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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Queer Theory Analysis of Angela Carter

There are a number of different passages within this book that could be analyzed through queer theory. Any one of Albertina's many different forms, and the different kinds of sexuality she exerts through them, could be analyzed as an inversion of "normal" heterocentrism. The passages that struck me in particular, however, came from the Carnival in the "Acrobats of Desire" chapter. Inside of this miniature society, sexuality and gender roles were completely free from the boundaries of the larger world. There was Madame la Barbe, the bearded woman. Completely ostracized from her community and church, the only place she can belong in is the Carnival (106). Another resident was Mamie Buckskin, the "fully phallic female with the bosom of a nursing mother and a gun, death-dealing erectile tissue, perpetually at her thigh", who "preferred women" (108). Mamie managed to defy both gender and sexual norms. The Carnival was to them a place of refuge, as it was to Desiderio after his escape from the River People. To the Christian village, however, it was nothing more than a representative of "the inherent evils of mankind" and "the temptations of the flesh" (115). I believe this polarization pushed Desiderio further away from the oppressive society he served. In this free and open environment he became much more self-aware of his desires, even to the extent that his violent encounter with the Arab Acrobats was only a rape "as far, that is, as [he] was conscious of his desires" (emphasis mine, 115). The experiences he had here were a vital step in his journey, preparing him for his experiences with the master of desire himself, the Count.

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