The Struggle Between Monstrosity, Desire, and Sexual Power Analytical Essay

The Struggle Between Monstrosity, Desire, and Sexual Power
A comparison of Angela Carter's modern "remake" of Little Red Riding Hood, "The Company of Wolves", with the original.
# 154094 | 2,826 words | 0 sources | 2006 | US
Published on Jan 06, 2015 in Literature (American) , Literature (Children) , English (Analysis)

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This paper considers Angela Carter's revision of "The Company of Wolves" within the context of Victorian mores and the gothic novel. The ways in which men and women are depicted in the traditional "Little Red Riding Hood" narrative are considered, as are the ways Carter alters this story and suggests the possibility for equality and happiness between men and women.

From the Paper:

"The early nineteenth-century is considered an age of reform, in which Americans sought to improve their moral values and the values of the nation as a whole. Many changes regarding the status of the women took place, including the idea of romantic love between husband and wife and the role of women in the home. The role of women and of wives was central to the reform movement in many ways because wives were seen as the cultivators of morality in their husbands and children. Women were expected to be pious, pure, and submissive to men in addition to being domestic. These four components were considered by many at the time to be "the natural state"of womanhood, and remnants of this ideology still persist in American culture today. The belief that women should find fulfillment in living out these values is called the "Cult of True Womanhood" or, alternately, the "Cult of Domesticity." Although the fable of "Little Red Riding Hood" predates nineteenth-century America, it still communicates core values of chastity and submissivness that resonate with nineteenth-century ideas of womanhood. Anglela Carter's modern revision of this story in "The Company of Wolves" is a direct response to these nineteenth century values, and her story reflects a modern retelling in the role and domain of women has shifted from being exclusively inside the home to one that engages the outside world.
"Angela Carter's "The Company of Wolves" is a gothic revision of the "Little Red Riding Hood" fable targeted at adults rather than children. Carter argues that women have the capacity to be active participants in society and not shut away and confined to the home as the patriarchal structure would prefer. In the "The Company of Wolves," Carter constructs her "little red riding hood" as a young woman who experiences sexual desire for the first time with the wolf. Carter's construction of "little red riding hood" represents a significant departure from Perrault's version and the traditional rendering of the story by presenting Little Red Riding Hood as a decisive, mature, and powerful figure in the story. The wolf in all versions of the tale represents masculinity and sexual desire; Carter's revision uses the wolf as a vehicle for reflecting Little Red Riding Hood's sexual power, in so doing offering a strong critique of patriarchal Victoria mores that equated women's sexuality with monstrosity. Carter ultimately suggests that the equality of men and women is natural and essential to the health and success of society."

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