Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” is a feminist and gothic retelling of the classic fairy tale “Little Red Riding-Hood”. Carter’s story involves the werewolf as sexual predator, a symbol for both danger and desire, over which a young girl triumphs, employing her new found sexual power and giving in to the symbol of carnal desire. This is definitely a new twist upon the original tale, in which the helpless girl and her grandmother are freed from the belly of a wolf by a passing man, as they were unable to fend for themselves. In this new, more harsh version, granny does indeed perish, but her granddaughter, able to give in to and use sexual desire to her advantage, escapes unscathed. This tale sings praises to female sexuality and liberation, and implies that nothing else, not God nor fear nor good living will save the victims of the wolf, and the only way to survive in a world in which temptation, danger and desire stalks you everywhere, is to fight fire with fire.
The story appears in two parts, one of which tells folk tales of the wolf and werewolf, the other of which tells of Little Red. It bombards the reader, in the first part, with terrifying descriptions of the wolf and his deeds. He, and what he stands for, is clearly and object of fear for the people in the story. Wolves are described as “forest assassins grey members of a congregation of nightmare” 1 (647). They are likened to be the worst of “all the teeming perils of the night and the forest, ghosts, hobgoblins, ogres that grill babies upon gridirons, witches” (647). These are all fictional monsters, and the irrational fear of these nonexistent creatures is like the fear of the wolf, which is real, but not nearly as dangerous as the villagers believe. So great is their fear that the children carry knives, sharpened daily, half their own size, when they go outside. The fear of the wolf is bred into the children and the women, almost like paranoia, and the danger is exaggerated to mammoth proportions. Perhaps this is done to shield them from what the wolf really stands for; sexual appetite, danger and desire, something against which women have been “sheltered” in one form or another for centuries, and out of which they are beginning to emerge.
The wolf is sexuality incarnate, a walking appetite, unable to suppress his desires. The wolves are described as “mourn[ing] for their own irremediable appetites” (648), but redemption is impossible, because this desire cannot be controlled. In order for a werewolf to transform, he must first be naked, so “[i]f you spy a naked man among the pines, you must run as if the Devil were after you” (649). This image of the transformation from naked man into lusting beast is blatantly sexual, and implies that naked men are to be feared as if sexual desire were beastly. It is suggested that the Devil is half wolf, possessing the legs, heart and genitals of a wolf. The king off forbidden fruit, the great seducer, the orchestrator of women’s temptation is likened to a half man, half wolf creature and he, like the werewolf, is all that is bad, sinful and fearful, and a woman was his first target. Like sexual desire, sin and temptation, “the wolves have ways of arriving at your own hearthside. We try and we try but sometimes we cannot keep them out” (647). In the first part of Carter’s story, the narrator tells of a woman who was bitten in her own kitchen while straining the macaroni. Previous to this anecdote, as well as after it, the story speaks of huts and hearthsides and alludes to a times long past. This image of a woman straining macaroni brings the reader jarringly into the present day, in which it is the rare person who fears wolves. Rather, fears of rape, murder and robbery run rampant, yet the woman falls victim to the wolf. In the act of preparing food, the stereotypical servile act of a woman in her kitchen, the symbol of domesticity, she is bitten by sexual desire, liberation from her role, danger and passion....
...“The Company of Wolves” by Angela Carter follows the story line of the classic children’s fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood” which is known universally in the western world. Despite the relationship between the two stories, “The Company of Wolves” has cunningly been written with an eerie atmosphere and plot twists to engage the reader. Reinvented into a gothic fantasy, the story highlights Red Riding Hood’s innocence and uses the Wolf as a metaphor for men to position the reader to react differently than the classic fairytale.
It becomes obvious to the reader that the story is based upon the well known fairy tale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ but Carter has twisted the innocent children’s story into a extravagant gothic fantasy which positions the reader to grasp a greater understanding of the events leading up to the climax and the background in general. The stylist choices of magic realism differ from the classic denotation of fantasy because realistic frameworks of the real world are twisted with the supernatural resulting in murderous, sadistic or brutal situations; in this instance Red Riding Hood engaging in sexual acts with the Wolf. From the beginning the reader is fully aware of the stylistic choice of gothic fantasy, “One beast and only one beast howls in the woods by night” is typical of gothic tales as woods are usually portrayed as a dangerous and a forbidding setting, but also provides emphasis through...
