English research and analysis paper

Bogeymen in fairytales represent our fears, and the protagonists, often represented by children, face any

number of obstacles and challenges in order to defeat them. This narrative arc—moving from a state of

innocence to a state of experience, or moving from the naivety of childhood to the skepticism of

adulthood—is ultimately about gaining knowledge, specifically knowledge about ourselves, and this

newfound experience is what defeats the bogeys in the end: by facing the unknown head on, the

protagonists take away the bogeys’ power (fear) and achieve their goals.

This might be why fairytales so prominently highlight the dangers of curiosity: curiosity to learn and

experience is what initially sets the hero on her journey; it’s what drives her past the threshold of her

comfort (her youth) in order to learn more about her fears (adulthood). The journey is dangerous, the path

is uncertain, and the outcome is different for each hero. However, while knowledge is simply given to the

protagonist in some stories—or given to the reader in the form of a moral—we know that being told to

overcome our fear is never enough. In order to truly succeed, the protagonist must face challenges herself,

and while this path may prove rocky, the long-term benefits, the battle scars she collects on the way,

make the experience more poignant.

Angela Carter’s stories in The Bloody Chamber remix fairytales to capitalize on the hero’s journey from

innocence to experience. We meet the protagonists at the threshold of their youth, fearful about the

transition into adulthood, curious, specifically, about the forbidden knowledge of experienced women

(knowledge, say, of marriage, sex, menstruation and childbirth). This curiosity sets the protagonists on

their journey to defeat the unknown in order to become adults. For your third essay, I’d like you to

define what the protagonists ultimately learn about themselves in Carter’s stories in order to

explain how their hard-won lessons might offer an example for other young girls on the threshold

of becoming women.

Note: Please highlight or underline your thesis when you turn in your final draft!


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