The Fall River Axe Murders

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Fall River Axe Murders” by Angela Carter. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Fall River Axe Murders” (1985)
Author: Angela Carter
Genre: Short story

Angela Carter (1940-1992) was an English writer of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is best known for using magical realism in her literary works. The short story “The Fall River Axe Murders” was originally published with the title “Mise-en-Scène for a Parricide” and is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden, an American woman who went to trial for the murders of her father and stepmother. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:


The author uses plenty of similes in the story. For example, the simile “the weather clings like a low fever you cannot shake off” hints at the tension that surrounds Lizzie because of the summer heat. The simile “like a maze” describes the Borden house and hints at Lizzie’s feeling of confinement. 

Plenty of similes are used to describe Andrew Borden. For example, his spine is “like an iron rod, forged, not born” – a simile which illustrates the man’s artificiality. It also points out that Andrew Borden was not born as a member of the upper class but became wealthy through his schemes. The simile “he looks as if he’d gnawed his lips off” describes the man’s greed. 

Then, the similes “like Old Lear” and “like Old Goriot” are used to suggest Andrew Borden’s avarice and love for his daughter. King Lear is a character characterized by avarice, while Goriot loves his daughters so much that he lives in poverty so they can live in luxury. Both characters represent well known father figures in literature and highlight Andrew’s possessiveness towards Lizzie.

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of PrimeStudyGuides.com, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in

The Fall River Axe Murders

User reviews
  • 5/11/2022