How Radical Are The Changes To The Gend Essay

Submitted By TheMoonegg
Words: 1340
Pages: 6

How Radical Are the Changes to the Gender Roles in Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves’?
Within my essay I plan to discuss the comparisons and contrast between Angela Carter’s characters presented with the story and the traditional stereotypical gender roles presented by Perrault’s fairy tales. Since “Perrault drew the moral that female curiosity leads to retribution” [1] it is clear to see that the first change Carter has made to the gender roles is that female exploration of herself and the world around her both mentally and physically only expands her mind with little reprimand. It is this empowerment of the female gender that causes Carter’s story to be another addition to her “exotic new hybrid which would [and arguably did] carry her voice to a wider audience” [3] of highly sexual tales inspired by the very conservative tales presented by Perrault.
‘The Company of Wolves’ appears to be reincarnation of the traditional ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ fairy tale which was also presented by Perrault in his collection, though they share their origin the two stories have extremely different outcomes. In contrast of Perrault’s very straight forward telling of the story with the moral simply put as, don’t talk to strangers or bad things will happen, Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves’ takes the reader through a brief history of the wolf and his doings in the past. It is this back story communicates to the reader that the wolf is a werewolf, solidifying the idea that the wolf is a representation of the male gender, leaving Little Red Riding Hood to be the representation of the female gender within the story. Over all Carter’s tale is far “longer, less bleak, and far more luxuriant in style” [4] compared to Perrault’s conservative patriarchal version.
Little Red Riding Hood within ‘The Company of Wolves’ when first introduced seems to be very similar to Perrault’s character, being a very stereotypical naïve, innocent young girl. Through Carter’s description of her as a beautiful, pale and gentle being she presents Little Red Riding Hood in a very traditional gender role, however through the use of the knife that Little Red Riding Hood keeps close to her it begins to cause cracks within the gender role, suggesting that Little Red Riding Hood isn’t as naïve as originally thought and that she is more than capable of looking after herself. It is this contrast of the aesthetic of Little Red Riding Hood and the woman within her that presents the radical change to the gender role. The idea that “Lambhood and Tigerishness may be found in either gender and in the same individual” [7] breaks not only traditional stereotypes but also quite contemporary ones, the conservative innocent looking girl who knows nothing but what she’s told and does nothing more than that and the modern feministic rebellion to the traditional stereotypes both are polar opposites of each other, yet Carter chooses to combine them both within Little Red Riding Hood. The journey into womanhood that Little Red Riding Hood experiences through her encounter with the Wolf is truly where both stereotypes clash together to prove Carter’s gender roles as the radical tradition smashing constructs they are.
In order to understand how radical Carter’s changes to gender roles from those in Perrault’s collection are the character of the Wolf must be understood to be in all forms a representation of the male gender as an entirely stereotypical character. From his original introduction to the reader as a charming mysterious stranger who comes and seduces Little Red Riding Hood, causing her to feed into the traditional gender role of the blushing girl swept off her feet by a handsome man who takes control, we can see that Carter has no intention of presenting the male gender any different than Perrault did. The male is not to be trusted, but is instead meant to be tamed. This simple belief is something shared by both, shown as Carter slowly begins to present the negative point of the Wolf’s