‘LITTLE RED CAP’
‘LRC’ is a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy, and is the first poem in the anthology ‘The World’s Wife’, published in 1999. By interpreting the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood in her poem, Duffy recounts her ten years of marriage to Adrian Henri, who was twenty-three years old her senior. She places herself as the character of Little Red Cap and Henri as the wolf. Duffy also alludes to fairytales such as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in ‘Queen Herod’ or more traditional stories like ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ in ‘Mrs. Quasimodo’. In ‘LRC’, however, Duffy uses the fairytale staple of the woods, symbolically a rite of passage, to represent her change from a naïve teenager to a woman who gains sexual maturity and independence, as a woman and a poet.
Form and structure: POV of Little Red Cap by extension, this is the POV of Duffy when she was younger access truest thoughts of the character also allows the reader to see how she progresses from a naïve young teenager who is struck by the wolf’s (and by extension Henri’s) sophistication and, more importantly, physical features to someone who has seen past this illusion and is more mature
Duffy’s use of the fairytale seeing through illusions to find truth, leading to transformation the illusion that Little Red Cap has to see through also may contain a moral, as fairytales do. While LRRH may have focused on never trusting strangers, this one may be about learning to trust and know yourself before anything else (girl gains independence at the end- ‘I took an axe’, etc.) links to self-discovery Duffy also subverts the original tale by removing the passive female protagonist who gets saved by a man, into someone who asserts her independence by taking ‘an axe to the wolf’ herself
Setting contributes to the theme of self-discovery and awakening we begin ‘at childhood’s end’, where ‘the house petered out’ there is a sense of safety and innocence lost, as she is on her...
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