Fairytales are defined as short stories of the folklore genre, the term has come to refer to a story that contains some fantasy or magical setting, with traditional magical creatures such as elves, goblins, fairies, or wizards. They are known for containing supernatural adversaries, characters and items, though they were traditionally told by story tellers, modern versions can be found all around us. Perhaps the most recognisable producer of fairytales in our modern culture is Walt Disney, who turned the fairytale into an industry, producing books, motion pictures, and toys that are branded with the contemporary idea of what a fairytale is.
Best known for her book of short stories ‘The Bloody Chamber’ Angela Carter writes modern, feminist retellings of classical fairytales that focus primarily on women’s desires, power and sexuality. In this sense the term modern adaptation doesn’t mean that Cinderella is going around treading in gum, and she doesn’t go to the ball on a motorcycle instead of a carriage. Her stories are emotionally and sensually charged, and her writing was my initial introduction into feminist writing that empowers women to take hold of their own bodies and own them.
Why rewrite amazing and well known fairytales? That was my immediate response as somebody that loves a Disney classic, but Carter’s writing helped me to explore the traditional fairytale as one rewritten by women that no longer wish to be damsels in distress. Her exploration of sexuality in these stories do not just rewrite the stories by giving female protagonists roles of active sexuality, they play with the earlier misogynistic versions by beginning the tales with the traditional sense of power in the hands of the male characters. I find that this makes the seizing of power by the women even more empowering.
Angela Carter is an inspiration to me in a literary sense, I admire her crasftsmanship, her ability to change a story through the power of her own words, she has helped me to explore boundaries in my writing that I hadn’t thought of before. But she is also a great inspiration to me as a woman, because we must never forget that our bodies are our own, and the freedom to explore our own personal power is one that should inspire women everywhere, and never be forgotten.