...„ THE BLOODY CHAMBER“ AND THE COMPANY OF THE WOLVES COMPARISON
This essay will discuss the adaptation of the three stories from Angela Carter's book „The Bloody Chamber“: The Werewolf, The Company of the Wolves and Wolf-Alice to the Neil Jordan's film The Company of the Wolves. The differences between the three stories and the film will be analyzed, and how their meaning changes in the context of the film.
To begin, it must be noted that the stories mentinoned above are written in a form resembling a Greek satyr, and told in a way that reminds us of the fairy tale. However, neither of these stories are fairytales, but stories about crossing the treshold of adulthood and of becoming mature. These stories, although short, carry a message, and a lesson, although they deal with mythical and darkness.
In these stories, Angela Carter provides a new interpretation of famous fairytales, such as Red Riding Hood, and recurrent motifs from this particular story such as grandmother, a girl who walks through the wood carring cookies in her basket, and the wolf who comes to the granny first.
The Company of the Wolves by Angela Carter is a story that envokes powerful and mysterious aspects of the female nature. The girl is described as a person with incredible power to yield darkness and to conquer it, somebody who is never afraid, and faces the...
"The Company of Wolves" (1979, excerpt)
Men are powerful, strong, dominant. But what are women's strengths? This question was widely discussed in the late seventies during the women's liberation movement. Women all over the world were fighting for their rights, and this inspired female authors to put their thoughts into stories. Women could be manipulative, deceiving. They could control men when they wanted to. So why were the men in control of the world? By rewriting "Little Red Riding Hood", Angela Carter turns the norms of the fairytale upside down, and thereby shows the development in contemporary society. In "The Company of Wolves", a young girl beats the most manly of all creatures: the werewolf.
The short story is chronological and is told by an omniscient third person narrator with a clear narrative voice:"Children do not stay young for long in this savage country"(p. 22). This gives the reader an insight in the huntsman's thoughts as well as the girls, and we get an understanding of the decisions taken by the characters. The short story has intertextuality, as it's a rewriting of the fairytale "Little Red Riding Hood", but it's uncharacteristic as a fairytale as it does not start with the usual "once upon a time", and does not end with "they lived happily ever after". Angela Carter has chosen to rewrite a story almost everyone knows to make her message easier to understand. But the...
Fairytales and Archetypes
October 28, 2013
The Company of Wolves and Little Red Cap Comparison
“Little Red Cap” and the film Company of Wolves (1984) have some similarities yet still have some differences. Rosaleen appears to be a clever young teen who thinks ahead, whereas Little Red Cap seems to be a young innocent yet oblivious child. Little Red Cap wear a red cap made of red velvet but Rosaleen wears a red shawl made of wool. They both carry a basket of goods to be delievered to their grandmother. Little Red Cap’s basket contains just piece of cake and wine. However, Rosaleen’s basket contains liquor, cheese, oat cakes, and a knife that she put in the basket herself.
In The Company of Wolves instead of first appearing as an actual wolf, he appears first in human form as a huntsman. He is dressed in nice clothes and has a uni-brow. Earlier in the movie her grandmother warned her that men with unibrows could not be trusted
The Company of Wolves retells the lore of the werewolf to point at which it completely changes the ending. In the original tale Little Red Cap revealed to the wolf where her grandmother was. Then, the wolf got Little Red Cap distracted. He said to her “Look at those flowers, Little Red Riding Hood! Aren’t they lovely? The ones under the tree over there. Why don’t you go closer so you can see them properly?” (p 138) Soon,...
