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Little Red Riding Hood And The Company Of Wolves

In the fairytale story “Little Red Riding Hood”, the proposition of vulnerability is evident, depicting a lack of independence. Angela Carter’s film “The Company of Wolves” and Grimm’s story “The Little Red Gap” show the contradicting state of a young girl. The plot portrays the young girl as innocent and ignorant, which puts her in trouble. The ignorant nature of the girl represents her personality flaws as she remains unaware of the danger. The fairy tales convey a common theme of feminine weakness and dependence.

The story highlights the moral implications for the girls and threatens them not to travel alone. The vulnerability of the young girl reflects her weakness and unintelligence as a strange man takes advantage of her. Vulnerability also becomes visible when one assesses the role of a grandmother who is alone and weaker. The story gives a message that women are unable to handle difficult situations and rely on others for help.

Gendered roles are more obvious in Grimm’s story as she displays women as kind-hearted. The portrayal of genders in a different manner reveals contradicting differences as the audience identifies the males as a saviour and females as a troublemaker. Fairytales display innocence and naïve in their construction of female characters. The gendered role assigned to female characters depicts their compromising positions. They take present males as saviours or wolves while females are naïve and weak. Males will either help or hurt the feminine characters, reflecting how much they lack strength and courage. It also transmits the notion that women are unable to guard themselves due to their inherent weakness. The fragility is apparent in Red’s description, “a charming, innocent young girl swallowed by a wolf” (Grimm 166). The description shows how helpless the girl is who falls victim to a wolf.

Carter, in the film “The Company of Wolves”, creates a different version of Red Riding Hood as she meets the wolf herself. The girl in the film rejects the traditional notion of feminine trepidation as she exhibits no fear during her encounter with the wolf. The famous line in the film, “I love the company of wolves”, shows her fascination towards wolves. The female protagonist in the film exhibits sexuality and fearlessness, thus setting her free from patriarchal dominance. The way she creates the protagonist undermines her feminist purpose in her engagements with patriarchal conventions and objectification of women. It is imperative to understand the differences between the characters created by the Cartel and the Grimm Brothers. Grimm’s version worked more to warn young girls about the dangers of strangers and sex. The emphasis is more on moral values as the story tells girls to stay obedient to their mothers and grandmothers. The feminist protagonist in Carter’s film is different from the original story as she enjoys independence and rejects the conventional thought of male dominance.

The striking difference between the two versions is the changing gendered roles. In Carter’s film, the huntsman who is saving the girl is missing. The theme thus confers the idea that there is no need for the huntsman or hero to rescue a ‘damsel in distress’. Carter, contrary to the tale, conveys the message that girls are brave and they can save themselves. Grimm’s story constantly conveys the theme of innocence as the girl is unable to identify the danger, and she only survives with the help of a huntsman. It gives the message that a girl would die if there were no men or the girl depends on men to encounter danger.

The fearless protagonist in Carter’s film is capable of thinking wisely and defending herself when she encounters danger. Carter confers the viewpoint of an empowered female capable of self-defence. The male’s role is limited as the girl’s mother says, “Take your father’s hunting knife; you know how to use it” (Carter). The mother’s instructions reveal that she tells her daughter to stay brave. Carter shows the transformation of a girl from prey to a predator as she takes the knife and kills the beast. She displays how intelligently the girl takes control of the situation, which reflects female empowerment. The power of the girl also becomes visible as she lives in the house of her grandmother and takes control of the wolves. Carter transmits the message that the girl has defeated evil and created her own fate.

Feminine weakness remains obvious in Grimm’s version as the grandmother also falls victim to the wolf. The story mentions, “the wolf gained entrance at the grandmother’s home pretending to be Little Red Riding Hood and immediately swallowed up the old woman” (Grimm 167). The grandmother is unable to think and act because she is a woman with no brain. The life depicts the idea that dodging girls is simple in ordinary circumstances. Grimm also displayed women as fools, reflected in the moment when Red Riding Hood observes the body of her grandmother and still takes time to recognize. Even when Red finds the reality, she is unable to act and exhibits trepidation. Fear is only gone when the huntsman arrives at the situation and kills the wolf with his axe. The ending of the story projects the belief that women are unable to handle problems on their own. In the original version, the girl remained prey and lacked the ability to take control of the situation (Pulver).

The independent female character in Carter’s film depicts how comfortable the protagonist is with her sexuality. The poor Red transforms into a mature girl, reaching puberty and making her familiar with sexuality. The sexuality in the film symbolizes the independence and strength that Red was lacking in Grimm’s’ version. A comparison of the two versions depicts that freedom is missing in Grimm’s story as the girl follows the instructions of her mother. An absence of freedom also becomes visible when the wolf takes advantage of the girl and her grandmother. Grimms uses a conventional feminist tone, stating that girls need to take caution.

Male supremacy is another contradictory factor between the fairytale and the film. Grimm’s version presents male figures as powerful and capable of controlling women. The idea becomes apparent as the huntsman takes control of the situation by killing the wolf. Women in the fairytale always need a hero who saves them from danger. The story portrays males as brave and intelligent, conveyed through the character of a huntsman. He cuts the wolf with his axe, showing his strong state. In Carter’s film, the girl does not rely on the huntsman, but she controls her fate (Ebert).

Fairytale stories focus on creating heroin as an innocent and ignorant character looking for help in trouble. Grimm’s fairytale “The Little Red Cap” uses a similar theme to construct the character of Red Riding Hood. The girl in the story confirms conventional feminism, where a woman plays the weaker, inferior and oppressed role. Her encounter with danger reveals the realities of her fearful character. Her survival relies on the help that she receives from the man when the huntsman kills the wolf. Carter’s character shows transformations as she is wise and powerful. Carter rejects the conventional feminist theory and displays woman empowerment. The message changes in both sources; the story threatens the girls about their vulnerability to male dominance and power while the film motivates them to become their saviours.

Work Cited

Ebert, Roger. The Company of Wolves. 1985. 09 03 2018 <>.

Pulver, Andrew. Furry tale. 2004. 09 03 2018 <>



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