I’ve been trying to rewrite Bluebeard for years. I tentatively titled my work in progress ‘Bluebeard’s last wife’. It was my Nanowrimo project back in 2013.
I have read every version of the fairy tale I could find: the original, the Anatole France one, Caroline Wesson’s play, Henry Curwen’s Lady Bluebeard, and Bluebeard's Keys by Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, and more. I was annoyed by the moral of the story; a wife’s curiosity is enough to cause her death. It grated at my feminist principles.
I recently read Angela Carter’s two versions and that nearly derailed me but I wanted the last wife to save herself, and in no version I found does she do that. In most she hides on the roof and screams for help. Her brothers kill him, or her mother does, or he lets her off and goes into a monastery.
I wanted her to realise she loved him but know that he was still a monster and if she didn’t kill him first, she would be the next victim.
I saw Crimson Peak in 2015 and loved it. I bought a Funko Edith. She is my desk figurine as she was the only Funko writer I could find. [Fix that, Funko. Also spoilers for the movie, obviously.]
This morning I was doing some Bluebeard freewrites. I was riffing on moving it to a different time period. Carters’ is 20th century Paris, Ritchie’s 19th century Rome, mine was medieval. Could I move it to a Gothic house and meld it with my love of Gothic Romances? I thought about getting him to beg her for forgiveness. I thought about him realising what he has become and asking her to end his life.
Wait… this seems familiar.
Del Toro’s Crimson Peak is Bluebeard.
Sir Thomas Sharpe has multiple wives. He married them for their money and doesn’t love them. He ignored them and did not have sex with them. It is his sister who kills them but he is aware of their fate. Their bodies are buried in or near the scary house. [So maybe it’s Bluebeard plus Flowers in the Attic?]
But his last wife is different. He genuinely falls in love with Edith. He loves her and she saves herself, killing him AND his sister in the process, and bringing peace and eternal rest to the ghosts of the dead wives. The ghosts she sees weren’t haunting her, they were trying to warn her. The ghosts were not the real monsters. This is a common Del Toro theme.
She stabs him with a pen which is the most awesome weapon of choice for a writer and it’s a gift from her father so that ticks the retribution box.
She loves him and she kills him, anyway.
Crimson is even red; the opposite of blue. HOW did I miss it? *face palms*
And it’s so well done. I can’t compete with that.
I have to trunk another project.
*thinks for a day or so while the Internet is down*
Or maybe, I can just leave it medieval and hope nobody notices? Yeah, that might work.