Sophie Fevvers



Character: Sophie Fevvers

Source Text:  Carter, Angela. Nights at the Circus. New York: Penguin, 1984.

Entry Author:  Alexandra Katechis


Sophie Fevvers is the protagonist of Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus (1984). Her status as a mixed race character stems from the very physical reality of being half bird and half human. In this work, I attempt to mirror Fevvers’ progress as an extremely complex character, beginning with the preposterous self-idealizations and transitioning slowly to the empowering self-reclamation. Voice is manipulated to emphasize the difference between self-identification and outer authorization of identity, a main (feminist) theme of the novel.

A found Abecedarian

Anatomy of our avian wonder, aerialiste extroidinare:
Azrael, Azrail, Ashriel, Azriel, Azaril, Gabriel,

Broken blossom of the present tense. Fevvers,
Brothel-bred burlesque of Brobdingnagian symmetry, a

Chorus of a woman, cheering on the coming century, the
Circus of our Cockney ringmaster, celestial fishwife,

Dark angel of many names, and all the rest of this dolorous litany. We, the
Denizens of down below, all with hearts that beat and souls that suffer, sir,

Excavated from England, once held above the spinning world,
Effervescent and eager, now dropped back into place. Think twice about turning

From a freak into a woman, the female part where Terror rules. Our
Feathered friend advises the fool with festering teeth. Fevvers

Groks with a joyous awe, almost a gratitude, that luxury should exist like
Gin palaces in heaven where she might reside behind the bar

Hemmed in the heavy envelope of simplest delusion. Walser and
His hobby of the humbug hunt, hung up with her on the high trapeze.

Is she fiction or is she fact? The idea of it condemns them both.
I feared the proof of my own singularity, and no longer alone, they

Join in with the stable-boys, roustabouts and grooms, elephants and equestrians,
Jugglers and tumblers, all drawn to the amazing spectacle, all succumbed to it.

Knowing no other tricks, the circus could absorb madness and slaughter, and
Knit together the hypnotic tension between the flesh and the spirit.

Lovely London, the shining city, the new Jerusalem,
Lit with candles of midnight, burns up the nuclear core of our luciferity:

Magic, the museum of women monsters, made pure in
Midsummer, yes, the year’s green hinge.

Once and for all, find the oracular proof in the organ of this gilded cage, and
One by one we might be made free from this

Panopticon, step from our platforms of prolegomena and slowly, slowly begin to
pull, dragging with us our freight of dreams. With a pressure

Queer as combustion and composure of equal and celebratory
Quality, she proclaims, all the women will have wings, the same as I. The

Rhapsodic rush of the interrogatory, What is your name? Have you a soul? Can you love?
Requiem for her dazzling reflection, restorer of her soul. We rise from a

Sleep more lifelike than living which consumes the world, the
shaman’s elixir coaxed out of the samovar with sulfuric

tongues. We are abandoned between tundra and taiga in our mind’s
Transbaikalia, steeped in the bliss of a new century. Fevvers, the

Universal word of wonder, of grief, cracks the black, black vortex of the
Uroboric snake with its tail in its mouth. Once the

Verified and venerated virgin whore, channel of volcanic sighs; now a miracle of frail
Violets, frost nipped and pale, the colour of tired eyelids yet big

With wilderness and wildness, in full bloom…Violets on New Years Eve.
Wherever we go we’ll need no more fathers, her heart crushing with commotion and

Expectation of pleasure. Once the old world has turned on its axis,
exacerbated with the customary endings of the old comedies,

You shall give yourself to me but I shall not possess you.
Year One, the envoi of this extensive ritual;

Zed to this linear story which seemed to happen in the third person