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Discuss how two of Carter's tales fit in to the tradition of fairy and folk tales Essay

In Angela Carters ‘The Bloody Chamber’ she interweaves various aspects of retold fairytales and folk tales. Consequently as people may recognise this and have knowledge about these certain fairytales it will manipulate the way in which they think about the adaptation of these stories and the different outcomes possible. Carter therefore plays upon peoples expectations and changes the way in which things happen to what should be expected.

The tale ‘The Company Of Wolves’ is relating to the original fairytale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. However unlike ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ where the young girl is defenceless and vulnerable in ‘The Company Of Wolves’ the girl can look after herself and is wholly competent in fending for herself. In the adaptation of ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ the story has connotations from ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, as to how the Beast will die after the last petal of the rose falls.

Throughout the ‘The Company Of Wolves’ Carter makes it fairly lucid and clear that men can be very powerful beings, ‘her father might forbid her, if her were home’. Thus reinstating that fact that the girl’s father has some form of power over her. However the use of the modal verb ‘might’ accompanied by the ending of the sentence gives the reader the impression that the girl is not scared of her father and would disobey what her father would find objectionable as he was not present. Although this quotation does not directly stick to the same narrative as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and therefore giving a slightly different impression of the original fairytale, it does reinstate that fact that men are powerful and possibly to be feared of as they prey on young girls. In ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ The Beast is also portrayed as a powerful and dominating male, ‘My master’s sole desire is to see the pretty young lady unclothed…’ this exposes The Beast to be someone who perceives himself as mighty and to have a much higher hierarchy to the young girl. His ‘desire’ is of a most degrading and outrageous manner, however the fact that The Beast himself has not told the young girl of his desire shows that he is somewhat shy and maybe even embarrassed of his desire. This therefore fits in to the tradition of fairytales by replicating a certain aspect of a moral; restraining desire. The importance of a virginal woman is also highlighted within the two stories mentioned. In ‘The Company Of Wolves’ there are mentions of the loss of virginity and different descriptions are used, ‘blood on snow’ and ‘her cheeks are an emblematic scarlet and white and she has just started her woman’s bleeding’. The reference to ‘scarlet and white’ and ‘blood on snow’ illustrates the importance of a girl been virginal, the extracts bring out very vivid images, which will enable the reader to envisage the precise importance of these quotations. These previous quotations relate and refer to the fact that when a woman looses her virginity blood is shed. These preceding descriptions describe the girl’s virginity and her independence. The girl is not afraid of anything and is strong in all her convictions and thoughts, ‘her mother cannot deny her’. The previous quotation shows that the girl knows she should not go in to the woods; however the use of the verb cannot emphasises the factor that the girl is strong and defiant.

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In ‘The Bloody Chamber’ Angela Carter also intertwines the old folk and fairy tales within her own adaptations, this therefore gives the reader some form of comfort and something to relate to. In ‘The Company Of Wolves’ the extract, ‘What big teeth you have!’ is an inter-textual reference taken from Little Red Riding Hood which many people, young or old will have read. The reader will therefore instantly revert to their knowledge and understanding of the original fairytale which will make them anticipate what will happen next. This therefore will be that the wolf will eventually eat the young girl after posing as her grandmother, however what really happens is he does not pose as the young girls grandmother and he does not eat the young girl, however they talk and express their feelings and desire for one another. The reader will therefore be taken aback by the change in the narrative, as Angela Carter wants to challenge all the diverse preconceptions.

In ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ there are many references in which a person that may know the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will be able to relate to and understand to be from the fairytale. ‘he wears a wig, too, false hair tied at the nape with a bow’ this description for anyone that will have heard the story will fit in perfectly and allow them to realise that the character is somewhat the same person. The symbolism of the rose is also highly important, ‘a bunch of his master’s damned white roses’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ roses are also mentioned and are a key symbol, as after the rose looses all its petals the Beast will die. The roses are also white which fits in to the whole virginal girl as well. In ‘The Company Of Wolves’ there are also many different extracts and quotations from ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. The young girl is obviously meant to be little red riding hood, however unlike in the real fairytale the young girl is much more independent and headstrong, she is able to look after herself, ‘she has her knife and she is afraid of nothing’. This quote makes her seem very heroic and valiant as she can look after herself and one object can make her feel confident within herself, the repetition of ‘she’ gives her dominance and strength. There are also many more quotes taken from ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘what big teeth you have’, this part of the story in oral tradition would have been emphasized greatly so many people would understand and be able to come to grasps with this part of the story. However the expectations that people would have from this quotation are completely different in Carter’s adaptation. Instead of the young girl being suspicious and distrusting in the wolf, she is attracted to the wolf and intrigued by him, she is able to look after herself and be confident, ‘she wanted to dawdle on her way to make sure the handsome gentleman would win his wager’. The previous quotation shows that the girl wants to become closer to the wolf and for him to earn his kiss of her. The use of the modal verb ‘would’ makes the quotation more finalized and implied that the girl will stop at nothing to get what she desires.

In both of the stories there are heroines and to some extent heros too. In ‘The Company Of Wolves’ the young girl is very courageous and brave. She can look after herself and know exactly what to do in what could be considered as dangerous situations, ‘she knew she was nobody’s meat’, this therefore reinstates the fact that the girl is in control and knows what is wrong and right. In the fairytale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ the young girl needs looking after by others (the woodcutters) so this will also play upon the readers knowledge of the fairytale and gives them something unexpected to read. In ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ the young girl is headstrong and knows what is wrong and what isn’t. She also knows that the Beast needs to change. So in some way when the Beast falls in love with the girl, he is redeemed and is somewhat a hero. The heroes and heroines in these stories do not fit in to the stereotypical category.

Oral tradition is a way of broadcasting and spreading history, literature or law from one generation to the next in a society with the lack of a writing system. In a general sense oral tradition refers to the transmission of cultural material through vocal utterance. In ‘The Company Of Wolves’ there are many different aspects and facets of oral tradition, they however are mostly in the exposition at the beginning of the fairytale in this case. One aspect of the oral tradition is thoroughly explain a certain attribute to a character or place to hold the listeners attention and make sure that they manage to create the right image, without fully explaining and describing this place or character the listener may not get the right impression or miss certain attributes to this place or character. ‘The Company Of Wolves’ manages to do this by spending a whole paragraph that explains the wolves eyes. Another aspect and feature of the oral tradition is using onomatopoeia. ‘The Company Of Wolves’ incorporates this in to the exposition of the fairytale to make the reader feel involved in the story ‘Quack, quack! went the duck..’ this also will allow the reader to imagine that they were a member of the story. However also in the fairytale itself there is use of onomatopoeia, ‘Rat-a-tap-tap’ this therefore continues the involvement of the reader and will keep them motivated and stimulated. There is also use of proverbs within the exposition, ‘Fear and flee the wolf; for, worst of all, the wolf may be more than he seems’. This gives the reader the idea that they should be fearful of wolves, and in true oral tradition terms the moral will be passed down generation by generation.

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