La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Cultural Criticism and Mythopoeic Vision in Lilith

  • Kath Filmer


Of all the archetypes which recur in myths and in fantastic literature, none is so common or so powerful as that of the image of the beautiful but deadly woman. She is the destructive aspect of the nature goddess and the earth-mother, and she symbolises the hostility between men and women, and among women themselves (Cavendish, 12). Because this archetype combines notions of seductive sexuality with fears of castration, domination and devouring, it can be used without explicit sexual reference. It appears thus in fairytales, in various guises — as wicked stepmothers, bad fairies and wicked witches. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia is under threat at different times from a White Witch (a close literary relative of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen) and a Green Witch, both of whom are examples of the flawed female. Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen and his Queen of Hearts are examples from Victorian juvenile fiction.


Black Spot Social Criticism Cultural Criticism Good Death Sexual Imagery 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kath Filmer

There are no affiliations available

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