This map plots the settings and references in The Bloody Chamber

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Paris, France
Paris
GNU Free Documentation LicenseParis - Credit: Hardouin

The title story 'The Bloody Chamber' begins and ends in Paris at the turn of the 20th Century, a period known as the 'Fin de Siècle'. It was a time of great artistic flourishing and decadence, with an undercurrent of chaos and uncertainty for the future.

The 19th Century had seen a huge amount of cultural change, both socially and politically, the Industrial Revolution altering forever the feudal system that had lingered from times before, and a succession of governments had done little to foster any notion of stability. The French Revolution, with its considerable bloodshed, was still very much in the national memory, and the Imperial coup by Napoléon III in 1851 had restored a sense of opulence and covetousness. His renovations and rebuilding of the city gave her the wide boulevards and pavement cafés that we recognise so distinctly today.

'The Bloody Chamber' is also set during the time of the Third Republic, which had commenced in 1870 when Napoleon III was overthrown, and was to last until 1940. Retrospectively, this time was also known as 'La Belle Époque', a period which is considered to have lasted from the late 19th Century until the beginning of World War One.

This was indeed a time when the first blooms of Modernism were visible, with all the attendant hopes and fears of what the coming century would bring. This makes it a powerful and significant setting for this tale, given that it is concerned with a young bride's anxiety and desire of the unknown. The old tale of Bluebeard has its roots in France, and the setting of Paris also lends a heady sense of romance and luxury which is key to the narrator's initial attraction to the Marquis.

 

Location of Arrondissements and major sights of Paris
GNU Free Documentation LicenseLocation of Arrondissements and major sights of Paris - Credit: Réalisation Pline