The Significance of Colour Symbolisms in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (1979)

Author: Ankita Sen, Presidency University, India
Published: August 16, 2023

Citation: Sen, A. (2023). The Significance of Colour Symbolisms in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (1979). IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 10(1).


The paper seeks to critically explore Angela Carter’s use of colour symbolisms in her short story “The Bloody Chamber” (1979). By focussing on the recurrent invocation of three major colours, namely red, black and white, the paper studies how chromatic coding becomes a potent rhetorical device through which the psychological and physical implications of gendered violence are negotiated in Carter’s story. Paying close attention to the protagonist’s interaction with an aesthetically stimulating narrative world, steeped in visceral colours, the paper attempts at problematizing the politics of victimisation and female agency that underlies the entire narrative. Carter’s deployment of colour symbolisms has a quasi-theatrical dimension that tends to visualise the subversive implications of the text. Keeping that in mind, the paper seeks to crack the chromatic codes at multiple levels; for instance, red is studied in context to patriarchal violation of female bodies, as an embodiment of female desire and a manifestation of female bonding. Black is read through the lens of motherhood where it becomes a visual trope that deconstructs the prototype of an ideal mother and individualises her as a redemptive and rebellious figure. Finally, by paying attention to Carter’s use of the colour white, the paper seeks to trace its dual purpose in perpetuating invisibilization of female desire and charging the act of seeing with an agential import.


body, colour, female sexuality, patriarchy, violence