By Maggie Tonkin (auth.)
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Additional resources for Angela Carter and Decadence: Critical Fictions/Fictional Critiques
For the conclusion of the story makes it quite clear that Coppola the optician really is the lawyer Coppelius and also, therefore, the Sand-Man. (‘The Uncanny’ 230) Freud’s project of reading ‘The Sandman’ straight as a paradigm for the unconscious effectively forecloses any consideration of the 34 Angela Carter and Decadence fantastic elements of Hoffmann’s text. His reading of the tale as a literal account of events that actually happen to Nathaniel is, in a sense, a variant of the highly literal biographical criticism of Proust and Poe, which, as I shall show in later sections, Carter parodies so relentlessly.
The text makes a direct link between the wedding dress and the Sylphide costume that Aunt Margaret fits on Melanie to wear in Uncle Philip’s puppet play: ‘She gestured Melanie over to her and draped the material around her shoulders. All at once, Melanie was back home and swathing herself in diaphanous veiling before a mirror’ (141). It is the dress, we are given to understand, which seduces the living woman into acting the part of the doll. The dress promises to transform the female subject into a culturally sanctioned image of desirable femininity.
But it fitted. ’ And the lorry-drivers’ caff line-up of sauce-bottles in the dining-room. And Francie dowsing himself with porridge and (now) meditatively picking his teeth with a used matchstick. And Finn’s vile singlet and viler pyjamas. And the only pictures in the house that she had seen were the sentimental, old-fashioned print in her room and Finn’s dog over the mantelpiece, which a child might have painted and hung up, to show off. And tea, tea, tea with everything, just when she had begun to appreciate the sophistication of coffee.