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I Heard The Wolf Call My Name

1087 words - 4 pages

Fairy tales are a convenient medium for the transmission of ideal standards of behavior, and are considered effective tools in the socialization process. However, effective is not synonymous with appropriate, and although the use of fairy tales seem harmless, the underlying themes can have undesirable effects on the population's psyche. Fairy tales are full of anxiety and tragedy that seems to plague young girls, which therefore creates a culture that is accustomed to the notion that women are victims; in other words, the damsel-in-distress syndrome. In his rendition of the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Charles Perrault attempts to teach children, specifically young girls, about the dangers of succumbing to the temptations of sexual desires, and the unfortunate consequences that could befall them. Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood inadvertently supports the notion that women are "willing participants in their own defeat"¦[and that] women want to be raped" (Zipes 232). However, Angela Carter's version of Little Red Riding Hood"""The Company of Wolves"""does not characterize the female protagonist as the victim of a sexual predator. Carter departs from the traditional fairy tale notion that women are "˜innocent' victims, and instead looks at women's sexual liberation; thus, she not only transforms little red Riding-Hood into a sexually active young woman who is able to recognize her internal animal characteristics and desires, but also opposes the traditional male fantasy of the willing rape victim.Folklore and fairy tales often characterize the wolf as a representation of evil, an expression of sexuality, or a metaphor for a male predator, all of which are characteristics of the antagonist in both Little Red Riding Hood and "The Company of Wolves." However, Carter and Perrault differ in their portrayal of the female protagonist. While the wolf is a symbol of experience, specifically carnal experience, its opponent is the lamb, which is a symbol of innocence and purity, and is often portrayed as the wolf's unfortunate prey; little red Riding-Hood can therefore be characterized as a lamb. Moreover, Perrault's version characterizes little red Riding-Hood as both an emblem of innocence and a young girl who has recently reached puberty, whereas Carter's leading lady is an independent young girl who is not only pubescent, but about to discover her sexuality. Little red Riding-Hood's recent admittance into the realms of womanhood is represented by the red color of her coat"""The red shawl that, today, has the ominous if brilliant look of blood on snow"""and thus implies both the possible awakening of her sexual desire and the possibility that she could get pregnant (Carter 113). It is therefore necessary for Perrault to emphasize that young girls should be wary of sexual desires because they will be consumed by their own sexuality, which will lead to their destruction. In other words, "the girl is guilty because of her natural...

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