Good morning everyone! I have a short class test today that will require me to use The Erl King and The Bloody Chamber in my answer so I’ve created a few notes and quotes to help me on The Erl King.
The traditional folklore legend “Erlking” lends our protagonist the name The Erl-King. The Erl-king was an elf known to lure young people (in this instance, young girls) in to their impending death.
Narrative perspective is constantly shifting in The Erl-King. Initially, The story begins to describe the woods in third person. The sudden shift then transforms in to second person, recognised by the pronoun “you.” Again, the narrative perspective shifts back in to third person, recognised by the pronoun “her” and then shifts again seen by the first person use of the word “me.” – and so on. Could the shift in narrative perspective reflect the fractured fragments of the woods?: the wood is inevitably a place to get, and also feel lost. Some critics also argue that the change in narrative voice resembles the protagonist’s lost voice and integrity. Additionally, this brings about a disorientating and unsettled atmosphere for unnatural events to occur. Thus, Carter is using narrative perspective not only to reflect character state of mind (feeling lost, feelinig of the sublime taking over) but also to foreshadow and set the tone for future events to take place.
The Erl-King himself?
The Erl-King “came alive from desire of the woods.” Briefly, The Erl-King completely engulfs the woods, and inevitably is nature. Expectedly, the Erl King goes on to encapsulate nature too, and seeks to capture young girls and keep them with him. The Erl King’s eyes also reflect this utterly emphasised depiction of nature within the King: his eyes “as green as apples” and “as green as dead sea fruit.” Furthermore, Carter may be expressing how male nature has the power to dominate women and bring
about their destruction.
What role does the protagonist play?
To well the narrator of the Erl King, also is aware of the danger of the wood, and ultimately sets up her own peril. Inevitably, the female protagonist is damned for confinement. By recognising the light had “vertical bars of a brass coloured distillation”- even the setting of the wood begins to echo the powerful imagery of confinement and entrapment. Certainly, she is aware of the danger she faces. However, she sees the Erl-King as merely a “tender butcher.” She feels as though the ‘vertigo’ takes over when she is around the Erl-King: “afraid of vertigo, of the vertigo with which he seizes me.” Additionally, the “young girl would go in to the woods as trustingly as Red Riding Hood to her granny’s house” adds to the idea of the female narrator knowing the extent of her own peril.
Key quotes for this text
“vertical bars of a brass coloured distillation” – damned to confinement.
“come alive from desire of the woods”
“green as apples”
“green as dead see fruit”
Narrative perspective: third when describing the wood, second by “you”, third by “her” then back to first person by using “me””
“his white teeth pointed”
“an air of impending death”
“a young girl would go in to the woods as trustingly as Red Riding Hood to her granny’s house”
“Erl King will do you grievous harm”