Word count: - 1675
Word Limit: - 2000
Major events which occurred during the 1950s and 1960s immensely shaped the literature period around the world. Both male and female authors made popular unconventional literary works. For example, Allen Ginsberg’s poem titled, ‘Howl’ and Maya Angelou published her book titled, ‘I know why the caged bird sings’. Authors of this period investigated themes such as sexuality, drugs, self-expression, abuse and alternative ways of living. Angela Carter known for feminist writings examines controversial themes of incest, sex, identity and belonging within her novel titled, ‘The Magic Toy Shop’. The selected extract, explores the impact of identity, morality, sexuality for each character mentioned within this novel. These three concepts will be closely discussed further with theory applied. The extract taken from pages 3 to 5 of the novel introduces the reader to four characters of vibrant personalities, one adult and three minors. The minors are of biologically relation and the adult character has an influential delegated guardianship and house keeper role towards the minors (Rowbotham 8).
Carter (3-5) describes the characters within great detail giving the reader a clear, precise and informative account of their behaviour and capabilities. With particular attention to their cognitive, emotional and psychological features which helps to develop and set the readers’ mood. Carter uses female characters at the centre of her novel. For example, Victoria aged five years old is described as having no sense of guilt and no sense at all. This use of this narrative gives detailed focus on feelings, opinion and perception. Carter’s intention is for the reader to have understanding of Victoria’s character, relationship with and towards other characters mentioned within the extract. Especially with Mrs. Rundle and Mrs. Rundle’s male cat, mental and Victoria’s ethical traits. The reader gains an insight into Victoria’s principles of morality at a tender age. However, the reader is discovering their own understanding of the individual characters mentioned within the extract, from fifteen year old Melanie’s perception. Melanie’s own identity gives her a distinguished way of perceiving others and the world around her, heightening the reader’s emotion towards the extracts main character.
Carter has given individual characters strong forms of identity by purposely using short narrative in which the reader can inhibit the characters world, Carter creates a detailed imaginative description. For example, readers understand that, Melanie is coming of age, has sexual thoughts and takes pride in her appearance by controlling her weight gain. Melanie question’s the personal thought of “will I die a virgin?”. This helps the reader to focus on Melanie’s age, peer group, desires, intimate thoughts, self-esteem and relationships with the other characters. The use of mirrors or looking glass is regarding Melanie’s self-discovery, identity through the transformation from pubescent into womanhood. However, Carter has deliberately planned to give the spinster Mrs. Rundle a stronger form of identity, who dreams of having a husband. Mrs. Rundle not only considered but intentionally changed her name using deed poll, giving the impression of being a married women to those unaware of her personal matters. Mrs. Rundle’s name change may be symbolic of having a sexual appetite, this is certainly true of Melanie’s fear of dying innocent and virginal. Mrs. Rundle in reality is employed as the family housekeeper whilst the biological parents of the children are absent from the home. The role of housekeeper gives Mrs. Rundle the sense of having a temporary ready-made family. This is identified by her relationship with Victoria. There appears to be an emotional connection between Mrs. Rundle and Victoria. This is emphasised by the use of food, food can be taking or giving nourishment