Violent Ever After
A fairy tale is a reflection of good memories that one has from childhood and carries in mind all life. The reason for this is that fairy tales manifest themselves in a set of moral views. The plot of tales is based on the abilities of the main characters to solve the most difficult tasks no matter what stands in their way. Nevertheless, if to take fairy tales into pieces and examine them, one may be able to discover a variety of shocking things. The paper aims at analyzing the theme of cruelty and violence in the modern retelling of the fairy tale from the series of stories about Red Riding Hood.
Though fairy tales illustrate various lifelike situations, the level of violent actions is high. Fairy tales are supposed to show and teach how to distinguish good things from evil. Usually, there are no neutral characters in stories, and every hero plays his part that is either good or bad. There are, for example, fairies, godmothers, and random passers-by, whose function is to help. Moreover, there are witches, stepmothers, stepsisters, different magical creatures, and other things that are created to be bad and put the main heroes into difficulties. The analysis of the fairy tale The Company of Wolves provides facts that make it clear that even good character do cruel things. As a rule, such things are not considered to be bad, because they are taken as measures to punish the evil forces and make the life of heroes happy at the end.
The tale under consideration is written by Angela Carter. It is a modern retelling of the well-known Red Riding Hood. It is a story of a girl who lives with her mother and sometimes goes to the forest in order to deliver a basket with goods to her beloved grandmother. A girl knows that there are many bad things in the forest. In Carter's telling, the forest is really a bad place for people to be. It can be called a locus of violence in this tale. Firstly, even children from the villages around the forest go there only with knives. Those knives are half as big as they (children) are, the blades are sharpened daily (Carter 111). It is a brutal situation in tales when children carry knives with them instead of toys. Secondly, the very description of the forest strikes with aggression: the forest closed upon her like a pair of jaws (Carter 114).
The girl's mother alerts her to be aware of the bad and hungry wolf. Under no circumstances, the girl is permitted to leave the usual path among the great pines. As a matter of fact, it is in both variants of the tale that a girl stands out of the path. The great role in this plays the character of the wolf. He appears to be clever enough to deceive the girl. In the modern tale, the wolf represents the cruel nature of a predator. Actually, all wolves in this tale are ruthless creatures and are said to be grey as famine, they are as unkind as plague (Carter 111). The wolf that the girl meets is able to turn into a man. He mesmerizes the girl with his charms and even asks her to give him a kiss if he is the one who reaches the grandmother's house first.
Scenes of violence take place in the beginning of Carter's tale. It is her innovation, because the beginning in the original tale is peaceful. For example, there is an episode in which a hunter kills the wolf. The details of this killing make it violent: the hunter jumped down after him, slit his throat, cut off all his paws for a trophy (Carter 111). The plot of the tale is based on violent elements. It is a horrible situation that explains how a man becomes a wolf. The absolute evil is involved in this tale. There is no bad character that is a match for the pure evil: they say there's an ointment the Devil gives you that turns you into a wolf (Carter 111). This story is a bright example of the dark world of the fairy tales in which brutal forces serve as a background for the plot development.
Violence in the fairy tale is emphasized with details in the description of the sufferings. The gloom atmosphere is created with the usage of lexical means, such as epithets: inherent sadness, vast melancholy, ghastly sadness and others. Usually, fairy tales teach to understand positive feelings and emotions of the characters, but this story is filled with negative emotional states. The reflection of the inner states is cruel and depressive. This illustrates the violent aspect of the story. In addition, taboos are used, for example in relation to the wife that has found herself a second husband. Anger, ferocity, and revenge, which are the key elements of violence, are also represented in the modern story (when a man transforms into a wolf and tears off a boy's foot).
The most important feature that every tale has is the inevitable and obligatory happy ending. The tale The Company of Wolves is a story with the unusual happy ending. After the known routine between the wolf and the girl that takes place in the classic and modern versions (the dialogue about big arms and teeth), an unexpected move takes place in Carter's story. The last words concern the girl: she sleeps in granny's bed, between the paws of the tender wolf (Carter 118). In this case, a predator and his pray were united under the cover of strange feelings. It is strange, if to consider that aged and frail granny is far from being safe and sound because of the wolf. This is another element of cruelty to rejoice with a wolf on the bed of the fallen. A chain of events brings the girls and the wolf to the inviolable territory for the classical version.
We have examined the two tales about the girl and the wolf. The subject matter of the analysis is violence. There are numerous scenes where violent behavior is described in the modern version written by Carter. A traditional view has the smaller number of characters in it and only one antagonist, while there are much more characters that are violent in the modern interpretation of it. This awakes negative emotions in readers, for example anger, rage, and fear. The episodes with violence promote violence in real life. The dynamic imaginary story that is presented from the third person becomes a part of the real personal experience.
The most important theme in the modern retelling of the story is violence. It is crucial that violence is not criticized in the fairy tale, but is colorfully depicted. In the classic fairy tale, the main idea is that the evil forces must be punished. In the new tale, the punishment is an act of anger and revenge. Violence is a significant part of the way that characters behave. The effect of violence in the fairy tale should not be underestimated. Readers often identify themselves with characters and repeat the behavior patterns in life.