TheLady of the House of Love
In“The Lady of the House,” Angela Carter illustrates Freud’suncanny theory. The hypothesis revolves around Countess, theprotagonist of the story. Carter describes Countess as a Vampire inthe old Romania who lives a life that she craves to change. Theconcept of the Freudian theory is explicitly clear when Carter writesthat Countess wishes to be human (136). In Freudian Uncanny theory,the uncanny refers to what arouses fear and horror. According toFreud, fear is brought by the conscience’s understanding of theperceived good, where one tries to avoid the opposite of the right(Mangan193).Therefore, the ultimate demise of Countess is necessary so that sheundergoes a complete metamorphosis and overcome her fears and wishesto change to human which is an aspiration that she lives to yearn.
Atfirst, the narrator introduces Countess as “a young girl in an oldwedding dress” (Carter 137). The author goes on to tell theaudience that “her bloodthirsty desires” were beyond her control,although she hated the fact that she fed on people for survival(Carter 137). The depiction coincides with Freud’s uncanny theorywhere he explains that the “Double” is a feeling that oneexperiences when he faces an unfamiliar situation (Mangan194).Therefore, before one experiences the unknown, the mind has itscreation of the expected positive experience, which is not strange.Countess, therefore, admires a human life where she would livewithout the desire for blood, possibly because she has the governesswho is human and her conscience tells her a human life is better thanbeing a vampire.
AsCarter puts it, Countess spends her time laying out tarot as shereads her inevitable fate (136). The explanation implies thatCountess wishes to read the Tarot cards differently from the ordinaryis evident that what she reads at this time is a future filled withviolence and continuous murder. Her propensity to lay out the cardsevery night is a sign that the Countess wishes one day to read afuture that is different from what she is currently reading from thecards (Carter 136). About the uncanny theory, Countess wants to fightagainst the clear negative ways of murder and violence so that shecan have a good reputation from others, which also perceives thestrange experience as unacceptable.
Accordingto Carter’s description, Countess is inhumanly beautiful (Carter136). Further, the author describes her as having abnormal long sharpteeth and fingernails that she wishes she was human (Carter 136).Therefore, Countess compares her appearance to that of people aroundher. The governess who attends to her is old but human. Possibly,Countess compares her incredible beauty with that of the governessand wishes she was like her. The denial of her body appearance is aclear element of uncanny as Freud describes that, uncanny leadsrenunciation of the characteristics that are regarded as unwanted orabnormal (Mangan194).Therefore, Countess’s desire to have a human body structure anddenial of her long teeth and nails reflect Feud’s uncanny theory.
Thebeautiful queen of vampires desires to possess some domestic animalsfrom the garden as pets. Carter describes that her hunger overcomesher wishes that she ends up feeding on them (137). Additionally, theCountess hardly spares killing the boys her governess lures into themansion (Carter 136). In the same way, she wishes that all be leftunhurt, but hunger compels her to feast on them. Therefore, theCountess has an inner dialogue that makes her feel guilty. Thefeeling is an element of uncanny as she fights against her doings,which her conscience rejects because they are against theexpectations of a human.
Ayoung British soldier, whom Carter describes as rational andexhibiting “special quality of virginity” cycles to Romania whereshe meets the Countess (138). The naivety of the young soldierregarding vampires makes him think of this land amusingly (Carter138). The young man cycles to Romania without prior knowledge that hewould meet a beautiful vampire queen, the Countess. Carter juxtaposesthe two characters in their personalities in the sense that the youngman is rational and naïve in superstitious issues while Countess isthe custodian of superstition (Carter 139). The two are destined tomeet, and the survival of the young soldier in the hands of theCountess revolves around uncanny theory.
Countessalso produces her Tarot cards and to her least expectation, acquiresa different fate relating to love. It was her first time to get sucha fate and worried about what would follow after such a fate. Herworry foreshadows her ultimate death in the soldier’s hands (Carter142). Again, it is in line with the uncanny theory that she worriesabout the unexpected outcomes after getting a different fate from thecards. Finally, the young man arrives at the isolated village wherethe governess beckons to him. He follows her to the mansion where sheis frightened by a strong rose scent all over the mansion’scompound. He becomes suspicious when he notes their abundance. Again,the uncanny element of having the roses that arouse horror to the manis seen in Carter’s description. Countess relates the soldier withher earlier fate from the tarot cards when they finally get inside.She enters into an internal dialogue of preying on the young soldierbut she thinks he is her bridegroom. The man is worried by the kindof bestial portraits he observes around the rooms (Carter 142).
Inconclusion, the uncanny element of the incident is clear due to theman’s fear of the pictures. His naivety makes him identify thebeautiful girl as his love. Later, Countess dies to transform tohuman, a desire that she longed. Anxiety reveals feelings of uncannyin this story. However, this anxiety is mostly hidden from thecharacters most of their time. It is this anxiety not to expose one’sself to the world that presents these uncanny experiences. Therefore,the story demonstrates subversive and non-compatible desires with theorganization of knowledge and power of the subconscious. The work ofthe subconscious is revealed with the dispersion of Tarot cards.
Carter,Angela. “.” TheIowa Review 6.3(1975):134-148. Web.
Mangan,B. B. "The uncanny valley as fringe experience." InteractionStudies 16.2(2015): 193-199. Web.