For this workshop, we were given bodies of text and were asked to alter them in a way that would create new narratives using snippets from the source material. I chose to use this workshop to further the development of my narrative for the final piece. The texts that I was “blessed” with the chance of working with were The Bloody Chamber and The Tiger’s Bride. Reading them made me feel uncomfortable, sick to my stomach, repulsed. I was intrigued by the context so I looked into it further – these texts hail from the mind of Angela Carter. Both texts are her take on the classic “Beauty and the Beast” narrative, but with a different take on it.
In this case the father loses Beauty not out of love (taking a rose for her) but out of his own weakness. Perhaps because of this poor relationship with her father, the heroine here has more pride and anger than Beauty.litcharts.com
With this discovery, I realized just how easy it is to bend the narrative in whichever direction one wishes with the help of contextualising the piece. Context, or sometimes, lack there of, plays a massive role in how people read, register and perceive the texts that they consume. What this workshop asks us to do is to take a piece of text which has already been stripped of any bit of context and strip it down even further – essentially, skinning an already decaying carcass.
Without context, the bodies of text that I got came across as stories of an incredibly disturbing and toxic relationship with elements of captivity, rape and slave/power-play thrown into the mix. Reading through the texts I sensed the struggle of the person from whose perspective the story was being told – their struggle to see themselves as anything more than a slave to the “master’s” desires, and their struggle to establish their self-worth. They’ve been stripped of their humanity, reduced to an empty shell, with the only thing that could ever be self-fulfilling being obeying the “master”, until that would no longer prove to be the case. A sudden shift occurs – “How pleased I was to see I struck The Beast to the heart!” – with this line, I got the sense of resistance, reclamation of time, power and will, at this point in the story, the protagonist has had just about enough of this abuse and torment that they’re presumably endured for a solid while. They have decided to fight back and to put the “master” in its place. Unfortunately, “A cell had been prepared for me” implies that the protagonist would soon be convicted of manslaughter and would be destined to spend the rest of their days in jail, serving the sentence of life in prison.
With this at hand, I decided that for my task, I would push this narrative in a different direction, wishing to create a narrative, in which the victim would become the victor, and thus, this body of text was created:
THE BLOODY CHAMBER
The Beast disturbed my privacy. In his eyes I was a pretty young lady unclothed and he – my master. He only wishes. I struck the Beast to the Heart. He gulped, he swallow in the chair he sits. The windowless, airless, lightless chamber prepared for him. The one tainted with the blood of the beast that he created – the woman that craves revenge, the woman who is out for his blood, the woman who single handedly built the cell that he shall reside in from now until the end of time.
For a while, I was satisfied with the text and figured that I would have that as a final outcome, however, I thought on it and realised that I could easily develop a narrative which would better work with my chosen piece of text for my final piece – “Orlando”.
One of the things that held me back with “Orlando”, and, for quite the while, was the lack of a clear narrative within the written piece. The poem tends to jump between 2 narratives – one that focuses on the retelling of the events of the incident and how that affected the future of Pulse as well as its attendees while other focused more on the emotional turmoil of those affected by the disastrous shooting.
I figured the narrative should not be too difficult to develop as the text already provided me with a lot of material to work with, and who is to say that I could not create new words using letters cut out of different words – forming something that I could only refer to as a verbal chimera.
With this new text, I wish to merge the 2 narratives dominating the original piece into a single body of text which I could then incorporate into my final piece in the form of type.