ the ‘girl’ rips of the wolves shirt, which shows the reader female sexual desire. Carter also portrays a society where men are unharmed in relationships, whereas the women suffer.
Both female characters suffer either physically or emotionally. The Snow Child ‘picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds; screams; falls. ‘ Carter suddenly kills the girl and does so by listing while using semi colons which gives the reader the impression that she is still alive until the sudden death. The Snow Child’s life ends with a prick which goes back to the original story of ‘Snow White’, where the child’s life begins with the mother being pricked by a sewing needle. The Snow Child’s life ends with a ‘prick from a rose.
The Countess is threatened by the Snow Child throughout the tale as she has to sit back and watch her husband give his attention to the Snow Child. ‘The Countess reined in her stamping mare and watched him narrowly. The ‘stamping mare’ is a metaphor for her own feelings at this moment which are obviously anger and frustration. Carter is saying that the women in this society have to control their feelings and allow their husbands to do what they want, because without their husbands they would have nothing, in terms of wealth and possessions. To watch someone ‘narrowly is to be watching them with attention.
In some ways this could be seen as erotic behaviour as she is literally watching her husband have sex with the dead girl. ‘The Snow Child’ ends with the Count presenting the rose that killed the ‘Snow Child’ to his wife, ‘The Count picked up the rose, bowed and handed it to his wife, the act of bowing is a very submissive and less dominant role which the Count would not be seen as until this act. When he gives his wife the rose ‘It bites’. The word ‘bites’ gives the rose an animalistic quality and aybe a metaphor that what looks beautiful on the outside will be hurtful in the inside.
Both the Countess and the Snow Child are hurt by the ‘rose’, this shows how men are not going to get hurt in a relationship even when causing pain to their partner, this is also shows the immense amounts of power men have over women as the Countess still has no choice but to tolerate her husband even after he has cheated on her. Carter portrays a lack of unity between women and how they are forced into competition for male attention. When the ‘Snow Child’ first appears the Countess hated’ her, and her only thought was ‘how shall I be rid of her?
The Countess is going to have hatred towards the ‘Snow Child’ as she is the child of her husband’s desire, ‘she was the child of his desire and the Countess hated her’. This places her second in the Count’s eyes which she would want to change. The Countess attempts to kill the ‘Snow Child’. She does fail to do so the first two tries but on the third successfully kills the girl when she asks the ‘girl’ to ‘pick her a ‘rose’. The society in ‘The Snow Child’ shows how greatly women are dependent on male support hereas in society today women can provide for themselves.
When the Countess loses a glove the Count says ‘I’ll buy you new gloves. ‘ The Count provides for his wife and gives her all the luxuries she needs. The Countess’ clothes are also extremely luxurious With her long hand, she stroked her furs’. The ‘long hand’ and the stroking of the furs’ is normally associated with villainess characters in other tales like Snow White. The Countess is presented as the villain despite arguably being the victim, as she is the one who has to watch her husband rape a young girl, while she is being etrayed by the Count’s desire for a new girl.
Carter is trying to present the relationship between women as a constant competition whereas women should not let a man get in-between the bonds of sisterhood. Conflict between the female characters is often seen in fairy tales, such as the stepmother and stepdaughter in ‘Snow White’. The relationship between the females in ‘The Snow Child’ is unlike the relationship between the female characters in ‘The Bloody Chamber’ where the mother and daughter are shown to have a close, loving relationship.
Overall, Carter ortrays the society in ‘The Snow Child’ as one governed by men, the evidence throughout the tale shows us this and also how women play a submissive role towards males. As a feminist writer Carter may have chosen to include such a tale to express her view of what society was like at the time ‘The Snow Child’ was written. 1000 – Without quotations 189 – Quotations Carter, A. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (vintage books, 2006) Simpson, H. ‘Femme Fatale’ accessed 25/10/13 http://www. theguardian. com/books/2006/Jun/24/classics. angelacarter