Subtly Symbolizing Social Norms

Okay! I, for one, need to get my life organized. Last week, I remember promising myself that I’ll start on my blog post regarding my presentation on Carter. Did not happen. Fortunately, I managed to find motivation this week to get myself started on it. Even better, this blog post wouldn’t be included in my “last week of school finishing up my blog posts” category; so I can allow myself to say that I’m not a total disappointment. Anyways! Here’s my Carter blog post! 🙂  Recall my presentation, I asked about the significance of the Erl-King’s green eyes and the rose from “The Snow Child”. How I interpreted these messages associated mainly with an underlying theme of suppression of female sexuality.

 Throughout the Erl-King, I noticed that there was a reoccurring motif of green eyes. Under the perspective of the narrator perceiving his eyes to be like “a reducing chamber” and that “if [she] look[ed] into it long enough… [she] will diminish to a point and vanish”, I thought that the narrator revealed her sense of herself as an independent individual diminishing as the Erl-King’s manipulation reduced her to a state of submissiveness. From this scene, I construed that the Erl-King represented masculinity through the lenses of Carter’s era in the form of dominance.

As for the rose in “The Snow Child”, I perceived the rose as a symbol of the Count’s erotic desires. By offering the Countess the rose, it was as if the Count was trying to impose his desire upon her; furthermore, it can be seen as his attempt to make her conform to his wishes. The Count’s action of giving the Countess the rose would then subsequently imply a twentieth century society’s opinion of the female gender. In addition, during another scene in regards to the rose, I found that the Countess’s action of releasing the rose from her grasp,  acted as her rejection to her husband’s desire of her to conform to his erotic wishes. Through her action, it can be conceived that the Countess would not be a suitable representation to a twentieth century society’s view of women; her action does not correlate with the past notion that women should be submissive to both social norms and a figure of higher authority. Without acting in accordance to what is expected a woman in Carter’s time should behave, the Countess exempted herself from being a part of that era’s stiff gender hierarchy. As a result, the Countess portrayed herself as a woman independent from the social norms and power struggles within a twentieth century society: the qualities she portrayed did not align to the expectations her society had towards women. Hence, it can be inferred that the Carter may have arranged to Countess to exhibit this masculine feature in order to promote the idea of women independence.


  1. Nice analyses here! Most of this makes a lot of sense to me. I wonder, though, if we could dig deeper into why the Count giving the Countess the rose could symbolize him imposing his desire upon her. What’s puzzling about this for me is that the Countess is the one who asks the snow child to pick the rose for her, and then after the snow child dies the Count gives the Countess the rose. So I feel like the rose is somewhat complicated, being originally something that the Countess wanted!

  2. Oh, one more thing:
    Could you activate a plugin that allows those who make comments to check a box to get an email if anyone responds to their comments? Otherwise, the commentator would have to remember to check back to your blog to see if you or anyone else responded (and most of us aren’t going to remember to do that!). When you’re logged into your site, go to the dashboard and find “plugins” on the left menu. Then find one called something like “subscribe to comments,” click “activate,” and you should be good to go!

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