... “The Company of Wolves” Reflective Evaluation
Angela Carter’s, “The Company of Wolves” is a short story that is broken into two distinct sections that leads the reader to wonder the reasoning behind this. One option, that could be argued, is that it served the purpose of setting up background to a story within a story. The opening immediately begins by conveying the image of wolves with several anecdotes describing some of the tendencies of wolves and how they live. After the description of wolves, the beginning section serves to describe a slight view of people’s lifestyles and the magic or enchanted features of werewolves through a story about a woman and her two husbands; the second section then tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood but in a completely different way. This version incorporates a different style that includes innocence and sexuality through the girl and the wolf-like man. The young girl is an “unbroken egg” but strays from the innocence of a young woman at the time and uses her sexuality to save herself from the savage wolf (Carter 1088). All this leading me to ask: why did she split her story into two different sections? Also why did she portray her version of Little Red Riding Hood like she did?
As the reader begins the story, it becomes easy to recognize Carter’s attitude towards wolves by her way of describing them, portraying...
Fact: Black wolves don’t occur naturally.A 2008 study at Stanford University found that the mutation responsible for black fur occurs only in dogs, so black wolves are the result of gray wolves breeding back with domestic canines. The mutation is a dominant trait, like dark hair in humans, and is passed down to the majority of offspring. It is not entirely clear what benefit black fur has for the animals; they do not seem to be more successful hunters, but do show a marked improvement in immunity to certain infections. Black wolves are far more common in North America than they are in the rest of the world.9
Fact: A large percentage of coyotes are actually wolf hybrids.In areas where wolves have been largely eliminated, coyotes have thrived. Over the last few years, large populations have moved east, into suburban areas and even major cities like New York and Chicago. Genetic testing on 100 coyotes caught in Maine revealed that 22 had some wolf ancestry. Coywolves are generally bigger than regular coyotes, but smaller than wolves, and are said to be extremely cunning. They exhibit a fearlessness of human civilization as seen in coyotes, but seem to maintain the wolf’s pack hunting instinct and high level of aggression.8
Fact: Cannibalism is common amongst wolves.Wolves are extremely opportunistic carnivores, and they will not miss a...
...Comparative Essay: “The Wedding Gift” and “The Company of Wolves”
In “The Wedding Gift” and The Company of Wolves”, both authors use young females that appear submissive but in reality, both main characters are independent girls, especially considering the time era they are from. Through “The Wedding Gift” and “The Company of Wolves”, Thomas H. Raddall and Angela Carter demonstrate the importance of being independent to achieve happiness through the elements symbolism, location and character.
The use of symbolism is evident in both stories. In “The Company of Wolves”, people who rely on others dies. For example, the wolves attack a man who relies on a higher power and “sing[s] to Jesus all day” and a domestic housewife that relies on her husband (Carter 1). When Kezia rides the horse, she starts off in a womanly fashion, and “as soon as she was out of the preacher’s sight she [rusks] her skirts and [slides] a leg over to the other stirrup” (Raddall 15). This action represents that she is abandoning the character that Mr. and Mrs. Barclay created for her. Red claims her own identity by “[taking] off her scarlet shawl”(Carter 6). The red shawl was given to her by her grandmother, and the moment she “[bundles] up her shawl and [throws] it on the blaze”, she throws away the identity and expectations that her family has for her, and her past (Carter...
Compare and contrast the representations of wolves in Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” and “Wolf Alice”. How successful do Carter’s literary appropriations demythologise gender stereotypes.
In The Bloody Chamber (1979), Angela Carter’s short stories took a particularly conservative genre and radically subverted it for feminist purposes, deconstructing and demythologizing gender stereotypes in a very creative manner. Fairy-tales were always a very traditionalist and patriarchal literary form, first recorded by aristocratic writers in the 17th and 18th Centuries as moralistic and cautionary stories for children. Politically, their agenda was the exact opposite of Carter, whose feminist views were forged in the new social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Therefore, none of her female heroines follow these traditional gender roles of being passive victims or the sex objects of men. In “Wolf Alice”, the nameless female heroine was raised by wolves and was therefore on outcast in human society, unable to assume the passive and domestic gender roles expected of her, while in “The Company of Wolves”, the Little Red Riding Hood character is depicted as independent and fearless rather than a ‘typical’ female victim of the werewolf. At the end of both stories, the females also voluntarily enter into relationships with the ‘monsters’, claiming control over...